A response on the Soho BID


While I relish the opportunity to speak directly to my constituents, last week’s talking point in The Villager by Carl Rosenstein (“Angry Buddhist asks: Is Soho taking it on the Chin?”) has left me cleaning up a mess of misunderstandings and inaccuracies. While I wish to thank Carl Rosenstein for the free, and imaginative, speechwriting on my behalf — we all know how tight the city budget is these days — I want to set the record straight.

Mr. Rosenstein is correct that the Soho business improvement district will ultimately come to the City Council, now that it has been approved by the City Planning Commission. It is also true that the Council generally defers to the councilmember in whose district a given project is. Those are the only correct facts in Rosenstein’s column.

The BID, also called the Broadway BID, applies to the commercial strip of Broadway from Houston St. to Canal St., excluding the side streets. I am well aware that many residents in Soho oppose the BID; in fact, I have heard it firsthand. My initial interest in the proposed BID was twofold: to ensure the continuation of supportive services — including trash removal and vending enforcement, for the neighborhood — and second, because I know the good work that ACE does and want to see it continue.

When co-op owners contacted my office to express their concerns regarding the proposed BID, the lack of meaningful debate between residents and the BID organizers became clear. To this end, I recommended that BID organizers expand and redouble their efforts in order to seriously address the growing concerns of the Soho community regarding the BID.

I have said from the beginning that I will not support a Broadway BID unless I see substantial support from residents in the proposed BID catchment area, including from Community Board 2. I maintain that all residents of the BID district be charged an assessment equal to or less than $1, no exceptions.

To date, this is not the case. To date, I have not come out in support of the Broadway BID.

Conveniently obscured in Mr. Rosenstein’s work of fiction, is that my office has been involved in the BID to the extent that the community has asked us to be involved. I would like to add that Mr. Rosenstein was not present at the meetings where extensive discussions were held with the co-op owners.

I was reluctant to write this response, but Mr. Rosenstein’s ludicrous insinuations that I am, in any way, taking campaign contributions from developers pushing the BID, or am contributing city resources to pushing this project made my decision easier. I would encourage anyone to point to a dollar that I have taken from developers tied to the BID. In fact, I have yet to open a 2013 campaign account, and so I have no method of raising contributions, from anyone.

Mr. Rosenstein asks why the BID is “still alive.” The answer is because there is a deliberative process to be respected. The answer is that I undertake my job as your councilmember in a thoughtful way. I don’t make rash, uninformed decisions, and it is my nature to try to find compromise and to reconcile disparate perspectives.

Ultimately, the fate of the Broadway BID will be decided at the City Council, where I will have an opportunity to take the lead on whether the BID comes into being.

When we get to that point, as your councilmember, I will base my decision on input from my constituents, my responsibility as an elected official, and the future of our community.

Chin is the councilmember for District 1

for ‘Buddhist’ to meditate on