Businesses along Beach 116th St. are being thwarted by "scores of aggressive panhandlers, recovering drug addicts and ex-cons who live in the surrounding single-room-occupancy hotels and facilities," writes the Daily News, which means that taco-seeking Williamsburg-ers are just ripe for the picking. "We have had to hire security to walk some of our customers to their cars," says one storeowner, name-checking the Rockaway Park Hotel, an SRO that houses people in substance-abuse programs as a major culprit. Last month, a resident of the Hotel was arrested for threatening someone with a box cutter inside the Beach 116 Street MTA public bathroom.
One possible solution is, unsurprising, more development in the area, coupled with tax breaks and government financing programs. "The vacancies are there, and government needs to work with well-known developers to take a chance on this site," said Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14. "We've seen other communities get help, but we can't seem to get attention from the government, except when they have something bad to send."