UPPER WEST SIDE — Taxi drivers say they're getting squeezed by food vendors — and one local politician says she's got a plan to solve the problem.
In response to complaints from cabbies who say food trucks and carts are crowding taxi stands, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced legislation last week that will drive away the food vendors.
Currently it's illegal for "general vendors," such as sellers of scarves, books and hats, to hawk their wares at taxi stands, but there's no rule prohibiting food vendors.
The problem is particularly acute at bustling Columbus Circle, Brewer said, where several food trucks and carts compete for space with a taxi stand outside the Time Warner Center.
"Taxi drivers have been complaining to me because they can’t pick up passengers, then they double park," Brewer said. "There aren't a lot of safe places in that very congested location. It gets dangerous."
Brewer said she saw six or seven food vendors lined up on the sidewalk alongside the taxi stand on Thursday night, making it difficult for passengers — some of whom were laden with bags — to get into and out of cabs.
"It's like a barrier," Brewer said. "You can get through, but it makes it hard."
Brewer said she expects the legislation to win City Council approval easily. Vendors are already barred from operating too close to lamp posts, parking meters, mailboxes, fire hydrants, tree boxes, benches, bus shelters and trash cans.
Brewer has suggested tracking food trucks with GPS devices, and Community Board 7 is about to start a survey of food trucks on the Upper West Side.