A business owner on Garth Road is questioning village code since being told in mid-July he couldn’t have a 15-inch by 17-inch rack of newspapers for sale on the sidewalk outside of his store.
“A man with a notebook was walking on Garth Road and came to my store,” said Min Aoki, the owner of Sol-La Handmade Gifts. “He came by and said we couldn’t obstruct the sidewalk.”
Businesses require a permit to obstruct any street, sidewalk, public easement or other public place from the village engineer, according to the village code.
The engineer’s decision to grant or deny a permit application is to be made within three business days after the application was received by the village.
Aoki said he’s had newspapers displayed outside his store for the last 10 years, and the Scarsdale Stationery store that previously occupied the space had placed the newsstand on the sidewalk for about 30 years.
Aoki said he was one of the only businesses on Garth Road targeted for a sidewalk obstruction, but wondered why other businesses such as restaurants and stores with valet parking signs or sandwich boards were allowed to have their notices displayed on the sidewalk.
“Something doesn’t seem right,” Aoki said. “My rack was right against the window, not in the middle of the sidewalk.”
He said if he puts the newspaper rack outside on the sidewalk again, he was told he would be fined.
Village Manager Steve Pappalardo said the village engineer would go down to the village center and make sure the sidewalks are clear.
The village board wants to make sure merchandise that belongs to a business is out of the sidewalk. Pappalardo said signs for valet parking don’t advertise a specific piece of merchandise for businesses, they merely advertise parking.
And because outdoor dining is seen as an attractive part of other downtown village centers the village allows outdoor seating for restaurants.
Aoki questioned the intentions of this code, which was meant to protect pedestrians, given the fact that businesses set up tents and display racks around the village during the annual sidewalk sale.
Pappalardo said businesses that are part of the Scarsdale Business Alliance sign up to be part of the annual sale, and the insurance for the event is collected through the business alliance, not the village.
Aoki said his business hasn’t been noticeably hurt since he moved the rack inside but said it had been a good source of foot traffic.
“We already have a hard time surviving and these restrictions make it harder,” Aoki said, and he added that if he were in violation of a village code, then a business getting a permit to be allowed to obstruct the sidewalk is a tax on that business.
“It’s not about the safety of pedestrians,” he said.