CITY COUNCIL LEADERS CONSPIRE WITH REAL ESTATE LOBBY TO SUCCESFULLY KILL ONLY REAL LIFELINE TO SAVE SMALL BUSINESSES.
BIDS HELPED PUT SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS ON LIFE SUPPORT AND COLLUDE WITH LOBBY TO PULL THE PLUG!
In our last BIDS series* we detailed how the real estate lobby took control of a Council hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act. After a lobby’s scheme to substitute a bill they created in order to keep the status quo was exposed, forcing them to drop the bill, their only option to stop the Jobs Survival Act was to then high-jack the narrative of a hearing. The lobby coached narrative to all their key loyal speakers had the goal of producing a “red herring” by calling for an amendment to the bill before it could be voted on. The lobby’s sinister plan after the hearing was to water down the bill to where it offered no real rights to the tenants and kept the status quo.
We detailed the key role the BIDS played in testifying opposing the Jobs Survival Act while not giving any real reason. Every BID speaker came into this hearing fully coached by the lobby to offer no real alternative solution to stopping the businesses closings and ending their crisis. Every BID speaker recommended only programs that had nothing to do with the real reason for businesses closing and thus would not save a single business owner. They all purposely avoided even mentioning that an unresolved crisis existed. They all avoided the critical commercial lease renewal process which was the root cause of long established businesses being forced to close in NYC. The sole intent of the Jobs Survival Act was to fairly address the unfair and one sided commercial lease renewal process, the root cause of our city’s growing business crisis. A bill to “level the playing field” in negotiations to give business owners a fighting chance to survive, protect their investment, and make a profit. The BIDS’ spokespersons' testimony were all disingenuous. No BIDS expressed any sympathy whatsoever or had any moral obligation to find a real solution for the dire plight of their own BID’s merchants’ future.
Never in Council history had Democratic leadership abdicated such control over the narrative, speakers and goals of a hearing on specific legislation. Never had government agencies mandated to oversee the welfare of our small businesses been so disconnected from the very businesses they were obligated to seek solutions for their real problems and promote a pro small business environment in NYC. Instead of serving the needs of our small businesses they all came to this lobby orchestrated sham hearing to serve only the needs of the real estate lobby whose members were destroying our businesses, and creating a crisis in the process. A growing crisis which our government refused to address and instead covered-up.
In the end, the lobby’s sham hearing failed when the Jobs Survival Act prime sponsor, CM Ydanis Rodriguez got cold feet and backed out and refused to allow his bill to be watered down.
PART X- Final in series Real estate lobby panics and goes to PLAN C to stop a Jobs Survival Act vote.
The 2018 hearing ended with then Speaker Corey Johnson committed to amending the Jobs Survival Act and moving it to a vote. A promise he repeated dozens of times throughout the entire day long hearing. With CM Rodiguez refusing to go along with the lobby’s scheme to water down his bill after the hearing, the real estate lobby had to quickly cook up another plot to stop a vote. A vote that would have meant certain passage of the Jobs Survival Act with its 28 sponsors. The lobby still had control of the Democratic leadership so they had confidence they could stop a vote on the only real lifeline to save our businesses, even during a crisis, and get away with this disgraceful act. After all, the real estate lobby’s cronies at City Hall had successfully covered up a growing crisis, as well as, bottled up the only solution to stop the closings for over a decade. Democratic leadership’s years of rigging for a lobby and non-action made the crisis worse and eventually resulting in our “empty store blight”.
The lobby’s PLAN C was immediately put into effect shortly after the hearing. Speaker Johnson had no intentions of amending the Jobs Survival Act and moving it to a vote as promised. Instead, his staff lead by Eric Bottcher, only schemed and stalled. When asked by media or advocates when the amendments would be finished, always answered, “we are tweaking the bill.” Other excuses given were, “we are fine tuning the bill, and we are in talks with small business advocates to gain insight on the amendment change.”
The real estate lobby’s PLAN C would be the shameful case of the conspiracy of Democratic leadership to rig the system to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act and lay the foundation for another lobby created distraction bill to substitute for it in the new 2022 Council. The Council leadership’s mandate from the power brokers: stop democracy, stall and substitute to serve only the real estate lobby, whose campaign funds helped put them in office.
