City Council Members, the Department of Transportation Commissioner and the NYPD, toured the stretch of Roosevelt Avenue in Queens affected by the DOT’s Clear Curbs initiative to speak with residents and small business owners about the policy’s devastating effects halfway through the six-month pilot program.
Jackson Heights, NY — Council Members Francisco Moya and Mark Gjonaj, the Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and the NYPD toured the stretch of Roosevelt Avenue affected by the DOT’s Clear Curbs initiative on Friday, speaking with residents and small business owners about how disruptive and damaging the program has been for the neighborhood. The tour comes at the halfway mark of the six-month pilot program.
Council Members Moya and Gjonaj thanked Commissioner Trottenberg for taking the time to speak with shopkeepers affected by the program and hope these conversations will inform how the department implements future policies.
“Clear Curbs has decimated business along Roosevelt Avenue,” said Council Member Francisco Moya, whose district includes the thoroughfare. “Small business owners here fear they may have to shutter their shops before the pilot program even wraps up in a few months. This all could have been prevented if the DOT spoke with these people before imposing its initiative on them.”
“Clear Curbs has cleared out small businesses,” said Council Member Mark Gjonaj, the chair of the Committee on Small Business. “We don’t need six months to know that this has been a disaster for small businesses and should be immediately ended. The significance of dialogue between government and the private sector cannot be understated, and The Protect NYC Jobs and Businesses Act ensures that nobody is ever caught off guard again.”
On May 9, Council Members Gjonaj, Moya and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo announced the Protect NYC Jobs & Businesses Act in response to the Clear Curbs initiative. The measure would require city agencies to notify affected community boards, Business Improvement Districts and Council Members of any project that significantly disrupts street usage.
“Recently, the Department of Transportation implemented a pilot congestion plan and provided almost no advance notification to the local businesses that would be most impacted by the program. This is unacceptable,” said City Council Majority Leader, Laurie A. Cumbo. “Almost all of the businesses in the impact zone have faced serious challenges that impact their ability to conduct business, and they were never given the opportunity to provide input before the DOT rolled out its plan. But thanks to Council Member Gjonaj and Council Member Moya, we are continuing to meet with these businesses and advocate for their needs with the ‘Protect NYC Jobs and Businesses Act’, which sets out to do exactly that: protect the very businesses that provide jobs and contribute to the fabric of our communities.”
Clear Curbs bars parking along the avenue during peak business hours, forcing cars and delivery trucks off the main artery and onto residential side streets. It has crippled business, created perilous traffic conditions and led to steep ticketing for residents and delivery drivers.
“Before the City took away parking, we were experiencing a recession due to President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. This initiative is now killing our businesses,” said David Betancourt, the owner of Delicias Colombianas, located on 82nd Street off of Roosevelt Avenue. “We are down 50 percent since Clear Curbs started. As a small business operator, we are struggling to keep our doors open. “
“I have been in this neighborhood for over 30 years, and this is the most challenging period I have ever faced,” said Glen Mirchandani, who owns Devisons Jewelry, also located on 82nd Street off of Roosevelt Avenue. “This program is jeopardizing my work of nearly three decades. I have clients in the tri-state area that have stopped coming for lack of parking and steep fines.”
“Restricting truck deliveries only serves to hurt the businesses that rely on those deliveries, as we are seeing today,” said The Trucking Association of New York (TANY) President Kendra Hems. “The Trucking Association of New York appreciates the continued attention to this issue by Council Member Francisco Moya, Council Member Mark Gjonaj and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo. We encourage the Department of Transportation to suspend this pilot program and work in partnership with stakeholders, including the trucking industry and business owners, to find real, achievable solutions to congestion.”
Assemblywoman Ari Espinal and Senator Jose Peralta, who represent sections of the Clear Curbs-affected stretch, also attended the tour.
“Three months into the Clear Curbs initiative, it is clear the program is doing more harm than good,” said Assemblywoman Ari Espinal. “As the economic pain needlessly inflicted on the small businesses along Roosevelt Avenue demonstrates, the local community should always have a seat at the table. I applaud Council Members Moya, Gjonaj and Cumbo for pushing back on this issue and will continue to work with them to ensure our community’s voice is heard.”
“It appears that DOT’s Clear Curb program along a stretch of Roosevelt Avenue is hurting small businesses and the area in general. The city agency needs to seriously study the initiative and, hopefully, shelve the program,” said Senator Jose Peralta. “When mom-and-pop shops suffer, the entire neighborhood suffers. I understand this is a pilot program, but I believe DOT has enough data to determine that Roosevelt Avenue is not the right place for this initiative.”