Thursday, January 24, 2008

Misplaced City Priorities

AS the NY Sun reports this morning the mayor signed the plastic bag recycling bill into law yesterday. We've commented extensively on the foolishness here, but it's worth repeating that the law is yet another example of the way in which this administration, aided and abetted by the city council, disdains local business.

Regulatory costs and higher taxes keep piling up over the last six years, with no concomitant policies for the growing of the local neighborhood economies. This is particularly egregious when we look at supermarkets in the city.

Manhattan is hemorrhaging supermarkets, as rising rents force out local food stores to make way for drug stores and banks. Now we're finding that other areas of the city are experiencing the same phenomenon. Councilman Comrie tells us that his district in Southeast Queens has lost four supermarkets, Clearly, this is becoming a big problem.

Instead of over-regulating supermarkets and other food stores, the city should be devising a policy to stimulate their increase. Providing healthy food items is a key service that the city feels it must encourage-to wit, the silly green cart and green market efforts-yet the city fails to address the loss of the outlets that do provide neighborhoods, especially those where health issues are most severe, with healthy food options.

So instead of new supermarkets in underserved neighborhood, we get green carts that will cannibalize the business that their already doing-since overhead isn't comparable. Supermarkets and green grocers should be identified as the essential city services that they are. Tax and regulatory relief, grants and construction loans, all should be part of a NYC stimulus package that addresses the health crisis in the correct way: through the building of new markets that provide communities with healthy food.