Surprise fines are costing small businesses up to $20,000 in Brooklyn.
Many small business owners have woken up to thousands of dollars of fines for problems with their awnings without any warning, according to Patch.com.
Since 2015, more than 100 business owners around the Fulton Street Corridor have been charged between $5,000 and $20,000. Advertising and flashy awnings are actually illegal in New York.
“These fines are very high and represent a big danger to our small businesses,” said Chandra Haram, the owner of Mellor’s Drug Store at 3343 Fulton St. “We are struggling to pay our rent.”
Another small business owner, Chief Samsair, the owner of Roti on the Run, was fined $5,000 for the red neon sign that had been on display for more than a decade. Samsair had to remove the sign.
“We have lost a lot of customers due to the fact that our clients think that the store is closing or that we are out of business,” Samsair said. “We have been dealing with this situation for over a year, but the regulation is very complex, time-consuming and very expensive.”
A group of shop owners have asked the City Council Housing and Buildings Committee to approve legislation related to the issue.
Brooklyn city Councilman Rafael Espinal, who sponsored the bill, believes that the policy targets small business owners who provide important services to their neighborhoods.
“We should be supporting these entrepreneurs and helping them thrive,” Espinal said in Patch.com, “rather than pushing them to extinction over petty ‘gotcha’ fines that are easily avoidable with the right education.”