In the News: “Virtue Signaling” and Street Seats

Laughing Man Street Seats by Charles Komanoff••• Charles Komanoff on possible reasons long-time Tribecans objected to the proposed expansion of Laughing Man’s Street Seats, and how fixing placard abuse would make more of a difference to local businesses strapped for parking. —Downtown Express

••• “Floral Park’s newest Mexican restaurant has a bit of a brogue. Oak House Mexican Kitchen, which is open on Tulip Avenue, is owned by Gavin and Lindsey Doherty (he’s Irish, she’s British), and if you belly up to the bar you’ll be treated to John Fitzpatrick’s County Fermanagh lilt. The Doherty’s own the Dark Horse sports bar [on Murray] in Tribeca, and when they moved from Queens to Floral Park they decided to open a second place, closer to home.” Floral Park is on Long Island. —Newsday

••• Meanwhile, Akimoto Sushi (on Church Street) is opening an outpost on the Upper West Side. —Eater

••• “Comptroller Scott Stringer wants to tap into millions of dollars raised by the Battery Park City Authority each year to help fund the New York City Housing Authority’s crumbling infrastructure. But there’s one catch—Mayor de Blasio would have to sign off on the deal.” I don’t think this is a new notion, but I don’t feel like looking it up. —New York Post

••• Daytonian in Manhattan on the Tammany Hall headquarters that used to stand at 170 Nassau.


  1. Please, please, please.

    Everyone who cares about this one tiny little space we have to sit and sip coffee and chat.

    Please come to the CB1 meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb 27th at MCC, enter on Chambers). Please make clear that the tiny cabal of selfish residents impeding this (and similar projects) are just that: a minority. Please.

    Thank you.

    • What happened at the meeting?

      • According to the February 27, 2018 CB1 Manhattan resolution, it was resolved:

        “CB 1 rejects the application for an extension and additional seating on the same basis as 2017” and,

        “[CB1] Requests that DOT adjust the buffer zone to the minimum required, and that the Street Season be adjusted back to what CB1 has approved each of the last three years for 6 months duration and not 8 months” and,

        “[CB1 resolves] Considering the quality of life issues that Laughing Man return to CB1 next year for a review.”

        Other (whereas) statements in the resolution include:

        “It additionally became clear through questioning of the DOT representative and the applicant that in fact the existing setup, by extending its seasonal no parking zone further than was necessary for a buffer zone, had eliminated even more
        parking footage than was necessary, despite CB1’s clear concerns that other businesses were being penalized by loss of commercial parking space” and,

        “Neighbors and committee members were surprised that the approved 6 month season had without notice been extended to 8 months in 2017” and,

        “The new request, as represented by the applicant, takes up no more space than was already being used, but in fact uses that extra space that should not have been granted in the first place” and,

        “An attempt was made at last year’s committee meeting to have Laughing Man come to some sort of arrangement with Taste of Tribeca, which has had its event for over 20 years, to make up for loss of up to 3- 4 booths, the applicant said he
        couldn’t at that moment but would certainly work with the representative to come up with some type of accommodation, and […] According to a letter from Taste’s representative this year; ‘No compromise was entertained either privately or at the CB1 meeting’, and [..] ‘This year, we have come to an understanding that is not ideal for Taste of Tribeca but is one we can work with’ ” and,

        “Several residents and committee members were also disturbed that a single business owner had essentially been given a de facto sidewalk cafe on a Tribeca side street, paid for and supported by DOT, and considerably larger than the frontage of that business”


  2. I just read the article in ” Downtown Express”. I do agree even though the place is lovely. It takes up precious parking for residents in the area, including myself.

  3. I do think it’s a larger placard abuse issue. Beyond Duane Street, city cars park where they want and when they want — often not moving for a week. As a result the street cleaners only make a half attempt and the streets are a mess.

  4. First, I do not think that attacking the motives of people opposed to one’s idea (“virtue signaling”; “selfish”) is all that admirable.

    Second, Laughing Man could obtain a sidewalk cafe permit if it could comply with DOT rules regarding sidewalk width and CB1 rules about sidewalk cafes on east-west side streets. Instead of appropriating sidewalk space, and since it may not comply with those rules, it would like to take (even more) parking space.

