Parks’ Rules on Vending Upheld

Art vendor in Manhattan. Image Credit: CityLaw

Parks’ rules limited where vendors of expressive material could sell their wares in City parks. The Parks Department adopted “Expressive Matter Vending Rules” which restricted the sale of “materials or objects with expressive content, such as newspapers, books, or writings, or visual art such as paintings, prints, photography, or sculpture.” The new rules limited the sale of expressive materials to 100 specifically designated spots in Union Square Park, Battery Park, High Line Park, and Central Park. The spots would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis with only one vendor per spot.

A vendors’ group sued the City, alleging that the new rules were inconsistent with the City’s Administrative Code, violated free speech and equal protection rights, and were discriminatory. The Supreme Court, New York County, sided with the vendors and voided the rules. The City appealed.

The Appellate Division, First Department, reversed and ruled in favor of the City. The Appellate Division held that the rules did not conflict with the City Council’s intent in granting the City authority to regulate expressive matter vending consistent with public health, safety, and welfare. The rules were an appropriate response to concerns of excessive vending in the listed City parks, and, as time, place, and manner restrictions, were no broader than they needed to be in response to demonstrated concerns. The court also found that there was no proof of disparate treatment or equal protection violations.

Dua v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Parks & Recreation, 2019 WL 3913574 N.Y.S.3d. (1st Dept. 2019).


By: Valentina Gioffrè (Valentina is a New York Law School student, Class of 2020.)



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