Saturday, August 16, 2014

Thoughts on unchaining NYC

Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York has an op-ed in the Daily News today titled "De Blasio, unchain the city now." An excerpt follows:

It’s time for the mayor to step up and take action against the destruction of the city’s character.

Start by following the example of San Francisco, where City Hall tightly controls “formula retail,” as in big chain stores. If former Mayor Giuliani could keep adult businesses from operating near one another, then de Blasio can keep national chains from doing the same.

Starbucks and Marc Jacobs should not be allowed to have multiple stores within a few blocks, and we don’t need Walgreens down the street from CVS.

Then, pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act to create fair negotiations of commercial lease renewals, so landlords can’t use insane rent hikes to evict dependable business people.

Give fines to landlords who leave commercial spaces vacant, creating blight while they wait for the right price.

While general commercial rent control may be unworkable, we can protect what little remains of the city’s oldest and most beloved small businesses by creating a selective rent control program.

Read the whole piece here.


Anonymous said...

What will come first the melting of the polar ice caps or the complete corporate chain takeover of Manhattan? It will be a tight race but hopefully both can be prevented in time.

Anonymous said...


Steve R said...

Excellent idea - let's push this forward to the mayor's office...!

Anonymous said...

You people make me sick.

You can't tell owners what to buy/sell property for, you don't pay their property taxes, but you want to tell them about not being able to rent their property to a chain store.

The fact that you sit there and act all high & mighty while other people work endlessly to run their businesses is despicable.

Chain stores employ more people than your neighborhood stores.

And neighborhood stores are always more expensive. I always choose CVS because the prices are better and they have a great rewards program. My neighborhood deli doesn't so the choice is easy.

Then again, you people don't like landlords because you think every one of them are millionaires, which is not the case.

Giovanni said...

@Anon 3:10PM, If you don't like us, you can move to...

Isn't that what the shills for the landlords who suck the blood from every square inch of land always like to say? They act like owners of property should be able to do anything they want, but that has never been true and never should be. That's why we have things like fire safety laws, because owners used to lock the doors and not have fire exits, which resulted in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed 146 people.

There are tons of laws to prevent landlords from doing things which make them richer and everyone else worse off, or in some cases, dead. We need more laws to protect small businesses from predatory landlords or we will have nothing left of this city.

I hope Mayor De Blasio takes Jeremiah's editorial to heart, since it is proven that small mom and pop stores generate more economic benefits than chain stores, which suck all of their profits outside of the neighborhoods and the cities they do business in.

Anonymous said...

You person 3:10:

1. How do you know we don't pay property taxes?
2. "Chain stores employ more people than your neighborhood stores. " Proof please.
3. If you'd bothered to read the post you'd see that no one is objecting to the existence of CVS, Walgreens, Duane Reade, etc. What's objected to is the *amount* of them.
4. "And neighborhood stores are always more expensive." Again, proof please.
5. You'll notice that the landlords that "us people" have objections to are the ones who flout the law. Y'know - the one's who build on condition that the first floor will be a doctor's office (and yet that doesn't happen), those who build floor illegally atop their buildings, etc.

Anonymous said...

This is unworkable on many levels. NYC doesnt have the ability to change IRS codes right? So somehow the city will force landlords to rent spaces. How does that work? We already have a tale of two cities with rent stabilization for tenants. Now this is somehow supposed to work for commercial spaces. Who decides which 'beloved' businesses benefit? How many lawsuits will be filed? Seems poorly thought out will no sense of the real world. A 'selective' rent control program. This is a total joke. So are the property taxes going to be lowered ? Will utilities be adjusted? Can anyone explain all the details? Would this lead to buildings sitting empty because they are a bad investment? Since the city does such a great job with its residential real estate - the projects and homeless shelters and rent stabilized apts they should do well venturing into commercial real estate.

Anonymous said...

Yes more government control just what we need.

I suppose I am a hypocrite, paying cheap rent on my rent stabilized apartment every month, at the same I wonder, what crime did my landlord committ that he is being forced to subsidize me for all eternity, or until I die or decide to move, which of course I would be foolish to ever do. Oh yes, the crime of buying a building in NYC.

Anonymous said...

