Why did the new NYC Council Members eagerly rush to sponsor the most anti-jobs legislation in the Council’s history?
Are the new Council Members unaware of the destruction to their merchants and loss of jobs that they are promoting and will then be responsible for?
Would anyone have guessed that the first legislation sponsored by the majority of newly elected City Council Members* would be legislation written by the real estate lobby, the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS. Also, that this first legislation was a status quo bill with the intent to deny any rights to their own business owners and workers when their leases expired. Most surprising was that so many self proclaimed progressive Council Members, would promote legislation that will result in more of their own businesses closing and more jobs being lost. In fact, the CRS is so blatantly bias in favoring only the landlords in the commercial lease renewal process that the bill will turn out to be the most anti-jobs bill in the Council’s history.
* CRS March 24, 2022 A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the regulation of commercial rent
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, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, (in conjunction with the Brooklyn Borough Presiden
Council Member Sponsors: 23
On April 18, 2009 at a forum on “Crisis on Main Street,” the largest independent survey* of immigrant owned small businesses was released. Then Chairman of the Small Business Committee David Yassky responded to the shocking findings showing a growing small business crisis caused by sky high rents and growing property taxes. Yassky, “ that is what is at stake here, the small businesses that employ so many of our neighbors and friends, that is what is at stake here, those jobs will not be there. If we do not keep the small businesses we will not keep those jobs.” Yassky said, “Franklin Roosevelt when he was President said, try something if it doesn’t work try something else, but you have to try something. The one thing that we cannot do in the face of this crisis is nothing.”
What was so significant from his common sense statement was that David Yassky was the first elected official in NYC that told the truth about the true state of our small businesses and their employees. He was also the first lawmaker to call for real action and immediate government intervention to stop the closings and end the crisis. That truth clearly showed by the survey was that our business owners faced a crisis when their leases expired and they had no rights to negotiate fair lease terms in the most hyper real estate speculative city in America. Another truth exposed from this study which Yassky highlighted was that jobs and small businesses were in the same sinking boat.* A truth that still applies more so today.
A truth that the Council in collusion with the pro real estate SBS, BIDS, Chambers, Mayor and Speaker’s Offices, fake lobby loyal coalitions and shills has successfully covered up for over a decade, and still do today! A decade long conspiracy of collusion and rigging by a pro real estate lobby government with the goal to keep the status quo protecting the profits of the wealthy few. Reprehensible, that our government even in the face of a growing small business crisis maintained a policy to “do absolutely nothing” to save even one business or job.
A decade of a lobby orchestrated charade at City Hall to deny small business owners economic justice which resulted in our city’s “empty store blight.” The CRS bill that the new Council Members rushed to sponsor is the outcome of this conspiracy and injustice destroying the “backbone of our local economy and job creators.”
USA Latin Chamber Survey (largest ever survey of immigrant owned businesses in NYC) * https://www.savenycjobs.com/latin-chamber-study
6. Have you been forced to lay-off workers, or currently have plans to?
69% Yes 31% No
7. Have you been forced to cut back some workers to part-time, or currently have plans to?
72% Yes 28% No
If yes, to either 6 or 7, Please select the most likely reason or reasons (please number in order of priority with 1 being the highest) Number one reason D. 73% high rents
9. Do you currently have plans to expand your number of employees?
Yes 8% No 92%
If No, select the reason or reasons (please number in order of priority with 1 being the highest)
Number one answer 1. f. 68% no protection for future rents/lease terms
17. From your experience with lease renewals, do you feel you have no rights during the lease renewal process? Yes 87% No 13% If Yes, Does this influence your business decisions to expand (yes 91% or no 9%) lay off workers ( yes 77% no 23% ) or close your business ( yes 93% no 7%)? Circle answers
Only in NYC, where campaign donors are rewarded by given total control of our city’s economic policy, would a survey need to be made to show that established mom and pop businesses could never compete with paying the insane rents that big banks and national chains were bidding to pay.
Chairman Yassky fulfilled his Committee’s oversight responsibly and held an emergency honest hearing in June 2009. It was clear from his opening statement that his Committee would find a real solution to stop the closings and end the small business crisis. Yassky, ““I will say simply as an opening statement that I believe that we absolutely have to do something, period. It's not an option to do nothing. The mom and pop stores on the commercial strips in our neighborhoods are the heart of the neighborhood. We cannot allow them to be pushed to the point of disappearance, which is what is happening now. The one thing I just want to put right up front with the administration witnesses here is we have to have some solutions to offer.” This hearing would be the last honest hearing given to our small business owners in the Council. Even the new self proclaimed progressive Council Members refused to hold a single honest hearing to find a real solution to stop the closings and give the merchants a fighting chance to survive when their leases expired.
