Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

KESSLER v. GRAND CENT. DIST. MGMT. ASS'N

March 27, 1997

ROBERT KESSLER and VICKI CHEIKES, Plaintiffs, against GRAND CENTRAL DISTRICT MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION, INC., Defendant, - and - THE CITY OF NEW YORK, Intervenor-Defendant, - and - THE STATE OF NEW YORK and DENNIS VACCO, Attorney General, Intervenor-Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SCHEINDLIN

 SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, U.S.D.J.:

 I. INTRODUCTION

 Plaintiffs Robert Kessler and Vicki Cheikes ("Plaintiffs"), residents of the Grand Central Business Improvement District ("GC BID" or "District"), commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs allege that the disproportionate representation of property owners on the Board of Directors ("the Board") of Defendant Grand Central District Management Association ("GCDMA"), as required by the GCDMA Bylaws, N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law ("GML") § 980-m(b), and the New York City Administrative Code ("Admin. Code") § 25-414(b), violates the principle of one-person, one-vote mandated by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In response, Defendant claims that Plaintiffs lack standing to bring this action and that the equal protection issue is not ripe for adjudication. In addition, Defendant and Intervenor-Defendants contend that the voting scheme of the GCDMA falls within the "special limited purpose" doctrine of the Equal Protection Clause, and therefore does not violate the principle of one-person, one-vote.

 II. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiffs live in cooperative apartments within the GC BID. Joint Stipulation of Facts ("Joint Stip.") PP 9, 10. They own shares in the cooperative corporation which holds fee title to the building in which their apartments are located, id. P 11, and occupy their apartments pursuant to a proprietary lease with the cooperative corporation. See Bylaws of 372 Fifth Ave. Owners, Inc., art. V. Their building became part of the GC BID as a result of an expansion of the BID that occurred in 1995. *fn1"

 A. The Nature of BIDs

 The legislative history of GML § 980, although sparse, indicates that the New York legislature established BIDs in response to deteriorating conditions in business districts throughout many municipalities in the state. See Business Improvement District Act, ch. 282, § 2, 1989 N.Y. Sess. Law Serv. The legislature found that these conditions adversely affected the economic as well as the "general well-being of the people of the state," and that BIDs would be an "effective means for restoring and promoting business activity" through the various services they would provide. Id. GCDMA asserts that the purpose of BIDs is to "provide an innovative mechanism by which business owners can improve the environment in which they operate." GCDMA's Memorandum of Law in Support of its Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment ("GCDMA's Memo") at 3. GML §§ 980 to 980-p and the Admin. Code §§ 25-401 to 25-417 provide statutory authority for the establishment and operation of BIDs in New York City.

 A BID is a geographically defined area of a city, town or village, in which property owners pay an assessment to fund (1) services that supplement services provided by the municipality, such as sanitation or social services, and (2) capital improvements, such as landscaping. These supplemental services and capital improvements aim to "restore or promote business activity in the district." GML § 980-c.

 The formation of a BID commences with the preparation of a district plan, the contents of which are dictated by state law. Id. § 980-a. The plan must include, inter alia, a map of the district, a description of the present and proposed uses of the land within the district, budgetary information, and the methods by which the expenses of the district will be imposed upon real property. Id. Once prepared, a district plan for a BID is subject to public review. See id. § 980-d. Throughout this process, the district plan is reviewed by community boards, the City Planning Commission, and finally the City Council. See id. § 980-d(c). Public hearings are also held. Id. §§ 980-d, 980-e. The capital improvements and supplemental services a BID provides are financed by assessments charged against benefited real property located in the district. Id. § 980-j(a).

 B. The GC BID

 1. GCDMA and The Grand Central Partnership

 GCDMA operates the GC BID, the boundaries of which currently extend from 35th Street to 54th Street and from Second Avenue to Fifth Avenue in the Borough of Manhattan. Joint Stip. P 6. In 1995, the GC BID expanded to include the area immediately North of Grand Central Terminal, and other areas. Id. The GC BID contains approximately 71 million square feet of commercial space, which constitutes approximately 19% of Manhattan's total office space, and approximately 897,000 square feet of residential space. Id. P 7. The Grand Central Partnership ("GCP") is the operating entity of the GC BID, that carries out the day-to-day functions of GCDMA pursuant to an agreement between GCP and GCDMA. See id. Ex. K.

