BATTERY PARK, Manhattan — Ticket vendors are firing back as the city cracks down on aggressive ticket sellers in Battery Park.
There have been horror stories in recent months. Reports of fights breaking out between rival ticket peddlers and sale of fraudulent tickets to unsuspecting tourists.
In February, a tourist from Arkansas was punched in the face at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal when he declined to purchase tickets from a vendor.
That incident led to the NYPD sting that arrested dozens of vendors peddling fake tickets. Some were even selling phony tickets for the Staten Island Ferry, which is free.
"They're a major quality of life issue in that ticket vendors sometimes are very aggressive in their sale tactics," Patrick Kennell, president of the Financial District Neighborhood Association, said.
Police also stepped up enforcement of a policy that does not allow ticket vendors on any Parks Department property and the ferry terminal. The enforcement has forced these ticket sellers to filter onto side streets to try to find business.
"This just adds to it and it's one more thing that makes things down here chaotic and more congested," Kennell said.
The extra congestion is frustrating to residents.
"It's just a problem to get around to everyday life. You want to take the kids to a little league game in the morning we have to get around a number of ticket vendors who don't know whether we're tourists or residents," Kennell said.
Kennell and his fellow residents now have the support of city legislators.
Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who represents District 4, is sponsoring a bill that would regulate the vendors.
"Tourists come to New York City and they deserve an extra level of protection by local government against those looking to manipulate or deceive them," Garodnick said.
The bill would make it mandatory for vendors to obtain an annual license that costs $125 per year. It would also give the NYPD the authority to relocate vendors if necessary.
"We're going to create a small fee for the license and it will define certain areas where you cannot sell tickets. It will give the police department an extra tool to go after those unlicensed ticket sellers and bring any bad acts under control," Garodnick said.
"We've seen too many examples of vendors scamming tourists, taking their money, delivering them a false product and we want to deal with them," Garodnick said.
But other ticket sellers said they're just trying to make an honest living. The owner of 10 12 Venture Tours said it's unfair to penalize all the ticket sellers when it's just a few bad apples.
"They're going so hard as to say everyone is selling fake tickets, it's not true. We're making a living, we're feeding our families, we are not committing any crimes or atrocities to the neighborhood," Corey Lashley said.
Lashley said he would like to work something out with City Hall, but if the bill passes, his acceptance of it proves he runs a legitimate business.
"If it comes to that, we have no problems with it. If they have to weed out those who are not supposed to be here, so be it," Lashley said.
Councilman Garodnick tells PIX11 News the bill is expected to pass and could pass as early as the end of this month.