Union Square Park. The Parks Department began affixing Expressive Matter vending rule signs last week after the Appellate Division, First Department of the New York State Supreme Court struck down a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that had been in effect since last Summer.
The City will begin enforcing the Parks Department rules today which limits the number and location of street vendors who sell art in four parks. The new Parks Department rules went into effect on July 19, 2010.
According to the lawsuit, the City is seeking to limit and restrict “expressive matter” vending in four Manhattan parks - Central Park, Union Square Park, Battery Park and the High Line, as well as on the sidewalks adjacent to them. The four parks are run either entirely or in large part by public/private partnerships. The artists contend the new rules infringe on their rights to free expression and equal protection under the New York State Constitution; violate New York State and New York City human rights laws; and contradict New York City Local Laws and the Administrative Code.
Two other lawsuits in Federal court are also currently pending on this issue.
On Tuesday evening, PEP Inspector Robert Reeves sent out an email stating they have just learned that the courts "have ruled in our favor" and beginning Wednesday May 18th, they will "once again begin education by handing out the FAQs and taking down info of those we have spoken with," he wrote.
According to sources, PEP have attemped to collect contact information from vendors but only a few have complied.
"We must also check to see that the signage indicated the EMV rules are posted. We also need to check to make sure all medallions are in place at the 4 designated parks. Enforcement will begin this Saturday 5/21," Inspector Reeves wrote.
PEP officers began attending Expressive Matter training classes last week in preparation of enforcing the new Park rules. – Geoffrey Croft
(Photos: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.
New York City officials can start limiting the number and location of street vendors who sell art, photography and similar wares in some of the city's most congested parks, a state appeals court has ruled, according to Thomson Reuters.
In Union Square Park vending spots will be reduced to 18 on Greenmarket days and 58 the remaining times.
Tuesday's decision, by the Appellate Division, First Department, was the latest round in a legal battle that began last summer, when several artists sued the city's Department of Parks and Recreation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials over the new regulations, for violating their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection.
Those lawsuits are still pending in both state and federal courts, but the appeals court denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and lifted a temporary restraining order that had been in place since the lawsuits were filed.
"We can start enforcing the rules right now," said Gabriel Taussig, chief of the administrative law division in the New York City Law Department. "We've discussed that with Parks and they are formulating their plans."
Union Square West. Dangerous Going. Vendors feel its only a matter of time before someone is hit by a vehicle. According to the new park rules they must vend directly behind medallions the City has affixed on the ground which puts them precariously close to traffic.
The plaintiffs also sought a preliminary injunction in federal court, but that motion was denied last July.
"We are extremely pleased with the appellate court's decision," said Julie Steiner, who represented the city in the state appeal. She added that the city's rules are "narrowly-tailored, content-neutral regulations" and do not infringe on the vendors' First Amendment rights.
The plaintiffs are "very disappointed," said their attorney, Jon Schuyler Brooks, but he added that "we are reviewing our options." The plaintiffs did not immediately appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeals, New York's high court.
The regulations limit the selling of "expressive matter" -- for example, art, photography and books -- to a total of 100 designated spots in four of the most heavily visited city parks: Union Square Park, Battery Park, High Line Park, and portions of Central Park. Such vendors do not require a permit.
Only one vendor would be allowed at each site, on a first-come, first-served basis. In their complaint, the plaintiffs argued that vendors were spending the night on the perimeter of the restricted parks in order to be the first to claim one of the few designated spots. That resulted in a "survival of the fittest" system, "which has a discriminatory effect on women, the elderly, and the disabled, who are unable to fairly compete with others for the designated spots," the lawsuit said.
In its ruling, the court found that the city "has a significant interest in preserving and promoting the scenic beauty of its parks," which includes "providing sufficient areas for recreational uses and preventing congestion." The court ruled that existing restrictions were "no longer sufficient" to balance the interests of the vendors and the general public.
The city will start enforcing the rules in High Line Park on Saturday and in the other three parks on Monday.
The case is Diane Dua et al v. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation et al, New York Appellate Division, No. 5122N-110344/10.
For Diane Dua et al: Jon Schuyler Brooks of Phillips Nizer.
For the city: Julie Steiner of the New York City Law Department.
July 19, 2010. An artist's depiction of Mayor Michael Bloomberg stomping on rights protected under the the Constitution.
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