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Trump Tower denies protestors access to public space

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Protestors were denied access to the fifth floor garden on account of snow

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A group of 50 protestors were blocked from accessing a public space inside Trump Tower on Monday. The protest was organized by activist groups Alliance for Tenant Power and Real Rent Reform, whose goal was to raise concerns about the Trump administration’s budget cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as Governor Cuomo’s Affordable New York plan.

In anticipation of these proposed cuts, HUD had already slashed funds allocated to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) by $35 million. Protestors argued that the overall cuts to HUD would likely impact low and middle-income New Yorkers further in the coming years.

The groups were also protesting Governor Cuomo’s 421-a replacement, Affordable New York, which they say would unfairly benefit developers in general.

On Monday, the protestors (who counted City Council member Jumaane Williams among their ranks) were denied access to the landscaped garden on the fifth floor of the building on account of snow, according to New York Communities for Change’s Twitter account.

In Trump Tower, part of the atrium and two landscaped gardens are part of the city’s privately owned public spaces (POPS) program, and the city zoning law requires that these spaces be accessible seven days a week. While rules vary across POPS, the spaces at Trump Tower are required to remain open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily—essentially whenever the retail spaces in the building are open.

The program was created to allow developers to build larger buildings, with the caveat that they must provide a public benefit—namely, open spaces. The Trump Organization was allowed to build 20 stories higher at the Fifth Avenue property in exchange for these public spaces.

This isn’t the first time the POPS at Trump Tower has been the subject of controversy. A public bench was mysteriously removed in the summer of 2015, only to be restored the following year after the Trump organization was fined by the city’s Department of Buildings on several occasions.

In a protest organized earlier this month, some protestors were denied entry into the garden and a security personnel interrupted a reported asked them to stop using a microphone at the protest, according to WNYC.

One of the landscaped gardens in question.
Courtesy of MASNYC

Today’s action continued from within the building and was live streamed on Facebook. By the end, the group still wasn’t allowed into the garden, and one of the protest leaders asked those involved to lodge complaints with the DOB for this latest alleged infraction.

Earlier this month, three new bills were introduced in the City Council that would enforce stricter penalties on landlords who failed to meet the requirements of their POPS.

Curbed reached out to the Trump Organization for comment, but is still waiting to hear back.

Trump Tower

721 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY