Illegal vendors flood Fordham Road following transition of oversight to Department of Health

When Mayor Bill de Blasio axed police enforcement of street vendors in June, many have been popping up throughout the borough, specifically on Fordham Road and some on Crosby and Westchester Avenues.

Executive Director of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce Lisa Sorin said the main issue is there has not been a smooth transition from the police to the Department of Health in overseeing the food vendors.

While it may be because of COVID-19, it seems that vendors have taken advantage of this lapse, she said.

“At the end of the day, we understand everybody has to make a living,” Sorin said. “It’s hurting our businesses and it’s a safety issue.”

She said it’s not right that restaurants are complying with the governor’s rules and some are even being shut down, while these vendors are operating with free rein. Furthermore, many of them are overcrowding the sidewalk and making it a hazard for pedestrians.

“We’ve got to figure out some middle ground for enforcement,” she said.

Wilma Alonso the director of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District, said vendors have flooded the area the past couple months. She told the Bronx Times there are illegal vendors from Creston Avenue to Third Avenue, on the south side of Fordham Road and at Fordham Plaza as well. One food vendor even has a smoker.

She noted there are often 30 to 35 vendors on any given day.

“The main issue is that city inspectors from Department of Health are not conducting field inspections yet due to COVID-19,” she said. “The city has not designated these responsibilities to any city agency either. Therefore, this has become an issue out of control.”

Geri Sciortino, owner of Bronx Design Group at 2914 Westchester Ave., has also noticed vendors near the Buhre Avenue stop on the 6 train.

She has seen a man selling fruit there for the past few weeks and noted at first it was just one table, but has since grown to three.

“As a business owner, I follow all the rules,” she explained. “It just infuriates me that nothing is being done. This neighborhood has been neglected.”

 

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