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The War for Fifth Avenue

City tries to answer complaints with proposed rules, but Bay Ridge leaders say it's not enough

Brooklyn Daily
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The city has cooked up a proposal of new codes for food carts that has brick-and-mortar establishments boiling mad.

But the guidelines, which include limiting the size of curbside carts and creating separate sanitary standards, are in themselves substandard, according to Tony Gentile, owner of the Lone Star Bar on Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, and founder of Save Our Streets, an area alliance opposed to food carts.

“It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a leaky hose,” he said.

The proposal calls for a cap of 10 feet by five feet on all sidewalk carts, and would require vendors to haul their beef buggies to the Health Department’s doorstep for a mandatory inspection in order to renew their licenses.

Gentile said that doesn’t cut the mustard, and that the only way to block unscrupulous vendors from plying their illegal trade around town is to revoke all existing permits and re-issue them strictly to the owner-operators, some of whom reside out of the country.

“They should take the licenses back, and issue them only to people who live in the U.S. and work in the carts,” he said.

Community Board 10 district manager Josephine Beckmann agreed that the proposals were toothless.

“I don’t think it levels the playing field and answers the complaints,” she said, pointing out that neither the current nor the proposed regulations require mobile vendors to clean up their parcel of the pavement after closing shop — a responsibility that instead falls on property owners and local business improvement districts.

But the new rules are fine by Sammy Kassen, who operates the so-named Middle Eastern Halal Cart on Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, which he said passed the mark at four feet by eight feet.

“It’s not going to affect us,” said the chicken-and-rice slinger, whose cart was displaced by a pair of benches mysteriously bolted over the spring at its former spot a block away.

Kassen declined to comment on whether Asus would make a personal appearance at the Health Department if the guidelines were adopted by the city, which will hold a hearing on July 19.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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