Updated street vending rules are, according to the Daily News, causing many vendors to worry for their livelihoods. Last month the city changed the fine schedule for street vendors, upping the maximum fine from $250 to $1,000. A Department of Consumer Affairs spokeswoman explained that "the old fine schedule had not been changed in more than 20 years and ceased to be an effective deterrent."
The new rules work something like this: $50 for the first violation, $100 for the second, $250 for the third, $500 for the fourth, $750 for the fifth and $1,000 for every violation afterwards within a two-year period. Offenses that can produce a ticket include not offering a receipt, not displaying prices, being less than 20 feet away from an entrance way or occupying a space more than 8 feet long and 3 feet wide (more detail here).
The News argues that these fines are out of line with the amount of money that vendors pull in. They use an example of a Senegalese immigrant who makes $125 a week in street sales while also working as a security guard. That does make it sound like the city is picking on the "weak and defenseless." Except that the whole point of the fines are to keep the vendors from breaking the rules. Stiff fines, especially when margins are that low, could in fact be a good incentive to follow the rules. What do you think?