    Certainly no restaurant would be granted a sidewalk cafe on a portion of the sidewalk not adjacent to the store’s frontage, or in front of a residential entrance. Further, DOT’s website is clear:

    “Any type of business or institution that owns or operates the frontage at the ground floor of a building may be eligible to install and maintain a Street Seat. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and non-profit organizations without frontage can also be eligible, if they work in partnership with a local business that does have frontage.”

    Third, if the operator of Laughing Man wants to apply for Street Seats in his capacity as building owner, that should be made clear. In that case, why not let him apply to build a Street Seats adjacent to the entire frontage of the building?

    Finally, there are indeed some limits here that, because the “majority” likes the idea and the store operator has a city agency will arbitrarily and capriciously throw its rules out the window to expand its pet program “Street Seats”, some say we should all apparently ignore.

    • agreed. it’s obvious that this is really a sidewalk cafe and it deserves to be regulated as one.

    • Your erudition is beside the point, this time. A sidewalk cafe would be for patrons only. What Laughing Man has made is for anyone and everyone.

      For the record, it was a comment, not I in my piece, who called the objectors “selfish.”

      • Your public spiritedness is likewise beside the point, this time.

        This Street Seats, redundantly opposite a public park, is no less for the promotion of Laughing Man than a sidewalk cafe would be, a sidewalk cafe that may not be allowed under DOT and CB1 rules. Even DOT says on its website, “DOT seeks applications from restaurants for its curbside seating platforms program. The platforms provide outdoor public seating in the curb lane during the warm months and promote local businesses.” (Why DOT would spend limited public resources here, to build another park across from an existing park, is another story.)

        You might as well have skipped the “virtue signaling” bit and instead called the “foes” of the parking spot park disingenuous in their opposition (aside from Duane Park Patisserie who strikes me as the most straightforward and least smug of the interested parties here.) Why not just put forth the merits of your idea analyzing policy without psychoanalyzing your opponents?

        This decision has nothing to do with parking placards which will be abused with or without these Street Seats. Perhaps the problem of placard abuse would be better resisted if the Street Seats were granted by DOT on a block with NO parks but with a parking lane now abused by counterfeit placards and genuine agency parking permits. Even the over-issuance by DOT and the Mayor of authentic placards (whether to desk-bound “public servants” who use their agency cars merely to commute or otherwise) is just as much placard abuse as (city government’s tolerance for) the use of counterfeit placards.

  5. I don’t think that the seating is a problem per se, but the people that sit or chat there and let their dogs and strollers take up the entire sidewalk are. It is hard to find a way through. As a resident of the street, I would prefer a clear sidewalk.

  6. Having more seating with use of an additional parking space (that is it usually not legal to park in anyway) could lead to less sidewalk blockage and congestion, not more of it, which happens when too many people are not allowed enough space.

    Instead of being blocked it could have been tried provisionally for just one season to find out whether the additional space reduced sidewalk congestion instead of increasing it, which is only your hypothesis.

    This little group of sidewalk seats are very popular and used quite a lot. Clearly they are liked and wanted.

  7. Do the people who want more seats not know about the two parks steps away?

    • Many of them also apparently want fewer cars and parking spots, not just more parks and seating…

    • Sean, are you for real? Of course we supporters of Laughing Man’s corral know about the wonderful parks a block over on either side. I for one served for 5 yrs on the board of the “friends” of one of them (WMP).

      When my kids were little, of course we spent hours and hours in Duane Triangle & (esp’ly) Washington Market Parks. But it was also great to sit out on the loading dock on the north side of Duane, in front of #165, and watch the passing parade. What a way to have a vantage on, and be in, Tribeca! Twenty years later, both kids love NYC and cities in general. I bet there’s a link.

      Lord knows I tried in my piece, but it’s hard to understand the preferencing of two or three parking spaces … which wouldn’t even be a drop in the (bottomless) bucket of drivers who will seek them out and use them up … over an attractive, cared-for public space — with comfy seats (!).

      But yes to James, some of us (myself for sure) dearly want fewer cars around. The connection from fewer cars to healthier, happier streets and people is well-established. Happily, more and more people are figuring that out.