Soho’s Broadway BID plan improved

BY MARGARET S. CHIN  |  As your City Council representative, I would like to highlight the significant changes that have been made to the proposed Soho Business Improvement District plan. I became involved in the Soho BID process after it became clear the BID organizers had not adequately considered the concerns and input of the Soho community. Since that time, my office has worked to facilitate communication between the BID organizers and Soho residents, including hosting a town hall on the BID.

First, the name of the BID has been refined to more accurately reflect the BID catchment area. Moving forward, the BID will be called the Broadway Soho BID. This change is more than just window dressing. A major concern about the proposed BID is that it will eventually expand to encompass the wider Soho community. It is important to recognize that all BID expansions must be approved by the City Council, and this proposed BID only applies to the properties on Broadway between Houston and Canal Sts.

The BID plan has been revised to directly address the concerns voiced by Soho residents in three main areas: assessments, budget and transparency.  Since the start of this process I have maintained that residents in the catchment area should not pay an annual assessment.  Under the revised plan, residents in condos and co-operative buildings on Broadway will no longer be subject to the BID assessment formula. Both residential condo and co-op units will be charged just $1 per year. Previously, residents in the 14 mixed-use co-op properties were subject to a complicated reimbursement formula. In meetings with residents who live on Broadway, it became clear that the majority of the residents already paid fees — for example, in common and maintenance charges — to support services in their individual buildings. To charge residents an annual assessment would be double taxation, which I firmly opposed.

The second major change to the Broadway Soho BID proposal is a nearly one-third reduction in the operating budget.  The annual budget is now $550,000, which was reduced from $700,000.  The focus of the revised Broadway Soho BID is now clearly on sanitation and snow removal, which is budgeted at $200,000 annually.

Since ACE stopped cleaning Broadway on June 30, it is clear that the city’s sanitation services are insufficient in handling the excess trash generated in high-traffic shopping areas like Broadway. While I have been assured by the BID organizers that they will come up with the funds necessary to keep ACE cleaning Broadway this summer, this is only a temporary solution.  I have heard repeatedly from residents that the businesses on Broadway profit from the foot traffic in the area and that it should be the merchants’ responsibility to pay for the extra services required to keep the streets clean and safe. That is the exact structure that is now being proposed.

The transparency of the budget was a top concern for Soho residents, who rightfully pointed out that it was unclear how funds secured to better the conditions on Broadway would be used. The original BID plan allocated funds for six areas of service, including residential reimbursement, public relations and an unclear “additional services” provision. The revised plan will only include three areas of service: sanitation and snow removal; pedestrian and public safety; and general/administrative. The BID organizers have allocated $150,000 for pedestrian and public safety and $200,000 for administrative expenses, with the largest part of the budget going to sanitation and security services.

No one can deny that Broadway has grown into one of the most popular shopping areas in the city. This increase in foot traffic has brought with it a host of problems, including overcrowding on the sidewalks and an increase in vending, vehicle traffic and idling. The overall wear and tear on the streetscape, including sanitation overflow, graffiti and neglect, has diminished the quality of life for residents in Soho.

Soho did not transform overnight. Long-term residents and activists have struggled against large-scale change to the neighborhood for decades. However, is it time to recognize that the problems facing our neighborhood will not disappear by themselves. It is time for Soho residents to manage and direct the changes in their neighborhood, not be victimized by them. This takes organization, commitment and a unified voice. Without this, we will be unable to safeguard the unique character and history of Soho.

I know that the changes made to the Broadway Soho BID proposal will not appease some individuals, who I expect will oppose any attempt to compromise on this issue. However, I also know that there are many residents and property owners in this community who want clean streets, fewer vendors, less traffic and better quality of life.

I am confident that in this new form a City Council hearing can be held on the Soho BID proposal. This is a public process and all members of the Soho community are encouraged to participate. The legislation for the creation of the BID was introduced on June 14, and a copy is available on the City Council Web site. A hearing date has not yet been set. I want to assure all Soho residents that once a date for the public hearing is set by the Council’s Finance Committee, my office will alert the Soho community through the press, as well as our e-mail list, Web site and Facebook.

I want to thank the residents of Soho for being so vocal and passionate about this issue and their community over all. I also want to thank the BID organizers for their flexibility and willingness to listen to the community. Moving forward, I guarantee that nobody from any BID, or any business entity, will have better access to me as your councilmember than the residents of District 1.

To join our e-mail list please send a blank e-mail with the subject line “sign me up” to chin@council.nyc.gov .

Chin is city councilmember for District 1, including Lower Manhattan, Soho, Chinatown, Hudson Square and parts of Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side.

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12 Responses to Soho’s Broadway BID plan improved