Even with the real estate controlled SBS opposing any legislation regulating landlords or giving rights to business owners when their leases expired, as well as, refusing to admit the city’s businesses faced a crisis caused by high rents, the entire Committee members selected the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act, as the only real lifeline to save the businesses and end their crisis. It was obvious from the survey results and the testimony from true small business advocates that the only way to stop the closings of businesses and save jobs was to give the business owners the right to renew long term leases, rights to equally negotiate fair lease terms that allowed a reasonable profit and an arbitration process to protect owners from rent gouging and being forced to pay their landlord’s growing property taxes. The Jobs Survival Act’s unanimous sponsorship of the Committee members made 32 sponsors and easy passage in the full Council when voted on.
The City Council was going to fulfill its mandated responsibility of oversight by passing a real solution to end our city’s small business real crisis. Legislation that would give business owners the rights needed when their leases expired to protect their investment and to restore and save their American Dream.
A vote was never taken on the Jobs Survival Act after the real estate lobby high-jacked democracy at City Hall, and it still controls it today. The real estate lobby was successful in colluding with the Speaker’s Office in a scheme to cook up a bogus legal roadblock claiming vague meritless legal court challenges, which stopped a vote. This shameful stopping good government and the Council’s own democratic role triggered an over a decade of the corruption of the Democratic leadership to serve and protect only the special interests and lobbies. A conspiracy of corruption, collusion and rigging the system for over a decade to deny small business owners economic justice and a fighting chance to survive when their leases expired. A successful conspiracy that exists today in the new Council. A new progressive Council in name only, where several members schemed with the lobby in promoting the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS. A lobby inspired bill substituting for the Jobs Survival Act and keeping the status quo of protecting only the landlord’s rights and wealth in the commercial lease renewal process.
Yassky and his Committee “did the right thing” by sponsoring the Jobs Survival Act and making saving jobs a priority by saving small business owners. Yassky, “If we do not keep the small businesses we will not keep those jobs.” Regrettably, Yassky’s prediction came true, “ It's not an option to do nothing. The mom and pop stores on the commercial strips ….We cannot allow them to be pushed to the point of disappearance.”
Why would the new self proclaimed progressive Council Members willingly sponsor a status quo bill, CRS, knowing that it would cause even more local businesses to close and more jobs lost?
The outcome of doing nothing to address the “forgotten crisis” and keeping the status quo for the wealthy landlords was in plain sight to every Council Member. The conspiracy to stop any legislation giving rights to business owners produced a record NYC Court eviction warrants for businesses averaging 492 eviction warrants per month for 10 years! That translates into an estimated 3,936 jobs lost every month from businesses being evicted. An estimated 1,200 to 1,400 businesses voluntarily closed each month for over 10 years! That translates into estimated 10,400 jobs lost each month in NYC. Insane rent increases forced record long established businesses to close in every neighborhood. The greed, unchecked and unregulated manipulated rental market resulted in our city’s “empty store blight.” When will the Council Members have the political will and courage to do something to save our businesses and jobs? NEVER! The SBS has never had one true business or job retention program, and never will because it would mean regulating commercial landlords during the highly profitable commercial lease renewal process.
Every Council Member has many times walked by empty storefronts where once thriving businesses were. Many empty stores on prime shopping strips were empty for sometimes years. What has been covered up by lobby loyal agencies and unethical lawmakers has been the loss of JOBS and the terrible impact upon worker’s families of our government allowing this unfair and destructive commercial lease renewal process favoring only the landlords and harming working families to remain unregulated. Every lawmaker is proud to proclaim they are fighting for affordable housing. What is affordable if you lose your job? Nothing contributes more to an unstable family environment than the loss of jobs. And that goes double for job losses on the "backbone of the community" main-street.
Over the years, hundreds of human interests’ media stories on the popular businesses that closed have appeared. All focused upon the business owners, but none on the suffering and plight of the workers who lost their jobs. If the small business owners face a crisis caused by high rents and having no rights to negotiate fair lease terms then their workers also face a crisis to survive every time a lease expires. When will the jobs of small businesses matter in the Council?
