There seems to be a spate of goofball entrepreneurs who either don't have any idea what licenses they need for business or don't expect that city officials read the NY Times. Today's Dining section has a feature--with photographs--of an unlicensed empanada business that sells homemade snacks at the local Greenmarket. The photo of her making empanadas in her living room is a nice touch, and makes the Health Department's job a lot easier. I suspect she will not be selling her wares much longer unless she gets a decent kitchen.
This is on the heels of the dude in Brooklyn who inexplicably had a nice business going of selling lobster rolls from his basement apartment. That went south once he got a bunch of press. Even better are the urban farmers in Queens who started dumping soil on a rooftop before they bothered to figure out if the structure was sound. They got a story in the Times before they got their permits.
There are lots of these stories. Is the permitting process too difficult? Maybe it is, but regulations such as health and building codes are there for a reason. Perhaps this is a trend where an underground economy is developing. But that doesn't explain why people are so cavalier about letting everyone know that they aren't running legitimate businesses.