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Share How City Regulations Are Hurting Small Businesses in Flatiron Hearing

By Noah Hurowitz | December 8, 2015 4:28pm
 Comptroller Scott Stringer will hold a hearing for his Red Tape Commission on Thursday morning in the Flatiron.
Comptroller Scott Stringer will hold a hearing for his Red Tape Commission on Thursday morning in the Flatiron.
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FLATIRON — Comptroller Scott Stringer’s Red Tape Commission will convene on Thursday morning to collect the gripes of Manhattan small business owners as part of a bid to help reduce the city's clutter of business regulations.

The hearing is the fifth and final public meeting of the commission, which has held similar meetings in each borough in order to identify ways in which the city’s "maze" of regulations make it hard for small business owners to stay afloat.

Concerns about slow response times at city agencies, broken parking meters, and a general lack of helpful business knowledge in city government has dominated previous meetings.

The testimonies of business owners will be included in the commission’s final report, which will be a “bottom-up” review of how various city regulations are affecting business growth and will give suggestions as to how the city can better help entrepreneurs instead of hindering them.

Stringer launched the commission, which is made up of local business leaders, in an effort to free entrepreneurs from an excessive bureaucracy, he said.

“Even as these companies power our economy, government has created a nightmare of regulations, and small business owners are feeling the pain,” Stringer said in a video explaining the commission.

One such business owner is Deborah Koenigsberger, owner of the boutique Noir et Blanc, and the Thrifty HoG, a nonprofit thrift store that employs homeless women in the Flatiron. She has wrestled with the Landmarks Preservation Commission over changes to her store's sign, which the agency said wasn't in line with the Madison Square Park North Historic District, Koenigsberger said.

Between delayed responses from the agency and unclear requirements over what kind of sign she was allowed, Koenigsberger said she has wasted time and money, adding that she hopes the Red Tape Commission will help make things easier for herself and other business owners.

“We have enough battles just being in small business, and we need the system to be easier," she said. “I’m hoping they take this seriously and don’t just use it as some step on a political ladder.”

The hearing will be held on Dec. 10 at 8:30 a.m. on the second floor of Civic Hall, 156 Fifth Ave. at West 20th Street.