 2. Services Provided by GCDMA *fn2"

 As a general matter, it should be noted that "it is required by law that the services provided by GCDMA will be in addition to or in enhancement of those provided by the City of New York prior to the establishment of the District." Id. P 42. The services provided by GCDMA are not meant to substitute for those provided by the City, id., Ex. P at 15, but rather are supplemental to those the City provides. *fn3" The GCDMA has the authority to enter into contracts for several services provided by the GCP, which, as mentioned above, is the entity that carries out the day-to-day functions of GCDMA. Id. PP 4, 34.

 i. Security

 GCP maintains a security staff of approximately 63 officers. Id. P 23. The primary function of the security staff is to supplement services provided by the New York City Police Department ("NYPD"). Id., Ex. P at 9. Specifically, the GCP security staff, in "cooperation with the NYPD, . . . patrol[s] the streets and sidewalks of the District so as to reduce the incidence of serious crime." Id. at 10. In addition, GCP security staff, in "cooperation with [the] NYPD and the building staff of private property-owners, . . . maintain[s] the quality of life in the District by attempting to obtain compliance with city regulations controlling vending, sidewalk obstructions, noise generation, and air pollution from mobile sources." Id. Security provided by GCP does not replace police services provided by the City or the State. Members of the GCP security staff are either licensed security guards or peace officers. *fn4" All members of the GCP security staff are unarmed, except for licensed supervisors. Id. P 24. The reason that GCDMA provides security services is that "office rents, retail business, and hotel occupancy . . . are all affected by the perception of crime in [the] area," which obviously relates to improving business in the District. Id., Ex. P at 9.

 ii. Sanitation

 GCP employs approximately 38 sanitation workers to clean streets and sidewalks, wash street signs, paint fire hydrants, and remove graffiti in the District. Id. PP 26-30, Ex. P at 10. These workers also bag trash for municipal pickup by the Department of Sanitation. Id. P 27. The sanitation services provided by GCP are supplemental to those provided by the Department of Sanitation. GCDMA's goal, articulated when the GC BID was first established, was to make the District's streets and sidewalks the cleanest of any commercial district in New York City. Id., Ex. G at 13. The GC BID has been successful in its efforts, receiving the City's highest ratings in 1994. Id., Ex. P at 10.

 iii. Physical Improvements

 Some of the physical improvements GCP has made in the District include the installation of wheelchair ramps, planters, trees, and barrier-free corners that provide easy access on and off sidewalks for people in wheelchairs. Id. PP 20-22. Although GCP can make physical improvements in the district, it must obtain approval from the relevant City agencies before any changes can be made. Id. P 19.

 iv. Retail Improvements

 Another method by which GCDMA seeks to promote and improve business in the District is through the provision of various services that enhance the appearance of the stores in the District. GCP provides assistance to businesses in the District that seek to make the facades of their retail sites more attractive. Id. PP 36, 37. GCDMA also employs "the services of a retail designer, a leasing specialist, and a zoning and enforcement specialist to work with retailers to improve their visual impact on the District and to ensure that their presentation complies with applicable City code provisions." Id., Ex. P at 11. In addition, GCP has installed two shoe shine stands in the District, located just outside of Grand Central Station. Id. P 35.

 v. Social Services

 GCP itself, or through the Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services Corporation ("GCNSSC"), provides various social services to the homeless in the District, including outreach services, drop-in centers, and job training. Id. PP 31-33. The predominate concern of GCDMA, in providing social services, is to help the business environment in the District, although these services also serve the purpose of helping the homeless. Id., Ex. G at 15.

 vi. Tourist Orientation

 GCP operates tourist information services, which provide multilingual information to tourists in the District. Id. P 38. GCP operates booths and carts located throughout the District, which provide tourists with information about hotels, museums, parks, concert halls, and transportation in the District. Id., Exs. G ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.