Street Vendors Owe the City Millions in Unpaid Fines


Most street vendors have a difficult enough time making enough money to support themselves, but now the Independent Budget Office has pointed out that they’re not making enough money for the city, either.

As Crain’s reports, the office just issued its very first report on street vendors. Among its findings: There are still $15 million worth of uncollected vendor fines from 2008 and 2009. This does not make the city happy, as in 2009 alone it spent $7.4 million trying to enforce and regulate vendors, and in return got a paltry $1.4 million revenue from fines and fees.

But just as the city is unhappy with vendors who don’t pay or underpay their sales tax, the vendors are unhappy with the enormous fines they’re expected to pay. As the Street Vendor Project’s legal director pointed out, it’s difficult to pay a $1,000 fine when you’re only making $50 a day, and while the report “talks about vendors not paying their fines … vendors who have outstanding violations cannot renew their licenses.”

One thing everybody does seem to agree on is that the current regulations are too confusing to be of use to anybody, and are in need of an overhaul. If, how, and when that will happen is anybody’s guess, but one assumes it will take another several millions of dollars of unpaid fines before anything changes.