Friday, October 28, 2011

Ticketing the ticket-sellers

In my home town, New York City, it is now illegal to sell tickets on the street without a license. But here's the true Catch 22: there is no license available for selling tickets on the street.

The dispute involves the guys who stand near 34th Street and 5th Avenue and hawk tickets to an Empire State Building virtual reality ride. They wear uniforms of the company that runs the ride, and they have been an almost constant presence on the block for years. But only recently has their presence drawn police action.

While there may be legitimate concerns that the vendors prey on tourists who think they're buying entry to the Empire State Building tower and then discover they've only purchased the access to the video version of the view, the problems caused by the vendors sound pretty paltry:

Many in the community say they’ve had to avoid Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th streets whenever possible to steer clear of the vendors. Local residents, building managers and office workers had repeatedly complained of harassment by vendors, whom they accused of blocking sidewalks, accosting tourists and driving neighbors nuts with their constant ‘Going up?’ pitch.
This is ridiculous. I'm on that block often, and the vendors are hardly the threat the residents make them out to be.
It's also worth pointing out that giving desk appearance tickets that will be argued in court waste police, corrections, and court time. The police have to show up in court for the violations to stick--which pulls them off the street. And vendors beware: if you don't go to court to deal with your ticket, a warrant will be issued. And if you get caught again before settling the warrant, you will spend the night in central booking. That's right: in today's overly-securitized city, two non-criminal citations can buy you a night in the slammer.

DNAinfo has more details of this wild NYC ride.

1 comment:

CD said...

Sometimes street vendors can be as bad as panhandlers. But either way I think it's kind of unfair not to issue the license to legit vendors...