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Lower the Fines

UPDATE: We finally won!




Dear Speaker Quinn,

In 2006, the Bloomberg administration quadrupled penalties on licensed street vendors, from a maximum of $250 to a maxiumum of $1,000 per ticket. After filing two lawsuits which were successful but only temporary, the Street Vendor Project turned to City Council for permanent relief. In November 2010, Council Member Stephen Levin introduced two bills to lessen the fines. Intro 434 lowers the maximum fines from $1,000 to $250. Intro 435 makes sure that fines escalate only on vendors who repeatedly commit the same infraction.

The past two years, SVP has had countless meetings with council members, chambers of commerce, and community board members. We wrote boatloads of letters. We gathered thousands of signatures. We made videos. We got a ton of press. Eventually, in April 2012, the City Council Consumer Affairs Committee held a public hearing on Intros 434, 435, and several other vendor bills. Hundreds of vendors turned out to show their support. Many immigrants’ rights and other organizations testified in favor. The University of Wisconsin even published a study showing that reducing fines would increase revenue to the city’s coffers. Yes, lowering fines would increase revenues, because vendors could actually pay them!

And yet, more than six months later, the bills have not received a vote. Why not? Christine Quinn, the Council Speaker, controls whether a vote is called. She is a supporter of easing burdensome regulations on small businesses. She has indicated that her office is “looking into” whether to lower the fines. Yet, like with other bills, she seems to be dragging her feet. To help give her a push (and show that vendors are highly visible in the public  realm and therefore powerful), SVP is posting hundreds of signs on vending carts all over the city.

Support vendors? PLEASE HELP by doing one of the following:

Here are a few photos of vendors proudly displaying their signs:

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