Amazon can’t rescue your parakeet
This week, Town & Village would like to acknowledge one of the many ways that independent, owner-run businesses, as opposed to employee-run chains, can benefit the community.
Along with helping to keep any money spent by neighborhood residents in the same neighborhood and having knowledgeable people around to answer questions instead of clueless kids telling customers to call corporate, they are also generally fiercely loyal to the communities they serve.
A perfect example of this Carole Husiak. Husiak and her husband Johnny own Ibiza Kidz, the children’s store that only reopened last Friday after the electrical fire over three weeks ago in Stuyvesant Town.
As we reported then, despite the chaos erupting at the First Avenue retail strip as smoke billowed from a manhole, Husiak still did what she could to help others, in this case by aiding in the rescue of numerous birds at the neighboring Petland store.
We hope the community acknowledges Husiak’s thoughtfulness and supports her newly stocked shop.
Support small businesses and SBJSA
We also encourage people who enjoy shopping in their own communities to nudge members of the City Council, including the speaker, as well as the mayor, to support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act when it finally comes up for a vote. Lately it’s been described by some as a “rent control” bill, which supporters (including those at T&V) believe is an attempt to have those unfamiliar with it dismiss it as illegal prior to the hearing that’s been scheduled for October 22.
On Saturday, even Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer described it as “a kind of rent control” when briefly mentioning the SBJSA at a meeting held by the ST-PCV Tenants Association. A tenant later shot back that it wasn’t during a comment period, and Brewer, who had worked on an early version of the SBJSA in the Council 30 years ago, didn’t argue back.
Earlier at the meeting, however, she said, “I don’t know if it’s legal and I don’t know if it’s going to work but you need to have a hearing.” Three years ago, Brewer introduced an alternative to the SBJSA that would have given small businesses some negotiating room but even that bill wound up dead in the water. Brewer told tenants last weekend she was nonetheless focused on mom-and-pops. “If I see another 7-Eleven, I’m going to throw up,” she said.
The SBJSA is aimed at giving commercial tenants in good standing an automatic, ten-year lease renewal.
Better communication needed
As Town & Village reported last week, the L train shutdown preliminary work on 14th street has entered a new phase, and neighbors may notice some changes along the barrier-ridden route. However, the changes were announced as that work was already beginning, not beforehand.
Similarly, traffic safety enhancement (and the loss of some parking spaces) on East 20th Street was only announced by the city via a tweet before drivers along the street got the message via parking tickets.
We’re with Council Member Keith Powers that sharing such information in a more direct manner would have been the right thing to do. We also think the MTA should be more organized in its sharing of L train project information, especially making an effort to brief those who are living along the 14th street corridor.
Further, we also think those who live in apartments overlooking the construction zone should be compensated in some way for the constant noise and debris, possibly with memberships to local co-working spaces while the work continues.
Local storefronts should have at least some of their rent paid by the MTA, at least while East 14th Street around Avenue A continues to look like a war zone.
Hold Cuomo to his promise to tenants
The topic of rent regulations and those laws being up for renewal in June, 2019, was also brought up at the Tenants Association meeting on Saturday. Local elected officials cheered the fact that the recent Democratic primary saw numerous former Independent Democratic Conference members’ challengers win throughout the state’s Senate races, even though the IDC’s enabler, Governor Andrew Cuomo, easily won the primary.
Cuomo’s win over Cynthia Nixon wasn’t unexpected and he will no doubt win the general election, but there is no question he was running scared when he told the Met Council on Housing in a campaign interview in August that he would take actions to end vacancy decontrol. At the time, one of Cuomo’s adversaries, TenantPAC’s Mike McKee, told T&V that if Cuomo did end up winning, “We would certainly hold him to that.”
We’re with McKee on this, and with the rent regulations up for renewal in nine months in Albany, every renter in this town should be as well.