Long Island City, NY October 2, 2012 -
The measures announced today include:
- Identification of violations for which businesses should receive a warning or opportunity to cure the violation instead of an automatic penalty or fine
- Elimination of obsolete violations;
- Streamlining of regulatory processes; Simplification of the Place of Assembly permitting process;
- Standardization of customer service training for all agency inspectors; and
- Designation of agency liaisons to serve as points-of-contact with chambers of commerce and industry groups.
Today, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Committee on Small Business Chair Diana Reyna, Council Minority Leader James S. Oddo, Committee on Government Operations Chair Gale A. Brewer, Council Member Inez Dickens, Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie, Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh and Chief Business Operations Officer Tokumbo Shobowale announced several measures to ease the regulatory burdens on the city's small businesses. These measures are a result of the Regulatory Review Panel, a joint effort by the Mayor and the City Council to scrutinize City regulations and how they are developed and make recommendations to recast them, eliminate unnecessary obstacles that hinder business growth, and enhance public participation in rulemaking. These new measures follow up on and further the initial 14 measures announced by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn based on the Regulatory Review Panel's April 2010 recommendations. Speaker Quinn was also joined today by Assembly Member Michael DenDekker, Robert Bookman and Andrew Rigie of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Carlo A. Scissura, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Ploeger, as well as representatives from New York City small businesses including second generation newsstand operator Bernard Uhfelder, Paul Seres of the Lower East Side restaurant the DL, Jeff Bank of Carmine's, former Brooklyn business owner Vinnie Mazone, and Farid Lancheros of Bogota Latin Bistro in Park Slope.
"When we're able to identify unreasonable but curable impediments to small business growth, government needs to be doing everything in its power to help break down those barriers," said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "The Council, working with the Bloomberg Administration, has identified numerous measures in which we can help our city's small businesses succeed - from taking obsolete violations off the books to simplifying the permitting process to improving agency coordination with business groups - the City is improving its customer service to the benefit of the economy. I thank Council Members Comrie, Oddo, Brewer, Dickens and Reyna and the Mayor's Office of Operations, led by Elizabeth Weinstein, as well as Commissioner Walsh and Tokumbo Shobowale for working together to make the city a more hospitable place for entrepreneurs to thrive and prosper."
"As the Chair of the Committee on Small Business, I am encouraged by the legislation announced today. From food trucks to the beauty salon industry, too many small business owners have been negatively impacted by the City's regulatory practices," said Council Member Diana Reyna, Chair of the Committee on Small Business. "It is time for the City Council, in conjunction with the Mayor's Office, to uphold its duty to protect consumers across the City without overburdening entrepreneurs and small business owners. With the actions taken today, the City will nurture a healthier economic environment that will allow businesses to open their doors quicker and operate more efficiently."
"In this economy, businesses need government to lead or get out of the way," said Minority Leader James S. Oddo. "Hopefully with the steps we are announcing today we will do both. Unleashing the private sector by continuing to inject common sense into the interactions between city government and the small business community is something we all should embrace."
"As we look to ensure that New York's economy continues to grow, the relationship the city has with its entrepreneurs will be increasingly important. The pieces of legislation being introduced today will build that relationship while simultaneously ease fines on small businesses and streamline the regulatory process," said Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie. "The liaisons to local chambers of commerce and other industry groups throughout the city will also keep the lines of communication open, helping the city become more responsive to their needs. I would like to thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Member Diana Reyna, and Minority Leader James Oddo, for working with me on putting together this package of legislation."
"I am pleased to join with Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, and my colleagues in the Council to announce this package of common-sense solutions to help small businesses in New York City," said Committee on Government Operations Chair Gale A. Brewer. "City agencies have a valuable role to play in regulating business, but we must be sure that the laws are clear, that they are enforced fairly and uniformly, and that interactions between government and business are professional, courteous, and respectful."
"Making it easier for small businesses to open, succeed and expand in New York City is a key part of the Bloomberg Administration's strategy to create jobs and grow our economy," said Chief Business Operations Officer Tokumbo Shobowale. "Working together with the City Council, we are taking action to simplify our regulations so that businesses will view government as a partner and a resource. The fewer onerous and unnecessary regulations that businesses face, the more jobs will be created."
"These new initiatives will further Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to making government operations more customer-focused, innovative, and efficient," said Mayor's Office of Operations Director Elizabeth Weinstein. "Working with the City Council, we will ensure that City agencies are living up to this commitment and improving the regulatory environment for businesses."
