Hollywood on the Upper West Side Op-Ed

| 14 Dec 2015 | 03:05

If you have the feeling that film and television shoots seem to be taking over the neighborhood, you’re not wrong.

The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting has issued about twice as many film permits citywide this year over last year and we have definitely seen a big increase on the UWS. That’s great news for the industry and jobs for New Yorkers. It also means more disruptions for residents that range from loss of parking, blocked streets and general disruptions from noise and lights at all hours. I have heard from many of you that some areas of our neighborhood seem to taking the brunt of those disruptions. While I support this important industry for New York, the balance with quality of life must be maintained. With this in mind, I reached out to the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting about being more cognizant of holidays (we had film shoots over Yom Kippur that required moving cars during the holiday, for example), proper notice for those who do need to move cars, and being mindful of not overburdening any one particular area.

I have also requested consideration of a moratorium on filming for a particular location that has seen approximately 19 location permits in 2016 and 11 since this September alone. These location permits for 194 Riverside Drive affected streets from the mid-80s to mid-90s along West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. While one television show, “The Americans,” does have some existing permits that cannot be revoked, the Mayor’s Office of Theatre, Film and Broadcasting has agreed to not issue any new permits for this location for the first part of 2016.

My letter is below. Please let my office know if you experience problems with filming in your area; you can reach out to Sean Fitzpatrick, Community Liaison, at sfitzpatrick@council.nyc.gov or (212) 873-0282 x203.

Dear Commissioner McCann,

The film and television shoots for 194 Riverside Drive have become so frequent as to create a serious disturbance to the quality of life for residents of the neighborhood. With that impact in mind, I am writing to request that you issue a moratorium on film permits for 194 Riverside Drive.

Since September 8th, 11 permits have been issued for 5 major film and television projects, making this inconvenience a weekly occurrence for neighbors. This recent surge has pushed the yearly total for this location to close to twenty permits. Each of these permits has brought with it a disruption in street parking on neighboring blocks of Riverside Drive, as far south as 86th Street and as far north at 96th, as well as onto 91st and 92nd Streets. This is not even to discuss permits issued on nearby streets like West End Avenue, which further contribute to many residents’ sense that movement around their own neighborhood blocks has become unmanageable. A list of these permits compiled by my office is enclosed.

With each of these shoots, residents experience an inconvenience that, when repeated with such frequency, takes its toll on the quality of life in the neighborhood. The parking disruptions leave exasperated those residents who use on street parking and create ripple effects throughout the neighborhood. Even beyond the street parking, residents in their homes are faced with noise and bright lights, often well into the night or very early in the morning.

There are, of course, great economic and cultural benefits to having film shoots in our city and in our neighborhood. However, these benefits must be balanced against the inconveniences described above. It is our responsibility to make sure that these costs are fairly shared throughout the city. Based on the number of permits issued for this location, it is clear that this neighborhood has been asked to shoulder a disproportionate burden. I believe that a moratorium for this area would be a great step toward balance.

Helen Rosenthal represents the Upper West Side on the New York City Council