For the real estate lobby’s scandalous plan to succeed, Speaker Johnson must betray democracy, his Village merchants and his own Council. He must not keep his promise to amend the Jobs Survival Act and move to a vote. Keep in mind how easy an amendment to the bill would be. The “red herring” to change the bill was that it should not protect big Fortune 500 type companies.
For over 34 years never once has the Jobs Survival Act covering all commercial tenants been an issue! NEVER! Only now after seven prior amendments to the Jobs Survival Act and with no real excuses left to justify calling for a change has this “red herring” been brought forth. It is a ridiculous claim that the bill should not cover banks and Wall Street firms who would never need the bills’ protections in the first place. Therefore, we had no objections in changing the scope of the bill to exclude big Fortune 500 type companies. An easy task, with several ways to amend the bill. It would take about 2 hours to make the amendment in one paragraph of the scope of the bill, to satisfy this lobby’s’ “red herring.” TWO HOURS!
Yet, Speaker Johnson’s office stalled from Oct 2018 to Dec. 31, 2021 and never made a single amendment to the bill. NEVER! Even during the virus crisis when small businesses desperately needing rights, and with the bill having 28 sponsors ready to vote it into law giving them those rights. This shameful rigging in plain sight allowed the real estate lobby time to implement their PLAN C to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act and successfully plan to substitute a bill they created. A bill that would keep the status quo in NYC with the landlords in full control of the futures of every business owner.
The outcome of the disgraceful collusion and rigging was the real estate lobby’s bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS. The new City Councils’ BIG LIE, that the CRS will save our businesses. As planned, a bill introduced March 24, 2022 in the new City Council and quickly has 20 sponsors already. Unlike the Jobs Survival Act, the lobby created bill will not have to wait 9 years to gain a hearing in the lobby controlled Council. Nor will a vote never be called for in 3 and half years on their lobby's bill. After 34 years the Jobs Survival Act, the oldest legislation in the Council would not even be reintroduced in the new Council.
The entire Democratic Party should share the shame in this despicable blatant anti democratic conspiracy of the real estate lobby in destroying the Jobs Survival Act. And with its destruction, the only real lifeline to save our businesses. The soon likely passage of the CRS bill, nothing but a Lobby Trojan Horse, in the Council will have the real estate lobby arrogantly proclaiming their total control of our Democratic leadership and thus the puppet masters of City Hall. The lobby’s Plan A and B failed but Plan C will succeed and be the beginning of the end of any hope to save the American Dream for our business owners.
Months after the 2018 hearing, as part of the stall strategy, under the influence of the real estate lobby, several lobby loyal Council Members introduced a “basket of bills” touted as helping our small businesses. These masqueraded fake lobby influenced bills were an insult to every desperate small business owner. Not one bill addressed the real cause of our business closing and none of the bills would save even one business or job in NYC. They were collectively the Council’s “basket of nothing.”
Why these worthless bills are relevant to the BIDS is because the BIDS eagerly endorsed all the bills. The BIDS gave credibility to these offensive bills at a time of a growing crisis destroying BID merchants citywide. BIDS management along with politicians were out in their districts counting empty storefronts pretending they cared about their merchants and were doing something to save them. Imagine playing "count the stores" while in the middle of a double crisis and the only solution ready to be voted on has 28 sponsors and can be passed immediately? But no BID would call for a vote.
While Speaker Johnson’s team was pretending to amend the Jobs Survival Act, by omitting big corporations protection, and move it to a vote, who really was secretly making that amendment? Turns out the real estate lobby was making that amendment in their own bill! For the first time in 34 years two bills doing the same thing, commercial lease renewal statue, were in play. A clear violation of Council rules, but who is looking in the lobby controlled Council? Yes, unconscionable and a reprehensible act against democracy but the real estate lobby was so desperate to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act that they colluded with the Council leadership to illegally create their own substitute bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization Act.*
On November 14, 2019, over a year past the Jobs Survival Act hearing, CM Stephen Levin introduced what was to become today’s Commercial Rent Stabilization bill, CRS . The promised amendments to the Jobs Survival Act would appear a year later in the CRS bill, not in the Jobs Survival Act, as promised. These are the shameful facts of this disgraceful lobby created bill.* In no other democratic government in the nation would this bill be allowed to even exist. The prime sponsor was CM Stephen Levin, a sole member of the Small Business Committee that represented Brooklyn. He also was a sponsor of the Jobs Survival Act. As a sponsor why would he not encourage the immediate amendment to the Jobs Survival Act and move it to a vote, as promised in his committee? A vote that would quickly begin saving Brooklyn’s small business owners.
