The City Council must vote on the S.B.J.S.A.

BY MARNI HALASA | It is no secret that one of the most important issues that needs to be addressed in our district is escalating rents on small businesses. Since Mayor de Blasio and our city councilmmember, Corey Johnson, have been in office, more than 1,000 small businesses have closed each month, and 8,000 jobs have been lost.

In our district, neighborhood landmarks like the Garden of Eden, House of Cards and Curiosities and Gray’s Papaya have all closed due to escalating rents. Escalating rents have led to small businesses wondering about their long-term viability and whether or not they should invest in their neighborhoods for the long haul. This has had devastating effects in our district.

Our community is suffering from empty storefronts, a lack of vital services and an economic malaise that is manufactured solely from greed. The few stores left have no choice but to charge a premium for their goods and services if they want to avoid the same fate. As a result, necessary items are outrageously expensive, making the neighborhood virtually unlivable for most elderly residents and impossible to enjoy for the rest of us.

The solution to this problem is to pass The Small Business Jobs Survival Act — a bill that has been in front of City Council for quite some time, but that no one, including Corey Johnson, has the guts to bring it to a vote. If passed into law, the S.B.J.S.A. would give any commercial tenant, whether they are a bodega, a medical office or nonprofit, the right to a 10-year lease, with the right to renew the lease; if the lease terms are not agreed upon, the dispute would be presented to an independent arbitrator who would then determine a fair rent.

The S.B.J.S.A. is designed to help both small businesses and landlords. With this law, small businesses can have an easier time controlling their overhead costs. Meanwhile, the law will provide landlords with a boost to their occupancy rates and ensure that they are getting top dollar for their spaces.

To ensure the passage of this act, one of the very first things I plan on doing when elected is to bring the Small Business Jobs Survival Act to a vote.  Specifically, I will bring a motion to discharge the act.  Doing so will fast-track it to the floor and force the City Council to vote on a law that is supported by a vast majority of its current members. Its likely passage will give small business owners a new lease on life, and it will make the American Dream more accessible to all individuals who desire a level playing field. The rest of us can enjoy reduced prices on goods and services that are both necessary and allow us, once again, to experience the joys of living in New York City.

Halasa is the Eco Justice Party candidate for City Council in District 3