Dumbo’s locals suffocate under the constant thirst for tourism

Dumbo’s locals suffocate under the constant thirst for tourism

One of Brooklyn’s hippest and most expensive areas is being choked with tourists, locals said.

Residents of posh Dumbo say the local business district has been damaging the area for everyone but tourists for nearly a decade – recklessly closing streets to events and creating a congested environment for day-trippers with little help from the people who live in the historic district to have .

“We cannot accept the exaggeration of the Dumbo BID and the continued disrespect of residents by this organization,” read a petition signed by nearly 150 local residents.

The biggest problem area is Washington Street, which acts as a main thoroughfare in and out of Dumbo, critics say.

In partnership with the City Department of Transportation’s Open Streets initiative, it will be closed between Front and Water Streets for 10 hours each day to make way for endless tourists. It’s nicknamed “Selfie Street” because of the crowds of visitors who jam the lane and snap photos with the Manhattan Bridge in the background.

Residents of DUMBO face limited parking due to lengthy road closures.
Dumbo residents have limited parking in the area.
Helayne Seidman

The result is a severe lack of parking and fire engines and vans, who are forced to navigate narrow side streets, occasionally buckling and crashing into cars, say the well-fed locals.

“I didn’t sign up to live at Disneyland,” said resident Daniel Meek.

The non-profit Dumbo Improvement District was established in 2005 and has a budget of $1.2 million, according to the latest 2021 tax forms available. Its funds come largely from special appraisals paid by commercial property owners in the area.

A woman photographs a friend posing in front of the Manhattan Bridge on Washington Street.
A woman takes a picture of a friend posing on Washington Street with the Manhattan Bridge in the background.
Helayne Seidman

Tara Quinn, who co-wrote the petition and helped organize a public discussion with Councilman Lincoln Restler on Thursday, said BID isn’t listening.

“Many of us have asked for change, or at least communication with this group, and it has completely fallen on deaf ears,” she said.

Restler, a Progressive and former adviser to ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio, while pleased to facilitate the meeting, continued to show his support for so-called “open roads” and called BID a “strong partner.”

Delivery trucks have to squeeze their way through narrow side streets on DUMBO.
A delivery truck squeezing through a narrow Dumbo street.
Helayne Seidman
Tourists are known to disturb and annoy DUMBO residents.
“I didn’t sign up to live at Disneyland,” resident Daniel Meek said of the ongoing tourism.
Helayne Seidman

“Washington Street is like a circus,” Arlyne Blitz said during the meeting.

Magdalena Levy, who owns La Catrina Flower Studio on nearby Water Street, said the open road made it impossible to fill orders efficiently.

“For a heavy delivery just four blocks away, it can take us forty minutes,” she said. “We have world class [Brooklyn Bridge Park] just a block away. I don’t understand why they have to close the road.”

Residents refer to DUMO's Washington Street as
Residents refer to Dumbo’s Washington Street as “Selfie Street” because tourists flock to take photos with the iconic view as a backdrop.
Helayne Seidman
Councilman Lincoln Restler supports DUMBO's
Councilman Lincoln Restler has supported Dumbo’s open street programs.
Helayne Seidman

On Friday, The Post witnessed Sweetgreen employees shooing a tour group of 20 out of the Washington Street restaurant’s al fresco dining area because they weren’t ordering — just taking up space.

There’s a certain love for the open roads, however.

“It makes it safer and easier to walk around with a young child, and it helps slow traffic, which I think is a benefit for a gated neighborhood like Dumbo,” said resident Brian SteinWasher.

Flower shop owner Magdalena Levy is annoyed by the Citibikes that line the entire street in front of her shop.
Flower shop owner Magdalena Levy said she is not for open roads.
Helayne Seidman
Magdalena Levy, owner of La Catrina flower studio on Water St., is struggling to fill large orders due to closed roads.
Levy said she’s struggling to fill large orders thanks to closed roads.
Helayne Seidman
A Sweetgreen employee tells tourists to leave their dining area because they didn't buy food.
A Sweetgreen employee asks tourists to leave the store’s dining area after not purchasing groceries.
Helayne Seidman

When asked if they plan to reduce open street hours or how they are tackling traffic issues, Dumbo BID executive director Alexandria Sica instead focused on foot traffic to local businesses and the “magic moments” the place creates .

“It’s a destination for the photos New Yorkers take to celebrate life’s big moments — like graduation, engagement or quincinera, and a must-visit destination that brings people to Brooklyn — which is great for the borough “, she said.

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