A bill that would have made most Brooklyn businesses far less vulnerable to closing during the virus crisis!
This new and illegal lobby bill was also being touted by CM Brad Lander. Both CM Levin and Lander claiming their bill would save our small businesses. Both knowingly promoting a false hope for survival for our businesses. The new CRS bill is a total fraud, a cunning lobby trick. A bill that looks and sounds great until you read the fine print of what it really will do, keep the status quo. The trick, put all the focus upon the “rent” and none on the actual lease renewal process that determines the rent and all the other vital terms. CRS did not give the business owners the right to renew their leases. Without this right, the rent, or for that matter, any terms of the lease meant nothing because the landlords still controlled the terms of the leases. Any landlord could issue an eviction notice to any business owner when their leases expired. Any landlord could give only a one year lease if they desired. Under the CRS the landlord’s property taxes are factored into the rent which business owners still would be forced to pay. If fact the CRS bill would result in even higher rents and more businesses closing and jobs lost.* An open conspiracy at City Hall, a lobby created bill with the goals to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, stall until all bills expired Dec. 31, 2021, and substitute the CRS in the new Council in 2022. If this lobby scheme is successful, killing the Jobs Survival Act, it will also be killing the futures of countless small business owners. Also, killing democracy at City Hall in the process.
What was the BIDS response to this new lobby created bill that gave no real rights to their BID merchants and would result in even higher rents, less profits for BID merchants and more empty stores in BID districts? Not one BID protested this mockery of democracy and travesty of justice against their BID merchants. This new Levin/Lander lobby bill accomplished the goals of the BIDS, stop any law giving the BID business owners the right to renew commercial leases and thus keep the status quo making BID property owners richer. This lobby bill protected the windfall profits of the BID property owners, therefore they would enthusiastically go to any hearing to promote only the real estate lobby’s false narrative to achieve its goal.
A real dilemma to overcome by the lobby corrupted lawmakers.
The Jobs Survival Act had been sitting in Committee for over a year with 28 sponsors allegedly waiting for a simple amendment to the bill. The sponsors of this new CRS bill could never call for an honest hearing comparing the two bills to decide which one was the better bill to save our businesses and promote a stable small business environment. Which one was better for the futures of small business owners who were the ones facing a crisis to survive? The Jobs Survival Act hands down was the only real solution to stop the closings while the CRS would not save a single business and in fact would make the crisis worse by increasing rents. Therefore, the conspiracy, colluding and rigging with the real estate lobby would continue unabated at City Hall until the Jobs Survival Act finally expired in Dec. 2021.
City Hall goes dark and silent on the decade long small business crisis!
Once introduced in late 2019, the new CRS bills’ sponsors would quickly stop gaining sponsorship and stop the media campaign promoting it. Lander and Levin would remain silent on their lobby bill until September 2021. During this same time the Democratic leadership’s ambitious candidates for citywide office would convince CM Ydanis Rodiguez to never call for a vote on his bill nor challenge and call out the new CRS bill as breaking the Council rules and being grossly inferior to his bill. Ambitious and lacking any scruples, CM Rodiguez would remain silent on the Jobs Survival Act, and never take any action to move his bill, even with 28 sponsors and a destructive virus crisis, until the bill expired Dec 31, 2021. No Council Member sponsor of the bill ever called for a vote, all remained silent and complicit to the shameful rigging to stop a vote.
The final betray of the BID merchants by the BIDS property owners.
