Editorial: Small businesses need pols’ help and ours

City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Helen Rosenthal have been doggedly pushing a bill that if passed would give some relief to many of the Manhattan retailers who are forced to pay Commercial Rent Tax. The tax, they’ve argued, is discriminatory as it punishes retailers and restaurants for the crime of doing business below 96th Street and above Chambers. We have to say, we agree it’s obviously unfair, and we hope the legislation doesn’t face any obstacles in getting signed.

However, as any Manhattan storefronter can attest to, taxes are just the tip of the iceberg. Amazon is an ever-present competitor and the rent is too damn high with commercial tenants not having much in the way of bargaining power when it’s lease renewal time.

Rosenthal, following the press conference that was held for the CRT bill, said the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which is aimed at giving business owners an automatic ten-year lease renewal, is being looked at by the council’s counsel. The legislation has been languishing for decades though recently it has gained steam as neighbors have grown weary of seeing their local small businesses get pushed out by chains.

Later, a legislative rep at the office of Council Member Annabel Palma, the prime sponsor of the bill, told us while he isn’t aware of any legal research being done presently, there is currently a push to get business-oriented organizations involved in putting more constituent pressure behind the bill. There were, at last count, 27 Council members in support of it. However, due to concerns by critics that it is unconstitutional, it has yet to have a hearing, something Palma would like to see happen before the summer.

We hope getting this bill a hearing won’t take much longer than it already has. If the bill has legal issues, as critics such as the Real Estate Board of New York believe, then a hearing in the City Council chamber would be the best venue to explain why this is the case. (Since no one has explained it yet.) Then, if needed, the bill could be tweaked.

Meanwhile, everyday citizens also have a role to play here, and that’s shopping locally. Unless products at local businesses are overpriced or just not goods/services you’re interested in, there’s no reason to turn to the internet first just to find the cheapest option. Doing so on a regular basis speeds up the already present urban plagues of chainification and high rent retail blight. Remember, if you don’t vote (with your wallet), you don’t get to complain.

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4 thoughts on “Editorial: Small businesses need pols’ help and ours

  1. The new rents being asked are so high, it’s not clear that the tax breaks would save these businesses. The real issue is why has the Small Business Jobs Survival Act been languishing in the city council for years. Generally supported by candidates when running for office & then nothing happens after being elected.

    We’ve already lost familiar, valued neighborhood businesses. All this discussion and elevation as an issue is coming a day late and a dollar short. Seems as if that’s the general pattern.

  2. Anyone who does a little research knows that the CRT bill does absolutely nothing to help small businesses if their landlord decides to raise the rent or not renew at all, which is becoming the norm. Dan Garodnicks stance that SBJSA is not legal is growing so old it’s unreal, and we must all do our part to make sure he never gets elected to another political position.

  3. If the small businesses want the politicians help they will have to BRIBE them. It’s the only way to get their help. Highest BRIBE wins. That’s why there’s a Target coming to 14th Street. Good luck to them.

  4. Shame on lawmakers for doing nothing for years as the crisis faced by small business owners grows worse. What is it that they don’t understand that every NYer knows, mom and pop can’t pay the same insane rents that banks and big franchises can. That greedy landlords are taking advantage of over real estate speculation to make a killing. Just give the business owners what they need to survive, the right to renewal their leases and the right to negotiate fair lease terms, level the playing field for them or they all will go out of business.
    REBNY will survive with real solution legislation but mom and pop will not without it.

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