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January 29, 2009

This is a flyer from the Fulton Area Community Crier I received in the ‘hood and I’m going on record to co-sign:






The country’s broke so President Obama’s cutting taxes. The city’s broke so Mayor Bloomberg’s raising taxes- and in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill doubling on a super tax, otherwise called the Fulton Street Business Improvement District (BID).


The BID is a hit on stores badly hurt from years of street and sidewalk destruction. Through the BID, the Department of Finance plans to collect $80/month from property owners for every 20 feet of frontage on Fulton; the fee can increase every year. Too bad if you can’t afford it. Pay or else…The BID can bust you.


Six years ago Mayor Bloomberg and partner Forest City Ratner Companies(FCRC) launched their Atlantic Yards attack on Prospect Heights; they thought the neighborhood would be caught off guard and defenseless. Now it’s our turn to fight off the Mayor and Pratt Area Community (PACC) on target Fulton street.


PACC says it has worked for eight years preparing the BID, yet when Fulton Area Community Corps(FACC) went door-to-door-to-door in November to explain how the BID would work, merchants were taken by surprise. When they heard they’d be charged for security and sanitation, banners no one notices, holiday lights and homeless services and decorator garbage cans; when they heard they’d be paying the $60,000 salary of a “District Manager”, they said “No”. FACC got a mountain of “No” votes from Rockwell place to Classon avenue, the stretch the BID looks to claim.


They voted “No” because they already pay for police and don’t want to pay unarmed guards on part-time patrol. They voted “No” because they already pay for sanitation and still sweep the sidewalks themselves. They voted “No” because they don’t want custom garbage cans, just regular ones and more of them. They voted “No” because they’re struggling to stay afloat and don’t feel like paying someone a salary greater then their own and benefits they don’t have themselves. And they voted “No” because they became angry they found out if they chose not to pay the BID, the City would come after their property. They voted “NO BID!”. They voted “Yes, We Can Stand and Fight!”.


That’s how the FACC got 160 “No” voted in three weeks. We proudly took them to the City Clerk’s Office to be counted. The City Clerk threw them out.


The Mayor was pleased. PACC was pleased; Here comes the BID! There goes the little balloon corner, the little Chinese takeouts and nail salons, the Arab dollar stores, there goes the Korean dry cleaner, there goes the Jamaican patty palace…


The Mayor and PACC don’t go on Fulton street so they don’t see the “NO BID!” signs in the windows, don’t hear the voices, “No You Can’t!” Not here. Not to us.


Fulton Area Community Crier is a publication of Fulton Area Community Corps serving Wallabout, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Bedford Stuyvesant.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. justin permalink
    January 30, 2009 12:17 am

    Word. I learned in college that BIDs are a scam. And that came straight from Harvey Molotch, one of the OGs of urban studies.

  2. Nate permalink
    January 30, 2009 8:31 pm

    that’s really disappointing. i was just reading this morning in the village voice about the hundreds of millions of dollars Bloomberg is giving to the yankees to build luxury condos attached to the new stadium.

    the yankees are not paying property taxes on this behemoth, i might add, while the mayor is putting in place BIDs to fuck over small businesses.

  3. progresivo permalink
    January 31, 2009 4:21 am

    i have to disagree with the spirit of this post. while additional costs in the midst of this economic downturn and in the wake of the years of construction is certainly burdensome, i believe that the BID will help build the market and identity of the Fulton Street corridor. The BID contributes to improved cleanliness, increased security, and enhanced marketing. PACC is a 45 year old community based organization that has managing this commercial strip for a long time. Commercial corridors in New York City that have created a BID have universally prospered. I am confident that this additional cost for small businesses will pay for itself in short order.

  4. gatesres permalink
    February 2, 2009 3:56 pm

    I agree with progresivo. The businesses on Fulton are making a big mistake. Anyone been on Myrtle lately? They’re doing pretty damn well over there, and a big part of it is because of their BID. And it’s not all newly opened, gentrified boutiques and restaurants. There are plenty of legacy businesses there. Businesses on Fulton in the Clinton Hill area are suffering because of the construction, but also because Fulton is dirty and abandoned.

    The other day I heard an employee at The Met talking to a customer about the BID. He was outraged that they might be forced to sweep the sidewalk in front of the store. The city’s street cleaners are just that; they clean the street, not the sidewalk. There once was a time when a business owner considered it part of his or her responsibility to keep the sidewalk in front of the store clean. I’ve lived here for eight years, and I can’t tell you how tired I am of the attitude of entitlement, or that someone else should do it. If the city’s not doing the job, either vote out elected officials or organize to get it done yourself.

    People who voted against the BID must like Fulton the way it is–empty and increasingly dangerous. You have no problem with shootings, muggings, and drug dealers on your street. You must like having all that empty space in your stores from no customers. You’re okay with refusing the major benefit of gentrification–and that’s having people in your neighborhood with more disposable income. These people would love the convenience of spending it here. But they’re not, because Fulton gives them no reason to. Take a walk down Myrtle or Fulton down in Fort Greene and consider the potential for the Clinton Hill strip of Fulton that will probably never be realized.

  5. bknesto permalink
    February 2, 2009 7:08 pm

    First off I calling bullshit on the claim you OVERHEARD a Met Food employee complaining about sweeping the sidewalk. I know the owners of Met Foods and that is not their primary complaint about the BID. Secondly they already sweep in front of the store themselves, if they didn’t they would get fined. Where you got this entitlement angle based on a conversation you weren’t even a part of, I don’t know. Most if not ALL business owners know that sweeping in front of their establishment is their job.

