The Majority of New Council Members represent districts with large immigrant communities. Why then are they sponsoring the most anti-immigrant family bill, Commercial Rent Stabilization, CRS?
The CRS bill will destroy the American Dream for countless immigrant families in NYC.
The most recent crisis caused by buses of immigrants arriving in NYC has given many Council Members, CMs, the opportunity to publicly proclaim the urgency for immediate government action to assist the immigrants at all costs. Those recently elected Council Members who themselves are from immigrant backgrounds, or who also represent large immigrant communities are speaking out the loudest for making a priority of the need for government intervention to give relief to address this immigrant crisis.
While Council Member’s humanitarian gestures and compassionate commitments on behalf of the new immigrants are to be applauded, they represent the height of “hypocrisy.” Their silence and non action to the decade long ignored small business crisis, that is negatively impacting NYC’s immigrant families makes their statements for immediate help for the new immigrants: disingenuous, self serving and hypocritical.
In the last election most new Council Members had pledged to their immigrant families that if elected, they would promote their progressive values to be a strong voice and fight to protect the rights of immigrant families. Furthermore, to have the courage and will to stand up to special interests and to assure always that their immigrant community had the respect, justice and rights they deserve and needed in order to achieve their American Dream.
But once elected by a strong show of trust by their immigrant voters, their first act was to sponsor legislation, the Commercial Rent Stabilization bill, CRS,* which was a total betrayal of their campaign pledges and of the trust of their immigrant families. So much for pledging to stand up to special interests and being a strong voice for immigrant rights! The CRS bill, the majority of which the new CMs sponsored, was created by special interests with the goal to continue to deny economic justice and rights to small business owners. The majority of whom were multi generational immigrant family owned.
* A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the regulation of commercial rent March 24, 2022
Diana I. Ayala, Carlina Rivera , Crystal Hudson, Tiffany Cabán, Shahana K. Hanif, Pierina Ana Sanchez, Alexa Avilés, Sandy Nurse, Chi A. Ossé, Rita C. Joseph, Shekar Krishnan, Julie Won, Christopher Marte, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Kristin Richardson Jordan, Charles Barron, Shaun Abreu, Amanda Farías, Carmen N. De La Rosa, Kevin C. Riley, Althea V. Stevens, Lincoln Restler,
Farah N. Louis, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, (in conjunction with the Brooklyn Borough Presiden
Council Member Sponsors:
Every elected CM who represents a substantial immigrant community, had two things in common. First, the foundation of their local economy and major job creators were multi generational immigrant family owned businesses. Another thing in common was that the foundation of their local economy, immigrant family owned businesses, faced a crisis to survive every time their leases expired because they had no rights to negotiate fair lease terms that allowed for a reasonable profit.
This over a decade long unresolved crisis made most immigrant owners victims of the unregulated, grossly unfair, one sided and destructive commercial lease renewal process. This destructive pro landlord commercial lease renewal process placed every immigrant owned business in jeopardy of closing and jobs lost every time their lease expired and the business owner had no rights, thus no control, what so ever, over their futures. This grossly unfair and destructive pro landlord lease renewal process destroying immigrant families is what the new CMs want to keep in place to determine the fate and future of their immigrant merchants and workers.
A shameful decade plus of the City Council discriminating against immigrant owners and their workers by refusing to hold a single honest hearing to find a real solution to stop the closings of the businesses of hard working immigrant families. More than a decade of denial and covering -up of the crisis and landlord abuses growing in every immigrant community that was destroying the American Dream for countless immigrant families. For over a decade, the CMs did absolutely nothing to save even one business as they served only their campaign donors, party bosses, and own self interests. Would the newly elected CMs, many from immigrant backgrounds, be the last hope to restore democracy and save the immigrant businesses and jobs?
Once elected, would these new CMs who proclaimed to be "progressive" and be a strong voice for the immigrant families immediately call for legislation giving their immigrant owners the rights they needed to remain in business, make a reasonable profit, stop landlord abuses, end their crisis and save their American Dream? Appallingly No!
