The following is an open letter from Small Business Congress founder Sung Soo Kim to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. It has been edited for length.
Honorable Speaker Johnson:
I am disheartened that you refused to respond to my first request to meet and at least try to create compromise legislation to stop the closings of our city’s small businesses and save jobs. I took you at your word made at the October hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act that you recognized a serious crisis existed and that you were committed to a solution and moving the bill (Small Business Jobs Survival Act) to a vote.
It is obvious to every small business owner that the grossly unfair lease renewal process places their futures and the futures of their employees in grave jeopardy when their leases expire. The empty storefronts on every main street make it obvious to every New Yorker that their beloved mom and pop businesses, having no rights nor protections from exorbitant rent increases, are desperate for government intervention to save them.
Putting aside the REBNY, Chambers, SBS and BID spins, false narratives, and insulting studies and fake worthless proposals, the majority of the city’s lawmakers also know their small businesses cannot survive without this legislation that gives rights to business owners in the critical lease renewal process.
There will be no solution to end the small business crisis coming from the de Blasio administration or the many fake “business groups.” Since the October hearing the courts have issued warrants to evict over 1,700 businesses, an estimated over 4K have closed and an estimated over 32K jobs lost. More small business jobs have been lost in four months than the 25K Amazon projected hires in 10 years. You may be fortunate that none of the long-established businesses which our bill was intended to save have closed in your district, but other lawmakers have lost legendary and beloved businesses and jobs in their districts and want something done to stop the closings.
This crisis has only gotten worse and will not resolve on its own.
As you are aware, the Jobs Survival Acts’ prime sponsor is Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez. He has become the voice for the voiceless, our immigrant store owners, who own the majority of our city’s small businesses. As he repeated at the hearing, he welcomes any solution that is shown to be the best solution to stop the closings and save jobs and not take away any rights the bill was intended to give. He is willing to participate in a mediation effort to quickly find the best solution to immediately stop the closings. The majority of our city’s small businesses are immigrant owned and the Dominicans are owners of the majority of Hispanic businesses and employ the majority of Hispanic families in NYC. He shares my desire to see the urgency to save as many immigrant businesses and jobs as soon as possible.
I believe REBNY Chairman William Rudin would welcome representing the interests of real estate owners in non-binding meditation negotiations. We share several common beliefs: we both are adamantly opposed to Commercial Rent Control, we recognize the historical symbol of economic decline being empty storefronts on main street, and with an ever-growing government budget of $89 billion dollars the loss of big revenue collectors like small businesses would guarantee huge rises in property taxes in the future and that never is good for any businesses, especially real estate investors or home owners.
Speaking freely and honestly to you, don’t underestimate the urgency to stop the business closings as quickly as possible; New Yorkers are mad as hell and are demanding real leadership to stop these closings. The true state of our city’s economy and job opportunities, higher taxes, higher cost of living and lost jobs will replace social issues and petty conflicts cooked up by political consultants and lazy media as the primary focus and guide for voters.
No leading politician can move up in NYC when things are miserable on main street.