08/09/10 10:28am

The following is a guest post as an open letter. Thank you to Ilene for submitting this to us. I will leave out any of my commentary. ~hide

When I moved to Dumbo in January 2001 I had been to Brooklyn no more than a handful of times. But I knew. I knew the amazing views, cobblestone streets, and untapped potential of the waterfront was going to be a great place to call home. And it was. Until recently.

My family and I have a lot of history in this neighborhood. I was married at 70 Washington – before the condo conversion. We stood at what is now the flag pole entrance to Fulton Ferry watching the Twin Towers fall. I share this as I feel a bit like I am betraying an old friend to be voicing so publicly the serious problems that have overtaken our neighborhood.

It is no secret that times have changed and Dumbo is now on the map. And not just on the new subway map. We are the destination for film shoots, photo shoots and of course….those lovely wedding parties seeking the ultimate NYC backdrop for their wedding day photos.

While we welcome everyone to enjoy our fabulous views, we are very concerned for the safety issue this traffic creates. As the neighborhood has grown, both in residents and visitors, we have in some ways become a victim of our popularity. The block of Main Street (between Water + Plymouth) becomes overrun with double, tripled parked limos every weekend. At some times, the block is impassable both to pedestrians and vehicles.

I recently started a petition to bring political attention to the safety issues of our neighborhood. The community response was incredible. As a neighborhood, we seem to be holding our breath expecting a tragedy to result from the reckless limo traffic. I also had dozens of people mention the other big issues (filming, construction) and asking what we can do about them.

As a community we are desperate for someone, anyone, to take hold of the multiple assaults that are combining to create an untenable, unsafe, situation for Dumbo residents and visitors alike. Since there is no Mayor of Dumbo (sorry David), it is up to us to create a critical mass.

When we had trouble with our condo board years ago, it took an organized effort and countless hours to enact change. This is just what we need to do in Dumbo. There is no one but the community of Dumbo that can call attention to these matters and get some real change in order.

I have been working with Assemblywoman Millman’s office on The Limo Issue. (See letter to Millman’s office: PDF format). We have been told the 84th precinct will be creating flyers that remind drivers not to double park, and suggest that they stage their drop off area over on Adams Street, where there is another entrance to the park. Apparently through all of our efforts and 311 calls, the city is aware this is an issue and this is how they see a resolve. I’ll keep you posted.

I also think the TLC needs to get involved and advise their drivers accordingly. The number of stretch hummer double decker limos has to be small and I am sure the offending drivers can be found. Take license plate numbers when you can.

Dial 311 or (212) NEW-YORK (212 639-9675) for all TLC related matters

Film Shoots
Film shoots happen almost daily. Often taking up significant amounts of our limited parking. And those are the correctly permitted shoots. As a producer myself, I have busted more than my share of unpermitted shoots dangerously laying cable across park paths and taking up sidewalks with their video village.

If you encounter a film shoot that is taking your parking, blocking your way, or operating in an unsafe manner ask to see their permit.

Read it. Make sure it says the correct date and exact address of the shoot. A few weeks ago someone tried to show me a permit that said they can shoot at the Brooklyn Bridge and take parking ‘as available’. They were illegally parked at 1 Main and had their crew taking the entire sidewalk forcing us into the street. Film production people are trained to take charge and look like they have the authority to do what they are doing. I should know.

If you do not want to face a confrontation (see: Man Head Butts film crew) here is what you can do:

Call 311. Call often. The city tracks which issues get the most calls, and responds accordingly. Keep your case number.

Call the Mayors Office of Film + TV , ask for the complaint department: (212)489-6710. You will get a live person who can look up the permit for the shoot in question and take action accordingly (business hours only)

**Use this number to complain about frequency of shoots. This office approves permits and is supposed to monitor how many crews and how often. They need to hear from you.

Also FYI this is what a permit looks like (they can be faked).

The course of action for this is a bit more obtuse right now. 311 calls seem to be the answer for now, as well as any additional pressure we can put on our representatives to draw attention to the matters.

Assemblywoman Joan Millman: 718-246-4889 (to come other representatives contact information)

I recently arrived home after several weeks out of the city. As I tried to navigate a small opening in the limo traffic to pull my car up in front of our building (young son, 2 dogs, completely stuffed car), I was literally verbally harassed by a gigantic wedding party whose bride’s photo op in front of a Time Warner van I inadvertently compromised. In front of my son. While this was not a safety issue, this time, things are clearly out of control.

In the melodic words of the great Peter Tosh “Get up stand up, stand up for rights. You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. So now we see the light, we’re gonna stand up for our rights”.

~ Ilene Richardson