    People always like to cite Myrtle when talking about the Fulton street BID. Not every proprietor on Myrtle is happy about it. Many still have complaints. Myrtle avenue does have newer businesses than Fulton street(from vanderbilt to classon) but it is not vastly cleaner let’s be real about it. Also, Fulton street from S.Oxford to Rockwell has developed and progressed on it’s own…WITHOUT A BID. This stretch is longer than the stretch on Myrtle people love to harp on. Let’s also not over look the fact that many of the pioneering businesses on this stretch, who helped the progression have been forced out due rising rents on a strip they helped bring commercial viabilty to. That’s happened on Fulton street AND Myrtle as well as all over the City. So to say that these business owners are short sighted is somewhat ignorant when they can look to examples and see the adverse effects of BID’s and gentrification. There’s alway’s two sides.
    DeKalb even though I feel it used to have a more diverse array of businesses has done fine without a BID…Vanderbilt(although not in our hood) has done fine too. I remember DeKalb had only two restuarants, a diner and two bars. Look at it now!

    It’s also ignorant to accuse these proprietors of wanting muggings, shootings, etc. just because they’re against something. But I see this route taken all the time usually when long time residents take a stand. Ask yourself why would upstanding citizens who own businesses want those crimimal elements around? What do you think of them to have such thoughts? I mean really…Is it the proprietors fault that a business they invested in is on a strip with empty storefronts? The long time and new businesses are making the strip less desolate because they choose to provide the community with a service. They came and remain without the enticement of a BID, I don’t see why others can’t or wouldn’t do the same. The empty storefronts that have been empty for years lies on some of the greedy ass landlords, who like others in the neighborhood thought Fulton street would be on it’s way to disneyland by now because the City was having an economic boom and in turn want to overcharge for commercial space.

  6. diana permalink
    February 6, 2009 2:10 pm

    To help the businesses on Fulton east of Vanderbilt pay the BID dues, the City should install parking meters. It’s crazy that on this retail strip there are no parking meters, and (I think) that drivers can park there all day. Putting up meters would free up spaces for people to do quick errands and shop there. The meter revenue can be channeled back as funding for the BID. A great article on this approach is here (the next link may change or expire though, sorry!): (“The Price of Parking on a Great Street” by Don Shoup) or you can find it on page 12 here:,%20February,%202009.pdf

  7. darla b permalink
    February 22, 2009 1:15 am

    According to the information above, landlords, not businesses, would be responsible for paying the $80/month BID fee. I have sympathy for business owners facing today’s uncertain economic climate. But I don’t have much sympathy for the landlords.

    If they are unhappy about having to take care of the sidewalk and be more orderly with their trash, they should already be doing those things as good members of the community. If they are unhappy about having to pay a fee to help better the community, they should measure the expense of that fee against the incredible value of their property — it is a pittance in comparison. They should also consider the benefit the BID will bring to the neighborhood — and their property value — and maybe they will see this $80 a month is a worthy investment.

    There are a few honorable landlords here and there, but my experience dealing with New York landlords is most of them are quick to toss honor aside for profit. There is great potential to get rich with New York real estate — more so than in almost any other market. New York landlords are easily distracted by this potential, and their greed prevents them behaving responsibly for the good of the community. It seems ironic, but landlords are often better managers of their property, and better members of the community, where real estate does not have so much potential for so quickly increasing in value. Too many New York landlords hope to buy and sell for a big profit as soon as they can. In less dynamic real estate markets property ownership is more of a long term investment, and the reasons why people become landlords are not so heavily weighted toward the potential to get rich quick. These are much better landlords.

    Community is one of the best aspects of Fort Greene / Clinton Hill. It is wonderful to know our neighbors, and see so many familiar faces on the street. Rent stabilization is a big reason why our community has this character. With such a dynamic economy as New York’s, ordinary renters have no confidence they can afford to stay in their home beyond the short term of their lease. This is a strong disincentive from investing in their community — it might not be theirs for long. But with rent stabilization, renters have the confidence we can stay longer, and this confidence is manifested in all the ways we invest in our community unlike other more transient renters — we know it will not be wasted when our lease expires in a few months.

    There is no such thing as rent stabilization for commercial properties — probably for good reason. But landlords need to balance their profit incentive with their social and ethical obligation to their tenants and neighbors. Too few do.

    Landlords need to make a profit too — I understand that. But let’s be honest: there are no poor property owners in New York. Even if they are struggling to pay their mortgage, they have precious equity, they have the opportunity to leverage that equity for credit, and they are so much better off than the renter who does not. There is no cheap property in New York. Prices go up and down — but mostly up. And being forced to sell your home because you can’t afford it any more is much better than losing your apartment because you can’t afford its rent. In either case you must downsize, but the home owner has the cash from the sale of their last house to invest in another one. The renter has nothing.

    Fort Greene / Clinton Hill is a wonderfully vibrant community. Landlords are an influential part of this community. We need landlords who appreciate the community and are willing to invest in it, and don’t just focus on maximizing their real estate investment. Besides, if the BID improves the community — and there is good reason to believe it will — the landlords will be some of the biggest beneficiaries. If they only took a longer term view, they may see it is possible to be good to the community while being good to their bottom line. I hope more of them do.

  8. Orv permalink
    April 18, 2009 2:01 pm

    BID is nothing more than a tax. To those people who can’t afford to live in Manhattan anymore because they have been forced out by more affluent Eurotrash I am truly sorry, but longtime Brooklyn residents really don’t want to see Brooklyn become Manhattan. Manhattan sucks and now Brooklyn is headed in that direction too.

  9. Clintonista permalink
    June 21, 2009 8:13 pm

    yes. let’s leave the fulton strip looking like s**t. instead of investing in our community.

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