Letter to DOT/DCA
Dear Borough Commissioner Forgione, Deputy Director Gotay, Chair Burden and Exec Director Snyder:
Community Board Five is deeply concerned by the upsurge of newsstand applications in our district, many of which are ineligible based on the Rules of the City of New York. We would like to offer some suggestions to improve the process for all concerned.
Community Board Five members have spent countless hours surveying proposed sites as part of our mandated responsibility to review these applications, often to find them non-compliant on the face of it. We urge DCA to implement a pre-screening process that would eliminate applications that are not in compliance for obvious reasons or reasons easy to assess - such as a newsstand in front of a building that has three or more floors of retail, or located within a non-compliant distance to a subway entrance, a vent, a bank, or under a fire escape, etc.
Toward that end, Community Board Five strongly urges the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Transportation and the Design Commission to work with us and other interested parties (including the relevant BIDs) to establish an advisory master plan, and a map with locations where new newsstands would be permissible under current city rules. In this way, DCA would inform applicants that a desired location is not in compliance with City regulations prior to an applicant financially investing in the application process.
Our district, which includes New York's central business district, suffers from high levels of pedestrian congestion and is home to some of the world's most renown landmarks and exceptional visual corridors (Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, 5th Avenue visual corridor, Park Avenue visual corridor...). A comprehensive advisory master plan would help potential applicants pick and choose their spots with greater care and success.
Finally, Community Board Five is very concerned about the financial hardship newsstand operators are subjected to during the application process. In addition to the fee to DCA, newsstand operators generally need to hire an architect to provide drawings, which cost them thousands of dollars. Recognizing that the cost of a newsstand application is very high for small business owners and operators, Community Board Five requests that DCA refund the application fee for applications that are denied. We also recognize that applications for newsstands are usually presented by small business owners who are members of minority groups and recent immigrants and urge the Department of Small Business Services to offer assistance to applicants with the cumbersome details of the application process.
We believe that if the aforementioned changes in the application and approval process were put into place, the applicants and the City would greatly benefit. We look forward to discussing these issues with the involved city agencies and other appropriate parties, to put in place a streamlined and more coherent process for all concerned.