Court Finds Long Beach New York Ordinance Unconstitutionally Vague

A State Supreme Court Judge found that the Long Beach New York ordinance governing sales from food carts was unconstitutionally vague. In Party Magic Enterprises, Inc. v. City of New Rochelle, the plaintiff, who held a peddlers license from the city which permitted sale of food from a cart, challenged the local ordinance’s restriction on how long a peddler may keep his cart in the same location.

The challenged language required that the holder of a license may not “stand or permit the unmotorized vehicle used by him … to stand in a fixed location in any public place or street for more than five (5) minutes.”

The Court held that the ordinance was vague as the failure to define the distance a peddler must move every five minutes did not give a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice that contemplated conduct is forbidden and subjected the ordinance to arbitrary enforcement. It reasoned that one police officer might find that moving 100 feet was sufficient to comply with the law while another officer might conclude a greater distance was required. The court noted that several similar ordinances specify the distance that must be moved periodically and such a modification would cure the deficiency in this ordinance.