Just when you thought the lobby controlled Council could not be any more unethical or unprincipled, another lobby sham hearing is schemed. A lobby orchestrated hearing was held September 17, 2021 by the Small Business Committee.* Just like the last hearing in 2018, with the goal to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, but much more sinister. This hearing would lay the foundation for giving credibility to the lobby’s CRS bill to substitute for the Jobs Survival Act in the new Council in 2022. This disgraceful hearing purposely excluded the Jobs Survival Act entirely. Unconscionable, a bill with 28 sponsors that had been the only lifeline to stop the closings of our businesses and was purposely ignored from the hearing. There would be no mention of the Jobs Survival Act the entire hearing, no comparisons, and instead only the CRS bill along with MBP Brewers’ disguised landlords’ bill which she recently introduced. The same bill dressed up which she was forced to drop in 2017 when exposed as being written by the real estate lobby over 30 years ago. Disgraceful government with a sham hearing orchestrated by the real estate lobby with only two bills being discussed, both written by the real estate lobby. A low point for democracy in the Council.
Who did the lobby believe they were fooling with this sham hearing, or did they care? The CRS prime sponsors remain silent on this CRS bill for almost two years and within months of the majority of Council members being termed out of office and all bills expiring they hold a hearing on their bill. A hearing without the Jobs Survival Act to compare! They do not make any effort to gain sponsorship for their bill for two years and now they rush to get 28 sponsors. Council rigging out in plain sight to make their lobby PLAN C a success in the new Council.
For over 34 years at no time had two bills dealing with the commercial lease renewal process been in play at the same time in the Council. At this hearing three bills had been introduced in the Council, all dealing with the same issue. A clear violation of Council rules and good government. Many of the same cast of lobby loyal organizations who testified in 2018, testified at this sham hearing. The big difference was none were testifying about the Jobs Survival Act but only the new bills, both written by the real estate lobby. It is clear from the rush to add CRS sponsors, 28, the same number as the Jobs Survival Act, that the CRS bill, had already been chosen by the real estate lobby to replace the Jobs Survival Act in the new Council. This sham hearing was nothing but a poorly disguised political theater of a “dog and pony show.”
Like their testimony given at the Oct 2018 hearing, BIDS would be the voice for only the BID property owners and not their BID merchants.
The BIDS presented testimony very similar to that given at the 2018 hearing. Same distractions away from the real causes of long established BID businesses closing and instead, listing several minor problems confronted by merchants. Like the 2018 hearing, the BIDS spokesperson had only recommendations for these minor problems, while purposely avoiding solutions for the root cause of the closings. Not a single recommendation given would save a single BID small business owner, and all the BIDS knew it.
One thing is made clear in all the BIDS testimony, the BID property owners do not want any government regulations of the commercial lease renewal process. Also, none would give an accurate assessment of the true state of their BID merchants. None will admit an unresolved crisis existed prior to the virus crisis, and still will not admit today. The top priority for the BIDS is to keep the status quo. None will give any attention to stopping the closings of their BID merchants. Instead, their real concern is the welfare of the BID property owners, preserving landlord’s profits and their opportunity to maximize those profits. It’s all about the BID property owners.
I will give just a few examples of the apathy of BIDS management to their BID merchants’ welfare and survival. The first is from the person who likely has made the most money from the creation of BIDS in NYC. Testimony: Dan Biederman—President, 34th Street Partnership, “members of the Committee on Small Business, I am Dan Biederman, President of the 34th Street Partnership. Intro 1796 is being considered by the City Council at a time when our retail stores need to rebound after suffering a tremendous loss of business during the last eighteen months of the pandemic. Store vacancies need to be eliminated; they don’t help either the retailer or landlord. Intros also fail to recognize the significant efforts many landlords made to work with their retail tenants to ensure that stores could remain open throughout the pandemic. This included flexible lease terms, reduced rents, and even in some cases rent abatements in order to help keep tenants in place.
Implementing regulations on rents for retail rents at this time would inhibit the City’s economic recovery. The Intros will harm landlords trying to lease space to new, dynamic retailers in the Partnership’s district. Commercial rent control would limit the ability of landlords to improve and modernize their stores to meet changing consumer interests. Neither of these bills addresses the root causes of vacancies, such as rising property taxes, delays for government approvals, and other regulatory burdens faced by retailers, which studies have shown instigate a higher percentage of vacancies, as opposed to rents.”
