2/21/13

Public Advocate: Bloomberg Administration Targets Outer Boros for Fines, Inspections

According to a new report from the Office of Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill deBlasio, small business inspections, violations and fines in New York City rose dramatically during the Bloomberg administration, with the brunt of more frequent inspections and fines falling on outer borough businesses.

You'd have thought in 2010, with the city struggling through a deep recession, deBlasio said, it would have cut small business owners some slack, but that's when it began a campaign of unannounced inspections, sharply increasing violations and fines on city businesses to make up for lost revenue -- filling budget shortfalls on the backs of outer borough businesses.

That trend continues.

de Blasio had to sue the city to get the data on how and why it has been fining small businesses.  The report published by his office analyzes that data by neighborhood.

The resulting analysis shows a dramatic increase in enforcement efforts by the city Department of Consumer Affairs and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to increase revenue through inspections, citations and fines, primarily in the outer boroughs.

Some findings from the report:
  • There were deep inequities across the boroughs in frequency of inspections and likelihood of penalties.
  • Outer borough businesses got inspected more often compared to the citywide average, with Brooklyn businesses 4% percent more likely to get inspected.
  • Outer borough businesses pay more in fines, with Brooklyn paying 5% more than the citywide average. 
  • Four of the 10 neighborhoods with the highest rate of health violations per restaurant were in Brooklyn.
  • Red Hook was among the most heavily fined neighborhoods by DCA in FY 2012.
  • DCA targets 31% of its fines at small retail businesses in Brooklyn, although they make up only 26% of the city’s small retail businesses, while Manhattan, with 41% of the city's small businesses, gets just 23% of total fines.
  • Between FY 2010 and 2012, DCA upped inspections by 66%, violations by 153%, and revenue from fines by 102%.
  • During the same period, DOHMH upped inspections by 55%, to 98,176, increased violations issued by 73%, and upped revenue from fines by 90%.
  • Together, DCA and DOHMH pulled in a total of $50 million in annual fine revenue during this period.
  • Even as violations spiked, individual fines fell 30%, reflecting more low-level violations.
The report from the Office of the Public Advocate.

Mayor Bloomberg reacts to the report [City and State.]

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