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Local businesses and business leaders checked in with their views on the recently passed city legislation that would gradually ban the use of roll-down metal security gates on shops to cut down on high rates of graffiti.
Other kinds of security gates — like rolling or sliding grilles, which permit passersby to window shop and are seen by many as being harder to vandalize — would still be permitted.
This bill would require that after July 1, 2011, any roll-down gate that is being replaced must be replaced with a gate that allows at least 70 percent of the covered area to be visible.
By July 1, 2026, all of the businesses covered by the legislation must have the new higher-visibility gates installed.
The City Council passed the ordinance unanimously recently and the Bloomberg administration also gave the legislation its support.
Among those supporting the measure is the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, which has been skeptical of increasing city regulations over small businesses.
“Graffiti has long been a problem for small business and it has an impact on the quality of life with a community,” Chamber President Carl Hum. “I applaud the City Council for granting such generous grace periods. It will go a long way to alleviating the financial pressures on small businesses, which are already stressed by this recession.”
Jack Katz, executive director of the Flatbush Business Improvement District (BID), said graffiti is not an issue in his BID representing over 200 businesses along Flatbush Avenue between Parkside Avenue and Cortelyou Road.
“We already have a maintenance contract for graffiti removal so it’s not an issue with us,” said Katz. “I do think there should be a certain area of see-through (gate) material for safety reasons so cops patrolling the streets can see inside the stores, but 70 percent of the window space might be overkill.”
Katz added he nor any shop owners he knew of were interviewed about the legislation.
“The City Council should have interviewed some of the people this law is going to affect to get a consensus on what is needed,” he said.
Basil Capetanakis, who owns 14 Apollo real estate, 480 76th street in Bay Ridge said he is extremely pleased with the legislation.
The solid gates are not good. It attracts graffiti artists and makes the neighborhood look bad,” he said. “They also present safety hazards where if there’s a fire it’s hard for firefighters to gain access or for police to survey and see what’s going on inside.”
Brighton Beach BID Executive Director Vyelena Makihnin said the legislation is good in that it gives shop owners until 2026 to make the change, but said more needs to be done to help small shop owners.
“I’m not sure what the positive outcome would come from this, and if I may say so, today’s mirco-scale business owners need something else from our government and elected officials. They need help in financing, filling out application classes and so on instead of more regulations,” she said.
Community Board 15 Chair and former business owner Theresa Scavo said she thinks the legislation is great as many shop owners in southern Brooklyn do not speak English and refused to sign waivers allowing the city to send a graffiti truck around and clean up any graffiti on the gates for free.
“Let’s hope this (legislation) curtails the graffiti problem,” she said.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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