Stores must phase-out solid gates


| smosco@queenscourier.com |


Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police have released a sketch of a suspect wanted in the attempted sexual assault of a woman in Elmhust.

City vandals will soon have one less surface to defile.

A recently-passed City Council bill that Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law on Monday, December 7 will gradually ban solid metal security gates on commercial storefronts throughout the city. The bill will require businesses to install security gates allowing at least 70 percent visibility after July 1, 2011.

Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr., who championed the bill, emphasized that store owners are not being forced to replace their security gates immediately. They would just order the updated versions at a time when the old gates are up for regular maintenance.

“Security gates typically last around 10 to 15 years,” he said. “When it’s time for them to replace their gates, they simply have to order the new ones.”

Vallone said that standard metal gates can be easily vandalized and degrade the city landscape. Moreover, these gates block the view of the store’s interior, which can hinder efforts of police and firefighters, Vallone added.

“This bill not only helps first responders when they are called to protect our businesses, but it carries the additional benefit of beautifying our city’s landscape,” said Vallone, who is also the chair of the Public Safety Committee.

“Currently, many of our vibrant blocks quickly transform into dark, graffiti-strewn metal alleyways when the solid security gates are rolled down at night. We are now giving business owners a new tool to improve their communities at their own pace.”

Between 2011 and 2026, any businesses cited for having the banned gates will not be penalized if they install new gates within 90 days or if the owner can prove the gate was installed before 2011.

After 2026, businesses can avoid fines if they install new gates within 90 days.

The bill applies to Occupancy Group B and M buildings, which includes most consumer- based businesses. The legislation takes effect January 1, 2010 when the Department of Buildings will be required to develop outreach programs alerting businesses of the change.

“This is really the first bill of its type,” said Vallone. “And I believe this begins the phasing out of roll down gates throughout the country.”

Congressmember Anthony Weiner, who introduced a similar bill in 1996, said that the old roll down gates could scare away both shoppers and potential businesses.

“It is good news for our neighborhood shopping strips and the many people who visit them,” said Weiner. “This bill becoming law is better late than never.”