Small businesses struggles require a re-examination of New York City’s Regulations

Giselle Ayala Mateus, Esq.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1000 news businesses have emerged. Those who lost their jobs or their stores took the crisis as an opportunity to start a new venture. However, the challenges facing new businesses go beyond the general economic crisis affecting the United States as a result of job loss and less demand for certain goods and services.

Particularly in New York, small businesses, which include storefront businesses, at-home businesses, and street vendors complain about the complexity of acquiring a license, filing and completing paperwork to comply with the laws and regulations. Some new entrepreneurs, especially immigrants, have been closed or fined because they have not been able to get all licenses and permits required to operate in the city.

The situation is not the result of a lack of interest in compliance, it is the result of a system that is complex and disorganized, and that is not responding to the needs of entrepreneurs, simplicity, and efficient processing times. Getting any license in New York takes several months and numerous forms, and in-person visits to government agencies. Many small business owners have no time or resources to complete the process.

According to “Barriers to Business” a report issued by the Institute for Justice, “…entrepreneurs struggle with local regulatory burdens, finding themselves trapped by high fees, long wait times, and complex paperwork…”.

Getting licenses and permits is not the only challenge faced by new businesses, especially in the restaurant industry, new issues have arisen as a result of New York City inhabitants’ complaints about the noise, contamination, and waste associated with the operation of these businesses. As a result of this situation, the City Council is holding several hearings to evaluate whether businesses will be allowed to operate as they do in New York.

In a hearing hold on Tuesdays, February 8th, the Department of Transportation said that roofed and walled structures for outdoor dining likely be banned in the future. The Department expressed that the City’s concern is the criticism by the community over noise, crowding, parking, and safety issues.

In this context, lawmakers and public representatives are working with different agencies to manage the challenges faced by small businesses, new entrepreneurs, and street vendors. As a result of the economic crisis created by the pandemic, New York Governor Kathy Hochul is planning to set aside $1 billion to support small businesses in the next budget. The problem is that under the current regulations street vendors will not eligible to get any of the funds.

In response to the lack of legal protection faced by street vendors, senator Jessica Ramos and assembly member Jessica González-Rojas proposed new legislation, S1175A/A5081. The bill, as proposed, would allow the city to expand the number of licenses granted to vendors by removing the current regulatory cap. By obtaining a license or vendor permit, thousands of street vendors would be one step closer to getting state aid.

Another bill that has been proposed in recent days is Senator Anna M. Kaplan introduced to the New York Senate a bill to support small businesses and unemployed workers who are still dealing with the impacts of the pandemic. The bill, S.6791A, intends to freeze increases in the unemployment insurance taxes that businesses pay for the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years and to increase the maximum unemployment benefit for workers who have lost their jobs by up to 10.5%. Before the bill becomes a reality there is still a long way to go, following passage in the State Senate, the bill goes to the Assembly for consideration.

At G.A.M. Law Office we work with small business owners, helping them navigate the bureaucratic legal system of licenses, reviewing contracts, representing them in court, and more! Our goal is to help small business owners so that they can focus on running their business as easily as possible. If you want to organize your business, deal with a legal issue or have the need for proper counsel call our office at +1 347 329 3952 or schedule a free consultation here!

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