There had been aggressive solicitation and predatory behavior by a large number of players in the recent years at the famed New York’s Times Square. There had also been continued pedestrian congestion at peak times, worsened by solicitation activities and severe traffic congestion throughout the Theater District.
To address these three prevalent problems, the Times Square Alliance, together with Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Corey Johnson and Community Board Five penned a proposal to create three different regulatory zones – the Designated Activity Zones, General Civic Zone and The Pedestrian Flow Zones.
According to the proposal, the Designated Activity Zones would have first-come, first-served spaces that will give respect to free speech and the constitution, allowing any activity involving the exchange of cash for services or entertainment. Hence, all activities involving solicitation for immediate exchange of money for goods, services, or entertainment are allowed in this zone. This includes musicians, costumed characters, people posing as Buddhist monks, sellers of CDs and tickets (bus, comedy, Broadway, sports) and the controversial Denudas or the Topless women. The latter had been a subject of strong criticism against the local office in the past month.
According to a report from DNAinfo, Mayor Bill de Blasio thinks that topless women who posed with tourists for money in Time Squares is “wrong. It’s wrong.” While the mayor understands the civil liberties that these women have, de Blasio would still want to crack down on them.
“I’m not satisfied that we have used every tool in our arsenal yet. And I don’t like the situation in Times Square and we’re going to address it in a very aggressive manner,” de Blasio was quoted as saying by DNAinfo.
According to DNAinfo, some New Yorkers have also complained of the mascots and other costumed characters.
However, the Times Square Alliance thinks that the said performers should not be entirely removed from Times Square. “Times Square should be a place of freedom of expression, freedom of movement and creativity, without being a free-for-all, Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance. The community’s proposal creates a constitutional and data-driven framework for rationally regulating one of the world’s great public spaces,” argued Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.
“Times Square is for everyone. It can and should be a place where public art is on display, where magical events are held, and where people congregate,” the authors of the proposal wrote.
“Times Square is for New Yorkers of all backgrounds who want to come to and spend time, to celebrate, protest, debate, or just gaze up in wonder on their way to a Broadway show. It should captivate and inspire and be a place where the very best of New York City is on display,” the proposal stated.
The General Civic Zone meanwhile would have tables and chairs, arts and programming and occasional events. Such activities include free speech activity Street preacher or someone giving a speech Panhandlers Musician for Artists not seeking tips; free speech assembly Political demonstrations (subject to permit over 20 people); informational or advertising (without physical encumbrances), leaflets (e.g. Chicago, Scientology), held signs or advertisements; and FCRC-approved programming & concessions Alliance red tables & chairs Alliance food & information kiosks.
“The Pedestrian Flow Zones would be dedicated exclusively for the flow of pedestrian traffic without physical encumbrances, solicitation, or static distribution of promotional needs,” according to the website. Such activities include:
a. Solicitation for the immediate exchange of money for goods, services, or entertainment;
c. Standing or sitting in one location for continuous or repetitive distribution of any physical/tangible things or for promotional purposes;
d. Physical encumbrances (e.g. table, chair, placed placard, stage, stool).