Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Stooping So Low

The City Council's Transportation Committee held its hearing yesterday on Intro 731, the measure introduced by Councilmember Liu as a remedy for the defects of vetoed Stoop Stand Law (Intro 699). The hearing was interesting from the stand point of the unusual concurrence of opinion between the representatives of the small business community and the mayor's office. Put simply, all of us felt that Intro 731 was unnecessary (it calls for the creation of a task force to address the stoop stand issue) and that 699 was a positive danger to the welfare of neighborhood stores.

The administration's testimony was headlined by DCA Deputy Commissioner Pauline Toole. The gist of her remarks centered on the complete lack of evidence that stoop stands were posing any great danger to the pedestrians of this city. She relayed the fact that there were less than 30 real city wide complaints against fruit stores and pointed out that the expense of requiring DOT inspections for each of the 2100 or so license renewals would cost the city $1 million a year.

This is the expense that the Alliance has emphasized would be borne by the legitimate store owners, whether or not they had done anything at all to violate the law. Chairman Liu, undaunted, pointed out that the bill was not designed to target small stores but simply meant to force DOT inspectors to "do their job." It is, however, always the stores that get caught in this municipal regulatory drive-by shooting.

The small business star of the hearing was Councilman Koppell who frankly wondered why 731 was even necessary. As Frank Lombardi reports, he told Liu, however, that he would support the measure if the Chairman would withdraw 699. At that time, Koppell said, it might make sense to call for an exploratory task force but why, he said, "should we put the cart before the horse?"

All of this will come to a head on Thursday when Liu tries to marshal the votes to override the mayor's veto of Intro 699. At this time, the outcome is probably too close to call.