By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn’s small business owners would be hit with fewer “gotcha” tickets for such things as sidewalk litter if city agencies were required to spell out the regulations, according to City Councilman David Greenfield, who has introduced legislation to put the onus on the city to inform merchants of the rules instead of putting the burden on shopkeepers to memorize the sometimes lengthy list of policies.
Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Bensonhurst) said his bill would require city agencies to provide businesses with a guide to the laws and codes governing their specific industry, as well as any recent changes to those regulations and to the inspection process. The agencies would be required to mail the guides to individual storeowners and post the information online. Under the bill, agencies would have to provide the comprehensive guides four times a year.
“It is only fair that the city clearly explain to business owners all of the rules and regulations it expects them to follow,” Greenfield said. “This legislation would make it much easier for business owners of all types to understand exactly what rules they need to abide by to keep the public safe and to avoid receiving fines. I have heard from so many frustrated business owners about how difficult and expensive it is to operate in New York City, so I will continue to fight on their behalf to make it fairer for all sides,” he said.
The flow of information, particularly involving changes in regulations, would help business owners stay up to date on the laws they are required to follow to avoid the onerous and hefty fines that make doing business in the five boroughs an expensive proposition, Greenfield said.
Jim Clark, president of the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, said the proposed legislation sounded like a good idea to him. “It would help the small business owner to know about any changes in city regulations,” said Clark, whose group represents more than 250 store owners on Fifth Avenue between 65th and 85th Streets.
But Clark also expressed concern for the city’s bottom line. “Sending out all of these guides sounds like a very expensive and cumbersome thing for the city to have to do. They could do it in an e-mail,” he said.
The bill is intended to improve the communication gap between various city agencies including Consumer Affairs, the Department of Health, and business owners, according to Greenfield.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the city’s economy and a major aspect of every neighborhood. There's no excuse for a 'gotcha ticket.' The city must inform business owners when rules change,” Greenfield said.