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New Study Shows Prevalence of Street Vendors in Upper East Side

UPPER EAST SIDE — As street vendors continue to cause quality-of-life concerns with locals, new research shows how ubiquitous the businesses are in the neighborhood.

The study, conducted by a Hunter College urban affairs graduate student at the request of Community Board 8's vendor task force committee, found 179 vendors operating in the Upper East Side during eight recent site visits.

Of these, 72 vendors were cooking-intensive food carts — such as halal stands — and 41 were non-cooking food carts, such as coffee stands, researcher Arban Vigani said at a recent meeting.

The next most popular category included general merchandise, with 44 tallied, followed by 22 fruit vendors.

To conduct the survey, Vigani toured the neighborhood four times between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the last several months, he said. Around the same time, he made four 9 to 11 a.m. viewings and found that there were more vendors present during the later time periods.

Other observations were that most of the early morning vendors sold fruit and breakfast items, such as coffee, he said.

Vigani said he tallied at least 20 infractions — such as vendors blocking tree pits or exceeding height limits, he said.

The results of Vigani's report — as well as the general context of the meeting — had Upper East Side residents rankled.

"The broken-window theory really holds true," said CB8 member and task force chairwoman Michele Birnbaum. "It's really out of hand."