CITY HALL — The creation of a Chinatown Business Improvement District received unanimous support from the City Council Wednesday, ending more than a year of debate over the controversial proposal.
The BID — which will be responsible for street-cleaning and other beautification efforts throughout the neighborhood, funded by a fee paid by building owners — got strong support from many in the community, including local Councilwoman Margaret Chin.
“I am 100 percent confident that the BID will improve the business environment in Chinatown, help bring new visitors to our community, and enhance the overall quality of life for residents,” Chin said in a statement, following a 50-0 vote in favor of the district by the Council.
“With a BID in place, Chinatown will have clean streets, enhanced lighting and signage, and supportive services for small businesses. Most importantly, I believe the BID will foster economic development for our local businesses as well as bring in much needed tourism to the neighborhood.”
Opponents of the BID battled the plan every step of the way, charging the district with placing a burdensome tax on owners and being too politically tied.
Obviously we are disappointed, but we’re not surprised,” said Chinatown business owner Jan Lee, who has led the charge against the BID’s formation.
He alleged that the district plan was expedited due to political will, noting that a series of inquiries will eventually reveal that figures used to show widespread support for the BID are inaccurate.
“We do want to get the point across that the BID is a temporary aberration in Chinatown that will be eventually dismantled,” Lee said. “It should not be looked at as a permanent solution because it’s not a solution, and it’s not permanent.”
Regardless, Chin trumpeted the Council’s decision Wednesday, calling it a boon for a neighborhood still reeling from 9/11.
“The community experienced a dramatic loss in terms of jobs and opportunity in the aftermath of the attacks,” she said in a statement.
“We still have blocked off roads and many small businesses that were forced to close have never reopened. I know this BID will help revitalize Chinatown and ensure that growth in this important immigrant neighborhood is on par with other neighborhoods in lower Manhattan.”
In addition to the BID, the council also passed a series of controversial changes aimed at enhancing the city’s animal shelters, including extending hours at certain shelters outside of Manhattan and improving the Department of Health’s “field services” program , which rescues lost, stray and injured animals.
The city is also increasing its funding to Animal Care and Control, the non-profit which runs the city’s animal shelters, with an extra $10 million dollars over the next three years.
“This bill paves the way for a significant increase in public funding for the city’s animal shelters, which will greatly expand and improve care for homeless animals,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement.
The department will also have to begin reporting how many animals it picks up, how many are admitted into shelters and how many staffers work at each facility.
The legislation also requires that owners spay or neuter any cat that roams outside, or face a $250 to $500 fine.