#SaveNYC is a grassroots, crowd-sourced, DIY movement
to raise awareness and take action for protecting and preserving the diversity and uniqueness of the urban fabric in New York City.
As our vibrant streetscapes and neighborhoods are turned into bland, suburban-style shopping malls, filled with chain stores and glossy luxury retail, #SaveNYC is fighting for small businesses and cultural institutions.
Our mission is to bring attention to the plight of Mom and Pop, raise awareness of the issues, and encourage state and city government to implement protections for small businesses and cultural institutions across the five boroughs of New York City.
How can we save New York? Here are some ideas.
Today, more than ever, the soul of New York City is getting murdered by rising rents, suburbanization, rampant development, and a flood of chain businesses. Hyper-gentrification is destroying the cultural fabric of the city.
The devastation has been overwhelming. Protecting what remains will require a multi-pronged approach:
1. Pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) to create fair negotiations of commercial lease renewals, so landlords can’t use insane rent hikes to evict dependable and beloved business people.
- Sign the petition for the SBJSA here
- Read more about the bill here
- Click here to find your local council members — call and write, tell them to pass this bill now
- Tweet your local council member, @NYCCouncil, and @MMViverito as often as possible and tell them to pass the SBJSA
2. Start a Cultural Landmarks program. While general commercial rent control may be unworkable, we can protect what little remains of the city’s oldest and most beloved small businesses by creating a selective rent control program. Rent control can be gifted to businesses that qualify for Cultural Landmarking. Local communities can nominate the businesses they want to protect.
- San Francisco is leading the charge in this department–see SF Heritage for how they’re doing it. As of June 2015, it’s getting on the ballot.
- Barcelona is doing it too.
3. Control the spread of chain businesses. Again, City Hall should follow the example of San Francisco, where the city controls “formula retail.” If Giuliani could keep adult businesses from operating near one another, then de Blasio can keep national chains from doing the same. A few chains are not a problem, but New York is being strangled by them. They drive up rents, contributing to the eviction of small businesses, as they destroy the unique character of the urban landscape, turning the city into Anywhere, USA.
- See what San Francisco is doing here.
- The mayor of Jersey City has a similar proposal–listen to Mr. Fulop on Brian Lehrer
- Read more about protecting cities from chain stores here.
4. Take the million-dollar tax breaks away from Big Business and give them to Mom and Pop — and to Grandma and Grandpa.
Businesses that own their buildings are not safe either. They struggle with sky-high water bills and a Kafkaesque Department of Health. They often don’t know how to market themselves in the new age of social media, and they’re being bled alive by encroaching chains. Give them tax breaks, along with lower fees for violations and help with creative marketing.
5. Fine landlords who leave commercial spaces vacant, creating blight and blocking out small businesspeople while they wait for the right sky-high price, usually from a chain or luxury business.
- In London, as an incentive to keep shops in use, and rents down, tax relief was taken away from businesses that keep properties empty for longer than 6 months.
- Why do so many storefronts stay vacant? Read this article from Gothamist.
- The New Yorker‘s Tim Wu calls it “high-rent blight.”
It is time to take action and to demand action from our city government. Save New York! Join the Save New York Facebook page to start organizing with other New Yorkers today. Use the hashtag #SaveNYC when you tweet. Find us here on Instagram.
Vanishing New York