Nov. 30, 2022
Will the Council vote to pull the plug on mom and pop on “life support” for more than the past decade?
Will they pass the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act and make the over decade long unresolved “Forgotten Crisis” even worse for our business owners?
In the near future the City Council will vote on the Commercial Rent Stabilization Act, CRS. Good or bad, this bill will have the greatest impact upon the future of every business owner and their workers. The bill’s sponsors will tout the CRS bill as the government finally taking real action to put a cap on rent increases when a businesses’ commercial lease expires. Even though the Council is 25 years too late, and an unresolved growing crisis for over a decade has caused record business closing resulting in our city’s “empty store blight”, nevertheless, Council Members will proudly, but more importantly, falsely claim the CRS will save our businesses. There will be no opposition to CRS from the pro real estate BIDS, SBS, Chambers, Community Boards or any lobby influenced shill groups. All deceivingly claiming to speak on behalf of small business owners. But all benefiting in some way to keeping the status quo of small business owners having no real rights and being in jeopardy of closing every time their leases expire. The CRS bill will easily pass in the Council except likely for the Republican Council Members and True Progressives.
The Republican Council Members and true progressives will likely not vote for CRS for two very good reasons. The first is the truth that the CRS bill is the Council’s BIG LIE: that the CRS bill controlling the rent rate increases will save our small businesses. The CRS bill will not save one business or job unless the landlord wishes to. The CRS bill is a lobby created Trojan Horse because it gives no real rights to the business owners which they need in order to negotiate fair lease terms that allow them a reasonable profit. The Council Members sponsoring the CRS are hiding the truth from their merchants, their workers, and the public. That truth is that the bill was written to keep the status quo with sky high rents only increasing in the future, never going down! In reality, the CRS bill will speed up and increase the closing of businesses and the loss of more jobs in most neighborhoods.
Council Members are also hiding the truth that under the CRS bill the landlords will still control the length of the leases and control who will pay the landlord’s growing property taxes. Also, the entire landlord controlled negotiation process remains a “take it or leave” choice for the business owners. Illegal extortion of “cash under the table” from mostly immigrant owners under the threat of being thrown out can and will continue unabated. And if the landlord finds a deep pocket renter they can issue a 30 day notice to the business owner to vacate the premise when a tenant’s lease expires. The CRS bill was cleverly disguised to look and sound like a real solution to save our small businesses. In reality, it is just the opposite by keeping the status quo that has been destroying mom and pop businesses for more than the past decade!
City Council’s Three Card Monte, which legislation has the high “rents” and which has the “rights?”
The lobby coached CRS’s false narrative has been cleverly contrived to cover up the destructive reality of CRS. The disinformation narrative campaign promoting CRS by Council Members and lobby shills puts all the focus only upon the “rents.” All the lobby loyal lawmakers and lobby shills were coached to NEVER mention the cunning trick and true major flaw of CRS. That conceived flaw is that the CRS bill does not give the business owners the right to renew their commercial leases. Therefore, without this vital right the rents do not matter. The rents matter even less when the bill was written to start annual rent increase rates at the highest insane rent levels in the nation. The same destructive rent levels, “landlords’ market rate” that forced long established businesses to close and created our city’s “empty store blight.”
The CRS bill was introduced Nov. 14, 2019 in the Council, and reintroduced March 24, 2022. A period of time that will go down in history as the greatest challenge of our city’s small business owners to survive in business. Yet, likely not one business owner has ever heard of the CRS bill, nor of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act which it replaced. Why? If the CRS bill’s original sponsors CM’s Levin and Lander were sincere when they claimed the CRS was the lifeline to save our businesses, then why didn’t they call for an honest hearing or at the very least compare their bill with the Jobs Survival Act already sitting in committee with 28 sponsors ready to be voted on? Why didn’t they ever make any effort to move their CRS bill to a vote, sitting since 2019?
Both CMs Lander and Levin remained silent for over two years on their touted “lifeline” bill. They remained silent because they, along with every Council Member, knew the CRS bill was vastly inferior to and not a better bill/solution than the Jobs Survival Act to stop the business closings and end their crisis because it did not give the tenants the right to renew their leases. CM Lander and Levin, as well as every Council Member, also knew that the years of real estate speculation and ridiculous bidding for prime locations by big banks and big chains wrecked havoc upon the commercial rental market. The real estate lobby wanted to keep this grossly manipulated “unfair landlord’s market rate” as the foundation for any legislation. Every Council Member knew from their own main street businesses closing across the city that even long established successful businesses could not pay the landlord’s manipulated “unfair market rate.” The cry by the real estate lobby for government to stay out of the “free market” was disingenuous because it was only free for the landlords and profiteers and not for the tenants.
In fact, all knew CRS gave the business owners no real rights needed to survive, negotiate in good faith or gave fair lease terms that allowed tenants to make a reasonable profit. The CRS bill was written by special interests only to benefit special interests. Special interests profiting by keeping the status quo protecting the windfall profits being made by this destructive and artificially manipulated “unfair landlord’s market rate” creating the nation’s biggest commercial rental bubble.
When the time comes in the Council to move CRS, even with the lobby’s shills hyping the CRS bill along with the lobby loyal lawmakers doing “political theater” proclaiming how great this bill will be, the fact is, rents do not matter when the landlords still have total control of the commercial lease renewal process. The entire commercial lease renewal process remains solely in the hands of the landlords under the CRS bill. A walk down any main street of any neighborhood in NYC, past empty stores where once thriving businesses were, many empty for sometime, years prior to the virus crisis, will immediately show the outcome of having only the landlords in full control of the commercial lease renewal process. An over decade long status quo outcome resulted in a record successful long established businesses closing and leading to our city’s “empty store bright,” is what the Council wants to continue. Yes, economic insanity!
All the lobby’s shills hitting all the lobby’s talking points, misinformation and false narratives, while not being challenged in the media or Council Committee, will not make the CRS bill ever be acceptable to small business owners. Why? All NYC business owners, besides wanting to make a profit on their investment, hard work and sacrifices, have one thing in common, they all know when they have good lease terms. All that business owners need to learn about the CRS bill is that it does not give them the right to renew their leases and the rest of the bill’s guidelines are ridiculous and indefensible. All of the lobby shills and grossly overpaid bureaucrats pitching the CRS also have one thing in common, none have taken the risk and put their own money up and worked hard to build a successful business. NONE speak on behalf of our small business owners. If they did the Jobs Survival Act would have easily passed in Nov 2018 and the CRS bill would not have existed to insult every business owner in the city.
A lobby orchastated charade from City Hall hyping the CRS bill, with the usual lazy media complicity, will fool the public but never the business owners. Business owners will know they were sold out and betrayed by their Council Members when the CRS bill is passed and challenged by the merchants themselves. Challenged by the victims of CRS, not by lobby shills like the BIDS, Chambers or NYC Hospitality Alliance masquerading as a voice for mom and pop and pretending to want to help small business owners while only serving special interests and their own self interests.
It is easy to predict that the Republican Council Members and true progressives would reject any legislation that would put in grave jeopardy their local merchant’s and worker’s future every time their leases expired. Most lawmakers had experienced first hand enough store closings in their districts to never want to support legislation that would result in increasing the closings of their popular mom and pop merchants. Why would Republican Council Members and true progressives support Democratic leadership’s lobby collusion legislation that was clearly not the best legislation to stop the closings of their businesses and would not give business owners a real fighting chance to survive and protect their investment and the jobs of their workers? Why would any principled lawmaker support legislation that would make a crisis much worse in the future for their merchants? Why would anyone support a true fake solution that will not solve anything?
The second good reason that Republicans and True Progressive Council Members would likely reject the CRS bill is knowing who was really behind its creation, the bill’s real intent and how anti-democracy it really is. The CRS bill’s creation is the most unprecedented and most blatant corruption of the Council’s legislative role by special interests in recent history. The CRS bill is the outcome of a failed plot by special interests to water down the Jobs Survival Act and pass it. Water it down, so that the bill would keep the status quo with landlords in full control of the very profitable commercial lease renewal process.
When this plot failed, the real estate lobby out of anger, greed and arrogance, decided to take total charge of the Council’s responsibility to create legislation. With the support of the lobby loyal Democratic leadership, special interests would conspire with unethical lawmakers to rig the system to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act and replace it in the new Council with a bill only they would influence, the CRS bill. This scheme of collusion and rigging by the Democratic leadership would result in no vote ever called on the Jobs Survival Act for three years, even with its 28 sponsors and the city’s business owners facing two crises at the same time to survive and the City Council leadership’s promise to bring it to a vote.
The unethical and unprincipled lawmakers rigging for the lobby were successful in their scheme to stall any vote for three years and to run out the clock on the Jobs Survival Act when all pending legislation expired on Dec. 31, 2021. In no government in America who practiced democracy, good government and abide by the rule of law and decency would the CRS bill ever exist.
The shameful truth is, the CRS bill was born from a failed plot to thwart democracy to benefit only special interests. A disgraceful act of having Democratic leadership abdicate their role in creating legislation to special interests. A Machiavellian conspiracy orchestrated by special interests of the collusion and rigging the government to stop a vote on legislation that was the only real lifeline to save our business owners. A successful conspiracy stopping good government from working after lawmakers did their jobs by sponsoring only a real solution and the best lifeline to save our businesses, the Jobs Survival Act. Power-brokers breaking all the Council rules and destroying the integrity of the Council to prevent democracy for our city’s small business owners. To prevent a real solution and lifeline for our business owners so that special interests could create their own legislation that would keep the status quo making only their landlord members even wealthier. CRS was born from the corruption of the Democratic leadership by special interests!
What true progressive could ever sanction this reprehensible denial of economic justice to our city’s desperate small business owners and their employees? Why would the Republican Council Members sanction such an anti-democracy, anti-small business, and anti-immigrant family legislation created by the corruption of the Democratic leadership?
The only plausible justification for Republicans or self proclaimed progressives for supporting the CRS bill would be either: some may have also received the same campaign funding from special interests that the unethical Democrats received. Also, that the higher up Republican policy makers are also benefiting in some manner from the same self interests real estate speculation and development, Wall Street influence, property owner controlled BIDS and Chambers and from financial government friendly deals. These Republicans, like their Democrat counterparts, would also want to keep the status quo protecting and promoting only their own wealth.
Disgraceful City Council pulls the plug on our Mom and Pops if CRS goes forward. Shame.