The city that regulates and taxes basically everything — and bans what isn’t taxed and regulated — is upset because the Obama administration has told them to remove billboards in iconic Times Square or face a $90 million loss in federal funding.
According to CBS New York:
The feds say many of Times Square’s huge and neon-lit billboards must come down or the city will lose about $90 million in federal highway money. The edict comes from a 2012 law that makes Times Square an arterial route to the national highway system. And that puts it under the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which limits signs to 1,200 square feet. It took the feds until now to realize that Times Square was included, Kramer reported.
Flushing resident Kevin Watson was upset to hear that signs might disappear: “We’re going to let outsiders who sit in a cramped room that have nothing to do with our city as far as partaking in it on an everyday basis change something that means something to the entire world?” said Watson. “That makes total sense, just like everything else the federal government does,” he said sarcastically.
City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told CBS New York that the signs will stay.
“We’re not going to be taking down the billboards in Times Square. We’re going to work with the federal government and the state and find a solution,” Trottenberg said.
“The signs in Times Square are wonderful. They’re iconic. They’re not only a global tourist attraction, they’re important to the economy,” Trottenberg said.
The outrage is adorable, considering all the things New York City banned just during Michael Bloomberg’s 12-year tenure as mayor. From Gizmodo:
- Smoking in commercial establishments like bars and restaurants (2003)
- Smoking in public spaces (2011)
- Cigarette sales to those under 21 (2013)
- Sales of “flavored” tobacco products (2009)
- Smoking e-cigarettes in public spaces (2013) ***
- Cigarette in-store displays (2013)
- Cars in Times Square (2009)
- Cars from driving in newly created bike lanes (2007-2013)
- Cars causing congestion below 60th Street in Manhattan (2007) *
- Speeding on residential “slow zones” (2013)
- Illegal guns (2006-2013) **
- Sodium levels in processed foods (2010) **
- Trans-fats in restaurants (2006)
- Loud headphones (2013) **
- Styrofoam packaging in single-service food items (2013)
- Sodas larger than 16 ounces (2012) *
- Collection of yard waste and grass clippings during certain times of year (2003-2013)
- Organic food waste from landfills (2013) **
- Commercial music over 45 decibels (2013)
- Chain restaurant menus without calorie counts (2008)
- The posting of signs in “city-owned grassy areas” (2013)
- Non-fuel-efficient cabs (2007)
- New cabs that aren’t Nissan NV200s (2013) *
- Greenhouse gas emissions (2007)
- Government buildings that aren’t LEED-certified (2005)
- Non-hurricane-proof buildings in coastal areas (2013)
- Black roofs (2009) **
- Construction cranes over 25 years old (2013)
- No. 6 and No. 4 “heavy” heating oils (2011)
- Less than a 2-1 ratio of female and male restrooms in new public buildings (2005)
- Cell phones in schools (2006)
- Two-term limits for city elected officials (2008) *
This fight with the Obama administration is some sort of bureaucratic karma, if you ask me. I say any city that oozes government control out of every pore and sidewalk crack — and that voted in overwhelming numbers for President Obama (twice) — ought to quit whining and welcome its federal overlords with open arms.
* Overruled/appealed ban
** Suggested/voluntary ban
*** Proposed/pending ban