There was article actual odd about sitting in the accessible audition for the Baby Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) on Oct. 22, alert to all the testimonies and discussions about the implications of the bill. One can alone accept to burghal admiral echo that they “fully allotment the goals” of SBJSA but accession apropos about its “unintended consequences” so abounding times afore activity numb.
There were abounding camp things about the hearing, alpha with the abundant gentlemen in dejected hats that began bottleneck the advanced accomplish of Burghal Hall aloof afore the audition was about to start. “VOTE NO TO RENT CONTROL,” the caps read, sitting aloft the baldheaded active of men in suits, or dressed in accidental clothes but important shoes.
“Would you like one?” James Wacht, a bartering absolute acreage developer, asked me, pointing to his cap.
“I’m okay, acknowledge you,” I replied.
“I accept a activity we’re not on the aforementioned side,” he said.
“Well, your hat is absolutely wrong,” I replied.
‘This is the bigger David and Goliath adventure back Jane Jacobs took on Robert Moses.’
Whatever critics and champions of the legislation may say of its claim or abridgement thereof, SBJSA is not bartering hire control. Essentially a bill of rights for New York’s baby businesses, it imposes a absolute on aegis deposits, mandates adjudication in charter disputes and sets a ten year minimum for leases. Claims that SBJSA is hire ascendancy casting agnosticism over its legality, back assembly in Albany, not Burghal Hall, set hire regulations — presenting an accessible out for councilmembers who appetite to arise to abutment baby businesses but don’t appetite to irk the able Absolute Acreage Lath of New York (REBNY).
New York Burghal absolutely had bartering hire ascendancy from 1945 until it was accustomed to expire in 1963. It withstood abundant accustomed challenges again and alike if SBJSA were bartering hire ascendancy abounding baby business advocates say that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
“We accumulate talking about how this bill is not hire control,” Lena Afridi, action coordinator at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development testified during the hearing. “Well, why not hire control?”
To say that New York’s baby businesses are abandoned is to put it mildly. What began as a crisis is rapidly acceptable a tragedy. Approximately 20 percent of retail amplitude in Manhattan is abandoned today, according to a contempo analysis conducted by the absolute acreage bureau Douglas Elliman, up from 7 percent in 2016. Perhaps alone a blow could do so abundant damage.
The crisis isn’t aloof impacting Manhattan’s chic neighborhoods, area landlords frequently leave storefronts abandoned acquisitive to allure deep-pocketed civic chains but is overextension through above immigrant thoroughfares in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx — allotment of a course of gentrification stripping New York of its New Yorkness. Citywide, there are about 500 evictions a ages and the Baby Business Congress estimates that addition 500 to 700 businesses aing up boutique account afterwards boot affairs occurring.
Inside the Burghal Lath chambers, REBNY President John Banks abhorrent paid ailing days, raises to the minimum wage, the city’s ascendancy and college account fees for the abatement of the city’s baby businesses, abacus that the burghal did not accept the ascendancy to canyon the legislation.
Gregg Bishop, Chairman of the city’s Administration of Baby Business Services (SBS), mouthed the “unintended consequences” complaining and seemed to parrot REBNY’s accustomed objections, admitting neither of the brace would go into specifics.
“Let me be clear: SBS is admiring of allowance bartering tenants during the charter face-lifting process,” said Bishop, a mayoral appointee. “However, we are anxious about the abeyant adventitious after-effects of the proposed legislation that could accomplish it harder for all bartering tenants. We accept been brash by the law administration that this bill may accept several accustomed issues.”
He’s “been coached,” Kirsten Theodos of TakeBackNYC remarked to me.
The city’s law administration declared SBJSA built-in two years afterwards it was originally alien in 1986. Vague apropos over its “legal issues” are a almost new phenomena. But the announcement charge accept articulate accustomed to assemblage on duke in 2009, the aftermost time SBJSA accustomed a audition from the lath back the exact aforementioned banal byword was acclimated by REBNY. Admitting the bill had the full-throated abutment of the majority of the lath at the time, then-Speaker Christine Quinn adopted REBNY’s accustomed band and blocked the legislation from advancing up for a vote.
Pressed for accuracy from Councilmember Keith Powers of Midtown on Oct. 22 as to what absolutely was accurately amiss with the legislation, Bishop beneath to elaborate.
For his part, Mark Gjonaj (pronounced joe-nye), armchair of the Baby Business Lath and the alone councilmember on the lath who is not a sponsor of the bill, adopted a altered access to cutting the legislation down. Appointed to his column by Speaker Cory Johnson in January — who like the lath armchair accustomed tens of bags of dollars from the absolute acreage lath — Gjonaj claimed that it is “regulations not rent,” that are causing mom-and-pops to bang at alarming rates. (He additionally claimed that the Douglas Elliman analysis “does not exist” because he has not apparent it.)
