Thursday, December 23, 2010
On Tuesday, DNAinfo's Patrick Hedlund reported that the Department of Transportation fined Roger Baust, who sells Christmas trees and wreaths outside St. Marks Church in-the-Bowery on Second Avenue at 10th Street, for having a temporary structure on the sidewalk that gives his staffers periodic breaks from the cold.
Baust has been doing business here every holiday for the past six years without incident. The summons is for $1,500, but Baust thinks it could end up as high as $5,000. He has a court date on Feb. 14. According to a reader, Baust got the OK for the shelter from church officials and the Parks Department (as well as the manager who runs the farmer's market here on Tuesdays).
According to the article: Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3, said her office received complaints about the sidewalk structure, so she turned them over to the city, which came last week to summons the vendor. "Just because somebody got away with something for years does not mean it is correct," she said of Baust not having permit for the shack.
As the resident noted, the temporary structure is 7 feet wide; the Tuesday farmer's market tents are 10 feet wide. Neither interferes with pedestrian traffic. Just look at the photo. TWO people walking side by side by the structure without incident!
The summons was issued by DOT — not by whatever department issues vendor permits. So it's unclear whether there were any actual complaints about the structure taking up space or whether some alleged failure to obtain a permit of some kind is behind this.
A few questions we'd like answered:
• Why and at whose request did the DOT get involved in this?
• And why now? The stand went up on Nov. 27.
• What dept. of officialdom is responsible for issuing these permits? Why couldn't the Community Board office have told Baust he needed one? Their office is only seven blocks from Baust's stand — it's not like he was hiding.
• Is there some sort of vindictiveness going on here? Did Baust piss off some influential person somehow? Did Baust fail to grease someone's palm?
• How does a complaint or two turn into a hefty fine... or put a damper on concerts in Tompkins Square Park?