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Merchants roll with metal gate ban

The Brooklyn Paper
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Local businesses gave a thumbs up to recently passed city legislation that would gradually ban the use of roll-down metal security gates on shops to cut down on high rates of graffiti.

Other kinds of security gates — like rolling or sliding grilles, which permit passers-by to window shop and are seen by many as being harder to vandalize — would still be permitted.

This bill would require that after July 1, 2011, any roll-down gate that is being replaced must be replaced with a gate that allows at least 70 percent of the covered area to be visible.

By July 1, 2026, all of the businesses covered by the legislation must have the new higher-visibility gates installed.

The city council passed the ordinance unanimously recently and the Bloomberg administration also gave the legislation its support.

Amongst those that support the measure is the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, who have been skeptical of increasing city regulations over small businesses.

“Graffiti has long been a problem for small business and it has an impact on the quality of life with a community,” said Chamber President Carl Hum. “I applaud the city council for granting such generous grace periods. It will go a long way to alleviating the financial pressures on small businesses, which are already stressed by this recession.”

Anne Cantrell, who owns Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, at 365 State Street in Boerum Hill, said while her shop has roll-down gates, she doesn’t like them to begin with and tried to paint them green or blue.

“From a retail perspective, I prefer a gate where you can see in the shop window anyway,” she said.

Erik Olsen, manager of Brouwerij Lane, a retail beer store at 78 Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint, said the owner of the shop installed a lattice-style metal gate where the window is visible because he did not want to detract from the aesthetic feel of the building the way a metal roll-down gate would.

Heather Hamilton, who owns Long’s Wine and Liquor, at 7917 5th Avenue in Park Slope, said she has heard about the proposed law for some time through local civic groups and that it is generally a good ordinance.

“It could be a hard expense for shop owners to swallow right now, but if the city can help shop owners do it at a reasonable cost and help with a tax break or wait till they have to be replaced, I think it’s a good thing,” she said.

Hamilton said graffiti remains an issue in the neighborhood, but if it is taken care of fairly quickly, the problem is negligible.

Ceaser Molina, the manager of Michael Townes Wines and Spirits, at 73 Clark Street in Brooklyn Heights, said he didn’t even know of the new law and the shop already has gates through which shoppers can gaze into the windows.

“Honestly, no matter what they (the city) do, there will always be people that will do graffiti,” he said.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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