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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Fix It, Don't Fine It: City Expands Relief for Small Businesses

NY City Hall Press Office Photo

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced the City is expanding relief for small businesses, including eliminating fines for first time violations and expanding the universe of violations that will have cure periods. As announced at the Mayor’s State of the City, the de Blasio Administration has cut small business fines by over 40 percent since 2014 and will cut an additional 10 percent by the time the Mayor leaves office. The Administration has put over $100 million back in the pockets of small business owners, and this relief will raise the amount of money saved yearly from $20 million to $26 million.

“New York City is not New York City without our small businesses,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We will not be a city that gives in to corporate takeover. Instead, we’ll fight for our mom-and-pops and do all we can to help them thrive.”

Fines subject to relief include select Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, Department of Sanitation, and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection violations. The City will work with the City Council to review more than 75 violations. DOB and DOT can implement their own rule changes, and will begin providing additional relief in the fall.

To ensure businesses are aware of these changes, these agencies will update their summonses to include clear and easy explanations for how to fix the violation. In partnership with these agencies, the Department of Small Business Services will also organize a canvassing effort across the city to spread the word.

Examples of 1st time fines forgiven:

Failure to clean 18 inches from curb into the street ($100 penalty)

Excessive noise created by an air compressor ($560 penalty)

Examples of fines added to cure list:

Scale used for weighed items at supermarket/bodega not clearly in-sight of customer ($75 penalty)

Failure to disclose details about layaway plans ($260 penalty)

Failure to post clear price list at laundromats ($375 penalty)

“The expansion of small business services for NYC’s community is a deeper investment in the businesses that make up the backbone of our economy,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “Businesses will now have a greater opportunity to comply with regulations prior to being fined, which puts money back in their pockets and creates a safer and more secure City.”

“Small businesses are the cornerstone of neighborhoods across the city, and we’re cutting red tape so they can better serve their fellow New Yorkers,” said DOB Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. “By making more fines curable while expanding on outreach and education, we are building on the work we’ve already done to lighten the load on owners and entrepreneurs. We look forward to working with our colleagues in government to grow these efforts and help all small businesses be informed and avoid fines in the first place.”

“In order to protect public health and the environment we work with businesses every day to come into compliance with our rules and regulations,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.  “Expanding relief for small businesses makes sense and we applaud the Mayor for extending this initiative.”

“We want nothing more than for businesses in New York City to succeed,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Expanding the category of curable violations in addition to our Business Education Days and Visiting Inspector Program will help businesses better understand their responsibilities under the law and create a culture of compliance.”

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