We are community members of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona who are opposed to the presence of any Business Improvement District (BID) in our vibrant, bustling neighborhoods.
We insist that it is the responsibility of our city government to manage our public spaces and city services; it is not the responsibility of a private association of commercial landlords and highly-paid BID managers. Shielded from democratic accountability, the BID model of community development is one that excludes residents and the vast majority of small business owners from meaningful democratic control over decisions that affect us and our neighborhoods.
Proponents of the newly proposed Jackson Heights-Corona BID intend to change the physical space and social character of our neighborhoods. Their objective is to bring Roosevelt Avenue in line with the consumption habits of highly affluent urban professionals whose lifestyles are very different from the wants and needs of the poor, working-class, and even middle-class immigrant families who already live and shop here.
Far from supporting small businesses, the Jackson Heights-Corona BID is designed to gentrify our commercial corridor and displace the small businesses and street vendors who provide us with culturally-specific, affordable products and services. BIDs have been, or are currently, the agents of such displacement in neighborhoods across the city, from Downtown Brooklyn to Chinatown to Harlem to Fordham Road to Long Island City to Flushing.
Furthermore, BIDs are not viable models for violent crime reduction. The fact of the matter is, since the 1990s, crime rates in every category have steadily dropped in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona. When BID proponents insultingly try to cast Roosevelt Avenue as crime-ridden they manipulate statistics without reflection on context or long-term trends. On November 9th, 2013, two people were shot in the Bryant Park skating rink, which is operated by an extremely well-funded BID in Manhattan. If BIDs really make neighborhoods safe, why wasn’t this act of violence prevented?
The formation of the proposed Jackson Heights-Corona BID represents a major step toward increasing the economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we call home. We demand real commitment on the part of our local politicians to ensure publicly-funded community development programs that can adequately address our city's ongoing inequality crisis that BIDs only further perpetuate.
We say NO to the private management of public space in our neighborhoods! Roosevelt Avenue is NOT for sale!