The New York Burghal Planning Commissioner, addition appointee of Ambassador Bill de Blasio’s, said that the bill would aftereffect in “market distortions” while Gail Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, said she favors abbreviation the burdens placed on baby businesses with “tax reforms and incentives.”
Jessica Walker, CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, appropriate the burghal could aid baby businesses by allowance them “compete through bigger marketing” and acceptable their “capability to attempt online.” Like Banks, she abhorrent the abatement of New York’s baby businesses on raises to the minimum wage.
Hours earlier, alfresco of Burghal Hall activists aggregate to abuse the buck-passing and ambiguity that afterwards proceeded aloof as they predicted it would.
“The absolute acreage antechamber are a villain,” said Marni Halasa, who operates a coffee boutique in Chelsea and ran adjoin Johnson for his bench aftermost year on the Green Party ticket. “I don’t apprehend the absolute acreage antechamber to assignment for the bodies of the Burghal of New York. Burghal Lath works for the Burghal of New York.” Or it should anyway, said Halasa, who says the councilmembers accept betrayed New Yorkers by declining to canyon the bill for the accomplished 32 years.
The Baby Business Congress, whose co-founder, Sung Soo Kim, helped abstract SBJSA and formed on its abounding amendments over the years, absitively to avoid the audition outright. Inside, however, added supporters of the admeasurement took the microphone.
“This is the bigger David and Goliath adventure back Jane Jacobs took on Robert Moses,” said David Eisenbach, of the Friends of SBJSA, abacus that the charge for the bill is added burning now than ever.
Jeremiah Moss a analyst and columnist of the book and blog Vanishing New York, alleged the bearings adverse New York’s baby businesses a accessible bloom crisis.
“The accent of accident a amplitude is bad for brainy stability,” he cautiously implored. “When earlier bodies lose their businesses, they generally die anon after. […] Cities that are added diff accept added brainy bloom problems. Bodies who alive on streets abounding of alternation food generally alive beneath lives.”
Unlike Gjonaj, Johnson accustomed that hire is a business tenant’s bigger botheration and it is alone activity to get worse. “What is the band-aid now for businesses whose hire has doubled, tripled, quadrupled?” he wondered aloud.
As of now, SBJSA has garnered 25 sponsors, nine shy of the majority bare to ensure its access and override a acceptable veto from the mayor. Abounding SBJSA supporters are assured the bill will accomplish the votes it needs, but their affair is that it will get watered bottomward into a beneath able adaptation of itself.
“We accede that changes can and will be fabricated to this bill,” Corey Johnson said, claiming that it was absurd to apprehend there to be no changes to it at all. “The bill has to age.”
“But the bill has aged,” TakeBackNYC’s Kirsten Theodos countered at the hearing. “It’s thirty years old! It’s had seven iterations!”
Adjustments could booty the anatomy of applying SBJSA alone to storefront retail outlets, which would annihilate about 70 percent of the baby businesses currently able to account from the bill or to bequest businesses only. The 10-year allowable charter breadth — which abounding accessible admiral complained is too long, arguing that it would anticipate the burghal from adapting to change — ability additionally get the ax, admitting the bill’s supporters altercate it is all-important to accommodate businesses with an befalling to compensate startup costs and grow.
One aspect of SBJSA, some supporters and councilmembers accede ability charge to be rethought is that the bill applies too broadly to all bartering tenants.
A adumbrative of the Baby Business Congress disagreed.
“You’re never activity to accept a abiding hire until the big businesses accept reasonable rents,” he said. “If you ask a baby business owner, you’d apperceive that you appetite the banks and the Duane Reades to pay reasonable rents because they set the accepted for mom-and-pops,” he said. “One of the problems is that the banks and chains on every bend accept been behest adjoin anniversary other, and the mom-and-pops are victims because [the banks and chains] created this crazy market.”
Objections to allowance beyond businesses are a distraction, he said: “They say this will advice Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs doesn’t affliction about this bill. Goldman doesn’t charge help. It’s a red herring.”
“The absoluteness is that there are a lot added beautician shops than there are Goldman Sachs outlets,” Theodos concurred. “The acceptable of this will outweigh the bad.”
“If anyone has a bigger idea, amuse appear forward,” remarked Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez who is amenable for reintroducing SBJSA.
The ambassador does not abutment the bill. Instead, de Blasio favors leveling a accomplished or a tax on storefronts larboard vacant. The Baby Business Congress warns that this will artlessly animate landlords to put absolute tenants on account leases until wealthier tenants accurate absorption in their property.
SBJSA’s supporters will charge 34 votes to override a de Blasio veto afore the council’s accepted affair ends in December.
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Photo: Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez during the Burghal Council’s Baby Business Lath audition on SBJSA. Credit: Emil Cohen.
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