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City Launches ‘Fix it; Don’t Fine it’ Campaign, Aims to Provide Relief to Small Businesses

Small Businesses on Roosevelt Avenue

Feb. 24, 2020 By Kristen Torres

A new initiative announced by the mayor’s office aims to provide more financial relief to small business owners.

The de Blasio administration’s Fix It, Don’t Fine It initiative was rolled out last week that aims to eliminate fines for many first time violations and expand the universe of violations that will have cure periods.

The city has cut fines for small businesses by 40 percent since 2014, and plans to cut an additional 10 percent by the time de Blasio leaves office, according to the mayor’s office.

“New York City is not New York City without our small businesses,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We will not be a city that gives in to corporate takeover. Instead, we’ll fight for our mom-and-pops and do all we can to help them thrive.”

The mayor’s office gave examples of first time violations that will be forgiven. They include a $100 fine that a business owner could be slapped with for not cleaning 18 inches from the curb into the street; or a $560 fine for an air compressor deemed to loud.

The city also plans to provide cure periods for an expanded list of violations. The mayor plans to give business owners more time to rectify violations such as failure to put a scale in clear sight of customer ($75); failure to disclose details about layaway plans ($260 penalty); and the failure to post a clear price list at laundromats ($375 penalty).

The city is reviewing a list of violations to be part of the program. Most are issued by the Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, Department of Sanitation, and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

The city’s DOB and DOT can also instate their own rule changes, and will begin providing additional relief in the fall.

The administration also said it will work to update department summonses to include clear explanations for how to fix certain violations.

“Local, small businesses are the life blood of neighborhoods like those in my district,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who represents Bushwick, Williamsburg and Ridgewood.

“In recent years, New York City has put a lot of requirements on small businesses. We cannot continuously dump fines on businesses without offering them relief,” he said.

Other Queens elected officials also praised the new initiative. Council Member I. Daneek Miller, who represents parts of southeast Queens, said more often than not small businesses “suffer because of punitive fines” and owners not “fully understanding the rules of engagement.”

State Senator James Sanders, who represents parts of Jamaica, said he hopes the new rule changes encourages more entrepreneurship in the borough.

“Reducing fines and helping educate business owners on how to resolve or pay off penalties is a positive step forward but there is more to be done,” Sanders said.

Small businesses have saved more than $100 million since violation relief began, according to the mayor’s office.

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