“After this week’s hearing before the city council and an ensuing tsunami of commentary, one thing is clear about the third attempt to revive the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA), sometimes called commercial rent control: the bill as written is in need of work if it is going to achieve its intended goal of protecting the city’s dwindling supply of mom-and-pop shops.
Over the course of eight hours of sometimes heated testimony, many New Yorkers spoke passionately for and against the bill’s passage, Curbed reports. A core element of the bill – and one with significant implications for co-ops and condos with commercial space in their buildings – would allow tenants a 10-year renewal upon the completion of their lease. If landlord and tenant can’t agree on the terms of a new lease, an arbitrator would resolve the dispute.
“We have a small business crisis in New York City and it’s not about Amazon or high taxes, but about rising rent,” said David Eisenbach, founder of the Friends of SBJSA, a Columbia University history professor, and one of the key champions of the bill. Other supporters include the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the New York Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Jeremiah Moss, who has chronicled the decline of mom-and-pop shops in his popular blog, Vanishing New York.
Earlier this week, local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union announced its opposition to the bill. The union is joined by the Real Estate Board of New York, whose president, John Banks, said, “This bill will kill jobs, kill ingenuity, and ensure the homogenization of retail in New York City. The only survival the bill ensures is of continued vacancies.”
Others cited possible “unintended consequences” of the bill, such as extending the protections to big-box stores, allowing them to stay in place for decades. Jessica Lappin, the director of the Downtown Alliance, said the bill could unintentionally encourage landlords to give leases only to seemingly reliable tenants such as banks while declining to take a chance on more independent, experimental businesses.
The debate continues. The stakes are high. Stay tuned.”