Small businesses are not the enemy; they are the economy, the community and your neighbor. Yet, the small business community has been consistently hit with unfunded mandates from city legislation. The city is proposing additional policies that are extremely harmful to small businesses including supermarkets, bodegas, and restaurants, small business that are largely dependent on deliveries provided by trucks. The National Supermarket Association is holding a rally on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 3pm on the steps of City Hall to urge the Mayor and City Council to include small business in the legislative process and refrain from adopting harmful legislation.
Three major upcoming pieces of legislation that may have serious unintended consequences to small businesses in the city are:
- Expanding the availability of food vendor permits, creating an office of street vendor enforcement, and establishing a street vendor advisory board. This bill would gradually expand the number of permits to vend food on the streets and sidewalks of New York City. Several new permits, now referred to as supervisory licenses, would be issued in batches each year beginning in 2019 until 2028. The new supervisory licenses always require at least one supervisory licensee to be present at a pushcart. This new requirement will not be applied to existing permits. The bill will also increase the fees for all permits and supervisory licenses. Importantly, the bill creates a new dedicated vending law enforcement unit, which would exclusively enforce vending laws. It would focus first on those areas of the City with known vending enforcement challenges and move to all areas as compliance improves. It would also create a street vendor advisory board, which will include vendors, brick and mortar small businesses, representatives from community groups, labor unions, property owners, and city agencies, to examine the rules for duplicative, unclear, or unnecessary provisions. There are concerns though that this legislation will add to already congested sidewalks, increase pollution and noise, and create more competition for brick-and-mortar food establishments, which already face stiff regulation and ever-increasing expenses.
- To that end, another bill of concern is one requiring city employers to provide earned safe, sick, and personal time to employees.This bill would require employers with at least ten employees to provide their employees with vacation days, the number being determined by their tenure with the employer. It would also set up an enforcement mechanism within the Department of Consumer Affairs. The law does not apply to freelancers or contractors. The issue is that most New York City small businesses are doing whatever they can to attract and keep good workers. Government overreach into forced benefits packages threatens the jobs that the City is trying to protect.
- Establishment of commercial waste zones. This amendment to the City’s administrative code would mandate the establishment of commercial waste zones. The Department of Sanitation would designate commercial waste zones and enter into agreements with private carters to operate in the zones. We’ve discussed this bill before, by allowing for 3-5 carters per zone, the City of New York maintains that they are allowing some semblance of choice, but this competition is so drastically reduced, and the requirements are so onerous that there are only going to be a few companies able to compete at this level. Many of the mom and pop operations that remain will either be driven out or forced to work as subcontractors for the larger firms. So yes, “choice” exists by the textbook definition, but not in a real-world setting.