- In Pictures
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- Union Square
To The Editor:
Re “Soho BID needs work” (editorial, Nov. 3):
Thank you for your well thought-out editorial in opposition to the proposed Broadway Soho Business Improvement District. You are right.
This BID proposal does not pass the smell test. It doesn’t pass it on so many levels.
You wrote of the 40 Mercer St. condo whose 40 votes were cast by a single person — the sponsor. Did you know we’d need 40 co-operative buildings to equal the votes from that single building. This disparity will follow into the actual votes for the BID’s directors should the BID actually form. Property owners, by law, must be represented by the majority of directors.
Condo owners get to vote for those “majority” directors. Co-op owner/residents, despite as large a financial stake and historically greater ties to the neighborhood, do not. Is this the kind of democracy we have a right to expect?
I disagree with you, though, in your statement that the BID is offering basically benign things. Those are the sheep’s clothing hiding the wolf within. The fact is, this is a fight for the future direction of Soho. A fight for control. In addition to taxing power, BIDs have enormous political power. Their voting directors include people from the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Finance, the local City Councilmember and the borough president. Which means these guys get the ears of decision makers much more easily than, say, a block association. Their initial budget has $200,000 for “advocacy” — a.k.a. “lobbying.”
Soho can survive not having a BID. True, trash on the sidewalk is bad on weekends without ACE. But the city could put out some more trash cans so the litter won’t fall to the ground. That’s a city responsibility; it can actively promote its “adopt a can” program. Store owners can individually contract with ACE.
The city can enforce rules applying to food trucks, which add substantially to the sidewalk mess.
Lastly, there were numerous public and community meetings held last year regarding the BID. Councilmember Margaret Chin’s representatives were at every one. Chin attended the largest. People rejected the BID — vehemently. Chin received numerous letters in opposition from residents and even commercial building owners. It was clear from the beginning that there is no substantial support from the residents. It was clear that the balloting was flawed. Yet, Chin keeps saying “show me.” What’s with that? We are starting to ask who is her constituency, since it clearly isn’t the residents.