Chin Pushes For “Small Business Advocate” at City Hall; Reiterates Support For Lease Mediation Proposal

City Council member Margaret Chin with Council Speaker Mark-Viverito.

City Council member Margaret Chin with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Photo via Chin's Twitter feed; December 2014.
City Council member Margaret Chin with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. File photo via Chin’s Twitter feed; December 2014.

Today City Council member Margaret Chin and Council member Robert Cornegy are introducing legislation to create an “Office of the Small Business Advocate” within the Department of Small Business Services.

The idea is to provide small businesses with an independent advocate who would, as they put it in a press release, serve as a “champion of their interests within city government.” The office would field complaints from small business owners about their dealings with various city agencies regarding inspections, regulations, etc. It would be responsible for forwarding those complaints to the appropriate government entities and making policy and procedural recommendations for strengthening small businesses.

“Small businesses are a foundation of New York City’s vibrancy and diversity, and this legislation will allow us to take powerful strides forward in protecting and supporting those businesses for generations to come,”said Chin. “By moving to create a new office that will advocate for strong and sensible policies, along with requiring an annual report, we’re laying the groundwork for historic advances to help make sure small businesses can survive and thrive amid a constantly changing business environment.”

Small business is a hot topic at the moment. A grass roots campaign, #SaveNYC, has been advocating for another piece of legislation, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would require landlords and tenants to mediate the terms of new leases. It’s been languishing at City Hall for many years and is strongly opposed by real estate interests.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has proposed a separate bill that would require mediation, but has been criticized by #SaveNYC as a watered down version of the proposal it’s supporting. Council member Chin was the prime sponsor of an earlier version of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and she remains a co-sponsor. A spokesperson said Chin strongly supports the bill. As for Brewer’s legislation, the spokesperson explained, Chin is reviewing the proposal.