You are reading

Ramos Says SLA is Slamming Restaurants With ‘Exorbitant Fines’ And it Needs to Stop

State Sen. Jessica Ramos joined the New York State Latino Restaurant, Bar and Lounge Association Thursday to call on the SLA to remedy the “excessive” fines issued to small businesses (Twitter /@jessicaramos)

Aug. 27, 2020 By Allie Griffin

State Sen. Jessica Ramos penned a letter to the State Liquor Authority (SLA) Wednesday calling on the agency to stop hitting small restaurant owners with hefty fines.

The lawmaker claims that the agency’s fines and “harassment tactics” are unfair, and come at a time when many business owners are struggling to stay afloat.

Ramos, along with two dozen other state senators, are calling on the SLA to immediately halt its “harsh punishment” against local restaurants and bars who need all the help they can get.

The agency has been tasked with enforcing the governor’s COVID-19 regulations to control the spread of the virus and keep New Yorkers safe. The political leaders argue that the agency has adopted a draconian approach that has been hurting restaurants and bars.

The SLA has issued nearly 900 violations to businesses across the state and suspended 162 liquor licenses, according to the latest SLA report. Fifty-one establishments in Queens have seen their liquor licenses yanked — more than any other borough or county in the state.

Businesses found in violation of COVID-19 regulations face fines of up to $10,000 per violation, while egregious violations can result in the immediate suspension of a bar or restaurant’s liquor license.

The senators said the “exorbitant fines” are putting small business owners further in debt after they have struggled financially for months amid the coronavirus shutdowns.

“Strict enforcement guidelines and high fines are destroying businesses’ chance to survive the economic catastrophe brought by the pandemic,” Ramos and her colleagues wrote.

However, the SLA maintains that it regularly reduces fines when business owners agree to corrective action plans that protect the public health.

The senators also allege that the SLA’s task force has used harassment tactics against small businesses. Ramos wrote that she and her fellow senators have heard of such instances in which SLA investigators used sirens and megaphones to taunt owners with the threat of closure during business hours.

The SLA said that its employees don’t use megaphones, but members of the NYPD or Sheriff’s Office may have.

Still, the lawmakers want to see the agency do better.

“We are publicly calling on you to lower the excessive fines, create a clear and transparent policy for restaurants to come into compliance, and end the blatant harassment that has been leveraged against small businesses across the state,” they wrote.

They also said that the state and city guidance for restaurants and outdoor dining has repeatedly changed — often with warning.

“After the March order to stop serving patrons, conflicting and disingenuous guidance has been given to restaurant owners who are attempting to reopen and stay open safely,” the senators said in the letter. “The Mayor and Governor have changed requirements and expanded enforcement capabilities without properly informing the public or providing them with due process.”

They said the administration must teach businesses and issue the guidance in multiple languages before punishing them. They added that business owners also deserve a right to a hearing and due process before they are fined.

Other Queens senators who signed the letter include Senators Joseph Addabbo, Leroy Comrie, John Liu and Toby Ann Stavisky.

“We are calling on the SLA to take immediate action to remedy their harsh punishment against small businesses when they need our support most,” the 25 senators wrote.

A spokesperson for the agency said their letter is “simply misinformed.”

“The SLA has had uniform standards for bars and restaurants from day one — posted publicly on our website — and I’d encourage these senators to actually read them before writing a politically-motivated missive,” the spokesperson said.

“These rules have been on the books for months, and enforcement is our last option to protect New Yorkers after continued non-compliance.”

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Porn actor Ron Jeremy, who grew up in Bayside, found unable to stand trial for rape

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles judge on Tuesday, Jan. 17, declared that porn performer Ron Jeremy is mentally incompetent to stand trial on dozens of rape and sexual assault counts.

Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Harris said in a hearing that after reviewing reports from both prosecutors and Jeremy’s defense that he is in “incurable neurocognitive decline” from which he is unlikely to recover.