Simmering Ridge food vendor wars boil over

To the editor,

The Save Our Streetscape campaign has always been about trying to bring attention to the inequities in current city regulations as it relates to food vending in our community and throughout the city.

For four years we have been reaching out to the 86th Street Business Improvement District, advocating for both street amenities along our streetscape and for a food vendor-free zone because of a system that creates an unfair competitive disadvantage to our merchants. The merchants of the 8700 block of Fifth Avenue within the 86th Street Business Improvement District cannot utilize our sidewalks as we are within a restricted sidewalk display district. We wanted to add food vending restrictions to the already general vending restrictions within the 86th Street Business Improvement District. In addition, our district has unique regulations that prohibit the use of the sidewalk. Whenever we have questioned, “Why are food vendor carts allowed to operate on the same sidewalks that possess sidewalk restrictions?” city officials were not able to respond.

We are members of a business improvement district and pay additional fees for maintenance services. We are also in a district where rents are up to $9,000 per month. The inequities are hurting small businesses right here in Bay Ridge and citywide. These vendor carts are restaurants on wheels with full service kitchens that operate on a sidewalk 22 hours per day, seven days per week. Now the city wants to rewrite the rules without addressing the inequities. This is unfair.

Food cart employees are also being victimized by an open black market system referred to by people like Sean Basinski of the Street Vendor Project. His statements to the press are outrageous and should be immediately investigated by the state attorney general and complaints should be made, as Sean Basinski is an attorney who acknowledges publicly intimate knowledge of the existence of a black market system. Many question if the Street Vendor Project is a participant in the very same system.

Today the Save Our Streetscape Campaign is calling for a full-scale investigation of city food vendors. We are also asking for a full-scale investigation into the Street Vendor Project and the New York City Department of Health to determine their knowledge and involvement in the black market system. We are asking for the New York State Taxation Department to also investigate the billions of dollars in unreported rent revenue and taxes that is being lost by this black market operation. We ask that the appropriate enforcement agencies, including NYPD take swift action to remove all illegal food vendor carts and to revoke all permits that are being illegally rented.

Finally we call upon Mayor Bloomberg to revamp the entire system of food vending in the city to address the inequities that currently exist. They are hurting brick-and-mortar business throughout New York.

Tony Gentile

Founder of Save Our Streetscape

Primary pains

To the editor,

My congressional district was re-drawn. I live on the border of Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay. By election day, I and my neighbors did not receive any notification of the June 26 primary from the incompetent Board of Elections.

In past elections, we received a list of candidates and the location of our polling places in addition to the appropriate election district numbers. I went to vote at 10 am. The polls opened at 6 am. I was the second person to vote. There were more poll workers than voters.

There was also no effort on the part of the primary candidates to campaign in our area or even send out campaign literature. I did not even know who the candidates were until I was handed the ballot.

I do not believe this was done by accident, but was done intentionally to suppress the vote.

Mark Levine

Sheepshead Bay


To the editor,

Councilman Charles Barron doesn’t have to wonder why he lost his bid for Congress to Hakeem Jeffries (“Landslide! Jeffries trounces Barron at the polls,” online June 27).

When candidate Ronald Reagan received the endorsement of the KKK in 1980, he immediately disavowed the endorsement. Barron chose not to do so. Had he won, he would set back race relations in this country for 100 years.

Also, speaking of politics, what does Charlie Rangel have in common with Unity Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers? Both have been in power far too long. Ironically, Mike Mulgrew showed up at Rangel’s victory party Tuesday night. Both must have laughed how they have fooled the public for so long. Our union gets involved in politics since they have to divert the minds of the membership regarding their failed leadership. The 2005 United Federation of Teachers contract is a prime example.

In that one, Unity, under Randi Weingarten, gave back hard fought contractual gains made through the years. Not being able to grieve a letter, restoration of cafeteria and hallway duty, longer days and longer years are just some examples, as well as seniority transfers and bumping less senior people when excessing occurs.

As a result of the latter, the Department of Education got the go-ahead to excess senior people and make life so miserable for them in their new status that they would quit.

We need term limits for union leadership as well.

Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

61st Precinct blues

To the editor,

I just want to thank the 61st Precinct for not responding to three 311 calls, plus calls to the stationhouse on June 18. A car blocked our driveway and my wife couldn’t get her school bus out.

I started calling 311 and the precinct at 5:40 am, and waited until 9 am when the vehicle owner finally drove away. Meanwhile, my wife had to go to Coney Island and get a different bus, therefore making the kids late for school.

That’s the trickle-down affect by the moron blocking the driveway. And where were the cops? I guess there’s no ticket quota in the 61. Thanks for nothing. Hey Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Ray Kelly? What gives?

John Rykala

Bay Ridge

Fidler’s foibles

To the editor,

Take off the blinders, Morris Himmelfod (“Fidler’s feats,” Letters to the Editor, June 21). My letter did not contain any derogatory statements, regarding Councilman Lew Fidler’s contributions to the community. I simply stated that more than half of the councilman’s constituents voted for the other guy. Nor was there any reference to the “mud-slinging” campaign.

My wife and I have lived in Mill Island for 52 years and have seen many changes to our beautiful community. Ask Councilman Fidler to show you a copy (and reply) of a three-page letter I wrote to him in January, it may open up your eyes. I sent him a list of arrogant motorists in our community who disregard stop signs, traffic lights, and more. Councilman Fidler claims he gave it to the police and advised me to do the same.

Cops don’t serve a summons unless they observe an offense. Need I say more?

Ugo M. Rosiello

Mill Island

Reach reporter Shavana Abruzzo at sabruzzo@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2529.

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