The bill would essentially turn the power of ceremonial street-naming over to local community board for the affected area, however it would give the Council the ability to review any street namings that are controversial.
There have been a number of those in recent years. In 2007, the City Council rejected an effort by Council member Charles Barron to rename a street after black activist Sonny Carson. In 2009, a controversy erupted over the efforts of some locals to rename a street after Sean Bell, who was slain by police officers in 2006. Earlier this year, some were angry over efforts to rename a street after a Brooklyn Italian-American activist whose role in World War II remains unclear. And recently, George Carlin’s parish has rejected efforts to name a street in the neighborhood where the comedian grew up after him.
“The City Council is a serious legislature engaged in dealing with serious issues, such as balancing the city budget and we should act accordingly,” said Oddo. “Ceremonial street renamings, while certainly important to the families of those being honored, should not be items that are on our agenda unless there are serious policy issues that must be considered. For the overwhelming majority of cases, there are no such issues. I trust our community boards to do an excellent job of vetting street rename requests, hold a public hearing, and reflect the will of the local community.”
Mr. Oddo has introduced this legislation several times, and it seems no more likely to pass this time around, since the City Council–as is true with most legislative bodies–is unlikely to want to cede its prerogatives.