«Contesting the streets Volume 18, number 1 • 2016 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and Research ...»
86 Contesting the Streets Return to the Streets Future Research Questions and Data Collection In concluding, we offer brief thoughts about future research questions and data collection that might extend our findings and also the state of knowledge about vending. First, a quantitative assessment of street vendor relocation and upgrading policies would contribute greatly to our understanding of these policies and their effects. For instance, one might investigate how different policy approaches affect profits and income among relocated vendors, taxes and fees collected by local governments and other public authorities as a result of vendor relocations into purpose-built markets, or even the cost of insurance for vendors as a way to avoid their having to sell their stalls. Second, research could focus on the extent to which street vendors are “informal.” In many Indonesian cities, local governments often manage to collect taxes and fees from itinerant vendors.
At the same time, vendors who sell in purpose-built markets may not pay taxes or requisite fees and lack proper documentation. Thus, the notion of informality in Indonesia is fluid and amorphous. It would be of interest to explore whether informality in other countries is similarly vague. Such research could serve to help clarify the nature of formal/informal boundaries. Finally, connecting street vending research with the literature on shopping mall retail development could inform improvements in stall arrangements and site planning within purpose-built markets. While stall assignments at our case study sites were largely decided based on the lottery system, the reapportionment of spaces based on the complementary products and services of the different vendors could promote the overall success of markets and enhance total revenues.
Acknowledgments The authors thank the street vendors and organizers who took the time to share their experiences and insights. Special thanks also go to Rizqa Hidayani, Fuad Jamil, Yunia Nursita, and Ahmad Rifai for their research assistance.
Authors John Taylor is the founder and Director of the local Indonesian nongovernmental organization Yayasan Kota Kita (YKK/Our City Foundation).
Lily Song is a provost fellow in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy at University College London.
References Dick, Howard. 2002. Surabaya, City of Work: A Twentieth Century Socioeconomic History. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.
Peters, Robbie. 2013. Surabaya, 1945–2010: Neighbourhood, State and Economy in Indonesia’s City of Struggle. Singapore: NUS Press.
Roy, Ananya. 2005. “Urban Informality: Toward an Epistemology of Planning,” Journal of the American Planning Association 71 (2): 147–158.
———. 2004. “Transnational Trespassings: The Geopolitics of Urban Informality.” In Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives From the Middle East, Latin America, and South Asia, edited by Ananya Roy and Nezar AlSayyad. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books: 202–317.
Vickers, Adrian. 2013. A History of Modern Indonesia, 2nd ed. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Watson, Vanessa. 2009. “Seeing From the South: Refocusing Urban Planning on the Globe’s Central Urban Issues,” Urban Studies 46 (11): 2259–2275.
Additional Reading Fainstein, Susan. 2010. The Just City. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Forester, John. 1999. The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes.
Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Healey, Patsey. 2003. “Collaborative Planning in Perspective,” Planning Theory 2 (2): 101–123.
Kothari, Uma, and Bill Cooke. 2001. “Power, Knowledge and Social Control in Participatory Development.” In Participation: The New Tyranny? edited by Bill Cooke and Uma Kothari. London, United Kingdom: Zed Books: 139–152.
Majeed, Rushda. 2014. Defusing a Volatile City, Igniting Reforms: Joko Widodo and Surakarta, Indonesia, 2005–2011. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, Innovations for Successful Societies.
Morrell, Elizabeth, Noldy Tuerah, and Hetifah Sjaifudian Sumarto. 2011. “Local Authority and Pro-Poor Urban Management in Indonesia’s Transition to Democracy,” International Development Planning Review 33 (1): 49–66.
Phelps, Nicholas, Tim Bunnell, Michelle Ann Miller, and John Taylor. 2014. “Urban Inter-Referencing Within and Beyond a Decentralized Indonesia,” Cities 39: 37–49.
Roy, Ananya, and Nezar AlSayyad, eds. 2004. Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives From the Middle East, Latin America, and South Asia. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Stokke, Kristian, and Giles Mohan. 2001. “The Convergence Around Local Civil Society and the Dangers of Localism,” Social Scientist 29 (11/12): 3–24.
Williams, Glyn. 2004. “Evaluating Participatory Development: Tyranny, Power and (Re) Politicisation,” Third World Quarterly 25 (3): 557–578.
Yiftachel, Oren, and Haim Yakobi. 2003. “Control, Resistance and Informality: Urban Ethnocracy in Beer-Sheva, Israel.” In Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives From the Middle East, Latin America, and South Asia, edited by Ananya Roy and Nezar AlSayyad. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books: 209–240.
88 Contesting the Streets
Fining the Hand That Feeds You:
Situational and Violation-Specific Factors Influencing New York City Street Vendor Default in Payment Kathryn A. Carroll University of Wisconsin-Madison Sean Basinski Urban Justice Center Alfonso Morales University of Wisconsin-Madison Abstract A large portion of levied street-vending fines in New York City (NYC) historically have gone unpaid. In 2009 alone, the NYC Independent Budget Office estimated street-vending fine enforcement cost more than $7 million (Turetsky, Vega, and O’Brien, 2010). Rather than generating revenue from the associated $15 million in written fines, approximately 93 percent of these potential returns went uncollected. While legislative victories in 2013 for street vendors resulted in lower fine levels for some violations, no further policy changes have occurred.
Given the high public cost associated with street-vending fine enforcement, a better understanding of the violation-specific and situational factors that influence default in payment is needed. This article represents a step in that direction from the enforcement perspective.
We define violation-specific factors to include ticket attributes, such as whether the cited statute is “crystal clear” or “muddy” in terms of its interpretation. Situational factors include attributes such as the borough location of the proposed transgression.
