Editorial: SBJSA could be the only hope for saving mom-and-pop shops

Council Member Annabel Palma, prime sponsor of the SBJSA City Council photo)

Council Member Annabel Palma, prime sponsor of the SBJSA City Council photo)

The Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, which had been languishing in the City Council for 30 years up until a recent organized push helped get 27 Council members to indicate their support for it, has been blasted by critics as being unconstitutional. What’s interesting though is that no one, not even its stiffest opponents, are giving any reasons why this is the case.

We won’t pretend to be legal experts but what we know is this. Owners of small businesses in this city are in desperate need of some bargaining power because right now they have none. At any time, any business that is doing well and meeting the needs of the community it serves could still disappear overnight, whether it’s due to an obscenely high rent hike or a refusal from a speculative landlord to even offer a renewal at any price.

We appreciate the effort being made by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on a bill that would at least force property owners to negotiate in good faith with a tenant. However, with the only sure thing in that scenario being a one-year lease extension for a business at a 15 percent rent hike, it just won’t be enough to stem the tide of mom-and-pops being forced out by chains and banks.

The SBJSA, however, if passed, would give an existing tenant another 10 years. This would actually make a huge dent in bringing back the stability the city’s retail landscape hasn’t known in many years.

We don’t blame landlords for being wary in a business atmosphere that suggests a more well-heeled commercial tenant is always around the corner. But the fact is that the bigger picture ― that entire neighborhoods are shedding their retail diversity to the point of losing their unique character ― is being ignored. Even worse, the plan will sometimes backfire as retail spaces remain vacant for over a year or longer. This gives the appearance of urban blight, as an owner waits for that perfect tenant to come along and pay double what the last tenant did.

The SBJSA isn’t perfect. The legislation applies to all commercial leases, which means big businesses, like banks and corporate offices, would be able to reap the same rewards intended for the little guy. But right now there just doesn’t seem to be anything else out there, legislatively, that would have such a far-reaching impact or anything close to it.

So, before any more time, and incidentally businesses, are lost, members of the City Council and of course the mayor need to get behind this. Otherwise, they may as well sit back with their feet up as the city continues its transformation into a strip mall.

 

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20 thoughts on “Editorial: SBJSA could be the only hope for saving mom-and-pop shops

  1. Biggest culprit of lawmakers who hide behind the lie that the SBJSA is “unconstitutional” is your Council Member, Dan Garodnick! Who also happens to be a lawyer, and yet he still cannot manage to produce any legal documentation proving his claim. Last year the WSJ described him as “belle of the real-estate industry’s annual ball” who received over $200k from REBNY last election. You can’t get more conservative than the WSJ and even they are calling Garodnick a real estate sellout. on.wsj.com/1go4EUW

  2. Death by Committee. Not one of the 4 or 5 similar bills which have been proposed in the past 30 years has made it out of the City Council Small Business Committee for a vote on the Council floor. Why is that? Council members can claim they support SBJSA as long as they don’t have to actually vote on the bill and risk losing Real Estate Industry financial support at re-election time. Let’s see if the 27 Council Members who claim to support SBJSA step up to the plate and demand a vote on the bill or if the City Council Band just plays on.

  3. How many Chain stores and banks does the city need? I even know of a doctor’s office who can’t afford the rent. Believe it or not, not all doctors make mega bucks. Walgreen’s taking over affordable grocery stores and selling garbage in bags is now what communities need. Teachers, Fire Fighters, Police, Nurses, and City workers live here too.

    Pass the SBJSA City Council and get on with it. Not everyone in NYC is a Millionaire.

  4. Last election every candidate proclaimed to be the more progressive with pledges if elected to pass progressive legislation to take the city in another direction from Bloomberg’s pro real estate and to end economic inequality. Yet, with 99% of NYers wanting their government to take action to stop the closing of their small businesses , the best they can come up with is
    one year to move. How progressive or just is that. Enough is enough stop serving your campaign contributors and start serving the public , pass the small business jobs bill and save our businesses from this greed.