My response: He acts like only now legislation is being introduced to regulate the rents. He states, “suffering a tremendous loss of business during the last eighteen months.” The truth is the” loss of business” is more like the last 20 plus years. The rent gouging by his BID property owners has been going on unchecked and unregulated for at least two decades. Even today BIDS are pretending that there was no small business crisis prior to the virus crisis. He testified, “ Store vacancies need to be eliminated.”
He does not ask how they became vacate in the first place. After many years of unstable businesses going in and out in his district, where is his (BIDS) solution to prevent empty stores? He has none because it is his BID property owners that are the source of causing the instability and vacancies.
His statement, “The Intros will harm landlords trying to lease space to new, dynamic retailers in the Partnership’s district” He knows this statement is just not true and also shows his bias against long established smaller businesses. Why is it that only new bigger chains bring dynamic retailers into the district? Customers who have loved their favorite mom and pop businesses for years would disagree with him.
The most outrageous and misinformation claim he made was, “Neither of these bills addresses the root causes of vacancies, such as rising property taxes, delays for government approvals, and other regulatory burdens faced by retailers, which studies have shown instigate a higher percentage of vacancies, as opposed to rents.” Every business owner sadly knows, the property taxes are passed onto the tenants to pay. Also, the real reason good businesses close, is shown when every long established business puts a sign in their window when they are forced to close: Lost our lease, rents too high. Dan Biederman would not be able to continue collection those big pay checks year after year from the property owners if he told the truth about who is really responsible for the empty stores.
The second testimony was from the BID Association speaking for 76 BIDS.
Good afternoon Chair Gjonaj and Members of the New York City Council. My name is David Estrada and I’m testifying today on behalf of the NYC BID Association. Our mission has always been to support the almost 100,000 local businesses we serve, to keep our neighborhoods clean and safe, and to bring prosperity to our communities. The BID Association strongly opposes Int. 1796, and has significant concerns about Int. 2299. We share a desire to stem the tide of storefront vacancies and the decline of “mom and pop” shops, but we must strongly caution against blunt policy instruments that may do more harm than good to our City.
There is unfortunately no silver bullet as this legislation intends to be, and this legislation is sure to have a chilling effect on our City’s economy at a moment when we’re struggling to recover from the virus crisis.
If the City Council would like to help small businesses, there are far better ways to do so. The BID Association has a Working Group on Storefront Vacancies that put forward ideas for how to help small businesses and commercial corridors as a whole.
First and foremost, we strongly encourage the City and the Council to assess the state of vacancies in New York City. The City has yet to conduct a robust vacancy survey or establish a vacancy database as required by legislation previously passed by the City Council. While we’ve heard many anecdotes from advocates and will surely hear more today, our Association would like any potential policy solution to be based on a thoughtful process and data as opposed to blunt and haphazard legislation that could do more harm than good.
My response: BID directors only represent the BID property owner majority board members who sign their grossly overpaid checks. Not one BID director will acknowledge the truth that the BID vacancies are the outcome of BID landlords demanding exorbitant rent increases. Therefore, the testimony distracts away for any regulation of this one sided destructive lease renewal process that every BID landlord fully controls for their own self interests, and not for the BID merchant.
His statement, “Our mission has always been to support the almost 100,000 local businesses we serve, to keep our neighborhoods clean and safe, and to bring prosperity to our communities.” This statement is disgraceful with every BID district having empty stores where once thriving businesses were before the BIDS. BIDS’ record of shame are its empty storefronts.
He should be embarrassed for his statement, “The BID Association has a Working Group on Storefront Vacancies that put forward ideas for how to help small businesses and commercial corridors as a whole.” If the BIDS were serving the interests of the BID merchants instead of reaping windfall profits for its property owners there would be no need for BID working group on Storefront vacancies. Shouldn’t the goal of the BIDS be to keep the long established businesses in business and not empty? Shouldn't the BIDS be interested in fairness for their business owners too?
