Queens lawmakers are applauding a new initiative announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio to expand relief for small businesses, including eliminating fines for first time violations as well as expand the universe of violations that will have cure periods.
The de Blasio administration claims to have cut small business fines by more than 40 percent since 2014 and will cut an additional 10 percent by the time the Hizzoner leaves office.
“New York City is not New York City without our small businesses,” de Blasio said. “We will not be a city that gives in to corporate takeover. Instead, we’ll fight for our mom-and-pops and do all we can to help them thrive.”
Fines subject to relief include select Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, Department of Sanitation, and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection violations. The administration will work with the City Council to review more than 75 violations.
“Our small businesses are the core of New York City’s economic engine, and it is no secret that being a small business owner is often an arduous task,” said Councilman Paul Vallone, chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “In these difficult economic times, this much-needed relief for our mom-and-pop institutions will go a long way in helping our city’s business owners and their employees thrive and continue to serve their communities.”
DOB and DOT can implement their own rule changes, and will begin providing additional relief in the fall. To ensure businesses are aware of these changes, these agencies will update their summonses to include clear and easy explanations for how to fix the violations and the Department of Small Business Services will organize a canvassing effort across the city to spread the word.
“Too often, we see businesses suffer because of punitive fines and owners not fully understanding the rules of engagement,” Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “Our office regularly holds OATH Pop-Up Court sessions and informational workshops to help educate small business owners. Education and transparency are key to ensuring that our businesses have the tools they need to flourish. The city should aim to strike a new balance between enforcement and effective regulation to work with business owners, and we support the administration in this effort.”
Under the “fix it, don’t fine it” initiative examples of first time fine forgiveness includes failure to clean 18 inches from curb into the street, which carries a $100 violation, and excessive noise created by an air compressor, which is a $560 penalty.
“I support the city’s efforts to make it easier for small businesses to operate in the city and hopefully encourage more entrepreneurship,” state Senator James Sanders Jr. said. “Reducing fines and helping educate small business owners on how to resolve or pay off penalties is a positive step forward but there is more to be done.”