Commercial Landlords are Destroying Communities

by Donathan Salkaln


The Chelsea Reform Democratic Club's general membership meeting, held on May 20th at Hudson Guild’s Chelsea/Elliott Community Center (441 W. 26th St.), had the privilege of hearing from Julie Menin, the hard working New York City Commissioner for Consumer Affairs. Her report included updates of litigation involving impropriety at nail salons, a significant reduction in city inspector business fines, the required postings of prices for all street vendors, and a program to help people deal with bankruptcy and another for doing taxes for free for all New Yorker's that make $60,000 or less a year. All important causes by themselves.

But in the perfect world, the NYC Office of Consumer Affairs with their staff of over 400, would take a lead in stopping the continual erosion of our local consumer goods and services by advocating a new plan to contain commercial landlords from jacking up rents beyond comprehension. Across the city banks, drug store chains, nail salons, and coffee bars all eat Mom and Pop stores —not just breakfast —but every breakfast. Stores close and suddenly their goods, services, workers, and owners, all with a big stake in our community, vanish.  A big piece of our lives, our conversations, vanish with it.

Everyone that breaths city air, most likely, has a story of an impasse between landlord and long time commercial tenant that affected their lives in ways that matter to us...  Mine, in NYC, began when a chunk of my life (and tab) left town when Jimmy of Jimmy Dowd's Bar (23rd St. near Tenth Ave.) had enough of the landlord and moved back to Ireland. Then La Taza de Oro ll (Eighth Ave. near 20th) closed, taking with it their octopus salad. Eighth Ave's Galaxy Diner, with their free newspapers I used to read over a reasonably priced breakfasts, moved out. My mattress place, close enough on Eighth Avenue for a friend and I to lug bedding home, is now sleeping with the fish.Eighth Avenue's Havana, that served the best tasting Cuban sandwiches, is toast, as are my quick bites and small talk at Frank's Deli (Ninth Ave. and 20th St.). Camouflage, with their independent designer wear that kept me warm, was left out in the cold. More recently the original La Taza de Oro  (Eighth & 15th) and 9th Avenue's Knickerbocker Meats have shuttered their doors (my new butcher is in Brooklyn). I've even lost hair following my barber from his original digs on 23rd Street near Seventh Avenue to all corners of the city. Yakob is now a short walk from East Village Cheese Shop, which soon closes, taking with it my smooth brie and whitefish salad. And my fellow Yankee fan, Alan of Alan's Video Alley, Part lll? Come this July, he's scripted back on the street.

My wife simply does her grocery shopping in New Jersey as New York City's prices are, as she puts it, "outrageous." Is that anyway to protect the NYC consumer? Go to Jersey?

Over eight million NYC's consumers are not being looked after in either mind, money, or matter.  Communities are being uprooted. It's time for Consumer Affairs to aid the NYC consumer. New York City is ready for new ideas.


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Chelsea Reform Democratic Club
PO Box 1120,
Old Chelsea Station,
New York, NY, 10113-1120