Uptown Council Member Rodriquez Testifies Pushing The Small Business Jobs Survival Act

“Good afternoon, I’m Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, prime sponsor of this legislation together with more than 20 co-sponsors. I’m also the Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, & Asian Caucus, along with Council Member Miller. This bill also received the full endorsement of the Caucus.

Small businesses create most of the jobs in New York City. Approximately 89% of the 220,000 businesses in NYC employ fewer than 20 people.

I would like to take a moment to thank Speaker Corey Johnson and Chair Mark Gjonaj for convening this hearing today. It is an important first step in improving the small business climate in NYC. Small businesses create most of the jobs in New York City. Approximately 89% of the 220,000 businesses in NYC employ fewer than 20 people. So there is no doubt that small businesses are major contributors to the economic well-being of neighborhoods across NYC.

However, we are now experiencing a crisis within the local business community.
And so our goal is to create a better process for balancing the need to protect and grow healthy small businesses with the ownership rights of property owners. We are here to discuss a legislative idea that was originally proposed as far back as 1988. The idea was to bring more clarity to the way that businesses and property owners negotiate lease terms.



I believe that the Council MUST look at this issue because we see blocks of vacant storefronts across our City. Why is it that we’ve overcome the great financial crisis of 2008, yet we still see so many small businesses closing their doors. The Small Business Jobs Survival Act will encourage both parties, property owners and small business owners, to act honestly and to engage fairly when negotiating a commercial lease.

The current environment allows many landlords, who have almost unlimited power in negotiating, to act in bad faith or to arbitrarily force tenants out, which can permanently injure a small business, its employees, their families, and the larger community.

The Small Business Jobs Survival Act is NOT commercial rent control. I REPEAT, it is NOT commercial rent control. Rather, it is a bill that gives both parties more clarity and rights in the lease-renewal process. This bill is the only one that can establish a better process for commercial lease renewal negotiations, including lease renewal terms, arbitration-triggering conditions, limits on security deposits, and prohibitions on landlord retaliation.

If anyone has a better plan, please bring it forward. All leases of commercial premises may be renewed at the option of a tenant who did not lose the right to renew a lease. Such lease renewals shall be for a minimum term of 10 years, with the written approval of the landlord, a lease of shorter or longer duration may be selected.

The landlord shall provide notice to the tenant 180 days before the termination of the lease and the basis on which the lease cannot be extended for a full 10-year term.

The landlord shall provide notice to the tenant 180 days before the termination of the lease and the basis on which the lease cannot be extended for a full 10-year term. Upon the termination of the current tenancy, the property owner shall notify the tenant of his/her decision to reoccupy the commercial premises at least one year prior to the termination of the lease.

People come to New York City to visit Katz’ Deli, McNally Jackson Bookstore, a neighborhood bar or restaurant, or a local bodega. They visit the Mom & Pop stores because they represent New York and the people that live here.

Property owners have the benefit of keeping our most popular institutions in business as well. It’s a win-win situation. As the income inequality gap widens, we must ensure our small and micro businesses continue to thrive and operate their bodegas, retail shops and bookstores in the city.

I want to be clear that although today’s hearing is the beginning of the legislative process for this bill, I am committed to developing a solution that will be fair and transparent to all involved.

I look forward to listening to ALL of the parties who want to work towards this goal – from the City’s major financial centers, to the unions and working people, and to the mom-and-pop businesses that you can find in every corner of NYC – as they share their concerns.

The goal of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act is simple: to protect small businesses, address the large numbers of storefront vacancies that hurt communities, give property owners clarity in fair lease negotiations and help create a healthy business environment in NYC.

The Jobs Survival Act is the only REAL solution to stop the closing of long-established local, small and micro businesses and save jobs.”

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