Testimony of the Real Estate Board of New York to the Committee On Housing and Buildings of the New York City Council Concerning Int. 790 and Int. 1710.


September 24, 2019

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REBNY thanks the Council for the opportunity to testify on Int. 0790 and Int. 1710.

BILL: Intro No. 0790-2018

SUBJECT: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to outdoor signs

SPONSORS: Van Bramer

While we are not aware of this being a widespread issue, REBNY understands that members of the public have expressed concerns about signage in certain vacant commercial properties being out of character with the local neighborhood. As drafted, however, the bill imposes a one-size fits all solution that would make it harder for potential tenants to find available space for their businesses.

Int. 790 would amend the New York City administrative code to limit the number of ground and wall signs advertising vacancy in retail and commercial space to one per side of the building. While many Councilmembers have expressed concerns about vacant storefronts, this bill would make it more difficult for potential tenants to identify vacant space by limiting owner’s ability to advertise their space.

Specifically, we are concerned that the proposed legislation treats all buildings equally, ignoring any difference in size and scope of retail space. This would mean larger buildings with multiple entrances occupying a full city block would be permitted the same number of signs as a smaller, mid-block space with a single entrance. Further, if adopted, a building with multiple retail or commercial vacancies on the same side of the street would be unable to separately advertise each of those spaces. Similarly, in buildings where retail space is also located on the second floor, the owner could be prevented from identifying that space as vacant at all.

The proposed action is a superfluous constraint on a building owner’s ability to lease or sell its space for commercial and retail use, further exacerbating the existing commercial vacancy problem. REBNY stands ready to work with the Council to help address community member concerns about signage advertising vacant space at buildings across the city. Where particular concerns are raised in buildings owned by our members, we would welcome the chance to work with the Council, the community, and our members to address those concerns.

BILL: Intro No. 1710-2019

SUBJECT: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to exemption from taxation and improvements to multiple dwellings

SPONSORS: Richards

REBNY expresses its support for Int. 1710, which extends the J-51 tax exemption and abatement program. Like the Council, we recognize this program’s importance in continuing to provide New Yorkers with a quality housing stock.

Thank you for considering our views.