What is troubling is that none of the solutions offered by the City's representative involved MORE enforcement from the NYPD or from the Office Of Consumer Affairs.
The City will continue to "visit" and begin dialogues, but now that the B.I.D. has been formed, it will not actually enlist its own agencies or call for more NYPD enforcement now that services in the B.I.D. have been privatized. As businesses frustration grows, the City will continue to "visit" and that's about it.
THIS IS THE DANGER OF B.I.D.'s. Neighborhoods and businesses can achieve more without them.
City to 47th Street BID: We Feel Your Pain
July 24th, 2009
From DIAMOND DISTRICT NEWS newspaper
The BID met with city officials regarding street hawkers.
Officials from Mayor Bloomberg’s administration visited with the 47th Street Business Improvement District (BID) to discuss solutions to what the BID calls the growing problem of street hawkers.
While the city is sympathetic to the plight of business owners, and acknowledge there is a problem, they say there are no clear-cut answers. Pauline Yu, an outreach specialist for the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, is serving as the liaison among the BID and various city agencies.
During an interview with DDN, Yu said the hawker problem is a “first amendment issue” and that “our hands are tied.” However, she said the city agencies are continuing their dialogue with BID representatives to formulate “innovative, out of the box” solutions to the hawker problem.
Michael Grumet, executive director of the BID, said the important development is that city officials are engaging in discussions with the BID. “We didn’t have that in the past,” Grumet said. “That’s encouraging.”
Yu said she could relate to the issue. “I was approached by two [hawkers] on my visit. It was not a pleasant experience. It can be very frightening for someone. I am from New York and I can deal with these things, but a tourist coming here? It is frightening for people to walk down the block and be accosted. It’s a tough situation and I feel their [business owners’] frustration.”
Among the potential solutions being considered:
* Requiring hawkers to get permits or licenses. This idea has gained momentum among BID members. Several U.S. cities require hawkers to obtain a business license before they can engage in any business activity. An Internet search found that most require an application that includes a fee (it can range from a one-time payment of $75 to $50 a month). Applicants must also submit to a criminal background check. BID members are planning to send this information to city officials.
* Hire more security for the block. Some local merchants suggest that hiring more security would be fruitless unless there were laws to enforce.
* Turn 47th Street into a street plaza and restrict vehicular traffic. Yu broached this idea, but many merchants say with the number of deliveries here each business day, a street plaza would not make sense; besides, it would not restrict hawkers.
* Create a marketing campaign, i.e., sell the block as a place to visit and do business. The drawback, Yu said, “is you have to clean up the block first before you can market it.”
The city is listening. “We’re very sensitive to the BID and we’ll continue to talk to other agencies [about helping them],” Yu said. “We want to help the neighborhood as much as we can.”
The next step will be for the city to act. “We need the city to guide us,” said Keith Lipstein, managing director, ABS Partners Real Estate. “We employ a lot of people on this block, we’re a tourist attraction. We have to get their help.”
Ken Kahn, a BID member who is managing director of Kenart Realties, agreed: “Everyone is looking for money, but we’re not. We’re looking for help.”
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