STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Coming on the heels of massive losses suffered by small businesses across the city during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mayor Eric Adams says he’s taking a “major step” toward reducing burdens on and cutting red tape for the city’s mom and pop shops by reforming 118 business violations.
The plan — “Small Business Forward,” which was signed in January 2022 — requires city agencies to review existing business regulations and ensure local businesses face fewer fines and penalties without jeopardizing public health or safety.
According to the mayor’s office, 30 violations will be eliminated altogether; fines will be reduced for 49 violations; and ‘cure periods’ and first-time warnings will be introduced for 39 violations.
The reforms are expected to be implemented by Dec. 31, 2022, and they are projected to save New York City small businesses approximately $8.9 million annually. Once implemented, these efforts will represent the most comprehensive citywide overhaul of small business regulations in New York City’s history, according to the mayor’s office.
“From the earliest days of my administration, I made clear that the city would be a partner to the small business community, which is the backbone of our economy,” said Adams. “The reforms we are outlining are a direct result of us listening to nearly 1,000 small business owners and putting in place a plan of action to help fill their needs. Today, we are cutting red tape, reducing burdensome regulations, and saving our small businesses approximately $8.9 million — supercharging our recovery and paving the way for an equitable, five-borough economy.”
The recently formed Small Business Advisory Commission will partner with the city to continue the work of cutting red tape, reducing fines, and introducing more cure periods and first-time warnings, Adams said.
The interagency working group will also begin streamlining and accelerating business processes and openings in order to launch the city’s one-stop-shop online business portal.
“Small businesses are our lifeblood and the driving force behind our city’s economic recovery,” said City Councilmember Kamillah Hanks (D-North Shore). “For too long, they have been burdened with needless penalties that have stifled their prosperity. These reforms come at a time when we must be doing all that we can to support our small businesses, instead of penalizing them, and I am confident that this will help achieve that while keeping consumers safe.”
Examples of the reforms being announced and their corresponding agencies include:
- Introducing a cure period when a business fails to prominently and conspicuously display its price list – New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP);
- Introducing a universal 60-day cure period across all Class 2 “Major Violations” and Class 3 “Lesser Violations” related to small businesses – New York City Department of Buildings (DOB);
- Removing the penalty for failure to maintain required bins for disposal of compostable straws in restaurants – New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY);
- Increasing time for restaurants to address maintenance and replacement issues with grease interceptors – New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP);
- Reducing maximum fines for violations of time/temperature control for preparing foods safely – New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH);
- Eliminating violations for picture tubes (older TVs with cathode ray tubes) sold or offered for sale without proper label – DCWP; and
- Eliminating the violation for a failure to conspicuously post electrical work permit while work is in progress – DOB; among others.
“Mayor Adams understands that the city needs to help small businesses, not burden them with fines and penalties,” said Linda Baran, president and CEO, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. “City agencies and small businesses need to work together to protect public health and public safety, while investing in our economic recovery. Today’s announcement is a big step in the right direction to shift that paradigm.”
SMALL BUSINESS FORWARD
Small Business Forward requires six NYC regulatory agencies to evaluate the 25 provisions of law or rules that are most frequently enforced through the issuance of notices of violations. In total, 227 violations were evaluated by the six participating agencies. Additionally, Small Business Forward required agencies to do a review of the systems used to enforce the provisions, including inspector training, administration, and the process for tracking warnings and cure periods.
Feedback on violations and the city’s enforcement practices was solicited from over 980 small business owners through an online survey. Other stakeholders provided feedback through virtual listening sessions. The full report is available online.
“Today’s announcement is another shining example of a top priority for this administration – close interagency collaboration,” said Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. “These recommendations make the message from City Hall crystal clear: we are here to uplift small businesses, not punish them. Thank you to our sister agencies for their partnership in this important effort, and to Mayor Adams for his unwavering support of small businesses at every turn.”