More Fines For Outer Boro Businesses
By Luis Gronda
The City’s outer boroughs have become the target for increased inspections and fines, according to a report released by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio last week.
|Public Advocate Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference in Richmond Hill, accusing the City of fining small businesses in the Outer Boroughs more than Manhattan. Photo by Joe Marvilli|
The report, titled “Borough Bia$: How the Bloomberg Administration Drains Outer Borough Businesses,” shows that there have been increased fines and inspections to businesses outside of Manhattan in the past three years.
Speaking to the Queens Tribune on his report, de Blasio said that it looks like communities such as Richmond Hill took on the majority of the increased fines and inspections because of its immigrant population.
“That’s what I wonder and that’s what I fear,” he said. “We don’t have anything in this data, or some smoking gun, that 100 percent confirms that, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong.”
According to the report, between 2010 and 2012, inspections by the Dept. of Consumer Affairs have increased by 66 percent; violations from that department have spiked by 153 percent and revenue from those fines have sky-rocketed by 102 percent.
The same is true for the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene. The report says that, for that same time period, inspections visits have increased by 55 percent to the tune of over 98,000 visits. Violations and revenue from those violations also spiked for that city agency by 73 percent and 90 percent respectively.
Businesses in the other four boroughs face more inspections and pay more fines than those in Manhattan. According to the report, businesses in Queens face two percent more inspections and four percent more in fines compared to Manhattan. The Bronx is the hardest hit by the increased fines and inspections, showing eight percent and seven percent increases over Manhattan in the last three years.
The report breaks those numbers down further by specific neighborhoods. For Queens, the neighborhoods with the highest rates of inspections and violations by the DCA are South Ozone Park, Woodhaven, St. Albans and Bellaire. South Ozone Park had 348 inspections from the DCA, 2.5 times more than the City average, the report states, while businesses in Woodhaven had 223 DCA violations issued, which is three times more than the average citywide.
Laurelton and Rosedale were the two neighborhoods that paid the most in fines issued by the DCA last year, according to the report. Shops in Laurelton paid $253,668 in fines in 2012, which is six times more compared to Manhattan, while Rosedale paid $193,400 in that same year. East Elmhurst also appears on the report’s list, paying $76,419 in fines last year.
De Blasio has publicly criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, specifically Council Speaker Christine Quinn, stating that the City targets the outer boroughs for more fines and inspections. At a press conference held Monday afternoon in Richmond Hill, de Blasio said that the City is using small businesses in Queens as an ATM.
De Blasio also criticized Quinn, both whom are running to be the next Mayor of New York, for not doing enough to prevent the imbalance of fines and inspections.
“I don’t think it’s a state secret that the Council leadership has taken a big pass on this issue,” de Blasio said. “This is a case of [Quinn] looking the other way in a very big way because she’s not going to challenge [Bloomberg] on it.”
In response to de Blasio’s comments, City Council spokesman Justin Goodman said in an email that Quinn has a record in coming up with results that positively affect small businesses including creating a penalty relief initiative that saved business owners and individuals $36 million in fines and interest.
“Her record on supporting small businesses is second to none,” Goodman said in a statement.
The Mayor’s office has not responded to requests for comment on the report as of press time, but Bloomberg spoke about it during his weekly radio appearance on WOR on Friday.
He said that the reason for more inspections outside of Manhattan is because there are more small businesses in those outer boroughs.
“Manhattan’s population is 1.5 million out of 8.4 million so that shouldn’t be a surprise that there are more places to inspect,” Bloomberg said. “Our job is to make sure that you don’t get sick, for example, if you eat their food.”
Reporter Joe Marvilli also contributed to this report.
Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127 or at email@example.com.