WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES NOVEMBER 26, 2020 13
Our businesses are suff ering enough
BY RICHARD LEE
Small businesses are the backbone
of our economy. One would think
that with the pandemic, the city
would do everything in its power to
help our small businesses survive.
Yet, as businesses face hurdle aft er
hurdle, the city has instead taken this
opportunity to issue needless fi nes as a
mechanism to generate revenue.
Mr. K., who wanted to remain anonymous,
owns a restaurant in Murray Hill,
Queens. His restaurant was forced to
remain closed for in-person dining in
the early months of the pandemic. Yet,
instead of worrying about losses, he
donated hundreds of meals to frontline
When the mayor announced outdoor
dining, he spent thousands of dollars to
set up his outdoor structure, making
sure he complied with stated guidelines.
When the Department of Transportation
stopped by, they even remarked
how great of an outdoor dining setup
However, aft er operating for several
weeks, the Fire Department stopped by
for an inspection and indicated that his
structure violated fi re code, issued him
violations and forced him to take down
the structure immediately. Mr. K.’s
experience isn’t isolated. Other business
owners have exclaimed similar
Our city has major financial
problems; we get that. But it shouldn’t
be trying to balance its own budget on
the backs of small businesses. Small
businesses should not be getting hit
with violations and fi nes without the
chance to resolve the infractions that
they had no idea about in the fi rst place.
There needs to be an opportunity for
corrective measures rather than burdensome
There also needs to be open lines of
communication and clearer standards
for our businesses to meet. Small businesses
should know what’s allowable
and what’s not from the get-go and not
be forced to pay fi nes or close because
one city agency said one thing while another
agency said something diff erent.
The mayor needs to immediately form
an inter-agency task force on small
business that will create a uniform set
of standards for small businesses to follow
amidst this pandemic, and moving
We can, and must, do better if the
small businesses we all love are going
to get through this and continue to be a
part of rebuilding the Queens economy.
They deserve it.
Richard Lee is a candidate for the City
Council in the 19th District. He currently
serves as Budget Director for the Queens
Borough President. He and his wife also
operate a small business in Queens.
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY GEORGE SEBASTIAN
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