Testimony of Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried
Public Hearing: City Council Committee on Small Business
October 22, 2018
I am New York State Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried and I represent the 75th Assembly District in Manhattan. Thank you to Council Speaker Corey Johnson and to Chairman Mark Gjonaj, my friend and former Assembly colleague, for providing me the opportunity to submit this testimony today in support of Intro. 737-A, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act sponsored by Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez.
Small businesses in New York City are the lifeblood of our communities, serving as engines of job creation and helping to stabilize and anchor the neighborhoods they serve. Confronted by rising rents and competition from chain stores, many are fighting to survive, and each week seems to bring news of yet another closure and yet another vacant storefront.
Intro 737-A offers a welcome and long overdue measure of stability to commercial tenants in New York City, which includes retail and service businesses, professional medical offices, and not-for-profit organizations, including performing arts and theater groups. It would require a property owner to notify a commercial tenant 180 before the tenants lease expires whether its lease will be renewed, and to specify to the tenant why a lease is not being renewed. The bill would also provide a commercial tenant the opportunity to secure a ten-year renewal lease, allowing for better long-term planning and encouraging small business growth and job creation. It will also enable a commercial tenant to negotiate terms of a renewal lease with the property owner. In case of an impasse in negotiations, the bill would give both sides the opportunity to present their arguments to a neutral, third-party arbiter, who would be obliged to consider the average rents in the surrounding area before rendering a binding judgment.
The Small Business Jobs Survival Act establishes guidelines and an arbitration process for the process of commercial lease renewals. New leases for unoccupied commercial space would not be affected.
Intro 737-A provides small businesses and other commercial tenants with some basic rights and protections that are desperately needed. It will help foster economic growth and job creation in the private sector, and thereby help stabilize our citys diverse communities.
I urge the Committee to approve, and City Council to enact, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.