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With the N.Y.C. Council soon to vote on whether or not to approve the formation of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, we would like to register our strong support for a ‘yes’ vote on the B.I.D.
We believe that the Chinatown B.I.D. will lead to an improved quality of life for the district’s businesses and residents, as well as tourists, who frequently go out of their way to travel to a neighborhood that has an identity unlike any other.
As the City Council vote approaches, some renewed contention among neighborhood property owners and entrepreneurs is stirring. B.I.D. opponents have suggested vague alternatives to the B.I.D., such as hiring companies or nonprofits to provide sidewalk cleaning and other community services. Others feel that more stringent enforcement of existing regulations is the real solution. Some feel that the B.I.D. is an unnecessary evil — a gentrifying force and an added layer of bureaucracy that will stifle dissent among neighborhood constituents and cause the neighborhood’s beloved mom-and-pop stores to close due to escalating rents and property taxes.
But the fact of the matter is other grassroots efforts such as the Council for a Cleaner Chinatown ultimately failed primarily due to not being connected to a hard-wired and secure source of funding, like a B.I.D. And increases in rents and taxes are a city-wide phenomena, regardless of B.I.D. presence.
Chinatown would also receive $1.9 million in government funds — a considerable financial reward — if and only if an entity such as a B.I.D. is created. This is important leverage that the B.I.D. will bring into being.
B.I.D.s have long withstood the test of time. There are 64 B.I.D.s citywide, none of which have ever been overturned, which is a testament to their success. They’re known to generate revenue for struggling communities, make them more appealing tourist destinations, and otherwise nurture their attractiveness and vitality. They have a positive impact on the value of commercial property.
Finally, we trust the judgment on this issue of Councilmember Margaret Chin, a longtime resident and advocate of Chinatown and the founding member of several community initiatives such as Asian Americans for Equality (A.A.F.E.) and the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation (C.P.L.D.C.). Chin has deep experience of everyday life in the neighborhood and has witnessed the day-to-day operations of merchants and property owners. Her mother is a retired garment worker that still resides in Chinatown, where Chin was raised. She intimately understands the needs of her constituents and her neighborhood.
If there is any person who has the knowledge of just what a B.I.D. would mean to the neighborhood, it is Councilmember Chin, and we support her efforts to shepherd the B.I.D. through to fruition.
We ask those who are opposed to the B.I.D. to continue to voice their concerns — ultimately, a thriving democracy is a necessary vehicle for healthy change in any community. In turn, we ask the B.I.D.’s future board of directors to take into account the opponents’ concerns in an effort to best represent all the voices of the community.