UES residents deterred from use of privately owned public spaces, new study finds

A POPS at 211 East 70th Street
A POPS at 211 East 70th Street

A majority of the Upper East Side’s privately owned public spaces, or POPS, discourage public use, new research from Hunter College’s urban planning institute reported by DNAinfo shows.

At least half of the area’s 76 POPS deterred public use through the use of either explicit or implicit barriers. Many of these spaces had doormen who “attempted to usher [students]” out, and precious few had seating areas, Paul Lozito, a graduate student involved in the study, told the zoning and development committee at Community Board 8. Sixty five of these spaces lacked signs informing the public about their right to use the space.

Moreover, he added, many owners of these POPS weren’t aware that they had been designated for public use.

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The debate over POPS was brought into the national zeitgeist by the Occupy Wall Street movement’s use of Zuccotti Park. The park’s namesake, former Brookfield Properties chairman John Zuccotti, was recently tapped to oversee one of the country’s largest POPS, the 2,740-acre Duke Farms in Hillsborough, N.J.

A spokeswoman from the Department of City Planning told DNAinfo that the city was striving to ensure that POPS were friendlier to the public. “POPS have been a priority and there are now revised standards for all outdoor POPS that ensure going forward the creation of high quality public plazas on privately owned sites that are inviting, open, accessible and safe,” the spokeswoman said. [DNAinfo] Hiten Samtani