Too Close for Comfort

Published September 5, 2012

After a six-month battle, New York City’s Bloomberg administration backed down from its threat to tear down a newsstand in the Bowery–which has stood in the same place for 35 years–because it’s three inches too close to the curb.

Bloomberg’s Department of Consumer Affairs will provide the newsstand owner, Marilyn Louie, with a new structure that’s slightly smaller. Louie is a single mother who inherited the newsstand from her father.

The attack on Louie’s newsstand is part of a larger city program to beautify New York City streets by replacing all 330 newsstands, installing new silver-metal newsstands, and building new bus shelters and pay toilets. According to the New York Times, a Madrid company, Cemusa, won the 20-year contract. Cemusa will own the newsstands and rent them to operators such as Louie for a one-time fee of $27,000 and $1,076 every two years.

The newsstand operators challenged the scheme, under which they will be renters, not owners, as an unconstitutional taking of their property, but lost in the state courts.

Sources: Chuck Bennett, “It’s good ‘news,'” New York Post, June 25, 2012; Glenn Collins, “Newsstands of Tomorrow Get Mixed Reviews Today,” August 29, 2008