What is the outcome for the jobs of working families after a decade of a conspiracy with special interests to rig the system to favor only the landlords and never the business owners and their workers? In 2021 the same survey (few added questions) of immigrant owners was taken to repeat the survey taken in 2009. The results show conclusively the outcome of immigrant small business owners and their workers being marginalized, disrespected and treated as second class expendable citizens by their own government. When it came to forming economic policy in NYC, the “backbone of our economy and job creators for resident New Yorkers,” our small business owners never had a real voice representing their well-being or had any lawmakers fighting for their rights, justice and survival.
Compare the two immigrant owned business surveys!
2009 USA Latin Survey
2021 survey results on jobs:
5. Prior to Corona Virus had you been forced to lay-off workers? Yes 77% No 23%
6. Prior to Virus crisis had you been forced to cut hours of workers or cut back some workers to part-time?
Yes 84% No 16%_
If yes, to either 5 or 6, Please select the most likely reason or reasons (please number in order of priority with 1 being the highest 4 less) Read all before answering!!
78%__1_ Higher Rents & unreasonable lease terms.
71%__2_ Property Tax increases
12. From your experience with lease renewals, do you feel you have no rights during the lease renewal process? Yes 93%_ No _7%_
13. Do you feel without any rights for the tenants during the lease renewal process you cannot negotiate fair lease terms? Yes 91% No 9%____
14. Is the present length of your lease adequate for growth and job creation? Yes_14%__No 86%__ what is your present length of lease _2_years average.
15. What length of lease would give your business the best opportunity to grow and create jobs? _8_ YEARS.
18. Can you survive in business without government intervention to give you rights when your lease expires?
Yes _17%__ No__83%____
19. Have you heard of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act giving owners 10 year leases and no property taxes? Yes __6%____ No___94%___
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? Yes_87%__ No_13%____
21. Can you remain in business by continuing to pay your rent and landlord’s property taxes?
22. Did you feel you faced a crisis to survive prior to the Coronavirus crisis?
If the new Council Members do not believe their own eyes, who do the new Council Members believe? Their own merchants who: 69% faced a crisis prior to the virus crisis (just barely hanging on), 82% could not continue to pay high rent and their landlord’s growing property taxes and survive, or that 87% stating they would be motivated to remain in businesses if the Council passed the Jobs Survival Act giving them rights when their leases expired.
Or believe instead, the lobby shills like the property owner board BIDS, fat cat real estate board Chambers, lobby campaign funded lawmakers and pro real estate SBS. All who testified to keep the status quo and openly opposed the Jobs Survival Act or any legislation giving rights to business owners when their leases expired. All claiming to speak on behalf of the small business owners but all speak only for special interests and none really caring about the welfare of a single business owner or worker.
Why are the new Council Members sponsoring the lobby created Council’s BIG LIE, that the CRS bill will save our small businesses and jobs? Knowing the truth that the CRS will not save a single business or job unless the landlord wants to keep the business open. Knowing the truth that the CRS bill does not give the tenant the right to renew their lease and thus keeps all the power only in the hands of the landlord. Knowing the truth that without the right to renew their leases that illegal extortion of cash will continue against immigrant owners, as well as cruel month to month/one year leases. Knowing under CRS, that the insane destructive rents will only go up each year and never down.
What true progressive would purposely support legislation that would make a crisis worse for their merchants and workers?
If the new Council Members were sincere in wanting to stop the closings of their businesses and save jobs they would want to learn what their business owners need to save jobs and create more job. Learning this, they would realize the CRS bill will do the opposite by destroying jobs and job opportunity.
What do small business owners need to continue to be the city’s job creators for resident New Yorkers?
These are the essential realities needed for Job Creation for any business owner in NYC.
Profits- The first few years of any new business are challenges to survive in business and lay a foundation for the future. If they survive the learning curve of the first three-five years then they would have retained their jobs, gained loyal clients and build a reputation needed for future growth.
Predictability- To plan for expansion and job creation, the owner needs some predictability of future costs and potential profits in order to take the major risk of investing in growing the business.
Growth-To invest the profits or borrowings into plans to expand requires a high degree of confidence, sacrifices and optimism by the owners. Optimism in their skills as entrepreneurs to satisfy their clients and gain new clients. Sacrifices of harder working conditions like longer hours and more pressure resulting from the expansion.
Job Creation- The stability and success of the business owners and their confidence to expand and grow on their success will create the greatest potential for job creation. Every government’s sound economic policy should center on helping to produce an environment for business owners to better achieve profits, growth and job creation.
Why the CRS bill is a Jobs Killing Bill!
