Volume 74, Number 35 | January 05 - 11, 2005

Letters to the editor

Can’t agree with free parking

To The Editor:
Re “Pros of alternate-side parking” (letter, Dec. 22):

There’s much to admire in Carl Rosenstein’s letter urging more on-street free parking in Soho, especially its collegial tone. Carl is an activist leader on many fronts, and he has generously supported my activism against cars and trucks.

But even Carl can’t defend the indefensible — in this case, enacting another subsidy for users of private autos in New York City, and in walkable, transit-rich Lower Manhattan to boot.

It’s Economics 101: reducing the cost to keep a car in Lower Manhattan guarantees that there will be more of them, imposing costs on the rest of us and paying next to nothing for the privilege.

What’s most objectionable about adding to the car population isn’t that cars foul the air (which they actually do less than they used to) or even that they guzzle petroleum, as consequential as that is. It’s their very presence — the space they take up, the need for vigilance they impose, that the rest of us must behave according to their rules(to paraphrase the European ecologist Wolfgang Sachs).

Let the car owners pay for occupying our public and psychic space. Is that too much to ask?

Charles Komanoff

Store closings ruined holidays

To The Editor:
This was a bittersweet holiday season for me. It was great to be back in the neighborhood after a long and grueling session in Albany. However, seeing the demise or forced relocation of many beloved and long-established local businesses was distressing. Smaller local businesses, which have served community residents for years, such as the Jon Vie Pastry Shop, Pranna health food store, Li-Lac chocolates and Grange Hall are being replaced at a fast clip by upscale shopping that does not necessarily meet the daily needs of Villagers.

The sheer number of vacant shops on Greenwich Ave. or Christopher St., to name a few, is shocking and disturbing. The loss of these and other independently owned service businesses and stores changes the face of the neighborhood and community and detracts from the character that makes the Village a unique place to live. The ability of many service businesses to raise their rates to keep pace with dramatically rising rents is limited. It is unfortunate that many essential neighborhood businesses are put into difficult financial situations because of landlords’ continuing desire for ever-increasing profits.

The closing and replacement of neighborhood shops that have become institutions exemplifies the danger that change for change’s sake can pose on the distinctive character of neighborhoods like the Village, East and West. When independently owned shops that have developed a local clientele are forced to close down or move away from their customers, the results are bad for both business owners and residents. In our fight to preserve our wonderful Village neighborhoods, we must also work to keep the local small businesses that so many of us cherish.

Deborah J. Glick
Glick is assemblymember for the 66th District

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