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State Sen. Ramos and Comptroller Stringer Call for Year-Round Open Streets

Open Streets: Restaurant program on Bell Boulevard in Bayside (Photo: Queens Post)

Sept. 24, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Queens State Sen. Jessica Ramos and City Comptroller Scott Stringer are calling on the city to make its Open Streets program a year-round initiative.

The officials penned a letter to the mayor Thursday asking him to extend the program that turns specific streets over to pedestrians and restaurants beyond its Oct. 31 end date.

They also asked the mayor to expand the city’s Open Streets program to allow small businesses, like clothing stores, bodegas and nail salons to sell their products and services on sidewalks or open streets. This would be similar to the way restaurants can serve diners at tables on sidewalks and certain closed streets.

“There are simply no good reasons why small businesses across the five boroughs could not be afforded the same benefits as our restaurants when it comes to leveraging outdoor space in a way that is safe and effective for customers and business owners alike,” Stringer and Ramos wrote to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Their main focus, however, was on the extension of the program.

“Open Streets have served as a case study in how we can add vibrancy to our neighborhoods and transform our streetscapes from throughways for cars into lively civic spaces,” the pair wrote in the letter.

“Indeed, we urge your administration to instead double down on the program by opening up larger swaths of City streets, reopening streets that have been returned to automobile use, and allowing for more kinds of small business, including retail, to participate in the program.”

Stringer and Ramos questioned why the city would risk hurting small businesses by ending it next month. The initiative has helped save more than 10,000 restaurants and 90,000 jobs during the pandemic as indoor dining closed down, according to City Hall.

They said it could help more small business owners if the city allows retail shops to sell their products along open streets.

“As we work to help small businesses recover and strengthen our economy the right way, we’ll need more Open Streets, not fewer,” Ramos said in a statement. “The City should extend and expand the program to spur growth for our small businesses and help our communities thrive.”

The lawmakers want the program continued at least through the duration of the pandemic, if not permanent. They urged de Blasio to repurpose street space for community and business use, not just cars.

“Streets are for people, not cars,” Ramos said. “The Open Streets program has been a lifeline during the pandemic, creating safe havens for our neighbors to enjoy fresh air and support restaurants.”

34th Avenue Open Street in Jackson Heights (Photo: Queens Post)

Ramos — along with City Council Member Daniel Dromm — called on the city weeks ago to make the 34th Avenue Open Street in Jackson Heights permanent.

She is now asking for all Open Streets to be made permanent in her joint letter to the mayor with Stringer.

“Open Streets should not be considered a temporary response to the ongoing pandemic but should be embraced as permanent re-designs for New Yorkers to enjoy,” Ramos and Stringer said.

The Comptroller, who is running for mayor, questioned why the city would end such a successful initiative.

“Why end an initiative that generates critical income for restaurants, keeps workers employed and allows New Yorkers to spend time safely outdoors?” he said. “Instead, we should extend the Open Streets Program year-round, provide guidance around heat lamps and other ways to adapt for cooler weather, and expand the program so that more small businesses and retail establishments can participate.”

He added that expanding the program is a “no-brainer,” especially with the holiday season approaching.

Stringer and Ramos said now is the time to give more business owners the opportunity to conduct their businesses outdoors.

“There are simply no good reasons why small businesses across the five boroughs could not be afforded the same benefits as our restaurants when it comes to leveraging outdoor space in a way that is safe and effective for customers and business owners alike,” they wrote to de Blasio.

The New York City Business Improvement District, which represents 76 BIDs across the five boroughs, is also calling on de Blasio to mirror the Open Streets: Restaurants program for other local businesses.

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4 Comments

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COCED

What a deep thought – “Streets are for people, not cars”. Ramos should set an example and start teleporting …

Reply
Sara Ross

Bravo!!!! Not to mention the lost parking spaces. After the 30th, give the streets back to the people who pay to live in those areas and ticket every car with a NJ or PA license plate.

Reply
Don't Vote for Ramos

I am all for the outdoor dining, I have enjoyed it since it started quite a few times. It needed to happen to get business up and making money and get people to be able to enjoy life a bit more. However, allowing every business to use the sidewalk/street is a stretch. We already have so many vendors taking up sidewalks, now you want to add more? Have you TRIED to walk on Junction Blvd…that area from Roosevelt to 37th is HOT MESS. You can barely walk thanks to all those street vendors, not to mention the trash piled ALL over the street. I agree that Restaurants should be allowed to do outdoor dining well past the Experation date of 10/31. If they can provide a space that can keep diners warm when the weather gets colder, than I am all for it. However having people seeing clothes, nail salons doing what? Nail salons mostly provide just services….they don’t sell merchandise. Bodegas for example NEVER had to close during the pandemic…they were essential.

You have to love how Ramos swears she’s for the people…when in reality she is not. Has anyone ever contacted her on IG about issues in our neighborhood? She is the most unprofessional, rude, condescending and straight up clueless state senator we could currently have in a crisis.

Don’t be fooled by her, she doesn’t care about our neighborhood. She should work on CLEANING the streets. Has anyone walked along Roosevelt? All the current prostitution happening OUT ON THE OPEN, close to schools, close to parks….is out of control…and here is Ramos more concerned with attaching he SLA for doing their job. Just check the 2nd Fl Tattoo shop located on 88st and Roosevelt Ave…..and across the street. They are literally 2 blocks from an ELEMANTRY School – and have been there for MONTHS an nothing gets done. That’s what Ramos should be working on!!!

Reply
Pat Macnamara

This is an abomination in Astoria. Randomly closing off 4 blocks of 31st avenue has caused sidestreets to become backed up with honking horns and emergency vehicles stuck in traffic. Meanwhile some bloated spandex wearing yogis get to pose on the street for a photo op. End this insanity now. Restaurants are not benefiting because the streets are blocked off to traffic! Imagine that. Waste of time. Another boondoggle in the corrupt, inept mayoral administration. Stringer should redirect his energies towards finding the 875 million in ThriveNYC monies that have vanished.

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