Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: The traffic and smell from the bakery downstairs drives me nuts. Can my board to do something?

Think of it as the smell of money: The bakery appears to be a sound investment and generates cash for the building. 

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Question:

When I bought my co-op, the store underneath my window was a locksmith. The hours were 9 to 5, there was little traffic and no odors. Now, a bakery café has moved into the spot and there are hordes of people coming in and out from six in the morning until six in the evening, and the smell of baking bread is always wafting into my apartment. Do I have any options? Signed, Feeling Burned

Answer:

Dear Burned,

I think your only option is to enjoy the smell. I don’t think there is a better aroma than that of baking bread, but to each his own. I would be more upset by the crowds of people than the smell but I don’t think you have an option there either.

Assuming that your board collects maintenance from the businesses on the ground level, the bakery appears to be a sound investment and generates cash for the building. Of course, you have the right to question the board as to why they would do something that makes more noise than the locksmith but, ultimately, it is their choice.

A few weeks ago, there was an article in the New York Times about a woman in Germany who lived above a cheese shop and was disturbed by the strong odor permeating her apartment. She posted signs around the store in protest. Worried about the impact on his business, the owner took her to court and she lost, and she was forbidden from posting her signs.

All in all, I would much prefer baking bread over smelly cheese.

Ms. Demeanor


Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.