The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Shoot
Chin Pushes Legislation to Rein in Production Permits
City Council member Margaret Chin is co-sponsoring a package of bills in the municipal legislature to clamp down on rampant film and television production in Lower Manhattan.
Although the new laws, if enacted, will have City-wide effect, their impact would be especially significant in the square mile below Chambers Street, where dozens of movies and TV shows commandeer local streets (sometimes for days at a time) each year.
Many locations such as Reade Street and Staple Street in Tribeca, and the Battery Park City Esplanade, are used so frequently that residents and elected officials have begun calling for a cap on how many times a each year a permit can be issued for a specific site.
At a combined hearing of the Council’s Committees on Technology and Small Business Services in September, Ms. Chin cited the disproportionate number of production permits that the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) issues for Downtown. Ms. Chin said, “Lower Manhattan residents are proud when they see their neighborhoods showcased in movies and TV shows, but that does not mean my constituents need to tolerate bullying from production staffers, unsafe streets and unannounced film shoots on their narrow residential blocks.”
MOME issued permits for 9,000 production shoots in Manhattan during 2018, and almost half of these were for filming in Manhattan. In one striking example, permits for shooting on Reade Street were issued 25 times last year, which means that local residents could expect disruption roughly once every two weeks.
“It is time for MOME to provide stronger oversight of the impacts of film productions and a demonstrated commitment to prioritizing sensitivity and, most importantly, respect for our neighborhoods,” she continued. “Without more accountability, the chronic disruptions and quality of life burdens stemming from these large-scale productions will continue to rest on the shoulders of regular New Yorkers. We need balance, and more efforts to make this a positive experience for everyone, including pedestrians and small businesses.”
Ms. Chin recalled one instance in which a member of the production crew on one shoot in Chinatown joked that he was an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, which offended many nearby residents.
The package of legislation that Ms. Chin is co-sponsoring includes measures to create a local community bill of rights for dealing with production shoots, updates to fees and notification periods for filming on City property and filing permits to film outdoors, and establish a task force to study both the benefits and impacts that film and television production have on the City.
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