Monawara Sultana says her rent is going up: $14,000 for a two-year permit to run a food cart where she sells $1 hot dogs outside of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
And it’s not the city levying the increase or recouping the money. It’s the permit holder, who is asking for double what she previously paid, according to Ms. Sultana. “It’s not fair,” said the Bangladeshi immigrant and mother of three. “Why did it go up so much?”
The city’s competitive street food culture has created a thriving black market for mobile food vending permits issued by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The city charges a mere $200 for most food-cart permits, which must be paid every two years when they are renewed. But it only issues 3,100 year-round permits plus an additional 1,000 seasonal permits—not enough to satisfy demand. Transferring or renting these permits to another vendor is illegal but everyone, including the city’s Health Department, acknowledges, that it happens.
If only the government would stay out of it, or at the very least make the number of hot dog cart permits unlimited, this problem wouldn’t exist.
Photo by Dog Company.