By Ben Kallos
Along Second Avenue, we have seen firshand how municipal construction can impose grave hardships on small businesses. Shuttered shops and declining profits reduce the number of good jobs and change our neighborhoods for the worse. Though our city must continue to grow and change, we must also assist the businesses on whom we impose a hardship.
Because of these concerns, I believe that the city owes relief to suffering businesses affected by municipal construction throughout the five boroughs. Small businesses that can show a reduction of 10 percent or more in taxable income for the year, compared to a typical year before construction, and that are located within 150 feet of a municipal construction site, deserve relief. Businesses that need help through no fault of their own should be able to access it – and beloved institutions should remain where they belong.
As Chief of Staff under Assembly Member Jonathan Bing, I worked to pass legislation that would provide these small businesses with relief. Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, at a state level, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney ,at a federal level, have already been advocating hard for similar measures. That’s because this is a real need for our neighborhood – and for neighborhoods across the city.
Along Second Avenue alone, a recent study by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce showed vacancy rates remaining constant at 15 percent, according to the Daily News. Between 2007 and 2010, 20 out of 70 businesses in the East 90s along the construction closed – a permanent loss to the neighborhood. The Beach Café – a favorite for many of us – has been at 69th Street for 48 years. According to the Daily News, since construction began, they have been forced to lay off a dozen workers. We know how devastating the effects of construction can be on the economic life of a neighborhood. This is a problem that city government has an obligation to tackle.
If you agree that this is a good idea, sign our petition atBenKallos.com/petition/SupportSmallBusiness.
Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side’s 5th district in the City Council.
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