The ‘Affordable Place Act’ seeks to address the problem of long-term local businesses – many owned and operated by people of color – from being priced out of DC. The legislation would create a ‘Legacy Business’ certification, provide for grants and tax abatement’s to legacy businesses and/or landlords.
As you all know for the past two decades, over 20,000 residents in the District Columbia were forced to leave the city due to gentrification. Chocolate City is on the verge of not being Chocolate city it was once known to be; the history, culture and business that these people had worked generations to create. Recently, small local businesses such as Cheers at the Big Chair, Uprising Muffins, Bizarre Spices and many others have closed their doors due to rising taxes and not affordable rents. This legislation builds on conversations sparked by legacy businesses such as Sankofa Video Books & Cafe. These are businesses that have been in the city through the worst of times and have
urged the city to find more concrete solutions to addressing the myriad issues of affordability.
The intersection of commercial evictions and skyrocketing rents is not a coincidence. While rent control
laws in the District have constantly been updated to provide residents with much needed protections from
exorbitant rent hikes, very few laws, if any, exist for small and local businesses. This legislation draws on
efforts of jurisdictions such as Buenos Aires, Barcelona, London, and San Francisco that have taken steps
to establish a comprehensive program to support local businesses.
The bill has four primary functions, including:
It Establishes the Legacy Business Program. This provision requires the Department of Small
and Local Business Development (DSLBD) to create a register of legacy businesses, promote and
raise awareness of legacy businesses, survey the needs of those businesses and provide the Mayor
and Council with recommendations to further support them, which may include recommending
the establishment of lease renewal and acquisition assistance, workshop training’s
and stabilization grants. Finally, this provision defines legacy business as a restaurant or retail
establishment that has been continuously located and headquartered in the district for a minimum
of 10 years.
2. Grants DSLBD the authority to issue financial assistance to legacy businesses, small
business enterprises (SBEs) or eligible SBEs, and landlords. Supports legacy businesses by
allowing the Department to issue grants to legacy businesses or to a landlord that enters into an
agreement with a legacy business that leases real property in the District. No grant or loan shall
exceed $50,000 per year.
3. Provides landlords with an opportunity to receive a tax abatement provided they enter into
a lease with a legacy business, SBE, or eligible SBE. Amends Chapter 8 of Title 4 of the DC
Code to allow a landlord to receive a tax abatement provided that the landlord enters into a real
property lease with a qualified legacy business or renews an expiring lease or renegotiates a
current lease below market rate.
4. Directs any revenue collected by the Discount Fee to be directed to the Legacy Business
Program rather than to the general fund. Currently, a “discount fee” is assessed every small
business enterprise on the DC Supply Schedule. All revenue collected from that fee is deposited
into the general fund and does not return to support businesses. This amendment would redirect
those funds to support the various financial incentives provided in the act.
Council Member McDuffie Introduces Affordable Place Act was originally published on kysdc.com