CITY HALL — The topless women who take pictures with tourists for tips in Times Square will be more closely regulated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
"I think it’s wrong. It’s wrong," de Blasio said when asked about the topless women.
The mayor said he understands the civil liberties issues that allow the women to be topless in public but wants to crack down on it nonetheless.
"I’m not satisfied that we have used every tool in our arsenal yet," he said. "And I don’t like the situation in Times Square and we’re going to address it in a very aggressive manner."
Some people have complained that costumed characters and topless women in Times Square create a nuisance.
Several costumed characters were arrested last year for charges such as assaulting a police officer, groping a woman and blocking the sidewalk.
De Blasio said that he believes there needs to be more regulation of the costumed characters and topless women but current laws make it "harder to enforce in the way we might like to" unless you consider the activities as a business.
"Let’s face it, the women in Times Square, or the furry creatures in Times Square, are engaged in a business. We believe that that opens the door for us to enforce the way we would any other business. And we will do so, while still respecting constitutional rights," said the mayor.
"The fact is we have to respect the Constitution in this process," he continued. "That doesn’t mean we can’t find legislative and regulatory solutions that still fall within constitutional protections."
Councilman Corey Johnson, who represents a portion of Times Square, said he along with Councilman Dan Garodnick and the Times Square Alliance, are developing legislation that would regulate the myriad characters in the area.
The legislation would limit the activities to certain areas and certain times.
Right now, visitors to Times Square are simply overwhelmed, he said.
"It's not just the topless women who are creating an issue in Times Square, it is a combination of things that have gotten out of control over the last five years such as the costumed characters, these women, people selling CDs, and hop-on, hop-off buses," Johnson said. "There is no sense of order. It is chaos."
Johnson said visitors to Times Square, including people who work there, tourists or those going to see a Broadway show, deserve to walk through the area without "being harassed and stopped every 10 feet."
Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, supports the mayor's stance on the issue. He said his group was "ready to work with city officials on both short and long term solutions to ensure that Times Square remains a place of creative and free expression, without becoming a free-for-all.”