  1. Councilmember Chin: u00a0You state yourself that "an annual assessment would be double taxation" so why are you pushing for this double tax to be charged to small property owners and businesses along Broadway in SoHo? u00a0You also state "I have been assured by the BID organizers that they will come up with the funds necessary to keep ACE cleaning Broadway this summer" but is that happening? u00a0ACE has been conspicuously absent since July 1, so perhaps any assurances from the BID gang should be taken for what it is: u00a0another lie from this group of self interested real estate investors, who have no real interest in "the unique character and history of Soho" beyond using it as a marketing tool for their retail operations. u00a0nnMs. Chin: u00a0You know that the BID proponents made no effort over the past two years to engage with the existing community in any meaningful way, beyond pushing their plan, so why should this group be trusted govern and control SoHo? u00a0You talk about controlling expansion of the BID, something the BID planners have explored and discussed in detail, yet there is nothing in the revised BID plan that would take that expansion option off the table, so why did you fail to get such language included in the text of the BID plan? u00a0Anyone who takes the time to look at the Mayor's Small Business Services website will see that a stated purpose of that mayoral agency is to "Simplify Formation and Expansion" of BIDs. u00a0nnYou also imply that the reduced $550,000 SoHo BID budget will keep this group in line, but apparently forget or are unaware that BID budgets throughout NYC grow and grow, both through borrowing and increased assessments. u00a0What did you to to insure that the residential assessment will not be increased in the future? NOTHING. u00a0The BID law allows those $1 "symbolic" fees to be increased and it is the stated purpose of SBS under Mayor Bloomberg to "Allow BIDs to Increase Budgets."You call SoHo "our neighborhood" but when is the last time you did anything for the long-time residents and property owners of SoHo? u00a0You ignore us and treat us like fools. u00a0That is not how our elected representative should be responding to the stated wish of the community, which clearly let you know that your job in SoHo is to REJECT the SoHo BID.

    • SoHo Taxpayer

      '$ only in it for her!nn know$ that SoHo residents and CB2 are unanimously against the BID, 100% the residents, 99% of the businesses, and most of the independent landlords.u00a0 We have told her to her face at a town hall meeting she organized.nnIt is a disgrace that is out these people to benefit a handful of real estate developers.

  2. Councilmember Chin's article is one long canard. After the first year, the SoHo BID (now appropriately renamed the BS – for Broadway-Soho – BID) is not bound by any of these promises after the first year. After the first year, it can go back to charging residents, spending money on corporate ballyhoo and three-figure salaries, and be as untransparent as it wishes. The BID, put into motion by a letter from Bloomberg rather than the votes of the community at the request of the real estate interests that dominate the founding BID committee, is undemocratic to its core, and merely represents more of the corporate fever that's trying to take over the country. NO! TO THE SB BID! ingrid wiegand

  3. Margaret Chin should listen to herself in this video she made in July 2009 when she was a candidate for City Council and says that the government should listen to the citizens of our city (have you forgotten that, Ms. Chin?) …n nhttp://www.ccrcnyc.com/2009/07/city-council-candidate-margaret-chin-on.htmlnn

  4. Chin has bent over backwards in strange gymnastic feats to morph the SoHo BID into something she sees as moreu00a0palatableu00a0to the opponents – a "last ditch effort" to push this BID through so she can have TWO BIDS under her belt – something Mayor Bloomberg and herself can hang their hat on. IN CONTRAST – there are no such concessions made to the Chinatown BID proposal despite dozens of news articles, testimony stretching back ten years against the BID, and letters to her office. u00a0Only non-Chinese property owners have succeeded in having their parcels removed from the Chinatown BID – The double standard is clear, documented, and indicative of the way she sees Chinese property owners – and SoHo property owners. u00a0To support her is to support her doctrine – at your own peril.n

  5. Dear Councilwoman Chin,nYou mention that the rest of SOHO can be assured that the BID has no intension to spread beyond Broadway, u00a0thus they should support the proposal because they will benefit from it's presence.nIn other words, our neighbors should look the other way while those of us who own retail spaces on Broadway are required to cover the budget of an independent committee, which will govern and tax us.nFYI, SOHO is a neighborhood. u00a0Ms. Chin you are supporting the BID committee whose actions and intensions seek to divide the residents, your constituents, who have always lived peacefully together.nTOO much traffic, then help us to get rid of the bus stops and bus lanes and allow the cars to flow through SOHO. Broadway, in SOHO, is one lane. Stray out of the lane and receive a $150.00 ticket.u00a0nToo much garbage generated by our overflowing foot traffic then YOU, MS CHIN, work with the city to hire more sanitation workers and obtain additional trash cans for the corners.nYOU ARE SELF SERVING MARGARET CHIN. u00a0It's very clear to us, u00a0that the smell the money of those behind the BID is what is motivating you to vote for it. Your lack of support on behalf of the residents of SOHO speak louder than words.nRonnie Wolf

  6. Learn more about BIDs in general and get the full story about the proposed BID for SoHo's Broadway at http://www.sohobid.org

  7. Attention all tourists: Next time you walk by a garbage can in Soho and can't throw your trash away cuz the can is full, I suggest every single one of you dump it on Pete Davies' doorstep on Broadway, as well as the rest of the wealthy residents unwilling to do their part.u00a0 These idiots wants a clean neighborhood, but aren't willing to payu00a0 a sheckel for it.

    • You know nothing of which you speak, Mr. Inverarity. u00a0Local longtime residents and businesses have supported the work of ACE throughout the years. u00a0It's the newly arrived big time real estate gang who don't pay. u00a0So write your letter to Mr. Joe Sitt of Thor Equities if you want to point a rich guy who isn't doing his share towards keeping the area clean. u00a0And you don't need to ask anyone to leave additional trash outside Thor buildings, since they're not cleaning up much — plenty of trash at the Thor properties.

  8. Get the real inside facts on the proposed SoHo BS BID (what they don't want you to know):n nhttp://sohonobid.wordpress.com/

  9. You made some good factors there. I think most individuals will agree with your site.

  10. Our local NY State Assemblymember, Deborah Glick, who represents SoHo as part of the u00a066th District, understands the trickery and shenanigans behind the BS BID Plan and has written a letter in OPPOSITION to the BID, urging that the SoHo BID application be dropped. u00a0Read all about it at the SoHo NO BID website: nhttp://sohonobid.wordpress.com/

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