He recommends the Council follow the BIDS solutions and not create legislation that is blunt. I will not insult our desperate BID merchants by listing these ridiculous worthless solutions. None of which would stop the closing of even one BID merchant. None of which would give even one right to the BID business owners when their leases expired. These three examples of shameful solutions speak for themselves of the self serving BID property owners seeking only to keep the status quo.
· To enact a tax rebate program for property owners that renew leases of certain smaller businesses.
· To establish a legacy business support program that would provide bridge financing,
· To increase support for SBS and BIDs which serve and assist businesses. BUT NEVER SAVE!
He ended his testimony with a disgraceful statement on what really needs to be done, “First and foremost, we strongly encourage the City and the Council to assess the state of vacancies in New York City. The City has yet to conduct a robust vacancy survey or establish a vacancy database.” This is code for continue to do nothing. The BIDS should be ashamed to attend hearings and present solutions that show how inept and uncaring they really are in finding a real solution to stop the closings of good BID businesses. For an organization given the oversight responsibility of managing BID merchants to call for more studies (tax payer dollars $$$) of vacancies is unconscionable.
After 20 years of main street BID merchants closing in record numbers and a growing citywide crisis out of control, if the BIDS do not know why their BID merchants are closing in record numbers, then the time has come to change the law and have the merchants instead being the majority board members. You can be certain the merchants would not need another tax payer funded delaying study to know what the real problems are. Or the real causes of BID merchants closings. The merchants would come into this hearing demanding strong legislation needed to immediately save the BID merchants and restore a vibrant business environment, one that made a priority of maximizing merchant’s profits, not property owner’s profits. Merchants calling for a healthy business environment like before the BIDS arrived with their self serving property owner boards.
Testimony submitted by Monica Blum, President of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, to the New York City Council Committee on Small Business
This is a period of time when many commercial property owners have struggled to collect rents from commercial tenants for the last year and a half. Prior to the pandemic, retailers were already struggling with competition from e-commerce, which was exacerbated by the pandemic, and has resulted in a blight of vacant storefronts along commercial corridors throughout the City. Instituting another financial burden on property owners after a year and a half of economic hardship brought on by the pandemic risks causing irreparable harm to commercial corridors throughout the City, including Lincoln Square.
Commercial rent regulation may cause property owners to become less flexible in accommodating their tenants in order to avoid locking in artificially low rents in the event of economic downturns such as the pandemic. The result would be the proliferation of vacant storefronts that would undercut our efforts to create a vibrant and dynamic streetscape in Lincoln Square. Commercial rent regulation will also incentivize property owners to rent to large, nationwide chains who are seen as more credit-worthy tenants rather than renting to small businesses.
My comment: More of the same “protect our property owners’ profits and continue to do nothing. Property owners will be the victims of any law changing the status quo. ” Like all the BID testimony she distracts away from the true cause of BID merchants problems, She claims, “. Prior to the pandemic, retailers were already struggling with competition from e-commerce, which was exacerbated by the pandemic, and has resulted in a blight of vacant storefronts along commercial corridors throughout the City.” She gives the usual BID threat from the property owners, “Commercial rent regulation may cause property owners to become less flexible in accommodating their tenants in order to avoid locking in artificially low rents.” Huh? Did she really say that? Artificially low after decades of super high-rent speculation rates?
Since when in NYC over the past decade has NYC merchants seen low rents? She claims, “The result would be the proliferation of vacant storefronts that would undercut our efforts to create a vibrant and dynamic streetscape in Lincoln Square.” Does she not realize her BID, as well as many others, has had a proliferation of vacant storefronts for many years, even before Amazon and e-commerce even existed? How can any BID director with a straight face make the claim, “undercut our efforts to create a vibrant and dynamic streetscape in Lincoln Square.” There is NO BID district that, due to their efforts, has produced vibrant and dynamic streetscape. Just the opposite! It has always been the hard work of the merchants that build dynamic shopping strips. And the greed of the property owners that tears them down.
