By SAM RAPPAPORT
Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) has introduced two bills in the City Council that would slap restrictions on sidewalk vendors in downtown Flushing and throughout the city.
The two bills aim to address street vendor pollution and sidewalk obstructions—two issues, Koo said, that have become unmanageable in the downtown Flushing area.
Koo’s bills, which he introduced on June 7 and which are currently under review in the City Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing, will prohibit, respectively, all sidewalk obstructions and stoop-line stands in certain areas of downtown Flushing and the use of underfired charbroilers at mobile food-vending units citywide.
Last year, Flushing received nine feet of widened sidewalks on Main Street. The additional space was meant to provide relief to the hundreds of thousands of commuters who use the transportation hub’s more than 20 bus lines, subway and Long Island Rail Road station.
“Unfortunately, the widened sidewalks gave rise to an increase in illegal street vendors and stoop-line stands—people who are taking advantage of the new space to sell everything from health insurance, counterfeit handbags, bed sheets, pots and pans, fruits and vegetables, cell phones and even socks,” Koo said. “We are overrun with sidewalk obstructions, and our sidewalks have become an obstacle course. As a small-business owner, I have no objection to people innovating in order to turn a profit, but I wholeheartedly object to those who do so at the expense of their community.”
One of Koo’s bills, if passed, would prohibit stoop-line stands at the following six locations in downtown Flushing: Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Sanford Avenue; Roosevelt Avenue between College Point Boulevard and Union Street; Kissena Boulevard between 41st Avenue and Barclay Avenue; 40th Road between Prince Street and Main Street; 41st Avenue between Main Street and Union Street; and 41st Road between Main Street and Frame Place.
The same bill identifies a set of boundaries in downtown Flushing within which general and food vending would be prohibited. Northern Boulevard would mark the northern border of the area, with Union Street on the east, College Point Boulevard on the west and Sanford Avenue to the south.
Koo’s second bill, which would prohibit the use of underfired char- broilers in mobile food-vending units throughout the city, comes on the heels of a recent testimony by the Department of Health that one food vendor grilling meat for a day emits the same amount of particulate pollution as a diesel truck driving 3,500 miles.
“The underfired charbroilers used by street vendors are responsible for a significant amount of particulate matter in our air,” Koo said. “Not only are the grillers breathing this in, but it also impacts nearby residents, businesses and other who must endure the clouds of smoke blowing in their windows and hanging over the street. Making these vendors more environmentally safe will reduce particulate matter and significantly improve the air quality of our city.”
Flattop grills, such as those used in Halal trucks, would not be restricted under Koo’s proposed legislation.