Yes more govt control and more regulations. That always works. Seems like owning a building is a crime now. Making money off a building is predatory. So what happens if a chain is not permitted and a space is vacant? Are they forced to rent it.for some amount Jeremiah? NYC has a 75 billion dollar budget. Lets cut that by say 40 percent and see how that goes. You hate the tourists and the chains but love the money they pump into the economy. This is ridiculous. To the anon commenter above defenders of mom and pop always mention chains being cheaper and having better selection. The fact that this helps poor and low income doesn't matter to you. Just keep the crappy bodegas and markets. And bars need tons of.those too. Never change NYC ever. Isn't that it? Doesn't matter if society changes. And this has do with safety codes. What a backward idea.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:06 -- Proof:

By definition, small businesses employ fewer than 500 people, hence the name "small business".

Prices are lower at chain stores: It's called "economies of scale" -- fixed costs are spread out over a greater number of units, lowering the unit cost.

Anonymous said...

I guess when these 'beloved' businesses signed cheap leases 20+ years ago it was OK. When many of them used 9/11 as a way to extend cheap leases that was OK. This is how.they got over for decades. It didn't matter if they never improved their business they had cheap rent. Now the tide is against them and they play the.victim card. Disgraceful. The sense of entitlement is astounding. Now I must have an illegal alien deliver my dinner. Then Ill go to a bodega and watch folks buy beer with food stamps from an illegal who gets paid less than minimum wage. Wonderful mom and.pops - laws don't apply to them.

Anonymous said...

i have lived in nyc for 28 years having moved here from london .
what the hell is wrong with people that dont want change , that is why you live in a dynamic city , if you dont want change move to new paltz . i LOVE new paltz ..
with a cvs comes cleanup and jobs and savings with a starbucks comes awareness of the block more lights on the corners more safety , when the bean was bounced every one was boycott the starbucks . WHY ?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:58: "what crime did my landlord committ that he is being forced to subsidize me for all eternity, or until I die or decide to move..."

I would assume your landlord did his/her due-diligence and researched what the lease situation is in each apartment when they bought the place, or else has been landlord long enough to know this information. Buying a building is a longterm *investment*, not a get-rich-scheme. You take your "I'm a freshmen at NYU with parents who have deep pockets" with your "I ain't goin' no where" and you know this going into it and it all balances out. Landlording - it ain't rocket science... but it is a science.

Anonymous said...

The Jeremiah Moss piece was featured on NY1's "In The Papers" section today. Good for him!
My 2 cents. We really don't need a big chain drug store on every corner. This is a walking city and five or six extra blocks in really no big deal. My East Village 74 year old mother walks everywhere unless it is to say Lincoln Center or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dave - Everywhere said...

Although I generally agree with jeremiah in most things, I think he's off base on this one. The best way to fight the chains is to not patronize them. Do some grassroots work in the neighborhoods and get the locals to boycott the chains. You wont kill them all but you can make it less likely that there will be a bank, a drug store and a national coffee chain on three of the four corners of every intersection. Letting government be in charge of making these kinds of decisions will be worse than the disease.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:28 are chain stores and restaraunts on every corner the change you want ?

Are (exclusively) luxury condominiums on every corner the change you want?

Are nefarious landlords quintupling rents on longtime tenants and neighborhood fixtures the change you want ?

Is the complete loss of socioeconomic and multicultural diversity the change you want ?

Really ? Is that your idea of a dynamic city ?

Upper middle class and wealthy white transients exclusively ?

Really ?

Go back to london qnd let the real new yorkers debate our future.


Anonymous said...

State socialism is what the advocates of these statist measures preach. It works well in Pyongyang, Havana, Moscow, and in the Limo Lib. PR of the Union of Soviet Socialist Boros. If the anti-chain store freaks have their way with their patron master Comrade crook-de Blasio, it will be just a matter of time before you have a knock on your door late at night. And it won't be by a capitalist either. Let the market decide which businesses succeed and which ones fail.

Bill the libertarian advocate, fan of Dunkin' Donuts and resident of Havana-on-the-Hudson, USSB.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that the current onslaught of suburbanites WANT to patronize these business's. Its what they grew up with and what makes them comfortable and reminds them of their simple upbringing.

They are coming in such huge numbers that even if the real new yorkers were to boycott them they would still thrive.

When people would come here in the past they did so to be "citified" they wanted to escape the momotonous homogeny of the suburbs.

These people now want all the comforts of their suburban lives and its forever altering the city. And not in a good way.

We need government to step and say no. You are not going to impose your simplistic suburban shopping mall sensibities on this city.

You either ingratiate yourselves to the city or leave if you cant hack the big city life.

