Listen, folks, it’s no secret that Manhattan (especially SoHo) has been the location where every politically motivated character first tries to dump their ideas. Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that wants bikes not cars on Manhattan streets waged a slick, effective campaign using the D.O.T. head Sadik Kahn with input to Bloomberg to set up the parking abortion we have on our streets. So we have more bikes to watch out for and fewer cars trying to hit us. Mostly, to the detriment of Seniors. Yes, I know, let’s get out the statistics. It’s safer to cross the streets now. Bullshit. I cross the streets down here every day. You’re arguing with the wrong eighty year old.
You see, Seniors can’t always use bikes, walkers maybe, but subways are also out. The stairs alone can kill a seventy year old. That never figures into their plans. In Copenhagen the bike lanes were designed well. Not like the SoHo disaster. If you don’t agree with the TA people, you’re an enemy. But, hey guys, wait. We all get old. Remember that.
And, notice that the horrendous parking arrangements are only in lower Manhattan, by and large. Brooklyn, has pathways for bikes but cars don’t have to park in the middle of the street there.
Now, we have restaurant sheds taking over SoHo. Here’s a flyer from the SoHo Alliance. The City Council under the leadership of Christine Quinn approved Trump SoHo behind closed doors — and you know what a fraud that was. And here we have that tried and true political tool being used again.
Now that the Democrats seem to have saved Democracy — let’s use it!
It looks like the City Council is pulling a fast one.
On November 22, it will vote on a bill to set the rules for a permanent Open Restaurant program. The legislation was created behind closed doors with the help of the well-funded New York Hospitality Alliance, the city’s restaurant and nightlife lobbyists – with no public input.
The Open Restaurant program – those sheds that clutter our public streets – was supposed to be a temporary measure to help restaurants during the pandemic. New Yorkers welcomed it.
However, the pandemic waned, indoor dining resumed, and the city has returned to normal. Except Open Restaurants.
The sheds have devolved into unsightly shacks, rat-infested, graffitied, trash dumps that blight our communities. They are the bane of residents who live near them, who must endure their din well into the night, illegal amplified music, and squalid conditions on once quaint streets. Moreover, the vast majority of these sheds are located downtown, with most other city neighborhoods spared.
The Open Restaurant program is privatization of public space. It is a land grab by the hospitality industry and a free giveaway from the City Council. Restaurateurs don’t pay a dime for this free space. But we do wonder how much they contribute to some councilmembers re-election campaign.
The prior Sidewalk Cafe program, which had been in place for decades, charged $5,000 minimum annually for the privilege of using public space. Open Restaurants don’t pay a dime to the City. Is this fair? The City Council seems to think it is.
The Council wants to deny any input or comment from residents who live with the noise, the rats, the trash, the unswept streets, and blocked sidewalks. The message to residents is the same as it has been for the last two years: Shut Up.
We must deliver our own message: WE WILL BE HEARD.
NO CLOSED-DOOR DEALS FOR OPEN RESTAURANTS
Protest Tuesday, November 15, 12:30 pm
1. Hold public hearings
2. Commission an Environmental Impact Study
3. Engage Community Boards in the planning process
On November 15, we’ll be taking these demands to the street, directly to the City Council.
We will gather outside the City Council offices at 250 Broadway. We carry signs. We chant. We picket. A small group stands in front of the Council offices with their mouths taped, symbolizing how the Council is treating residents of this city. A float pulls up to the curb with a mock-up of a shed, complete with rats and hanging trash bags. It will have a loud speaker that blasts the cacophony that unfortunate residents live with every night – directly into the offices of the City Council. This demonstration will be a raucous expression of public outrage, but we need you to make it work.
Our efforts have changed the media conversation, from outdoor dining as a no-brainer, to outdoor dining as a neighborhood horror. Now we have to close the deal. We need a big turnout to show the Council and the media that we are powerful and that we are united. Even if you’re not accustomed to going to demonstrations, please show up and be heard. It’ll be an hour out of a day that will help restore our streets. If not, it’s noise-rats-trash forever.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 12:30 pm
Meet at the corner of Broadway and Murray Street across from City Hall Park.
RSVP HERE. That will help us know how many posters and flyers to print.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012