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NYC Mayor Announces Food Vendor Ban

May 24, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Just as he had for the last two years, Abdul Fatah Mohammed doled out frankfurters, potato knishes and cold sodas from his food cart Sunday on a busy street corner near the main New York Public Library.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s latest plan for making Gotham more livable would change that routine. The mayor announced Saturday he would remove the vendors from 144 blocks, mainly in midtown Manhattan and the financial district, during the profitable daytime hours.

``Why does he do this? We don’t make any problems, and we have to support our families,″ said Mohammed, a 44-year-old Egyptian immigrant.

Food vending has for generations been a way immigrants start out in business. At least 350 carts will be affected, which is more than 10 percent of the licensed carts, according to the city’s biggest vending group.

``This is a big problem for us,″ said Mohammed Ahmed, 40, another immigrant from Egypt who was doing a steady trade among tourists on lower Broadway. ``We all have families. My English is not so good. This is the only job I can get.″

The plan would likely go into effect in two months, although a city councilman said he would try to get it repealed.

``The Giuliani administration has declared war on a true New York institution,″ said Councilman Anthony Weiner. ``Hard-working licensed food vendors are not a quality-of-life problem, they are part of the rich fabric of our city.″

Giuliani aides say the measure is designed to improve safety, ease congestion and keep the business districts running smoothly.

But some people said it wasn’t fair for Giuliani to target law-abiding food vendors in a quality-of-life crusade that previously homed in on street-corner ``squeegee men,″ subway panhandlers, drug dealers and _ most recently _ reckless cab drivers.

``He is acting like a dictator,″ said Mohammed Said, 32, a Pakistan-born car service driver who stopped by Ahmed’s corner for a snack. ``We don’t need dictators. We came here to get away from dictators.″

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