UPPER EAST SIDE — The coming of new bars and clubs may stoke the ire of residents looking for peace and quiet in many Manhattan neighborhoods. But on the Upper East Side, there's one more type of business that tends to spark outrage: newsstands.
Three campaigns in the area against these small sidewalk businesses have successfully prevented the silvery boxes from coming to their blocks.
Residents at a tidy block-long white-brick co-op on the northeast corner at Third Avenue, staged the most recent fight against a newsstand proposed just steps away from its green awning, gathering 80 signatures on a petition opposing the stand and speaking out at last month's community board meetings.
On the heels of similar struggles on East 86th Street near Madison Avenue and on East 72nd Street near Third Avenue, residents at 201 E. 79th St. enlisted City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, who fired off a letter to the Department of Consumer Affairs Tuesday decrying the proposed stand.
"The area will be completely saturated," Lappin wrote, noting the heavy foot traffic on the block because of the shoppers at a fruit vendor on the block and the steady stream of patients going in and out of ambulances to and from the DeWitt Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on the block, not to mention the 165-unit co-op.
DCA, however, already informed the newsstand applicant on Aug. 3 that his proposal was rejected based on the Department of Transportation's siting guidelines.
Marcy Barkan, a resident at 201 E. 79th St. and a leader in the most recent newsstand fight, said that in addition to the fruit vendor and nursing home, she was also concerned about potential overcrowding since several buses stop near the spot.
"You have extra buses on Third Avenue," Barkan said, listing the Hampton Jitney, which stops there along with several buses for private schools.
"You pay a lot of money to live on a beautiful street," she added. "[The stand] is not for a residential block."
She also didn't want her kids to be tempted by the sugary snacks they'd be staring out every time they left the building. "I have kids calling out every morning wanting to get candy," she said.
Fran Kaufman, who has lived at 201 E. 79th St. for 25 years, who opposed the "visual clutter" of the stand, said there were already two newsstands nearby on Second Avenue and one on Third Avenue.
"I don't get it," she said about why someone would want to put a newsstand on her block. "I don't even see people buy newspapers at the newsstand anymore." (While she gets the New York Times delivered, she said, she still reads it on her iPad instead.)
On East 86th Street — where residents collected more than 650 signatures in three days and successfully fought the proposal — locals complained about sidewalk overcrowding with groups heading to Museum Mile and the dreaded the sight of advertisements the constantly-lit silvery box would bring to their block. They also worried it would take away business from their beloved hot-dog vendor on the corner for more than 20 years.
Residents on East 72nd Street collected more than 400 signatures opposing the newsstand proposed for its corner — before the applicant withdrew his proposal from consideration for a license. They thought the stand would mar the character of their residential block and cause unfair competition for their nearby neighborhood news store of more than 30 years, State News.
Prospective newsstand owners have been discouraged hearing the criticism of the small businesses they hope to build.
Dahlia Mahdi, whose father lost his bid to open a stand on East 86th Street, had urged residents at a community meeting last year to reconsider their opposition.
"Why can't my father have his dream?" the 25-year-old Bronx teacher said.
Of the city's 253 newsstands, three of them are located in 201 E. 79th Street's 10075 zip code; six are in the 10021 zip code where the stand was proposed for East 72nd Street and Third Avenue; and six are in the 10028 zip code where the stand hoped to go on East 86th Street near Madison Avenue, according to DCA data.
The highest concentration of newsstands are in Midtown's 10019 and Chelsea's 10001 zip codes, with 25 each.