Not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Certainly we need to cede more control to our mayor and his associate Mr.Sharpton, on this front as well as others. Who could doubt that?

Anonymous said...

Sharpton has nothing whatsoever to do with city policy and never will. nor is he an "associate" of bill deblasio.

Bill along with the city council and the governor do and will hopefully put in place protections for commercial tenants and strengthen protections for residential residents of this city so that the victimization of our residents and the destruction of our culture and history at the handa of greedy and nefarious landlords can be at the very least limited.

You right wingers act as if thats a bad thing. You people are nuts

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

It's past time for a change and hopefully de Blasio and Viverito can begin to break NYC's chains. It's not impossible. San Fran's got a system to regulate chains so we don't have to reinvent the wheel and the original version of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act was first introduced in the City Council way back in 1986 by then Council Member Ruth Messinger.

DrBOP said...

To hell with DeBlankio.....

I still think hizzonnah Mayor Moss has a FANTASTIC ring to it!

Keep on chooglin' Jeremiah!

Anonymous said...

If the national chain stores are so powerful, why did 7/11 close on St. Mark's Place?

Bill the libertarian anarchist and advocate of peace and free trade

Anonymous said...

To the anon commenter Sharpton sat next to bratton and diblasio and lectured them on policy. He is more than an associate of diblasio. The SF chain policy only limits chains from opening in certain areas. The issue here is the chains have already expanded. NYC could have used this years ago. Kinda late now. And there are plenty of.chains in SF. They also have.lots of vacant storefronts. Also just.because a chain is banned.doesn't stop.some really upscale non chain from moving in. Its a complicated issue. What.if an area needs a supermarket? Those tend to be.chains. This is more of a long term.solution.

Anonymous said...

To anon at 7:08- I find the racial component of your article.offensive. why.was.this.comment approved? I guess you really don't like white.people. Isn't NYC roughly 60 percent nonwhite? Is that not.diverse enough for you?What demographic If you want a nonwhite environment perhaps.the Bronx is more your style. Cheap rents and.pops.

Anonymous said...

the bubble will burts at some point. the flow of 20-somethings (and the parents supporting them) will eventually stop moving to nyc and putting themselves in debt. then chains and banks will pull out when they dont have as many kids to target. then real estate investments are not as attractive. then it gets ugly because i dont think mom and pop stores will just start appearing again. its all a cycle. in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah rocks. And I hate the f'ing suburbs and suburbanites. And always will. At least their life will be shorter from eating all that processed food from chain stores.

Anonymous said...

And de Blasio is a dud, much like Obama, inactive and all about charm and bs to get the votes, but what do you expect with this yunnie generation that's all about being pleased and entertained and all about them. Any of the candidates, democratic and republican, would've been better than dud Blahsio.

Anonymous said...

I'll take DeBlasio, Obama and Sharpton over whoever the leader is on the alien planet all these yunnies come from. With all the selfies they are taking they are setting a new record for most pictures of the most assholes in history.

Anonymous said...

This is a futile effort because all landlords have to do is charge rents only chain businesses can afford.

'Want to take a stand against chain stores in the East Village? Boycott the ENTIRE East Village. Literally do not cross to the east side of Broadway between 14th and Houston Streets. All small businesses in the EV will close and the EV will be nothing but chain stores and an ever revolving door of independent businesses which will cater to the chain store patronage. Let them have their dull and boring (what they are.) Let it be just chain stores, NYU watering holes, and the people who patronize them.

Do we really need to go to the East Village anymore? I don't. The only places in the EV I'd go to now is Papaya King on St.Mark's Place and San Loco but check this: I could always just go to the San Loco on the Lower East Side or in Williamsburg and Papaya Dog at Sixth Avenue and W.4th St. or the original Papaya King on 86th St. or wait until PK opens a third Manhattan location outside the EV.

Anonymous said...

Those defending the proliferation of chains are naive. The only people benefiting from charging businesses outrageous rents are the property owners, and they are mostly corporations. They are making out like bandits while the people who live in the city have an increasingly limited number of store options and anyone interested in starting a small business has little chance of finding an affordable space. I am a capitalist but this situation is out of control. It is a sorry state of affairs now but it will be much worse 20 years from now if nothing is done and it is likely that nothing will be done.

Crazy Eddie said...

"Washington, D.C. (August 5, 2014) – Following objections raised by shareholders, including a shareholder proposal by a LIUNA-affiliated pension fund calling for a policy that bars inversions, Walgreens has decided not to proceed with a plan to legally restructure as a Swiss company.

