By Carlotta Mohamed
City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and the Queens Chamber of Commerce will be co-hosting a Building Bridges for Small Businesses symposium to help teach small businesses how to respond to summonses from city agencies.
The New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) will join Koo and the QCC Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Flushing Queens Library — located at 47-17 Main St. — to discuss different options available at OATH, which is the city’s independent administrative law court, and where nearly every city agency files summonses for hearings.
New York City agencies that will be in attendance to discuss their enforcement practices include the New York City Departments of Sanitation, Buildings, Health and Mental Hygiene, Environmental Protection, and the FDNY, among others.
Fidel Del Valle, OATH commissioner and chief administrative law judge, said New Yorkers and small businesses deserve a level playing field when contesting city-issued summonses.
“OATHS Building Bridges for Small Businesses initiative provides New York City’s small businesses with the information they need to not only participate fully in the OATH hearing process but also to avoid getting summonses in the first place,” said Del Valle.
For a small business, a summons from a city agency can turn into a nightmare if not handled correctly, according to Koo.
“This special event will help our small businesses understand how to pay off and correct violations received by the City of New York without succumbing to the common pitfalls that can turn small fines into long-term problems,” Koo said.“This is especially important for many of our immigrant businesses who often fall victim to their own success and end up with violations that could have been avoided with the right preparation,” he added.
Last year, OATH received nearly 850,000 summonses from New York City enforcement agencies and held more than 310,000 hearings. OATH offers recipients of summonses convenient hearing options such as hearings online, hearings by phone, hearings by webcam and hearings by mail, according to its website.
Additionally, OATH has Help Centers at all hearing locations where self-represented respondents can go to get help understanding what a summons is charging them with and the possible penalties associated with the summons; the OATH hearing process; or get help accessing information or records that they believe will help their case.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha