City Council Passes Numerous Small Business Relief Bills

City Council Passes Numerous Small Business Relief Bills
The panelists met over Zoom this morning to share support.

Early this morning, city restaurateurs, councilmembers, and members of the NYC Hospitality Alliance gathered remotely to spread their support for bills brought before the New York City City Council today.

The bills, part of the COVID-19 Relief Package, include capping delivery app fees at 5%, or 15% when the app provides a delivery worker, the waiving and refunding of certain sidewalk cafe fees, fines for delivery apps that charge restaurants for phone calls in which no orders take place, and personal liability provisions to leases of commercial tenants.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, presided over the panel members, along with Speaker Corey Johnson.

Restaurateurs Melba Wilson and Gabriel Stulman voiced their enthusiastic support of these bills, and thanked councilmembers for their support and efforts.

“When you take away a restaurant from a community, you also tear down the fabric of that community. You’re not just taking away a job from an employee, you’re taking jobs away from farmers, from different vendors, from chefs, and from vineyards. So, I want to thank you so much for your dedication and fight to cap the fees from third-party delivery apps,” Wilson said.

The delivery fee cap efforts were started last year, Chair Mark Gjonaj said, and could be especially important if the recently announced potential merger of Grubhub and UberEats goes through.

“Give me the life that if I fail I can at least get back up and rebuild again. If it’s not enough anxiety that everyone in the world is facing that we’ve all been flatlining, let that be enough. Don’t let me also live with an added fear that losing my business isn’t sufficient, I might also lose my personal bank account. It’s literally inhumane,” Stulman said, strongly supporting the bill to protect tenant’s personal provisions during this crisis.

Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who sponsored bill 19-32, lamented the inhumanity of landlords attempting to raise rents during this pandemic.

City Council Legislative Clerk William Martin called for votes on the bills, all of which passed today.

“We need New York to come back stronger than ever, and our small businesses make us strong,” Johnson said during the Council meeting following the panel. Councilmembers brought up statistics about the city’s small businesses, saying that they employ nearly half of the city’s workforce, yet again reiterating the importance of relief.

The bills (1916 A, 1940 A, 1936 A, 1898 A, 1908 B, 1914 A, and 1932 A) all passed overwhelmingly, and will now be sent on to Mayor Bill de Blasio. Councilmembers hope for and expect a swift signing. A full list of the Council’s bills voted on today can be found here. Only six of the 50 Councilmembers voted nay to parts of the package, with zero total denial votes.

Councilmembers and restaurateurs both stressed during this morning’s presser that the passing of these bills is just the beginning, and that undoubtedly more help for businesses will be needed as the pandemic crisis progresses.