True record of BIDS
For over 15 years, BIDS have remained silent and given no solutions or comments on the growing small business crisis occurring in every BID district across the city. No statements on the record NYC Court warrants to evict businesses. No statements on the increased extortion of cash demanded by unscrupulous landlords against mostly immigrant owners. No statements on the cruel short term leases of month to month or one/two years given to mostly immigrant owners. No comment on the empty stores in prime locations empty for sometimes years. No concern for business closings or jobs lost due to forcing the merchants to pay their landlord’s property taxes. Most importantly, they have remained silent to the sky high rents the big banks and national chains bid up for prime locations in BID districts. Rents they know their smaller established BID merchants could never match. Yet, never once wanting a study or survey of the increased rents dramatic impact upon their smaller BID businesses. A study of high rents and what can be done to protect the smaller established businesses from closing? How about a study of how sky high rents in BID districts contributed to “INFLATION”.
Why not those studies instead of counting empty storefronts?
The years of the destructive negative actions of BID property owners toward their smaller BID merchants, BIDS silence and none action on a growing citywide crisis, BIDS complicity in a decade long charade at City Hall of worthless programs and cover up legislation of a crisis, has played a key role in creating our city’s empty store blight. The BIDS finally show up only at lobby orchestrated hearings to show their true colors when they oppose any legislation that would change the status quo of the commercial lease renewal process that has been destroying long established BID merchants for years.
BIDS have united to prevent the will of the people and their BID merchants from being heard. They speak as one voice to prevent their BID merchants from ever achieving the prosperity they deserve. The BIDS testimony is utterly shameful as they falsely claim to be speaking for their BID merchants when they are actually committed to do the bidding for the real estate lobby. BIDS are nothing but shills for the real estate lobby and corrupt politicians.
It is reasonable and accurate to conclude from the BIDS responsibility for the empty stores in every BID district, as well as their supporting the goals of the real estate lobby that their key role in helping to stop a vote on the Jobs Survival Act and replace it with the lobby created CRS bill has put the final nail in the coffins of their own BID merchants’ future.
Conclusion of BIDS series
Beginning in New York City under Dutch rule and till today, every business entrepreneur had to be able to negotiate reasonable lease terms that gave some predictability of future costs. Terms negotiated in good faith with their landlords that would allow a reasonable profit for both parties. The foundation of the landlord and business tenant relationship in negotiating in good faith for mutual benefit was established, regardless of government politics. This mutual respect for each party’s need to make a profit and protect their investment created the largest and most diverse small business economy of any city in America.
The pro small business environment also resulted in NYC being the gateway for immigrant entrepreneurs in America. It produced NYC as the center for many major industries in America, as well as the world. Those ambitious NYC small business owners who were successful, made it here, expanded across America and many grew into giant icon companies.
Even with the certain ups and downs of our economy, as well as periodical catastrophic events, the well established pro business system always managed to work to keep the good business tenants in business. Compromises between the landlord and tenant had to be made to allow both to ride out these bad times. Compromises sometimes had to be made to allow both parties to continue to survive long term and return to make a reasonable profit. Both had a common bond dependent upon each others respect for the others sound business sense and wanting to see each other succeed, knowing their business would also benefit in some manner.
The hundreds of years of NYC successfully building the greatest small business environment came to a crashing end beginning just over twenty years ago. It ended with our Democratic leadership abdicating control of our city’s economic policy to special interests. New York City would become the world’s epicenter for real estate speculation, with profiteers quickly following. Our government would make a priority to promote the real estate industry and protect the profits it would generate. At the same time of hyper real estate speculation occurring, international banks and national chains were bidding insane rents for prime locations. These two dynamics occurring at the same time would destroy the stable and successful commercial lease renewal process that existed for hundreds of years in NYC. These two dynamics would put into jeopardy the futures of every NYC successful business when their leases expired.
New Yorker residential tenants have the right to renew their leases. NYC commercial tenants have no rights to renew their leases. This fact had little impact upon the profits and future of most businesses for many decades in NYC. But the hyper real estate speculation climate in NYC would dramatically create a “reign of terror” period for most businesses when their leases expired. And not having any rights would really matter in this pro real estate environment supported by corrupted politicians.
The control of economic policy by special interest who profited from hyper real estate speculation in NYC, turned the commercial landlord and tenant relationship on its head, and into an adversary conflict.
