S.B.J.S.A. ALL THE WAY!
Interesting article is kind of skewed toward Village types who don't want to see NYC turned into a shopping mall of fast food chains. Yet it also offers the side of landlords, who some aren't predisposed to see as reasonable. A new Small Business Jobs Survival Act threatens to limit astronomical rents for the bodegas, bagelries, pizza joints an Irish pubs which define NYC's character. But that would also limit rents and landlords have hung onto these properties precisely so that one day they could charge higher rents. Who is to say whether they have the right to? The people who reside here, who want to preserve the feel of the country's greatest city? Or the property owners. At least it may now come up for a vote in City Council, after being blocked by former Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Do we value NYC as it is enough to cut into landlord's profits? If so, support the SBJSA at savenycjobs.org.
THE VILLAGER: Following The Villager’s announcement last month that the newspaper would be co-sponsoring a groundbreaking forum on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, there has been a surge of public support to pass the long-stalled bill.
The overall effort is being spearheaded by the Small Business Congress NYC (savenycjobs.org).
Basically, the act offers a way to staunch the city’s hemorrhaging of mom-and-pop shops in the face of skyrocketing rents and amid the influx of chain stores, which are among the few businesses that can afford the astronomical rents.
However, last week, a leading voice for the city’s real estate industry lashed back, saying that the measure, if passed, would amount to an “unconstitutional taking,” by limiting landlords from maximizing profits on their property.
The bill, in one form or another, has been blocked for coming up for a vote in the City Council since the 1980s. It calls for allowing commercial tenants in good standing to be able to renegotiate “fair” 10-year leases: If a tenant and landlord cannot come to terms, there would be nonbinding mediation, followed, if necessary, by binding arbitration.
As recently as five years ago, the S.B.J.S.A. had 32 sponsors in the 51-member City Council, but was — once again — blocked by coming up for a vote, this time by then-Council Speaker Christine Quinn. A bill can pass with a 26-vote simple majority, while 34 votes is veto-proof against mayoral opposition.
Advocates charge that big real estate has always worked quietly behind the scenes to ensure that the game-changing proposal never sees the light of day.
Following The Villager’s publicizing its March 5 forum at Judson Church and the subsequent increased media coverage of the S.B.J.S.A., the number of the legislation’s current sponsors has crept up a bit, from 14 to 16.
But Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, blasted the bill, saying that it’s not even clear if it can be legally implemented.
“Yes, I’m very familiar with it,” Spinola, head of REBNY since 1986, said of the S.B.J.S.A. “We’ve gone through different administrations with it. We are absolutely convinced that the City Council, the mayor do not have the power to impose control on the leasing of properties. We have had discussions with the Corporation Counsel [the city’s Law Department]. At the very least, it would have to go to the state — and we’re not sure that the state would have the power to impose this.”
Even if the bill were somehow to pass, he assured that big real estate would not take it sitting down.
“This is a constitutional taking, and it will be legally challenged,” he stated.