Instead, the majority immediately sided with the special interests and sponsored their destructive status quo legislation, CRS bill. A lobby created bill which would keep the status quo favoring only the landlords and giving no rights to the immigrant owners. Betrayal in the extreme, there would be no real lifeline thrown by the new CMs to save their own immigrant owners and their workers. There would be no honest hearings to find real solutions to stop the closings. Not even the call for sincere “conversations” to begin to find some legislation to, at the very least, give the immigrant owners a fighting chance to survive or make a simple fair profit when their leases expire.
These new CMs were using every public platform to call for immediate government action to address the new immigrants’ crisis while remaining silent to their own immigrant family’s crisis! In fact, by promoting the special interest’s CRS bill they would be sanctioning legislation that would cause even more of their own immigrant merchants to close and more jobs lost. The CRS bill giving absolutely no rights to the immigrant owners would in reality make their crisis much worse.
To make the assertion that many of the newly elected CMs betrayed their immigrant community by sponsoring the lobby’s anti-immigrant CRS bill, credible facts must be given proving beyond any doubt that the outcome of the CRS bill will destroy the American Dream for most immigrant business owners. As well as, showing that these new CM sponsors knew the hardship and suffering of immigrant families they were promoting and accepting.
Those new CMs who sponsored CRS and promoted it to their immigrant business owners as a real lifeline were being dishonest. Dishonest in not telling their merchants that the CRS bill did not give them the right to renew their leases. Without this vital right their landlords maintained all the power and rights to determine the terms of their leases. Dishonest in not telling them the truth, that without the right to renew their leases that not one business or job could be saved unless the landlord allowed it. Not one!
Dishonest in not telling the merchants that the illegal extortion of cash targeting immigrant owners, often demanded by unscrupulous landlords, under the threat of kicking out the tenant would continue unabated under the CRS bill. Dishonest in not telling the merchants that the cruel short term leases of sometimes month to month/one year targeting immigrant owners would continue under the CRS bill. These disgraceful length of leases place long term immigrant owners into being little more than involuntary indentured servitude to their landlords. Dishonest in not telling the owners that they will have to continue to pay their landlord’s growing property taxes if their landlord demands it. Dishonest in not telling the business owners that their rents will never go down under the CRS bill but only up. Increased each year starting as the basis from 25 years of sky high overly inflated rents that destroyed thousands of good businesses and created our city’s “empty store blight.”
The new CMs were promoting the Council’s BIG LIE- that the CRS bill will save our small businesses. Did these new CMs not know the CRS bill was only a cleverly disguised trick bill that would cause even more immigrant businesses to close and more jobs lost? Why did these new CMs remain silent and allow the SBS, BIDS, Chambers, Small Business Committee, and lobby loyal lawmakers to all marginalize and mis-characterize immigrant business owners.
To successfully cover up the blatant discrimination and denial of economic justice against the majority of immigrant business owners, the lobbies had all their loyal cronies refer to small business owners only as “minority,” always followed with “and by women owners.” A lobby contrived false narrative to give the impression that African Americans were the owners of the majority of our small businesses. As well as women representing a huge number of business owners. Open pandering to distract away from the growing crisis and injustice.
The vast majority of NYC’s small businesses are owned by multi generational immigrant families (64-68%), with Hispanic owners being the majority. African Americans own less than 3% of the businesses, which the vast majority are also immigrant family owned from the Caribbean. The majority of women owned small businesses are also owned by immigrant families. Why the deception? Because in 2009 the first large independent survey* was of only immigrant owners that showed a growing crisis caused by sky high rents and growing property taxes. This survey was done on only Hispanic owners who make up the majority of immigrant owned businesses in NYC.
This immigrant business survey exposed a growing crisis and showed clearly who the victims were as a result of the landlord’s greed produced by hyper real estate speculation on steroids. These victims were the “backbone of the local economy and job creators for resident New Yorkers.” The true backbone of our local economy are multi generational immigrant families and they were in a dire state, mostly as a result of their own government’s economic policy of aggressively promoting real estate investment in NYC. That economic policy favoritism of the wealthy over the little mom and pop on main street created the city’s small business crisis. The survey results forced a choice for lawmakers. Do lawmakers respect and appreciate immigrant owner’s contribution to our economy, local jobs creation, neighborhoods stabilization and its spirit and thus will “ do the right thing” and find a real solution to stop the closings and end the crisis? Or do they serve the special interests and party bosses who have gotten rich from this real estate frenzy?
