Photo by Ellen Joy.
The city wants street fairs to better reflect their neighborhoods so it’s proposing rules that would demand that at least half the vendors come from the local neighborhood.
It’s also planning to limit the total number of street fairs, by capping each community board at 10 street fairs a year. That would reduce the number of Upper West Side fairs. This year there are 13 street fairs — more if you count locally-organized fairs like Bloomingdale Family Days in Manhattan Valley. One reason for the change is to ease the congestion and strain on neighborhoods, the mayor’s office says (we’ve heard plenty of complaints about this issue).
“In calendar year 2016, approximately 200 street fairs will take place, with the majority located in the borough of Manhattan and concentrated in Community Boards 2, 5 and 7. This disproportionate concentration has several negative effects and does not serve the public interest. The high number of street fairs in Manhattan increases traffic congestion and burdens on local communities, particularly within Community Board 5 in the vicinity of Times Square. Multiple street fairs on the same day within the same community board increases the burden on local communities.”
The rules would also limit single-block street festivals to 20 per year.
The city is attempting to spread the street-fair love by issuing fewer permits in Manhattan and more in the other boroughs. For more than a decade, there has been a moratorium on new street fairs, which has kept the fair concentrated in some neighborhoods, while leaving other neighborhoods out.
Already, major street fair operators like Mort & Ray are saying the rules are unworkable, in part because it would be too hard to get that many local vendors and it would make the fairs unprofitable.
To comment on the rule, you can attend a hearing on October 13, or submit written comments. See below for the basic info. And to read more on how to comment, click here.