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United for Small Business NYC Statement on New York City Council Small Business Package

March 14, 2019

Small Business Coalition Responds to City Council Legislation

United for Small Business NYC (USBNYC) applauds the New York City Council's newly released package of small business bills. USBNYC has been urging transformative changes to the small business landscape in neighborhoods across New York City for years, and this package is an exciting response to that advocacy. While both residential and commercial tenants in New York City are at risk of landlord harassment and subsequent displacement, commercial tenants lack meaningful rights and protections. It is past time that the City acknowledge this reality by clearly defining the rights of commercial tenants and taking necessary action to protect those rights. The small business package represents a significant step forward in reaching those goals.

Since the passage of the Commercial Tenant Harassment Law in 2016 and the launch of the Commercial Lease Assistance program in 2018, USBNYC has urged city government to expand the rights and protections available to commercial tenants in all five boroughs. Expanding the definition of Commercial Tenant Harassment and ensuring a small business's right to counsel is necessary to shifting the power imbalance that currently exists between tenants and landlords. Piloting an even more rigorous program like the Commercial Certificate of No Harassment in rezoning neighborhoods follows this same vision and draws from lessons learned from the Coalition Against Tenant Harassment's formative work on the affordable housing front. Both residential and commercial tenants need tools to fight back.

Where these battles have already been lost, communities are left with empty storefronts. In spite of the widespread recognition of commercial vacancies across the city, there is still no citywide count of commercial vacancies. A vacant storefront registry, with strong penalties, is a necessary first step to determine where vacancies are occurring, how long these spaces are kept off the market, and who is responsible for these vacancies. Ongoing data collection on a citywide scale is similarly necessary to direct future policy interventions. The Council's small business package begins the overdue policy discussion to address these issues.

We look forward to engaging with all council sponsors on their respective bills and advancing a multi-pronged strategy that empowers tenants, holds unscrupulous landlords accountable, and furthers the cause of New York's small businesses.

 

 

 

 

Join Us Monday As We Rally for the Passage of Crucial City Council Legislation

 

 

Who: Small business owners and workers, merchant associations, neighborhood non-profits, street vendors, commercial tenants, and community allies

Where: City Hall, Lower Manhattan

When: 9:00 am - 10:00 am, March 18, 2019

Questions: Armando Moritz-Chapelliquen, Armando.C@anhd.org

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