Owners and managers of bars and restaurants on the Upper East Side got together with representatives of City agencies to discuss issues affecting the industry here.
The event was organized by Public Advocate Letitia James' office in an effort to build a more collaborative relationship between the City and the businesses it regulates. I was invited by the co-chairs of Community Board 8's small business committee because of my work educating and organizing neighborhood residents around problems faced by small businesses.
The discussion was productive at first, though I don't think anyone left satisfied. Business owners and managers aired legitimate grievances about inaccurate/outdated information on City websites, inspectors issuing arbitrary and inconsistent violations, and inspectors coming at inopportune times. There was also, understandably, a lot of emotion about the seeming lack of engagement by the City and foul treatment of businesses by landlords and neighbors. The representatives of the City didn't do a great job assuring anyone that they would make changes to in response to any of their immediate concerns.
I'm hopeful I'll be able to work with the Community Board and other local groups to get some of these concerns addressed.