New York City storefronts are getting a makeover.
Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., along with an alliance of Astoria’s small business owners, announced a new law that will gradually eliminate solid, roll-down gates at stores across the city. The law, which took effect on July 1, mandates that any gate that is being replaced or newly installed must permit at least 70 percent of the covered area to be visible. According to Vallone, the transparent gates, which cost approximately 10 percent more than solid ones, are stronger than their counterparts in many respects.
“See-through gates send a solid message – our communities will not tolerate graffiti and vandalism,” said Vallone, who chairs the Public Safety Committee. “This law not only helps our first responders, but in time will impact the look and feel of nearly every block in our city. We are now giving business owners a new tool to improve their communities at their own pace.” The councilmember emphasized that the new gates will not only beautify neighborhoods and increase the safety of police officers and firefighters, but they will also stimulate economic growth by allowing pedestrians to see into stores even after they have closed.
“No longer in New York will we see these disgusting, graffiti-riddled gates covering our businesses,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who represents Astoria. “We are going to see a much better landscape, especially in our business strips like Steinway.”
Many businesses on Steinway Street took the initiative and installed see-through gates before they were mandatory. “We are developing a business climate here, but we are also developing a community,” said Kevin Foley, president of the Steinway Astoria Partnership. “We want people to be here, and we want people to enjoy being here. We want them to shop and dine, and one of the things that makes this is having a pleasant environment. Certainly this law is going to really impact that, and we are very pleased about these tangible efforts that are going to make our lives better here.”
Under the new law, store owners who currently have solid metal gates are not required to replace them until July 1, 2026. Any stores that do not convert to transparent gates by that time will be subject to a $250 fine for the first offense, and a $1,000 penalty for each ensuing offense.
However, solid gates are not universally banned. They are still allowed in buildings where they function as the main entrance and at landmarked locations.
A Vallone spokesperson said there have been no complaints from store owners regarding the law thus far, and that the legislation had the support of numerous businesses across the city.
“It obviously lowers crime, vandalism and graffiti,” said Arlin Owsley, general manager of Clear Wireless, which opened on Steinway Street in November and installed see-through gates before they were mandatory. “It also helps clean up the neighborhood, makes the areas much safer and much friendlier, and people will obviously want to shop. We’ve actually had great feedback, in the sense that people enjoy the fact that it’s very bright at night time.”