Did you know that your block is up for sale to the highest bidder?
Any corporation or big business can commandeer your neighborhood for their big business as long as they’re willing to pay the Mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office for the privilege.
Five days before Verizon Viva Movil was taking over Pacific Street, the garden was contacted by the events planning company that there would be an event with face painting, snow cone machines, and food vendors. Although they made a point to let us know there would be no loud music and that they would make sure to pick up all the garbage after the event, they made no mention of the stage they were planning on setting up on the sidewalk that would abut our garden gates. Nor did they keep to their promise of “no loud music” with the hire of a supremely loud emcee yelling incessantly into a mike about Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Lopez. But they were sure to ask us what we were going to do about the sunflowers and asters in the tree pits (nurtured and maintained by the garden) that would be in the way of their equipment.
Apparently the Mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office has the power to grant permits at their discretion so businesses and other entities with enough cash and clout can bypass the usual community board process for obtaining consent that normal citizens and not-for-profits must go through. A member of the community who would like to close down the street for an event must 1) apply 90 days in advance and 2) obtain a letter of consent from their community board or put together a petition of 20 signatures from the community stating their approval. And if you are planning on having any amplified sound you must apply for a separate sound device permit a week before the event.
If you are a big business or corporation you do not have to obtain community consent or contact families who live on the block (or even the block association that represents them) to make them aware of the imminent bombardment of loud music, emcees, and crowds, or that they cannot park on their own street. Unless you consider taping NO PARKING signs onto trees making contact.
It’s the families and members of this community that made this patch of urban streets that much more verdant and livable, drawing in new businesses… and arenas. We built community through the blighted years when many politicians and businesses couldn’t be bothered with our neighborhood so don’t insult us by pretending we don’t exist. We are here. To stay. So welcome to our neighborhood but please don’t plan a block party without us.