Covid-19 has been good to Amazon. Jeff Bezos got a lot richer. Our local stores and restaurants however have been suffering. As our city climbs out from this pandemic we need to get people back into stores and local establishments. And Small Business Saturday is a reminder of the work we need to do.
Small Business Saturday Has Never Been More Important
Small Business Saturday is a great time for New Yorkers to show some love — and flex our purchasing power– to support the businesses that keep our neighborhoods safe, vibrant and special.
These vibrant businesses are a crucial backbone to our neighborhoods and we can’t lose anymore. But we can’t do it alone. Our elected leaders need to provide meaningful relief that understands and acknowledges the interconnected struggles of small businesses and small property owners.
We Need To Support The Small Business Ecosystem
Elected leaders have been quick to rally behind “cancel rent.” But what about the small property owners downtown that are not collecting rent, but are still paying taxes, insurance costs, repairs and maintenance expenses? And very often mortgages too. Driving property owners into bankruptcy is not good for New York and is not good for our downtown neighborhoods.
Many of these property owners also have commercial tenants. From restaurants, nail salons, dentists, gyms and retail stores. And these tenants are all operating under restrictions that reduce their customers and profits.
It’s a vicious cycle where everyone loses.
But there are things that can be done:
PROPORTIONAL CAPACITY REAL ESTATE TAX REDUCTION
If a restaurant can only operate at 25% capacity then they can’t pay 100% of the rent they used to pay.
So what happens to the property owner who has the same level of expense? Someone gets left holding the bag. If small property owners pass on a reduction to tenants forced to implement Covid protocols then owners should be able to seek a corresponding reduction in real estate taxes.
The government that puts in place the restrictions need to take some ownership of the consequences…
FAIR REAL ESTATE ASSESSMENTS
Current real estate appraisals that were estimated based on pre-Covid values are no longer fair or accurate. All buildings should be eligible for a reduction based on demonstrable actual value reductions that Covid-19 lockdowns have imposed. And appraisal reductions can not be wiped out by raising the tax rate.
SAFE STREETS, SAFE CITY THIS SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY
David Dinkins, NYC’s first and only African-American Mayor, passed away this week. He does not often get the credit he deserves for initiating the sustained era of crime reduction that his successor, Mayor Giuliani inherited.
One of Mayor Dinkins’ signature policies “Safe Streets, Safe City” helped to reduce the crime rate by implementing community-policing strategies that returned more officers to street patrols, and offered youth job-training and after school programs. We need a responsible, responsive police force on our streets, in our subways and as partners in our communities.
People need to feel safe and our neighborhoods should have streets people want to walk down morning, noon and night. It is a critical piece of building back our communities. We need neighborhood policing that is responsive to the community and respectful of all its inhabitants.
SMART AND FAIR SOLUTIONS
We all have our part to do to keep our neighborhoods vibrant, brimming with local businesses and inviting for everyone — residents and tourists alike. Smart and fair solutions that acknowledge we can’t just displace costs from one group to another is a crucial piece of that formula.
For this Small Business Saturday I will be out and about in my neighborhood – -buying books, eating out, and getting some early Christmas shopping done. I hope to see you!