Opponents of the Chinatown Business Improvement District staged a rally in Chatham Square yesterday, urging members of the City Council to vote against the proposal. The Council’s Finance Committee heard testimony May 26th, but will not vote for a few more weeks. The City Planning Commission has already signed off on the plan.
Among those attending yesterday’s rally: members of the Civic Center Residents’ Coalition (CCRC), the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). They argued that the BID would “destroy Chinatown” by creating a new tax district and by accelerating the pace of gentrification in a neighborhood already under siege.
Speakers directed much of their ire at City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who is a strong BID backer. They also were very critical of the Chinatown Partnership, which is leading the BID campaign and, utilizing federal funds, has been cleaning Chinatown’s streets for the past few years.
The video clip below features remarks from property owner David Ng, Bethany Li of AALDEF and Jan Lee of CCRC. Ng and Lee, in particular, vowed to hold Chin accountable at election time: