Uptown Council Member Rodriguez Unveils New SBJSA Bill To Save Immigrant Owned Small Businesses

Today, Friday, May 22nd, 2020, uptown Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, was joined by the President of the Bodega and Small Business Association of New York, Francisco Marte, the President of United Bodegas of America, Radhames Rodriguez, community leaders, small business owners, and community residents to demand that SBS provide additional financial support to small businesses and to call on the City to immediately pass the Small Business Job Survival Act. The City is seeing hundreds of businesses closing as a result of the added financial pressures of the impact of COVID-19. Countless mom and pop shops have been long struggling under increasingly financial hardships that primarily result from their inability to negotiate fair leases. It is more important than ever to pass common-sense legislation that will save thousands of small businesses in NYC.

The Government has failed to even acknowledge that almost 70% of small businesses in NYC are owned by immigrants or that the largest employers of immigrants in NYC are immigrant-owned businesses.

In an effort to compromise, uptown Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez made changes to the bill which would ensure that the City is protecting the immigrant-owned mom and pop shops who have had to face the worst of the Novel coronavirus. Throughout this Pandemic, the majority of the small businesses which are within some of the poorest, Latino, Black, and Asian communities have not received a single dollar from the State or the Federal Government. The Government has failed to even acknowledge that almost 70% of small businesses in NYC are owned by immigrants or that the largest employers of immigrants in NYC are immigrant-owned businesses.

Currently, the Bill has 29 co-sponsors, it is time to act and give justice to those small businesses which are in danger of never opening again. Work alongside storefront tenants and landlord these changes have been to the bill to ensure it moves forward as soon as possible:

The SBJSA bill will predominately impact those businesses that are located above 96st on both sides of Manhattan and those businesses located in the outer boroughs, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

The SBJSA bill will predominately impact those businesses that are located above 96st on both sides of Manhattan and those businesses located in the outer boroughs, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. This is to ensure that we are helping the small businesses that are within the communities most impacted by the virus as well as those that have not received any financial assistance from the federal or state government. Businesses below 96th, only street-level business fronts’ commercial leases will apply to this law.

In the Rental Guidelines section we have added a new provision that would only apply to Supermarkets, Beauty Salons, Barbershops, independent neighborhood pharmacies, and general and pediatric medical doctors. This provision would allow give them the option to join a ‘pilot jobs creation and seniors support program’. This would qualify them if approved to gain added years above the 10 years minimum term to their leases and for supermarkets they would receive up to a 15 years leases.

This pilot program, in short, would require:

  • Supermarkets will have to offer a one day a week senior (62 and over) customer 20% discount on only food items, the tenant would receive a 15-year lease.
  • For beauty salons and barbershops: those who employ two additional part-time workers, either a single parent, hard to employ New Yorker, or public assistance recipient, for part-time work (20 hours a week at minimum wage) the tenant will receive a 12-year commercial lease.
  • Independent pharmacies who agree to give seniors (over 62 years of age) one day a week a discount of 15% would receive a 12-year lease term.
  • Neighborhood General or Pediatric Doctors who agree to give free or greatly reduced services to low-income families and seniors would receive 12-year lease terms.

In the section for “Dispute brought before an arbitrator” language was added that the costs of arbitration shall be borne fully by the landlord. Both parties must follow the standard rules for selecting an arbitrator.

Within the “Evaluation section at the end of seven years, “the administering agency shall report to the mayor and the council on the effectiveness of this chapter in carrying out the purposes set forth in the legislative findings. The recommendations should take into account the existing commercial rental market which includes among other factors the inflation and interest rates.

A priority should be given to the influence of this law on stopping the closings of long-established businesses, saving and creating jobs, the stability of our business strips, lowering the turnover rate for new businesses, and the long-established businesses’ ability to grow”. The language was included which would give priority to these laws influence on stopping the closings of long-established businesses, saving and creating jobs, the stability of our business strips, lowering the turnover rate for new businesses, and long-established businesses’ ability to grow.

The local law would take effect 30 days after passage

Additionally, Council Member Rodriguez called on the City to provide small businesses who have been impacted by the virus with at least 3 months’ rent cancellation or to waive property taxes for the equivalent of 3 months’ rent for property owners. These small businesses are the life and blood of our neighborhoods.

New York City is one of the most diverse City’s in the world. Let’s make sure we continue supporting all local small businesses that have been devastated by the coronavirus. We need to make sure that we work alongside the property owners in this matter. We have all been impacted the virus and all New Yorkers must do their part.

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