City Comptroller Scott Stringer yesterday condemned the city for not doing enough for small businesses and said he would like to see more small-business friendly policies instituted.
Stringer’s comments came at a town hall for seniors he hosted yesterday with the Good Neighbors of Park Slope and Heights and Hills held at the Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, 506 6th Street, East Pavilion, Auditorium in Park Slope.
“The city of New York is doing the worst at helping small businesses,” said Stringer, after an audience member, noting the growing rate of store vacancies along 7th Avenue in Park Slope, suggested that commercial landlords be fined for intentionally keeping storefronts off the market.
Stringer noting a Retail Vacancy report he recently issued that found store vacancy rates climbing more 20 percent across the city between 2007-2017. While online sales have contributed to the vacancy rate, the city’s cavalier collective attitude, excessive fines and bureaucratic red tape have also contributed to the problem, he said.
“I remember when I was the [Manhattan] borough president and we used to cut the ribbons on local stores, but after all the politicians left, the [city] inspectors used to come in and beat the small businesses into the ground with violations. Many small businesses have to hire expeditors to deal with all the city agencies. We’re losing too many stores because the city is not helping enough small businesses cut through the bureaucracy,” Stringer said.
Stringer did note the city council is looking at proposed legislation creating commercial rent control, but more needs to be done.
Stringer came to the town hall armed with copies of his March 2017 report: Aging with Dignity: A blueprint for Serving NYC’s Growing Senior Population, which found that from 2005 to 2015, the number of New Yorkers over 65 grew by 19.2 percent, and there are more than 1.1 million adults over 65 – about 13 percent of the city’s total population.
The seniors peppered Stringer with both suggestions and complaints when handed microphones. Among the suggestions were to have more multigenerational city centers where seniors could intermingle with the younger generation, and for there to be a no salt option for meals delivered to seniors through the city’s Meals on Wheels program.
Complaints included curbing both reckless auto and electric scooter delivery drivers, with one senior suggesting the city hire multilingual people to speak with local ethnic restaurateurs about electric scooter safety for their delivery people.
Othe suggestions were to improve street lighting, curb dog walkers that take up too much sidewalk space and for the MTA to become more proactive in having young people give up their seats for the elderly.
Stringer had people from his office jot down all the suggestions and grievances, noting how he enjoys holding the town halls, which helps him gather information and hear great ideas brought to the table.
“I can’t tell you enough how important it is at these town halls where people bring ideas,” he said.