Over a hundred business leaders have expressed “widespread anxiety” over issues plaguing New York City, calling on Mayor de Blasio to clean the streets and tackle crime.
“There is widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods across the five boroughs,” the 163 signatories wrote in a Thursday letter to the mayor.
“We urge you to take immediate action to restore essential services as a necessary precursor for solving the city’s longer-term, complex, economic challenges,” they wrote.
The 163 signatories included the chiefs of Etsy, MasterCard, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, as well as leaders of local chambers of commerce.
The letter comes amid a surge in crime in the Big Apple. Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 6, the number of victims of shootings went up by 97.2 percent compared to the same period last year, New York Police Department statistics show (pdf). The number of murders, meanwhile, has increased by 35 percent in the same timeframe. Trash, too, has been piling up across New York City after the sanitation department’s budget was slashed by millions. In June, $106 million was cut from the department‘s budget, reducing pickup for public litter baskets by 60 percent, local outlet CBS2 reported.
The letter calls for urgent action, otherwise, people will be reluctant to come to the city, undercutting the fledgling economic recovery.
“We need to send a strong, consistent message that our employees, customers, clients and visitors will be coming back to a safe and healthy work environment,” the business leaders wrote. “People will be slow to return unless their concerns about security and the livability of our communities are addressed quickly and with respect and fairness for our city’s diverse populations.”
The Partnership for New York City (PFNYC), a nonprofit that focuses on research, policy formulation, and issue advocacy, warned in a July study (pdf) that up to a third of the city’s 230,000 small businesses may never reopen.
“The abrupt cessation of travel and tourism had a devastating impact on hospitality, retail, cultural, and entertainment venues, particularly the city’s 27,000 restaurants,” they pointed out in the study, saying that New York City’s highly valued cultural, social, and entertainment assets will most likely stay at least partially closed until next year.
Kathryn Wylde, the president of PFNYC, told the New York Times in an interview that the executives find the city’s woes risk disruption to business activity as employees are reluctant to return to offices amid worries about their safety.
“All these employers are committed to the city, they want to see economic recovery, but they’re getting pushback from their employees about, will the city be safe, will the city be clean,” she said.
De Blasio spokesman Bill Neidhardt, responding to the letter in a statement, called on the business leaders to join the mayor’s pleas for more long-term borrowing and federal stimulus.
“If these business leaders joined us in this fight, it would be a boon to every New Yorker,” he said.
It comes after a group of restaurants in New York City filed a class-action lawsuit (pdf) against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio, seeking $2 billion for damages resulting from the city’s indoor dining ban. The restaurant industry had been severely impacted by the lockdown measures to curb the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus outbreak. As the state moved into its re-opening phases, restaurants in New York state were able to reopen indoor spaces at half capacity since the middle of June, but New York officials postponed the reopening of indoor dining for the city.
Cuomo said on Sept. 9 that New York City restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining on Sept. 30, although under a restrictive set of rules.
“Strict restrictions will be in place,” Cuomo said in a tweet, detailing the constraints. Restaurants will be limited to 25 percent capacity, all customers will have to submit to a temperature check at the door and wear masks when not seated at a table, which must be arranged at least six feet apart.
Also, one member of each party will have to give contact tracing information. There will be no bar service, and restaurants must close by midnight while being held to more stringent air filtration and purification standards.