Friday, September 12, 2008

Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors

By Jay DeDapper

POSTED: 4:09 pm EDT September 3, 2008

Remember all those wide-open cold-air-spewing storefront doors that got so many people hot under the collar this summer? Well at of today (technically 90 days from today when enforcement starts) that is illegal.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the no-open-doors-in-the-summertime-when-the-air-con-is-on law Wednesday. The law does not apply to small stores or restaurants that are famous for leaving entire building fronts wide open but makes it an offense for big stores to air condition the sidewalk.

The law was first introduced in the City Council in 2006 but went nowhere. As recently as this Spring, it was seen inside City Hall as a headline grabber with little chance of ever becoming law. But then the increasingly green mayor said he might actually sign such a law and the wheels of lawmaking at the City Council went into high gear.

The first offense results in a written warning, the second a $250 fine, and the third a $400 ticket. Chump change for a big chain like the Gap or Victoria's Secret but the law is more about moral suasion than fine collection.

Advocates pitched it as a small way to assist the region's electrical grid during peak summer usage -- the most persuasive argument: Why should a mega-corporation pump air conditioning into the street when it could trigger a blackout in, say, a working class neighborhood in Queens? When we asked that very question to people on 34th Street in July as they walked past one chilled-air-spilling-door after the next, though, nearly every one of them said they liked the cold air on a hot summer day. Even if it meant the risk of a blackout when they got home.

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