  5. When Deadly Dan’s third term (which he voted against!) is over, let’s make sure he never holds public office again. He started off as a seemingly nice guy, but he has been corrupted by his owners, REBNY. He worked at a very sleazy law firm which has pretty much cashed in on this place. The TA should be required to be more transparent and open their books!

  6. Let’s get the SBJSA passed before everything that makes New York City a decent and exciting place to live is gone forever. I’ve got 4 Duane Reades, 2 Walgreens, 2 CVS, and too many banks to count all in walking distance. My neighborhood doesn’t need more of these. We need the shoe repair, local bookstore, dry cleaners, and yes, even “The Sock Man” (latest closing to be announced–forced out by rent increase) that provide needed services.

  7. The editor has it exactly correct: Gale Brewer’s bill would do nothing to help keep our Associated here. For that matter, neither would Dan’s tax break proposal. What would is passage of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. The only thing stopping its passage are the politicians who choose to represent the interests of real estate rather than small businesses and the residents of this city who rely on those small businesses.

    If spokespeople for small businesses are correct, there is about a five to ten year window left to save small businesses in NYC before they are almost completely gone. Dan, co-sponsor the SBJSA now!

  8. Small businesses give a neighborhood its character and are what makes NYC the unique, vibrant city it is. Without them, NYC would be nothing but a giant strip mall with the same boring sameness as any other strip mall. Yes, some of those mall stores can benefit New Yorkers, but only if interspersed with local, small businesses. We need to protect that vitality along with the jobs that small businesses create for local residents.

    SBJSA provides a way to protect those small businesses while enabling the growth of NYC and ensuring a fair profit to property owners. I urge the City Council to be unanimous in its support of SBJSA.

  9. A perfect illustration- since all politics is local: Does Blackstone understand that we all signed that petition because we want the Associated and not just a store with similar price points? The SBJSA would protect the Associated’s owners by allowing them to negotiate. Right now, all fates are held in landlords’ hands. If both parties fail to come to terms, they enter binding arbitration.

    After investing so much time in a community, showing their intentions (by upgrading now) to invest even more, the Associated (and ALL of our small local businesses) do more than provide us with great sale items, local flavor, and jobs. They (all) give our communities stability. They sponsor teams, they know their neighbors and customers, they help to keep us safe. They become part of the community fabric and are treasured. The SBJSA is the only fair and reasonable protection the small business owner has in the battle against big real estate.

    For all who dismiss a discussion with “it has legal issues” (I’m looking at you Dan!), then how about recommending changes or modifications that you might make. In all the years of litigation, REBNY (the author of “it has legal issues”) has never been able to raise a single one. Curious. In the meantime, I suppose it explains the silence our Councilman has maintained on the fate of our grocery store. I wonder who our seniors, already fretting and utterly devastated at just the thought of Associated’s departure, will be voting for when you announce your next candidacy. There’s that familiar, smiling guy who grew up here or there’s that other guy who saved their supermarket, fixed incomes, familiar faces, and hips (and wasn’t REBNY’s errand boy).

  10. Has anyone noticed that even Garodnick’s demeanor has changed over the years? Maybe it’s not relevant or pertinent or worth mentioning here, but I’ve noticed that in recent public appearances he looks hard-eyed, clamp-mouthed and uninterested in what is happening. I particularly noticed that when he was with Schumer at the roll-out of the transit pre-tax fare saving plan (I hope that isn’t pre-social security tax, btw). Maybe because it wasn’t being introduced by him and he was not getting the accolades, but he really did look rather pissed-off.
    I think we will be better off when he has gone. He’s not a man of the people anymore (if he ever really was). He has been bought and paid for by Big RE and those are the “people” he now works for.

  11. Vickie, the reason why Dan Garodnick looks hard eyed and uninterested is because that is how you look when you sell your soul.

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