Mayor Announces Reform for Over 100 Business Violations

Mayor Adams and administrative and agency leaders announce business violation reforms. Image Credit: Benny Polatseck/Mayoral Photography Office.

On May 15, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams announced reforms to 118 city regulations relating to small businesses. In January 2022, Mayor Adams signed the “Small Business Forward” executive order that required several city agencies to review their business regulations to determine which regulations could have reduced fines, extended cure periods, or be repealed to assist small businesses in their recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The new announcement reveals the 118 regulations that will be altered or repealed. 

The Department of Buildings, Consumer and Worker Protection, Environmental Protection, Sanitation, Health and Mental Hygiene, and Fire Department reviewed over 230 types of violations that had been issued in 2019, and provided recommendations on which violations could be amended or repealed. In addition, almost 1,000 small business owners provided feedback on violations and enforcement practices through an online survey. Business associations and other advocacy groups held listening sessions to solicit feedback. An Inter-Agency Working Group was established to review the recommendations and feedback, and focused on the violations that directly impact small businesses. 

The Inter-Agency Working Group, chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Economic Workforce and Development and the Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, issued the report “Small Business Forward’‘ outlining the 118 regulations picked for reform. In total, the changes are expected to save small business owners $8.9 million annually.

Some of the violations with recommended changes in fines include the following:

– Failure to post signage for trash or organics collection – reduction to $0 for first violation (DSNY)

– Failure to recycle organics at a food service establishment chain of 100 or more – reduction to $0 for first offense (DSNY)

– Failure to post or properly post permit for work at premises – reduction in standard penalty from $625 to $300 (DOB)

– Work without a permit (Class 1 or 2) – waive the additional $6,000 penalty paid directly to DOB if issued to a small business (DOB)

– Failure to properly file risk management plan – reduced penalty (DEP)

Some of the violations with recommended changes for curing periods include the following:

Prohibited sign on awning or canopy – extends curing period from 40 to 60 days (DOB)
Failure to maintain building in code compliant manner with use of prohibited door or hardware – extends curing period from 40 to 60 days (DOB)

– Occupancy contrary to what is allowed on Certificate of Occupancy, Class 2 violation – extends curing period from 40 to 60 days (DOB)

Outdoor sign on display structure without permit – introduce 60 day cure period (DOB)

– Failure to file annual test report for backflow device – expand small business compliance period to 60 days and conduct targeted outreach to small businesses about this requirement (DEP)

Some of the proposed violations to repeal include: –

– Electrical closet not dedicated to electrical distribution equipment only (DOB)

– Provide compostable straws to be used outside of food establishment – eliminate/repeal, as enforcement is very difficult (DSNY)

– Use of a mobile telephone in a place of public performance – eliminate, as it is difficult to enforce (DEP)

The report also lists the violations that were reviewed and found not to be appropriate for reform or repeal. The full report, with all of the recommended changes, can be found here

The majority of the recommended changes will require amendments to the NYC Administrative Code taken through legislation by the City Council, or to the Rules of the City of New York done through agency rulemaking changes, which still require public review. The report estimates that the changes to the Administrative Code and Rules of the City of New York should be completed by the end of 2022. Five of the recommended changes would be changes to state law, and if those changes move forward it is expected to be completed by May 2023. 

The Inter-Agency Working Group that released the report will now focus on the launch of the City’s “one-stop-shop” online business portal. 

Mayor Eric Adams stated, “From the earliest days of my administration, I made clear that the city would be a partner to the small business community, which is the backbone of our economy. The reforms we are outlining are a direct result of us listening to nearly 1,000 small business owners and putting in place a plan of action to help fill their needs. Today, we are cutting red tape, reducing burdensome regulations, and saving our small businesses approximately $8.9 million — supercharging our recovery and paving the way for an equitable, five-borough economy.” 

DOB Commissioner Eric Ulrich stated, “Small Business Forward is bringing common sense back to New York City government by getting rid of outdated regulations and overly punitive violations. Mayor Adams understands that these stores and restaurants are cornerstones of their communities, and I am proud to be a part of this undertaking to support our small businesses. By giving New Yorkers the opportunity to correct more violations without incurring additional penalties, we are sending a strong message that New York is open for business again.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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