Companies which “invert” maintain the benefits of being based in the U.S., while slashing the amount of corporate taxes they pay. The scheme is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $20 billion in the next 10 years, according the White House."

So I guess the "so called" libertarians hate America? USA! USA! USA!...Oh wait…..never mind.

Giovanni said...

Unlike so many of the suburban transplants who mindlessly defend the right of landlords to gouge their retail and residential tenants, many of us know the local store owners and employees who are losing thier livelihoods because they are our neighbors and friends, and they live here too. They have lived here for years, and are now being driven out, it has gotten so bad that many I know are leaving town.

I guarantee that no one here knows the owners of any Starbucks or 7-11 or Duane Reade or Chase branch, because in spite of what Mitt "the 47%" Romney told you, the owners of these chains are not people, they are corporations. And I doubt they even know the people who work in these stores, since these chains have a policy of rotating employees to different locations to improve performance and cut down on employee theft. Most of these employees are transients too. As soon as I get to know them they are usually gone, to a better job or another store.

I wonder if we went to Anytown USA ot Podunk, Wisconsin and shut down all the busineeses that these yunnies grew up with, how would they feel? Or are feelings, like original and intelligent thinking, optional now too?

The good news is that unlike Podunk, New York is still a progressive city, which is why we have rent stabilization for residential tenants. It's time to do the same for our local businesses before they are all gone.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if we went to Anytown USA ot Podunk, Wisconsin and shut down all the busineeses that these yunnies grew up with"

They already are and the Podunkers are celebrating the openings of 7-11s from Virginia to down South. 7-11 is converting many of the local mom-n-pop shops to franchises and selling them to local owners as 7-11 stores and the residents are all for it. And now that those residents have moved up here, they want the chains here and do the same to the mom-n-pop shops so that NYC will become like where they're from and remind them of their upbringing as if they never moved. It is all bout them.

Anonymous said...

Yes with its record numbers of homeless and its.violent racist cops and its ridiculous weed laws. Its so progressive. But I'm sure you got your stabilized apt so you're good right? And.that system works great right? In the podunks you speak of businesses own their property. Hard to compare places can buy a building.and the lot on the cheap. And the rest of the.stores are.chains in podunk. Of.course.since.anyone moving to pay market.rate you get.the don't like. Who.else.can here? You set up a system that.ensures only market.rate gets.built.and.complain about.the type.of people it attracts. Who do you expect to NYC in 2014? Who can afford it? Chain loving upscale who. Look at.the.system you benefit.from. that's where.the blame is.

Anonymous said...

You downtown folk think you're so progressive, but you are stuck in time. You better check yourself, as you might be a....... CONSERVATIVE! Ha!

Were any of you here in the 80s? Let's keep NYC moving away from there, please.

Anonymous said...

Chains. hire . workers. but pay them minimum wages that. are.not living wages. So. yes, chains provide work. cheap work. so that the rich patrons of. chains can save more. But the blame. can also be put to. these underpaid workers. since they are nicer to the rich patrons. but when someone like. them patronize or walk in to these chains that they are. working from, and these workers can smell their kind. they frown and give them attitude as if. saying. we don't serve your. kind. We. only. bow. down to those who are rich.

Anonymous said...

Right on the money Giovanni !!

Jared the NYC Tour Guide said...

Landlords are provided real estate tax incentives at public expense to evict Mom & Pop shops and keep the commercial spaces empty until a deep-pocket chain store comes in.

Here is an example of how it works:
Mom and Pop pays $2000 per month rent. They get evicted. The landlord gets to deduct the lost income at the assessed value of the local commercial rents. This assessment is decided by NYC. The law itself is from NYS.

Let's say that assessed value is $20,000 per month. The landlord gets to deduct $20,000 per month income for the vacant space. This is at the expense of NYC revenue, which the Mom & Pop contributed to before its demise. Everyone pays more taxes for this tax break.

If the landlord is lucky, they get to rent to a big reliable tenant like a bank, drug or Starbucks chain for $90,000 per month, which raises the local assessed value of commercial units. This accelerates the cycle of rising commercial rents.

Knowing this, perhaps the law can be examined by both sides to come on a solution that saves the local shoe repair shops, preserves commercial diversity and neighborhood roots, and preserves what makes NYC interesting, while landlords advocate for their business interests.

Anonymous said...

I hate chains but I hate the government interfering with free enterprise even more.