New law championed by Bronx electeds prohibits digital billboards in Co-Op City

Jamaal T. Bailey

Originally published in BronxTimes on .

Sprawling digital billboards with flashing lights  — once the bane of many Co-Op City residents’ existence — cannot be built there again, thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Dec. 22. 

State Sen. Jamaal Bailey co-sponsored the bill with Assemblymember Michael Benedetto, both of whom represent districts that include Co-op City. City Councilmember Kevin Riley, who also represents the area, brought a resolution in September in support of the bill. 


At issue was a triangular set of digital billboards on a “monopole” structure at 2001 Bartow Ave./500 Baychester Ave., in front of a 7-Eleven store, according to information provided by a Bailey spokesperson.

The billboards, installed in 2017, shone directly into many of Co-Op City’s high-rise apartments. Longtime resident Sandy Krasnove said that from her 11th floor apartment, the billboards were a constant disruption.

“It shined right into my bedroom,” she said.

Matt Cruz, district manager of Community Board 10, which represents Co-Op City, said the billboards have actually been mostly dark since 2018 — largely due to complaints from residents and a legal battle between the developer, Baychester Retail III LLC, and the city — but the law ensures that they cannot be built again. 

The distracting ads “had no place in Co-Op City,” Cruz said. 

The new law specifically prohibits digital billboards with flashing or moving lights within 1,500 feet of certain Mitchell-Lama housing. Co-Op City itself is a Mitchell-Lama cooperative and one of the country’s largest Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), with about 50,000 residents living mainly in high-rise buildings.

The law comes as a relief for Krasnove and other residents, some of whom began protesting the billboards back in 2018. At the time, they successfully lobbied to block the developer from installing a second set.  

According to legislators and residents, the billboards were not only aesthetically unpleasant but a health threat to a vulnerable community.

In a statement, Bailey pointed to potential health risks caused by the flashing ads, including “headaches, eye strain, fatigue and disrupted sleep patterns.”

“Businesses should not be able to profit off of our communities while putting our health and safety at risk,” he said.