Profits- Even the most profitable long established business owner fears the commercial lease renewal process. They should fear it when they have no rights and only their landlord has all the rights and holds the future in their hands. For the past decade the root cause of long established businesses being forced to close is because the business owners cannot negotiate fair lease terms that allow them to make a reasonable profit. Those that remain open will only do so paying higher rents that result in less profit, laying off workers, raising prices or all three.
What is never discussed is the long term impact upon job retention and creation from sky high rents. With high rents suddenly inflating the cost of running a business the learning curve to survive in business has gotten very short. It is common to see new businesses that spent a fortune to open up but only lasting less than one year and closing. How many of the thousands of businesses who did not have enough time to build a business closed due to high rents and property taxes? If lower rents allowed owners more time to correct mistakes and do better marketing and they survived to grow and create jobs, there would not have been an “empty store blight” in NYC.
The present commercial lease renewal process is a job killer because only the landlord’s profits matter and the business owner cannot bargain in good faith to gain a reasonable profit. The problem in NYC is that for many years of hyper real estate speculation it wrecked havoc upon the commercial rental market with big banks and chains paying grossly over inflated rents. This insane bidding by banks and chains for prime locations resulted in landlords not wanting any longer to make reasonable profits, only demanding windfall profits. How many jobs does a wealthy landlord create compared to the jobs created by business owners? The commercial lease renewal process in NYC is ass backwards. The government should be promoting a commercial lease renewal process that maximizes the profits of the job creators and not the job destroyers.
Predictability- Every business owner who is planning to grow and expand must have some predictability of their future costs. Only from predicting their costs can they predict their profit potential, which will determine job creation potential. Two major costs of every business are rents and property taxes, which only the landlord decides. Therefore, not knowing fully the major costs makes growth a very risky proposal for NYC business owners. Adding to this risk is the length of lease which maybe an even greater deterrent to business growth and thus job creating potential. Under the CRS bill only the landlord determines the length of the lease renewal! Banks will not lend past the length of the commercial lease. The hyper real estate speculation has resulted in shorter length of leases citywide. The landlords have shortened leases in order to place themselves in the maximum position to gain the maximum profits. By doing so,it puts the tenant in the less likely position to grow and create jobs. For that matter even to survive. Short term leases are job killers.
Growth- Job creation only happens when successful establish profitable businesses have confidence they will be more profitable in the future by expanding. The grossly unfair one sided commercial lease renewal process puts the brakes on business growth. Every time a businesses’ lease expires the owners fear their survival and few are thinking confidently about growth. How can they plan when they DO NOT have the right to even renew their leases. Under the CRS bill, no business owner has the right to renew their leases and thus must wait until their landlord decides all the lease terms or even if they remain in business. Under the CRS bill any landlord can issue a 30 day vacate notice to the business owner when their leases expire! If an established business owner takes the risk and expands their business or makes major capital improvements to their business shortly prior to their leases expiring, this act alone can put in jeopardy their business when their lease expires and likely assures sky high rent increases. The CRS bill keeps the status quo for the landlords which has been the most anti- growth commercial lease renewal process possible. No growth potential then there will be no job creation potential.
Job Creation – NYC’s commercial lease renewal process, where the business owners have no rights, has been the most anti-jobs creation process in America. This destructive process has destroyed countless good paying jobs over the past decade. It has also killed most job growth and thus job creation for thousands of long established businesses. Business owners, willing and able to pay a reasonable rent, if having the rights to renew long term leases and equal rights to negotiate fair lease terms that allowed a reasonable profit would still be open and planning for growth. Instead, the new Council Members want to continue this terribly destruction process favoring only the landlord’s wealth while destroying good businesses and the potential for job creation in NYC for most business owners.
All of the tools needed by business owners for job retention and stimulating job creation are known but the new Council Members have chosen to reject giving them to the real job creators. Instead, they have kept these tools solely in the wrong hands of the landlords.
What more do Council Members need to know about the years of destruction caused by the unfair commercial lease renewal process that has wrecked havoc to their own businesses and jobs? What more destruction of main street merchants by landlords lacking any empathy, compassion, or decency must Council Members see before they stand up on the side of their merchants? How can any new Council Member even begin to justify the rational when vibrant businesses, willing and able to pay a reasonable rent, have been forced to close and jobs lost, only to remain empty for years? Total insane economics where everyone losses: business owners, their workers, customers and neighborhoods, just to make one landlord wealthier than they already are. This disgraceful continued destruction of jobs and job creation potential for our job creators is what the new Council Members are promoting in the CRS bill. Instead of giving the business owners the rights they need to survive and create more jobs. SHAME!