Sunday, April 20, 2014

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NY1 For You: Hot Dog Vendors Say They Are Unfairly Sandwiched Between Planters

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TWC News: NY1 For You: Hot Dog Vendors Say They Are Unfairly Sandwiched Between Planters
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Many food vendors say their spot is their storefront and when that's threatened, so is their business. That is the position for a pair of Midtown vendors who turned to NY1 For You for help save their place. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following report.

Street vendor Awatef Gomaa says she and her husband's business is being literally squeezed out by planters pushing up against their Midtown food cart.

"I'm between the bushes. The customers even think I'm standing illegally," says Gomaa.

The hot dog vendors find themselves in this uncomfortable position after management for the building in front of their cart moved the row of planters into the spot on 53rd Street and Madison Avenue which the Gomaas have occupied for years.

The building's management also placed not one but two trash cans on the corner, blocking the vendors from setting up there as well.

"I have no space because as a food vendor you have rules and regulations you have to go by," says Gomaa. "You have to be 10 feet away from a sidewalk, from the entrance of a building and so forth."

It leaves next to no room for the Gomaas to operate, an appeal they say was ignored by building management.

"I told him, 'But you don't own the sidewalk.' He said, 'No, I own the sidewalk. I fix it, I take care of the sidewalk. I own the sidewalk and I don't want you here,'" says Gomaa.

It's a tough predicament for the food vendors, who say they are only asking the building manager to remove one of several planters so they can make a living.

"This is the only source of income I have," says Gomaa.

NY1 called management for the building at 515 Madison Avenue but has yet to hear back.

The station then contacted the Department Of Transportation about the planters. A DOT spokesman told NY1 that consent for the planters has expired and the property owner has been notified.

He went on to say if the planters are not removed from the sidewalk, DOT officials may issue a notice of encroachment on public property and after 30 days issue a fine for non-compliance.

The vendors hope these measures will help save their livelihood. NY1 will continue to follow this situation.

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