NEW YORK — A petition aimed to rename a portion of the New York City street in which Trump Tower is located in honor of former President Barack Obama has gained over 300,000 signatures.
The appeal, created by Elizabeth Rowin on site MoveOn.org, requests that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council rename the block of Fifth Avenue between E 56th and 57th Streets in Manhattan to President Barack H. Obama Avenue.
It also states that any address on that block “should be changed accordingly.”
Rowin, a Los Angeles resident, wants New York to follow the example of her city, which renamed a nearly four-mile stretch of road from “Rodeo Road” to “Obama Boulevard” earlier this year.
“The City of Los Angeles recently honored former President Barack Obama by renaming a stretch of the 134 Freeway near Downtown L.A. in his honor,” the petition states.
“We request the New York City Mayor and City Council do the same by renaming a block of Fifth Avenue after the former president whose many accomplishments include: saving our nation from the Great Recession; serving two completely scandal-free terms in office; and taking out Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind September 11th, which killed over 3,000 New Yorkers.”
As of Thursday evening, the petition had more than 300,000 signatures.
But the people adding their names to the list of signatures shouldn’t hold their breath.
For one, Rowin told CNN that she started the petition in December 2018 “as a joke — just to be a thorn in Trump’s side.” Now that it’s taken off, she says she hopes it will distract the President from “enacting more harmful legislation.”
“Just the idea of it getting so many signatures and so much publicity will, I think, cause Trump consternation and refocus his attention away from doing damage,” Rowin said.
And petitions on MoveOn.org aren’t binding and don’t require anyone being petitioned to take action.
Secondly, anyone looking to co-name a New York City street has to go through the local community board. And Community Board Five, which handles requests in the neighborhood where Trump Tower is located, has a moratorium on co-naming streets that’s been in place since 2009.
Fifth Avenue is a bustling, commercial district of Manhattan that gets a high volume of requests to have streets co-named. The area also has “numerous signs, blades, and other objects that can constitute visual clutter,” the board states in its resolution. Adding another street sign would cause confusion for both pedestrians and drivers alike.
Instead, the board encourage that people who are intent on recognizing an individual or group to use other avenues, such as a plaque on a building or embedded elements on the sidewalk.
Even though the odds of the petition becoming reality are slim, Rowin said creating it was still a worthwhile endeavor.
“This is a way to help people have a little levity and join together and have a laugh, and be able to find humor in these difficult scary times,” she said.