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Mayor Adams issues directive to reform small business violations

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Mayor Eric Adams signs an executive order which will provide relief to Queens small businesses trying to recover from the pandemic. (Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Lawmakers across Queens are hailing Mayor Eric Adams for signing his “Small Business Forward” executive order Tuesday, Jan. 4, to reform existing business regulations, ensuring local businesses face fewer needless fines and penalties.

The new directive builds on Local Law 80 and calls on multiple city agencies to review business regulations with the goal of reducing fine schedules and allowing for cure periods or warnings for first-time violations.

“Our small businesses have been through so much during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Adams said. “The last thing they need to deal with are unnecessary fines. We’re cutting the red tape and bringing real relief to the entrepreneurs who have made their dreams a reality and keep our local economy strong.”

The agencies include the Department of Buildings, Department of Sanitation and the Department of Health to recommend which violations should be reformed or eliminated altogether.

“Small businesses throughout southeast Queens and across our city are still struggling to recover from the pandemic,” state Senator Leroy Comrie said. “When small businesses suffer, so does 50% of the workforce which they employ. Entrepreneurs are in desperate need of relief. I commend Mayor Adams for his executive order to curtail the fine schedule and allow for warnings for first-time violations, allowing businesses an opportunity to course-correct before facing punitive and costly sanctions.”

The agencies will have three months to present their recommendations for which violations they would reform or eliminate altogether.

“Our Queens community, especially in Flushing, was built on the backs of its many small businesses, all of which were impacted by the pandemic,” state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said. “The executive order will provide needed relief to help these business owners return to prosperity. These reforms ought to be explained clearly and made accessible in a number of languages to assist immigrant-owned businesses.”

All enforcement agencies will review and update their violation tracking systems, inspection procedures and training, and the language on their summons tickets in order to ensure that they are prepared to introduce cure periods and first-time warnings for violations in compliance with the directive.

“A fine without a cure period could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many beloved neighborhood institutions, particularly those in Queens who were not able to adjust to e-commerce to generate extra revenue streams,” state Senator Jessica Ramos said. “These reforms recognize that the ultimate goal of small business regulations should not be to generate revenue for the city, but rather ensure that all businesses in our cities are operating to our city’s standards.”

Kevin D. Kim, the incoming Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, explained the reforms could ultimately save small businesses millions of dollars and countless hours of dealing with red tape and bureaucracy.

“By setting a goal of reforming fine schedules and working with businesses who are issued first-time violations, we are implementing smart policy that will help small businesses get back on their feet,” Kim said.

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