Outcome of a “special interest economy.”
For most NYC businesses the “bargaining in good faith” became an illusion and ceased when their leases expired. With rare compromises from the landlords, the lease renewal process became only a “take it or leave” demand from the landlords. In record numbers long established businesses were given 30 day notices to vacate the premise. Abuses by landlords increased, like extortion of cash demanded from mainly immigrant owners to remain in business. Even long established businesses that built up depressed shopping strips were given cruel month to month or one/two year leases.
Shorter leases turning mostly targeted immigrant owners into involuntary servitude to their landlords. Most landlord respect for small business owners ended. The age old landlord appreciation that the business owner needed to make a profit no longer mattered in NYC. The financial burden on business owners paying their landlord’s property taxes did not matter. The world wide money for real estate speculation pouring into NYC produced more giant corporate landlords and fewer and fewer mom and pop landlords in NYC.
Even many of the "mom and pop" landlords were now millionaires!
Unchecked and unregulated out of control rents and unprecedented bidding of prime locations by deep pocket corporations made it almost impossible for established businesses to negotiate fair lease terms that allowed a reasonable profit. The city’s commercial lease renewal process was badly broken when long established successful businesses, willing and able to pay a reasonable rent were forced to close in record numbers, and left empty.
In any other major city in America that had the “backbone of its economy” being destroyed would have quickly acted to stop the closings and save its vital job creating businesses. Not in NYC where lobbies rule over our Democratic leadership. As the crisis grew worse each year so grew the power and influence of the real estate lobby. At every recent NYC election the 800 pound gorilla present was the lobby with its many fake aliases giving out big bucks. The shameful outcome of the lobby controlled NYC election were the election of lobby loyal lawmakers.
NYC had many multi million/billion dollar real estate projects in play and the lobby was not going to jeopardize slowing down the real estate investment machine in NYC by enacting any legislation that changed the status quo. Therefore, for the sake of keeping NYC the epicenter of real estate speculation, and all the political influence that it produced, nothing would be done to stop the closing of small businesses or addressing the crisis this speculation caused. The victims and the backbone of our economy would be the “collateral damage” of an economic policy controlled by special interests.
The real estate speculation created a sharp rise in property taxes. Taxes that the wealthy never want to pay, especially speculators. NYC had 200K unprotected business owners who would be forced to pay these rising taxes because they had no choice. Tenants having no rights in negotiating lease renewal terms, have no choice.
To carry out this despicable denial of economic justice against our small business owners the real estate lobby called upon their cronies they funded to win office. By controlling the Mayor and Speaker, the lobby controlled the Small Business Committee, SBS and BIDS. The lobby’s team needed to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act and do nothing for over a decade to save even one business or job in the city with over 200+K businesses. No compromises for our small business owners at City Hall. Instead, over a decade of a lobby orchestrated charade of worthless programs and bills all with the goal to keep the status quo.
The BIDS played a key role in this political theater of collusion and rigging to deny any rights needed by businesses to survive and make a decent return on their years of hard work and life’s investment. The BIDS gave political cover to the corrupt politicians who were controlled by the real estate lobby, and still do today. It is indefensible that a growing crisis spread citywide to every main street in NYC destroying established businesses and not one BID even asked their elected lawmaker board members to take some action to save the BID merchants! Not even one!
Over a decade of complicity to the biggest and most shameful denial of justice to BID merchants and not a single complaint from the BIDS. The truth is made clear from this unresolved and schemed covered- up of a small business crisis, that BIDS are nothing more than property owners organizations that serve only the real estate lobby. From their property owners actions contributing to their own BID merchant’s crisis and the BIDS non actions for the past decade they are, without any doubt, the most anti small business organization in America. The empty storefronts on every main street block where once thriving business were are proof of that reality. NYC will never have stable or vibrant main street businesses again until either the BIDS are disbanded or the Council changes the law to make the retail merchants the majority of board members.
NYC hard working business owners deserve better than BIDS.
BIG LIE PART II | savenycjobs
Sham hearing to lay foundation for lobby’s CRS bill
Sept 17, 2021 transcript
Testimony 2021 sept 17