SOHO — The city Health Department has shut down 20 SoHo food carts after they were found to be illegally operating around the clock, in the latest development in a longstanding battle between residents and mobile vendors.
In an overnight raid early last Thursday, the Health Department closed the food carts because they violated city policy by either operating continuously or being left unattended, according to a statement issued Monday afternoon from City Councilwoman Margaret Chin's office.
Echoing many SoHo residents, Chin said the carts create trash, additional foot traffic and air pollution that worsens the quality of life for SoHo residents.
“Vendors have to play by the rules," she said in a statement. "These carts need to be removed from the street and they must be cleaned daily."
Several food carts on Broadway between East Houston and Canal streets were still closed Monday afternoon, leaving the usually swarmed thoroughfare a little clearer.
Halal cart operator Habib Rahman, who was not on Broadway during the 1 to 5 a.m. crackdown, said his phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from affected vendors who are now looking for work.
"There are now maybe 200 people jobless and families broke," Rahman said.
The vendor raid follows a request last month by Community Board 2 for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to review vendor rules for the area.
Legislation set to go before the City Council this week may lower the maximum fines that can be levied against vendors from $1,000 to $500, and prevent fines from escalating unless vendors break the same rules again.
Vendors may resume operation once they correct all violations, pay permit decal replacement fees, and pass inspection, a Health Department spokeswoman said.