Unconsciously, lawmakers choose to cover-up the crisis and “do nothing”, thus making the immigrant family owners just the “collateral damage” to keep the real estate speculation frenzy in place? Today’s lobby created CRS bill is the final outcome of that choice. The sinister conspiracy schemed by special interests in collusion with corrupt Democratic leadership has successfully blocked any real lifeline to save immigrant business owners while keeping the status quo protecting the landlord’s windfall profits. A successful but shameful scheme that has denied economic justice to immigrant owners for more than a decade.
Where is the pride in these new CMs who refuse to stand up and set the record straight for our immigrant community? In this time of crisis destroying countless immigrant businesses and jobs the CMs have remained silent when the special interests hand pick SBS Commissioners who never have owned a small business or cared about addressing their real problems. SBS is controlled by the real estate lobby and serve only their interests. Never once since the 2009 immigrant survey was released has SBS admitted a crisis exists for immigrant owners when their leases expire. Never once have they even admitted high rents and growing property taxes are the root cause of long established businesses closings in NYC.
Instead, the SBS has mimicked the lobby’s false narrative that the real problems facing small businesses are too many fines and too much government regulations. The SBS has eagerly joined in the conspiracy to deny immigrant owners economic justice. They have played a major role in the lobby orchestrated charade of pretending to help our small businesses with their many worthless programs that owners never asked for nor needed.
They played a major role in the sham hearings on the state of our small businesses by opposing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act. Always opposing any legislation that would regulate landlords or any bill giving rights to small business owners. Never once has the SBS created a job or small business retention program, even with record business closings, year after year. Their most damaging act against small business owners was the establishment and funding of new BIDS as the small business crisis grows out of control. BIDS are property owner controlled boards, by law. The very same property owners who eagerly kicked out long established mom and pop businesses on every main street to make room for deep pocket renters. The very same BIDS that went to the hearings to oppose their own merchants from having any rights when their leases expired. The very same BIDS who fully support the lobby created CRS bill that would keep all the BID landlords in full control of the lease renewal process of their BID merchants.
Why are the roles played by the SBS and BIDS in the rigging and collusion to stop any real lifeline to save immigrant businesses relevant to the new CMs? Because by law, every CM sits on the board of every BID, some on two BID boards. Furthermore, the local CM has the final say on votes to increase BID budgets. Not a single CM sitting on any BID board representing large immigrant communities demanded their BIDS support legislation stopping the closing of immigrant businesses and save immigrant jobs! Not a single CM protested to their BID board when the BIDS opposed the Jobs Survival Act while never offering any real solutions to stop the closings of immigrant businesses. BIDS will never give rights to immigrant owners!
Not a single CM challenged their BID boards when they openly supported the lobby created CRS bill as saving the small business owners. How could CRS save businesses when it gives no right to renew the commercial lease to the business owner? Or challenged them by questioning if the CRS bill was the best solution to save the businesses, better than the Jobs Survival Act? Challenging them to question if their support for the CRS bill was shared by their BID merchants? Were the BID merchants even made aware of the CRS bill? Was the CRS bill really what their merchants wanted and needed or was it what the BID property owners wanted and needed to keep gaining windfall profits? The BIDS, Chambers, SBS and fake coalitions all claim to speak for immigrant small business owners, while really speaking only for special interests and themselves.
The new CMs went along with the BID property owners by sponsoring the CRS bill even though knowing it was grossly inferior to the Jobs Survival Act in stopping the business closings and saving the immigrant jobs. Why would any CM with an immigrant background and representing large immigrant constituents settle for a weaker and totally ineffectual bill when the future of their immigrant businesses was at stake? Likely, because they made the same choice other lawmakers made over the past decade, to remain silent and do nothing and have the BIDS, SBS, Chambers, lobby created coalitions give them political cover for their unethical conduct and hide the role they played in denying economic justice to immigrant families.
