This legislation has been recommended by the City Planning Commission -- under the leadership of chairman Joe Rose, and it would reform our city's zoning regulations to allow for much larger stores to be permitted in New York City in light and medium manufacturing districts.
I have always been very concerned about the fact that people in New York City have to pay more - sometimes much more - for basic goods and services than they do almost anywhere else in the United States. Certainly, New Yorkers have to pay more for food and other things that are of necessity than people who live right near by, like in Nassau, Westchester, and New Jersey.
I'm committed to removing this unfair and unnecessary burden from our citizens in every way possible. And to have prices in New York City be competitive and fair .
Upon taking office, one of the things we put on the list to accomplish and have accomplished was the elimination of the Commercial Rent Tax in the Bronx, in Queens, in Brooklyn, in Staten Island and in Manhattan north of 96th Street, and the reduction of the tax in the area south of 96th Street. This is a tax that exists only in New York City and actually taxes companies on the rent they pay.
Eliminating this tax in four-fifths of the city was designed to help small businesses in those communities, but also to help them charge lower prices and not have to charge such high prices to consumers.
And we are further seeking now to reduce costs for consumers through our efforts to enact a reduction in the sales tax and maybe even an elimination of the sales tax on clothing purchases of $500 or less.
But taxes aren't the only reason that prices in New York City are too high. There is also what I often refer to as the "cost of living myth," which makes businesses, some of them, feel that in New York City they can get away with charging more, simply because New Yorkers are used to paying more.
Recently in our battle to lower commercial auto rates, we have fought the cost of living myth, forcing insurers to justify their pricing.
And in the area of retail, the problem is made worse by the fact that while New York is the most densely populated city in the United States, we have less retail space per capita than just about any other major city. Further inflating the cost of goods, the prices you have to pay as New Yorkers.
Paying higher prices is a hardship for all New Yorkers, but it becomes an even bigger problem, when it affects the price of food and other essentials of every day life -- and worse still, when our poorest neighborhoods are often forced to pay the highest prices.
Studies have shown that shoppers pay an average of 9 percent more for groceries in our city's low-income neighborhoods. And worse still, the stores in those communities tend to be smaller, and often provide lower-quality food. Now, I have a great appreciation of our city's many convenience stores and many people choose to pay extra for the accessibility and expediency of those markets. But people shouldn't be limited to only stores that charge premium prices.
It's kind of funny, but one of the most surprising things to a lot of people when they leave the city and visit Virginia, or Florida, or Connecticut, or even New Jersey is the supermarkets -- They're large, and clean, with wide aisles, tremendous selections and much lower prices. 20 per cent, 30 per cent lower than what people see here in New York City.
With the zoning reforms currently before the council, those kinds of big supermarkets with those values and lower prices can be available to the people of the City of New York.
This legislation will help increase that kind of retail space, and other kinds of retail space. It'll bring prices down to a competitive level, and it'll foster competition in many respects. It'll provide more jobs, and it'll provide the kind of stimulation our economy needs.
I urge all New Yorkers to call your City Council Representative in support of this vital legislation.
From Gracie Mansion, this is Rudy Giuliani.