JACKSON HEIGHTS — After the city installed a controversial newsstand on a Jackson Heights street despite staunch opposition from city officials, the local community board and neighboring businesses, politicians have introduced a bill to change the city's licensing law.
State Sen. Jose Peralta was joined Friday by Councilman Danny Dromm in front of a newly-installed kiosk on 37th Avenue and 76th Street, which was placed on the street in June over concerns from critics who said it would cause more congestion and cut into business for nearby stores.
“Right now, city agencies don’t have any discretion to refuse the installation of newsstands if the applicants follow the municipal criteria,” Peralta said.
Currently, anyone with a newsstand license can apply for a stand or booth and then decide where it goes, pending approval from the Department of Transportation and the Public Design Commission, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs.
Peralta and Dromm's new legislation would make prospective kiosk owners go through the same process as restaurant owners who apply for sidewalk cafes. The community board input would be taken into consideration with the city council having the final say, they said.
While the kiosk hasn't opened yet, it's already been tagged with graffiti warning customers not to shop there.
It's not clear how many of the stands have been installed over the last 10 years. But Dromm said he's fought the installation since it was first up for consideration in 2011, calling it "totally inappropriate."
"Unfortunately, our laws don't currently give our communities that opportunity when it comes to deciding where newsstands can be installed," he said.
A spokeswoman for the DCA said they "will be happy to review the legislation once it's introduced."