This greatest betrayal by the new CMs of their immigrant constitutes in their challenge to survive was the final choice each CM made while claiming being made only on behalf of their merchants and workers. A choice that would determine the fate and future of every immigrant merchant and their workers. A choice that would also determine if the merchants would continue to be treated as “second class citizens a deprived social class” with no rights or protections for their life’s investment of hard work and sacrifices to build a successful business. A choice that would show the true level of respect and caring of immigrant owners and their workers.
Every CM knew that the Jobs Survival Act was the creation of the real small business advocates. It was the oldest legislation in the Council dating to June 1986 and was amended seven times to fully address the unfair commercial lease renewal process. It gave the right to renew long term 10 year leases to the business owners, along with rights to equally negotiate fair lease terms that allowed all parties to make a reasonable profit. Finally, the bill offered an arbitration process to protect owners from rent gouging and being forced to pay their landlord’s property taxes. The Jobs Survival Act was also selected at the last honest hearing of the bill in June 2009 by the entire Small Business Committee members as the best and only real solution to stop the closings and end their crisis.
There is no rational or moral reason for any CM claiming to speak on behalf of their desperate merchants to choose to switch from giving no support for the Jobs Survival Act to sponsoring and promoting the CRS bill. No two bills could be more opposite in addressing the unfair and destructive commercial lease renewal process. No two bills could be more dissimilar in the true intent of the bills. Why would any CM claiming to be progressive and being a strong voice for their immigrant merchants choose to not give them the right to renew long term 10 year leases? Choose not to have their hard working immigrant owners pay their wealthy landlord’s property taxes.
Instead, to choose to give them no right to renew their leases. Why would it be acceptable to them that the hard working merchants pay both a high rent and their landlord’s property taxes? Why would a CM not want their merchants to be able to bargain in good faith their new terms of the lease? Yet, they support the CRS bill keeping the status quo with only the landlords determining the lease terms. Under the CRS bill only the landlord’s profits matter in the negotiations. Why would keeping the immigrant merchants on only short term leases of sometimes month to month/one year be acceptable to the CM? Every CM would be outraged if tenants were given only month to month leases. Yet, it is ok to the CM that their merchants get only short term leases. Under the CRS bill only the landlord determines the length of the lease. After seeing first hand the destruction to their own local merchants from insane rent increases, why would the CM be OK with supporting the CRS bill where the rent increases always only go up and never down? Rents increased starting from the highest point of 20 years of manipulated out of control rents. Oppressive rents that resulted in record destruction of long established businesses that led to our city’s “empty store blight.”
The CMs sponsors of the CRS bill betrayed their merchants because they did not make their choice to benefit the welfare of their immigrant merchants. Instead, they made the choice to reject the Jobs Survival Act and sponsor the CRS bill to benefit special interests and their own political careers. Their immigrant merchants, workers, and immigrant families gave their votes and trust to these CM to be a strong voice for their rights, not to serve the special interests who were denying their community economic justice.
The truth comes from the merchants and not the property owners! A survey in 2021 was taken from immigrant owners that mimicked the 2009 survey.* The results produced the same dire state
of immigrant owners when facing a crisis and being abandoned by their own government.
18. Can you survive in business without government intervention to give you rights when your lease expires?
Yes _17%__ No__83%____
20. If our government passed the Jobs Survival Act would this motivate you to remain in business and look to a brighter future in business?
21. Can you remain in business by continuing to pay your rent and landlord’s property taxes?
Yes _18%____ No__82%_____
22. Did you feel you faced a crisis to survive prior to the Coronavirus crisis?
In the next election the immigrant families should use the betrayal and sponsorship of the CRS
bill as a perfect litmus test on which candidates they should trust with their future and which will fight to save and restore their American Dream. There is no other way to view this. It is clear as day, those Cm who support CRS are anti immigrant businesses, families and all main street businesses. What do CMs want their legacy to be? Merchants, workers and immigrant families will be watching CMs vote on the CRS bill for answers of what their CM really stands for.
www.saveNYCjobs.org because even in NYC facts matter.