Using data from more than 25,000 2010 NYC vending citations, we estimate the influence of several factors on the probability of citation nonpayment via a binary logit model and subsequent odds ratios. Our results suggest that more crystal-clear violation statutes and lower fine amounts could help manage public enforcement costs.
We conclude that enforcement agencies should take into account both situational and violation-specific factors when ticketing street vendors as a means to both combat the public cost of vending regulation enforcement and improve current policy.
Introduction Street vending is a phenomenon that has become globally prevalent (Bromley, 2000). In the United States, street merchants have long been an essential part of the economic structure of cities themselves. Vending has been used to enhance food security, alleviate unemployment, and even integrate new immigrants into social and economic life. At the same time, local municipalities have paralleled these trends by regulating vending to maintain order and traffic flow and to reduce potential competition with brick-and-mortar businesses.
Street vending in New York City (NYC), in particular, has a long history and continues to remain synonymous with the city itself. Historical records from as far back as the 17th century highlight just how intertwined street vending was with daily city life (Bluestone, 1991). Throughout the 19th century, street vending was a way for many immigrant residents to earn a living; the goods they purveyed provided lower-income residents with a source from which to purchase household necessities (Taylor et al., 2000). Street merchants were then widespread in NYC from the late 1800s until the mid-1930s, when city improvements for the upcoming 1939 New York World’s Fair began to restrict their street presence.
The current framework of street vending in NYC continues to be restrictive: since the early 1980s, the city has limited the number of vending permits issued to 3,100 2-year permits, 1,000 seasonal permits, and 1,000 green (produce) cart permits (City of New York, 2015). These numbers have remained unchanged for more than 30 years, with the exception of green cart permits, which were added in 2008 (Leggat et al., 2012). This cap on vending permits has resulted in a “black market” for leased permits in NYC. Leasing a permit from another holder, which is illegal, can cost a potential vendor upwards of $20,000, while those who are selected to apply for a new permit legally via a random lottery system (maintained by the city) pay only $200 (Marritz, 2015). Once issued a permit, license holders may renew their permit indefinitely, without having to prove that they continue to operate. Coupled with the difficulty in obtaining a proper vending permit is the complexity and irregularity of street-vending rules and regulations. No single city agency currently is responsible for overseeing street-vending activities. Sluszka and Basinski (2006) noted that such a “multiagency approach” has resulted in a set of vending regulations that are complex, unclear, and, in some cases, contradictory for both vendors and enforcement officers.
Street vending perhaps can be considered one of the most visible examples of irregularly enforced activity in the United States today. While some violations are “crystal clear,” others are often viewed as murky, ambiguous, and “muddy.” Every rule of law may be characterized as either crystal clear or not. A rule that one “may not vend within 8 feet of a bus stop” is crystal clear. Disagreements over its application are likely to be rare and are quickly resolved. By contrast, a rule that a street vendor “must keep adequate records of sales” is ambiguous and can be interpreted differently from vendor to vendor. Such a rule encourages disagreement over what constitutes “adequate records,” and thus complicates dispute resolution. Such muddy violations also empower law enforcement officials with a substantial amount of discretion (Kettles, 2014).
Given these challenges, it is perhaps not surprising that many issued vending tickets go unpaid.
For 2009, the NYC Independent Budget Office reported that street-vending fine enforcement alone
cost the city $7.4 million (Turetsky, Vega, and O’Brien, 2010). Coupled with the cost of enforcement, only a small percentage of fines written in 2009 were actually paid. Out of an estimated $15.8 million in total civil vending penalties for 2009, approximately $14.9 million in written fines went uncollected.
Earlier research on NYC street-vending violations by Davis and Morales (2012) concluded that, as the fine level of the ticket increased, so did the likelihood of nonpayment by the vendor. Davis and Morales examined violations from 2006 through 2010 and recommended that NYC change its policy so that frequently cited violations were associated with less-expensive fine levels. In 2013, the city council passed a series of bills that reduced vending penalties by more than 50 percent, thus overturning the higher penalty structure that was introduced in 2004. While the earlier work of Davis and Morales (2012) suggests that lowering ticket charges would lead to an increase in net revenue for the city, it is probable that other factors besides fine size influence whether a vendor defaults in payment. Such factors may be situational, such as the borough in which the violation occurred, or may be violation-specific, as with the aforementioned fine levels. By identifying possible additional factors, vending enforcement and regulation could be further improved and public cost reduced.
Given the high public costs associated with street vendor fine enforcement, a better understanding of the violation-specific and situational factors that influence default in payment is needed. We define violation-specific factors to include ticket attributes such as whether the cited statute is crystal clear or muddy in terms of its interpretation. Situational factors include attributes such as the borough location of the proposed transgression. It is possible that interactions between and within these two types of factors further influence the likelihood of default in payment; for example, those officers who use their discretion to write a lot of tickets (a violation-specific factor) may make the situation (the borough location) and thus the likelihood of default in payment more complex. The influence of both situational and violation-specific factors has yet to be examined for street vendor ticket payment in NYC. Therefore, the objectives of this research are to (1) identify the violationspecific and situational factors that increase the likelihood of a vendor defaulting in payment and (2) uncover whether interactions within and between these two types of factors influence the probability of payment. We use 2010 violation data containing more than 25,000 NYC written street vendor tickets (of which 54.25 percent were in default) to explore potential factors related to default in payment. We employed a binary logit model to estimate factor influence on imposed fine default in payment, with odds ratios computed from the estimated coefficients.
By identifying those factors that influence default in payment, enforcement agencies and policymakers alike could use such information to better manage the public cost of vending-regulation enforcement. To the knowledge of the authors, this research is the first effort to focus on the enforcement of street-vending regulations from the perspective of nonpayment likelihood and public cost.