Privatizing the Sidewalk

Matt Cooper says

that he is "not a privatize-the-sidewalks kind of guy". Why not? It

seems to be working

pretty well in New York:

A 150-square-foot sidewalk berth anywhere between 96th Street and Canal Street

costs $4,749.29 annually, about $31 a square foot. (Owners also pay a $510

fee for the two-year license.)

These consent fees, which are the city’s going rate for private businesses

to lease public real estate, were doubled or tripled in 2003, when the regulations

changed. The fees have created a significant revenue stream for the city;

it has taken in $10.7 million in cafe fees this year, according to Jonathan

Mintz, the consumer affairs commissioner…

If a restaurant pays $150 a square foot annually for a 2,500-square-foot space

along, say, Hudson Street in the West Village, the rent would total $375,000

a year.

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