Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Audience Agenda

There was little on the agenda at last night's Common Council meeting, and few aldermen were present. Council president Don Moore was absent; aldermen John Friedman (Third Ward), Henry Haddad (Third Ward), Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward) were absent, and Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward) didn't arrive until the meeting was almost over. But there were people in the audience who had come with their own agenda items.

Mobile Merchandising  Sarah Dibben, owner of Swallow at 433 Warren Street, asked about regulations in the city code pertaining to street vendors and trucks. She mentioned specifically a truck selling coffee that had parked in front of her coffee shop and later had positioned itself across from Relish, on South Front Street near the train station. She wanted to know: "Where these vendors are paying taxes?"

The discussion expanded to include Truck Shop, regularly parked of late near Warren and Fifth streets. Dibben noted that Truck Shop was posting its location and hours on a website and was selling the same goods as some of her neighbors in nearby shops. There was some question about the permitted distance between trucks and brick and mortar businesses selling similar goods, and Branda Maholtz asked where trucks are allowed to be located. Although the specific reference in the city code was not cited last night, Chapter 307-5 E specifies: "No vendor shall sell a product within 100 feet of a store selling the same or a substantially similar product."   

Alderman Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward) asked Dibben if she had checked with code enforcement. City attorney Carl Whitbeck commented that a truck can only park on the street for two hours at a time. Whitbeck may have been referring to the general two-hour limit for parking on Warren Street, encouraged by parking meters that max out at two hours, but Gossips could find no reference to a time limit in Chapter 307 of the city code, which deals specifically with vendors and was revised in 2008. A time limit is, however, specified in Chapter 203-5 C--a chapter that deals with "Merchants, Transient" and was adopted in 1973 and not amended since: "A licensed transient merchant shall . . . not stand or permit the vehicle used by him to stand in one place in any public place or street for more than 10 minutes, or in front of any premises for any time if the owner of or lessee of the ground floor thereof objects." It is not clear if, under the law, a vendor is the same as a transient merchant and subject to the same restrictions, or if the two are different.

Surveillance Cameras  Tim Slowinski, owner of Limner Gallery at 123 Warren Street, brought up the topic of police surveillance cameras proposed for his block. At the last Common Council Police Committee meeting, police commissioner Gary Graziano spoke of installing cameras at the corner of Warren and Second streets and the corner of Warren and First streets. He reported that people have offered to have them mounted on their buildings and to pay for the electricity to operate them. Graziano indicated that cameras are a deterrent to crime and that the tapes from the cameras are used by the police to identify cars and locate suspects when crime has been committed. Slowinski, however, called the proposal to install cameras "an over-the-top reaction to some people who are loitering on the corner."

Although Warren and Second and Warren and First were proposed as locations for surveillience cameras, the southeast corner of Warren and Second seemed to be the focus of the conversation last night. Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward), who was chairing the meeting in Moore's absence, suggested that the surveillance cameras were in response to drug dealing. Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) said she didn't think drug dealers hung out there. She said the problem was loitering, and the City should just enforce its loitering laws. She went on to say that "the people who own the business are giving people chairs to sit out in front."

Since the building is owned and managed by Housing Resources and Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood now has its office in the building at 6 South Second Street, it was suggested that the perceived problem could to addressed by simply talking with Housing Resources and with Joan Hunt, Promise Neighborhood project director.

Plans for the Park  Sheena Salvino, executive director of Hudson Development Corporation (HDC), spoke of the meeting about Seventh Street Park that had taken place the previous Thursday and reported that "the next step is to do a survey." The plans are to create an online survey, to conduct surveys with people in the park, and to make paper surveys available at businesses surrounding the park and at City Hall.


  1. There was a resolution passed on May 20, 2008 for setting a fee for a Merchant's permit to take up one parking space per day be $100. I should know, I had to fill out such a form last week for a food vendor to take up one space on South Fifth Street during the music festival. I paid the City $300!

  2. This is a timely subject that dovetails nicely into high unsustainable rents on Warren street. It is a story of artistic expression, freedom, and compliance. It is also one of reinventing ones self in order to make a living. We at Truck Shop had a gallery for a year, but that dovetailed into the great recession - and became prohibitive. We are not transient, but mobile vendors. We have a license. We are respectful beyond the written law; paying mind to never park in front of a storefront, or to sell similar items within 100' of another shop. We are an experiment that we expect to bring more positive attention to Hudson. We are in compliance. We have a license. We respect our neighbors and fellow merchants. Beyon Truck Shop selling jewelry, and gifts, it is our hope to get more design work for ww.hudsondesign.us. Many of our clients are well established in Hudson. So, we understand, agree, and sympathize at the same time. Truck Shop is our fourth business to date in Hudson since 2007. Hudson Design, Olivia On Warren, and Tortillaville came before. But, this is who we are, and what we have longed to get back to. Our license allows us to park at a meter anywhere in Hudson, as long as we are not selling the same or similarly distinct item as another shop within in 100' PS: we also design and build out pop-up trucks of any kind for anyone interested.