Times Square’s costumed characters and topless women will likely be allowed to keep plying their craft, but the city will set new limits on when and where they can approach passersby for tips. With the panhandlers dominating the summer’s tabloid-news coverage and drawing the ire of both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, the mayor assigned a task force to look into the legality of banning their activities, calling it “a quality of life issue.” On Wednesday, the group recommended that the city refurbish the plazas and restrict the commercial activity that can take place there. According to the New York Times, the mayor is expected to endorse their plan on Thursday.
NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton, who co-chaired the task force, touted its findings to Daily Intelligencer earlier this week at a Peggy Siegal Company screening of Black Mass. And while it looks like the desnudas won’t be going anywhere, don’t expect to see the commissioner paying them a visit. “Not at all!” Bratton exclaimed, when asked if he’d ever stop for a photo. “Why would I want to do that?”
The task force’s findings come a week after Bratton admitted defeat on his suggestion to remove the Times Square pedestrian plaza in order to push out the desnudas and the costumed characters. After taking heat for remarking, “I’d just prefer to dig the whole damn thing up,” Bratton backtracked and said he’d like to finish construction on the plaza — a hallmark of the Bloomberg administration — “with some additional improvements.”