As more and more mom and pops vanish from the face of New York City, people are getting sick of it, and the idea of saving them keeps coming up in the media.
This past week, NY1's "In Focus" with Cheryl Wills had two segments on the subject.
In the first (watch here), Wills talked with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich about the problem of chain stores in the city. As Brewer noted, "We don't live in a mall in the middle of Minnesota. We live in New York City."
Of course, without real policy changes, like the Small Business Jobs Survival Act or commercial rent control, like we had from 1945 - 1963, New York's looking an awful lot like a mall in Minnesota. And it will only get worse.
In the second segment (watch here), Wills spoke with The Commissioner of the NYC Small Business Services, Gregg Bishop, and the President and CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, Mark Jaffe.
Unfortunately, neither had any meaningful response to the problem of unreasonable rents.
Over on the Brian Lehrer Show, Tony Danza called in to ask Mayor Bill de Blasio what he was doing about what he called "neighborhood wasting disease."
Said Danza, "You know we have so many longtime establishments that have anchored neighborhoods in this city that are just being pushed out by exorbitant rents. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t know how you legislate that. But I’d just like to know what your thoughts are about going forward. Like, where I live on the West Side, on one block – and this is the truth, this is what’s really kind of startling, is that Starbucks had to leave because they couldn’t pay the rent."
The mayor did not have a useful response (read the full transcript).
At one point, he replied, "Look, let’s be really cold here. It’s a free
enterprise society that is not particularly warm and friendly to things
like older stores, mom-and-pop stores. I would urge the landlords to be less greedy." (Three years ago, when I asked him on Reddit what he would do, he had a few better answers.)
The only way to regulate human greed is through policy. And, let's be clear, this is not a free enterprise society. It's a rigged society that gives deals to large corporations and developers.
Chain stores get taxpayer subsidies in this city. They get selected by Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). They get preferential treatment from banks. This is not "market forces." This is corporate welfare. It's time to put an end to it. There are solutions.
Visit #SaveNYC and learn more about what we can do to stop the death of New York's soul. We've even made it easy for you to write letters to City Hall.