Artist Market In Union Square Park - October 24, 2010. The Bloomberg administration is seeking to severely limit the number of artists allowed to display and sell their works in four Parks Department properties in Manhattan the lawsuit contends. The four properties are run by public/private partnerships. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.
The City has once again been blocked from enforcing new artist vending rules in four parks. The Appellate Division, First Department has granted the artist's motion to prohibit the City from enforcing new vending rules pending their appeal of the trial court's denial of the preliminary injunction. The City is prohibited from enforcing the new rules until the Appellate Division hears and decides the appeal. The appeal is not expected to be heard until sometime in April or May.
The new Parks Department rules went into effect on July 19, 2010. The City is seeking to limit and restrict “expressive matter” vending in four Manhattan parks - Central Park, Union Square Park, Battery Park and the High Line, as well as on the sidewalks adjacent to them. The four parks are run by public/private partnerships. According to the suit, the artists contend the new rules infringe on their rights to free expression and equal protection under the New York State Constitution; violate New York State and New York City human rights laws; and contradict New York City Local Laws and the Administrative Code.
"Great news," said plaintiff Diane I. Dua when reached by phone this afternoon in response to today's decision. "I am very excited to have this relief into the Spring thanks to our wonderful lawyers at Phillips Nizer who truly believe in our cause. This is our constitutional right and we will not back down."
"For me Spring is just as busy as Christmas," plaintiff Bryan Close said this afternoon. Mr. Close sells at Union Square Park three to four days a week. "It's a sigh of relief."
On August 4, 2010 Phillips Nizer commenced the lawsuit in State Supreme Court. They filed a preliminary injunction motion on August 25, 2010, and simultaneously applied for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) to stop the defendants from enforcing the new rules. A TRO was granted the same day by Supreme Court Justice Martin Schoenfeld, and the government’s subsequent attempts to stay and vacate the TRO were rejected, respectively, by Justice Rosalyn Richter of the Appellate Division and Justice Milton Tingling, Jr., the trial court judge.
On December 15, 2010, Justice Tingling denied the preliminary injunction motion and lifted the TRO. The very next day, Phillips Nizer filed a Notice of Appeal and the emergency motion.
“The snow will melt. Spring will come. Crocuses – and canvases – will return to the City’s parks,” said Jon Schuyler Brooks the litigation partner at Phillips Nizer who argued the artists’ emergency motion. “As a matter of law, the decision by the First Department means the artists demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their appeal. Perhaps the City now will concede it has wasted enough tax-payer treasure on this effort to remove original artists from the sidewalks.”
Over the last two decades the City has allocated thousands of city employee hours and paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil rights settlements to plantiffis in its fight against artists selling on park land.
Two other lawsuits in Federal court are also currently pending on this issue.
The Parks Department did not respond to a request for comment. - Geoffrey Croft
July 19, 2010. An artist's depiction of Mayor Michael Bloomberg stomping on rights protected under the the Constitution.
APPEALS COURT EXTENDS ARTISTS’ RIGHT TO
DISPLAY AND SELL IN NEW YORK CITY’S PARKS
Phillips Nizer LLP persuades appeals court to continue injunction against new rules
A Walk In The Park - December 20, 2010