Vendors lose museum sidewalk claim

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image Credit: Google Maps

Street vendors congregated on sidewalk in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Five disabled veterans regularly operated their sidewalk vending businesses outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. City Parks Enforcement Patrol officers, between 2011 and 2013, issued the vendors 298 summonses for “failure to comply with orders to relocate their vending carts.” The officers claimed that the vendors set up their carts approximately twenty feet from the curb when the State statute limits the vendors to three feet from the curb. The officers claimed that the vendors refused to move back to the curb.

The vendors sued the City, alleging that the statute regulated only the size of the vending cart and not the location of the cart. After five years of litigation, the district court entered judgment for the vendors and voided the summonses.

The City appealed to the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit agreed with the City, reversed the decision, and held that the State statute regulated both size and placement of vending carts on the City’s sidewalks. The Second Circuit explained that the purpose of the statute was to regulate congestion on the City’s sidewalks. The Second Circuit ruled that the vendors’ interpretation of the statute would undermine the statute’s purpose as it would allow vendors to place their vending carts in the middle of the sidewalk so long as they satisfied the size requirement.

Crescenzi v. City of New York, 939 F.3d 511 (2nd Cir. 2019).

By: Katerina Pluhacek Garcia (Katerina is a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)


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