BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), alongside Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and community leaders, unveiled Friday legislation to change newsstand licensing laws to make it more community inclusive.
The bill was prompted by the installation of a newsstand on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights without community approval.
“Queens Community Board 3 is deeply disappointed that the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs issued a permit for the installation and operation of a newsstand in front of 76-10 37th Avenue,” said Steve Kulhanek, CB 3 Chair, at the press conference Friday.
“This permit was issued over the objections of the Community Board and the proximate property owners. In denying these applications the Community Board cited the overwhelming community opposition.”
Friday’s press conference focused on the short term issue of removing this news stand, along with the long term goal to prevent an issue like this from occurring again.
“Because the small businesses and merchants said that they [DCA] did it without community input, there has been a petition circulating that we will take to City Hall and there is also one on change.org,” Peralta told the Queens Tribune. “It’s not that we’re against people opening newsstands or small businesses. You are infringing upon a location by selling the same things and the same items so close to each other. It’d be different if the newsstand was several blocks away but it’s not. We want to send the message that on a short term level, we don’t want this newsstand.”
When applying to open a newsstand, the owner first gives the application to the DCA to check if the owner fulfilled the DCA’s requirements, the DCA then moves the application forward to the community board to give the DCA the recommendation, the agency then sends the application to the DOT to confirm the height of the newsstand, along with its distance from the building and other DOT criteria. If the DOT gives the thumbs up, they then send the application to the Public Design Commission to make sure the newsstand fulfills their requirements.
Once the PDC approves it, it gets sent back to the DCA, who then gives the owner the license to input the newsstand.
“There is no appeal process,” Peralta said. “They cannot deny a newsstand. If the owner fulfills the requirements, DOT, the PDC and the DCA cannot deny the license.”
The licensing law states that this is the process newsstand owners must go through, which was put into place during the “Bloomberg Era,” Peralta said.
“It’s called getting by the system,” Peralta said. “The street café law goes through the same process except it goes through the DCA and then to the City Council, who votes on a council level. That law makes sense. My legislation says that throughout the newsstand process, there should be a point where the community boards say ‘hey, my folks don’t want it’ or ‘hey my folks love it.’”
Although Peralta is introducing this state level legislation, Dromm will introduce the legislation on a city level. Peralta’s bill is a fall back in case the city bill fails.
Peralta said that the Bloomberg administration did this ‘on the down-low’ so that no one can do anything about it.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or email@example.com