Mayor Signs Executive Order for Small Business Violations Reform

Mayor Eric Adams with the signed “Small Business Forward” Executive Order. Image Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

The executive order requires agencies to evaluate their most common summonses issued. On January 4, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams signed the “Small Business Forward” Executive Order to help small businesses face fewer fines and penalties as they continue to recover from the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order requests that agencies like the Department of Buildings, Fire Department, Department of Consumer Worker and Protection, Department of Sanitation, Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene examine their business regulations to reduce fine schedules, allow cure periods, or provide warnings for first time violations. 

The executive order requires each agency to identify the top 25 violations that generate the most summonses and fines that are issued to small businesses. Agencies must then provide recommendations for which violations should allow for a warning or cure period for first time violations, which fine schedules should be reduced, and which violations can be eliminated completely. If the agency determines no action should be taken, they must provide a reason why. If action is needed, the agency must identify what actions are required to enact the change, like rule-making, or legislation. 

Under the executive order, enforcement agencies should review and update their violation tracking systems, training and inspection procedures, and the language used on the summons tickets to reflect any changes. An Inter-Agency Working Group will also be established to review the submissions of the agencies and oversee the reform process. The group will include each enforcement agency and will be chaired by a Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development and the Commissioner of Small Business Services. 

This executive order builds on previous action taken by the City Council last year. In June 2021, the City Council passed Local Law 80, which provides relief from 185 different sanitation, health, consumer affairs, transportation, buildings and noise control violations. The relief includes repealing certain violations, reduced fines and creating cure periods for first violations. For CityLand’s prior coverage, click here

Mayor Adams stated, “Our small businesses have been through so much during the COVID-19 pandemic. The last thing they need to deal with are unnecessary fines. We’re cutting the red tape and bringing real relief to the entrepreneurs who have made their dreams a reality and keep our local economy strong.”

Incoming Commissioner for Small Business Services Kevin D. Kim stated, “With this Executive Order, New York City is being decisive and focusing on what municipal government can do right now to help our small businesses. his EO makes it clear to every City agency that we, as a city, must work together to reduce unnecessary fines on small businesses for them to thrive. Ultimately this EO will save small businesses millions of dollars and countless hours of dealing with red tape and bureaucracy. By setting a goal of reforming fine schedules and working with businesses who are issued first-time violations, we are implementing smart policy that will help small businesses get back on their feet.”

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


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