Many of these establishments were once icons that created the character of their communities.
Businesses like the Sports Authority in Woodside, Sunnyside Center Cinemas, and countless restaurants and diners are all closing in neighborhoods across Queens.
Some include the Georgia Diner in Elmhurst, Gold Star in Bayside, The Palace in Flushing, Tazzina in Forest Hills, and Ben's Best in Rego Park.
Even a major pharmacy, Duane Reade, closed its doors this spring in Maspeth, and Barnes and Noble has left Queens. The K-Mart in Middle Village is slated to close its doors by October.
New York City is built on a foundation of small business to sustain itself. According to the Small Business Congress, every month 1,200 businesses close with 8,000 jobs lost to New Yorkers.
According to a report by the City Council, 600,000 people in New York City are employed by small businesses or restaurants.
But with the rent prices going up unchecked, many businesses are closing their doors, thousands are losing their jobs every month, and the view of vacant storefronts becomes an ever-more prevalent eye-sore.
The Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) is critically needed to lend support to the small businesses in our neighborhoods. Recently reintroduced by Councilman Ydanis Rodriquez, it is the longest-pending legislation in City Council history.
It was first introduced in 1986. How many businesses might still be standing today if this bill had passed back then?
The bill would grant small business owners the right to negotiate for a lease of up to 10 years, mandating a third-party arbitrator if fair terms cannot be agreed upon, and give restrictions to prevent landlords from passing property taxes onto small business owners.
This bill has been championed by small businesses for over 30 years as a way to fight the rising rent prices, unfair lease terms, short-term leases, and illegal extortion of money from landlords.
Concerns that the bill has been watered down, rendering it worthless, would mean that passing the bill would be in name only. Passing the SBJSA and retaining the integrity of it's purpose is critical to the small businesses of our neighborhoods.
While the SBJSA may not solve all the problems of small businesses in New York, it would help. Something is better than nothing.
It is finally time for the City Council to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and help save small businesses. Or will yet another decade pass, with thousands of local businesses closing?