"I would like to thank the Mayor and Speaker Quinn for their tireless support of small businesses," said Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services Rob Walsh. "These new measures will help ensure that businesses are not subject to unnecessary fines or outdated rules. They minimize the red tape and emphasize customer service for City inspectors, both essential steps in strengthening New York City's business-friendly environment."
"In my community I hear from countless small business owners about the challenges they face in trying to keep the doors of their businesses open," said Council Member Inez Dickens. "They share with me how the number of violations issued are excessive and eat away at an already slimming revenue stream. Such obstacles prevent both growth and hiring opportunities in communities where thousands are still struggling to provide for their families. But today we in the City Council along with the Mayor's office say to the true job builders we will help lighten your burden. This legislation will not only allow small businesses to correct a violation before being issued a fine but also strike a number of violations from our regulatory register. The partnership between the city and our small business community is necessary in ensuring our mutual economic survival and vitality as a place where achieving financial independence is genuinely possible. I would like to thank the leadership of our City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Small Business Chair Diana Reyna along with my colleagues James Oddo and Leroy Comrie as they partnered with the Commissioner of Small Business Services Robert Walsh in crafting this legislation. We in the City Council are dedicated to the lives and opportunities of all New Yorkers and I am proud of what we are capable of doing as body that lead to that goal."
Full description of 5 new measures announced:
Identification of violations for which businesses should receive a warning or opportunity to cure the violation instead of an automatic penalty or fine. Most business owners want to and try hard to comply with regulations, but sometimes because regulations may be complex or confusing, are unable to do so. More emphasis needs to be placed on educating business owners on how to better comply with regulations, not on punishing business owners when they fail to do so. Legislation being introduced in the Council will require agencies that interact with businesses to identify any violations for which a cure period or opportunity to receive a warning does not exist, and to make recommendations for whether a cure period should or should not be adopted for each such violation.
Elimination of obsolete violations. There are countless regulations that small businesses must adhere to, some of which have become obsolete. Potential violations that remain on the books, but are no longer enforced, can be a source of confusion and a hindrance to small businesses unaware of informal agency practice. Every agency that interacts with businesses will undertake a review to identify violations that are obsolete, and to recommend those that should be eliminated. Once these violations are identified, the Council will act through legislation to wipe them off the books for good.
Streamlining of regulatory processes; Simplification of the Place of Assembly permitting process. Through the feedback received by the Regulatory Review Panel from small business owners, the Mayor and City Council are working together to streamline regulations that are unduly burdensome or inefficient. The first reform from this ongoing effort is simplification of the place of assembly permitting process, which is currently an overly complicated process that involves duplicate work by the Department of Buildings and the Fire Department. Legislation being introduced in the Council will simplify this process, so that business owners need only interact with one agency in order to receive and later renew a place of assembly permit.
Standardization of customer service training for all agency inspectors. Presently, some agencies incorporate elements of customer service training into their inspector training programs, but others do not. Legislation being introduced in the Council will require the Mayor's Office of Operations to develop a standardized customer service curriculum for training agency inspectors, to review each agency's inspector training program, and to certify agency training programs that include the standardized customer service curriculum.
Designation of agency liaisons to serve as points-of-contact with chambers of commerce and industry groups. Legislation being introduced in the Council will require every agency that interacts with businesses to designate an employee to serve as the agency's liaison to the regulated community.
"It is important that we in government assist small business in order to help them recover from the economic crisis," said Council Member Karen Koslowitz, Committee on Economic Development Chair. "I applaud Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn on this important announcement to ease burdensome regulations and streamline the regulatory process."
"We're thrilled that Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council, working with the Bloomberg Administration, have partnered to identify barriers to small business success across New York City," said President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Carlo A. Scissura. "It's becoming more important for businesses to improve customer service, so it's great to see that the City is making this a priority too. As Brooklyn becomes home to more and more businesses, we're encouraged that everyone is working to ensure the City becomes as business friendly as possible."
"This type of collaboration between the business community and local government to review regulations and listen to the business owners is terrific," said Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Ploeger. "Revisiting rules and regs should be done on a regular basis as everything is moving so fast in this world today. What made sense yesterday may not make sense today. Or what makes sense can be streamlined with technological advances and help take both time and financial burdens off the small businesses to spur economic growth and jobs. Kudos to all on this initiative."
"The small business community is thrilled with these initiatives as they will lead to a reduction in fines and unnecessary bureaucracy," said Robert Bookman, Counsel to the NYC Hospitality Alliance. "Equally important, however, is it fosters a change in attitude from adversarial to one where city government and small businesses are in partnership together."