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Joe Lhota forsaking Williamsburg vote?

Hip to this: Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota called for a number of trendy trends in city policy to be eliminated or curtailed.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

GOP hizzoner hopeful Joe Lhota’s proposed policies would hit Brooklyn’s growing hipster demographic where it hurts.

The Republican frontrunner — a 20-year resident of Brooklyn Heights — set himself at odds with the trendy youth of his adopted borough by railing against typewriters, gourmet food trucks, pro-bike initiatives, and converting industrial areas into housing at an April 30 candidates forum.

Lhota blasted the Bloomberg Administration for requesting bids from contractors to repair the city’s typewriters, calling the machines — the preferred writing tool of aspiring Brooklyn novelists — obsolete.

“It’s not about repairing the typewriters. It’s about throwing them out, replacing them, and coming into the 21st Century,” Lhota declared.

Lhota also attacked zoning initiatives that re-designated many of New York’s former manufacturing zones as residential areas — and created housing for thousands of hipsters in neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and Bushwick. He argued that the new building rules discourage factories from opening in the city.

“There was a vision that manufacturing was never coming back, and we now see that view was incorrect,” said Lhota, singling out the Greenpoint waterfront as one location that should be at least partially turned back into an industrial area.

The former Giuliani Administration deputy mayor slammed the invasion of high-end food trucks that he claimed clog major thoroughfares while appealing to social media-savvy young people with epicurean tastes. He said he would support regulations limiting where the vehicles can park.

“They send you a Tweet and let you know what corner they’ll be at. It’s part of their business model,” said Lhota. “They’re parked all over the streets, on every corner of the city, and they cause congestion.”

Lhota also criticized the way the Department of Transportation has painted bike lanes without regard for the needs of police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances.

“The coordination with the different agencies has been horrific,” said Lhota.

He then complained about the thoughtless placement of the new BikeShare racks, noting that one of the two-wheeler depots now sits directly in front of the entrance to the Clark Street subway stop.

“Those bikes are going to be in the way. God forbid the Fire Department has to get into that station,” said Lhota.

The candidate’s comments drew criticism from hip Brooklyn merchants.

Donna Brady, who formerly repaired and sold classic typewriters at the famous Brooklyn Flea, claimed the old-school writing devices are still useful for filling out forms.

“There are some things that a typewriter can do more efficiently than a computer,” said Brady.

And Ben Van Leeuwen, co-founder of Van Leeuwen’s Artisanal Ice Cream — whose truck is a mainstay on Bedford Avenue during the summer — dismissed Lhota’s claim that wheeled vendors create traffic jams.

“I just don’t think the less than 1,000 trucks in a city this big cause that much congestion,” argued Van Leeuwen. ““New York is one of the world’s most bustling cities, there’s going to be congestion.”

Lhota did concede that bike lanes — like the people who support them — aren’t going anywhere.

“I agree that bike lanes are here to stay,” said Lhota. “If you look at the young people in this city, who are going to continue to grow, they like bicycles.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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