Letter to the Editor

Volume 20, Number 49 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | APRIL 19 – 26, 2008

Letters to the Editor

Traffic safety

To The Editor:

As many Downtown residents may have noticed, crossing West St. below Chambers St. recently has become noticeably more dangerous due sto an unexpected obstacle: traffic police.  

These officers have been positioned only on the northbound side of West St. and appear to be instructed to keep northbound traffic flowing on at all costs — including the cost of jeopardizing the safety of residents who need to cross both sides of the street.  

Warren and West had been our only truly safe neighborhood crossing (and that only after we residents defeated a recent proposal to shorten the crossing time), but this is no longer the case.  

I would encourage all neighborhood residents who have experienced difficulty with safe passage to call 311 and ask for parity with commuters, or at least a return to the status quo ante.

Nathaniel Hupert

Congestion Pricing Aftermath

To The Editor:

Re “Albany was roadblock for congestion pricing” (editorial, April 11 – 18):

Sheldon Silver and his fellow cronies (Assembly Democrats) now compel Mayor Bloomberg and N.Y.C. to find a viable alternative.

I suggest focusing on making Manhattan and N.Y.C. more bicycle friendly. A few ideas:

Law enforcement should implement no-double-parking rules, especially on bicycle paths.

Taxi drivers who demonstrate reckless speeding, road rage, aggressive driving etc. should be removed.

Some type of physical barrier to mark bicycle paths and separate them from traffic lanes should be built.

The gauntlet from 30th St. to 43rd St. along the Hudson River bicycle path should be made safer for cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians.

Set up an east-west, traffic-free path along the East River and Hudson River.

Severe penalties should be given to motorists and passengers who open their vehicle door into oncoming cyclists.

In general, place a much higher priority on traffic safety.

If New Yorkers feel there is at least moderate safety, many would leave their cars and hop on their bicycles.

Michael Gottlieb

To The Editor:

Re “Pols mull the post-congestion pricing era” (news article, April 11 – 18):

At our monthly board meeting, Southbridge Towers’ 15-member board of directors, on which I serve, voted overwhelmingly to oppose the mayor’s congestion tax proposal. We felt that the plan, as proposed, would not benefit any of us living south of Canal St. 

The congestion pricing tax would not stop the large number of New Jersey drivers using the Holland Tunnel or Long Island and Westchester commuters who use the Triborough Bridge or Midtown Tunnel, as they were to receive a credit for the tunnel toll, essentially paying nothing for the privilege of clogging our streets. 

The plan had no provision for eliminating one of the greatest causes of congestion in Manhattan, particularly below Canal St.— truck traffic seeking to escape the exorbitant one-way Verrazano Bridge toll. Some trucks were paying as much as $70 dollars before the recent toll increase. They enter the area free from New Jersey over the Verrazano and leave through Manhattan, thereby skipping the Verrazano toll.

The mayor, according to media reports, made various promises to council members in order to secure support for the congestion tax. Your article, in which Alan Gerson says he was made promises for improvements in his district in return for his support, corroborates that. As you report, those promises have evaporated now that the plan is dead.

This mayor has a habit of stepping on communities that oppose him. Witness, for example, the administration’s present attempt to force a reconfiguration of Chatham Square’s traffic patterns over the objection of local community boards and local community groups. Perhaps we are regarded only as little people.

I think the main reason Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Assembly didn’t support the plan is that they didn’t trust the city administration to act in good faith to administer it.  Bloomberg has a habit of making promises he does not fulfill. When first running for office he stated that there were too many government offices in Lower Manhattan and that, if elected, he would spread them throughout the boroughs.

Now let’s see if the city comes up with a legitimate plan that reduces traffic congestion, rather than one that is basically just a tax on the little people who can least afford it.

John Ost

Vendors bill

To The Editor:

Re “Gerson hawks his vendors bill but artists paint a grim picture” (news story, April 11 – 18):

I am writing to say that, having looked at Councilmember Gerson’s proposal to restrict artist vendors by means of a lottery system in certain areas of the Village, I am appalled as well as amazed that anyone could view this as constructive.

I don’t think that Councilmember Gerson is responding to any complaints in introducing these restrictions; instead, he is trying to rein in a group of artists that has become one of the main tourist attractions for the area and many of whom are appreciated by those living in the area.

The proposal to have a “license lottery” is a Wall Street solution that will pit artist against artist and break down the general feel of the Village, making it more commercial, less homey, less neighborhood-like, and more Fifth-Avenue-like. Also, the distribution of limited licenses will ensure that the areas that are “licensed” to artists will not shift, and

there will be no natural flow and ebb of vendors to certain areas. It will make rigid and permanent the box-like look of the streets.

In addition, Gerson’s idea of regulating artists flies in the face of the whole notion of community on which the area is built. Right now, there is cooperation with the surrounding areas, and artists are a part of the community.  If the licenses are allowed to go into effect, the place will begin to be organized as a commercial area instead of a community area. Ultimately, this model of commercial “box” spaces will be extended to other areas of the city. And we will have reproduced within the confines of N.Y.C.’s limits the “little boxes on the hillside” that we all came to N.Y. to escape.

Stop the bill now.

Jerise Fogel

To The Editor:

Councilmember Alan Gerson claims he’s still “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s” on his anti-street artist vending bill. Let me translate: He and a few lawyers are trying, at taxpayer expense, to figure out how to destroy street artists’

First Amendment rights and eliminate us from what was once an arts district,

an endeavor he has spent the past seven years uselessly fiddling around with.

The end result will be another expensive lawsuit for the city to lose and lots of noisy protests on Soho streets. Meanwhile, illegal vendors, who could care

less about what new restrictions the councilmember enacts, will continue to

vend throughout Soho as if there were no vendor laws on the books.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if the city can’t enforce the existing 60 pages of vending restrictions, adding another 10 pages to them is a

futile endeavor. In the short run, the only thing this law will accomplish is to turn legal street artists into illegal vendors, exactly the status we had in 1994 when

Gerson first came into the vending picture. Good job, councilmember.

Robert Lederman

President of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics)

To The Editor:    

I am writing in response to Ms. Jackson’s article regarding Gerson’s new vendors’ rules. I was very disappointed to read Ms. Jackson’s very poorly researched article. 

 Ms. Jackson fails to ask many questions in her article including the following:

 Do the two people quoted in the article (Lederman and White) even live in New York City?  

 Do the so-called “artists” in Soho actually pay taxes to the city or are they tax cheats?

 What do people who actually live in the neighborhood think about the illegal street vending?

 As anyone knows who actually lives Downtown, the so-called street “artists” aren’t defending the First Amendment. This is just about economics. They believe that they own the sidewalks and they don’t want their business reduced. 

 I for one support Gerson and his proposal and I think the vast majority of the people who actually live in the community believe the same thing.

Tim Clark

To The Editor:

I am a New York City street artist and a

member of A.R.T.I.S.T. I have Councilmember Gerson’s proposals for a new vending law.

I am 100 percent against all the things Gerson has proposed. No new law is needed. If getting rid of illegal vendors is really the councilmember’s goal, all that is needed is that the police enforce the existing laws.

Artists do not want there to be any lottery,

permit or selling off of vending spots to the highest bidder. Gerson’s ideas are an insult to free speech, to the arts and to all the street artists in his district. No artist I know supports these ideas.

LL Eveland


To The Editor:

In your otherwise fine article, you quoted me as being in favor of “artist markets.” I had actually stated I was in favor of markets where craftspeople could display their work without being hassled over the lack of a vending license. This is a crucial point legally and a distinction that is important to maintain.

Lawrence White