Several local community and business groups will hold a meeting Wednesday morning to encourage the city to “even the playing field” for small business owners.
The meeting was called by leaders from JP Local First, Egleston Square Main Street, City Life/Vida Urbana and the JP Neighborhood Development Corp. It will be at 10 a.m. at the Egleston Square YMCA, 3134 Washington St. Business owners are encouraged to attend.
The meeting will be with Karilyn Crockett of the city’s Main Streets program and Lydia Edwards of the Office of Housing Stability.
“At this point we have identified over twenty small businesses at risk of eviction,” organizers wrote in a letter to Crockett and Edwards. “We believe that you are the two people best positioned to support neighborhood small
businesses given your roles in our city’s government.”
The board of the city’s planning agency, recently rechristened the Boston Planning and Development Agency, has a vote scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17 on “Plan JP/Rox,” the once-in-a-generation planning process for the Washington Street and Columbia Road corridors.
Below is the full text of a letter organizers wrote in October inviting the two to Wednesday’s meeting.
Dear Ms. Crockett and Ms. Edwards:
We are writing to invite you to a meeting with small business owners and advocates in Jamaica
Plain and Roxbury. After the JP/Rox Plan draft presentation on September 7th, JPNDC Small
Business Program Director Carlos Espinoza-Toro spoke with Lydia Edwards about meeting with
small business owners in our neighborhood, to address their concerns about displacement. Carlos
also spoke with Karilyn Crockett during her participation at the Egleston Square Main Street
Annual Breakfast on October 21st. This letter serves as a follow up to formally invite you both to
meet with us.
Based on the aforementioned events with both of you, Karilyn Crockett’s remarks at the Small
Business Resource Fair, and your track record in other roles, it is clear that you are both as
passionate as we are about supporting small businesses. We would like to meet with you so that
you can hear directly from small business owners, and to solidify your support as champions of
small business owners. We believe that your support in this moment is key.
Though we are part of a broader coalition of neighbors and organizations concerned with the
JP/Rox planning process, we bring the particular focus and voice of small business owners. From
the perspective of small businesses, we have given extensive feedback to the JP/Rox plan writers
(attached, Feedback to the JP/Rox Draft Plan and Eviction Process Chart by Outcome, August
22nd, 2016) and published a consolidated set of concerns in the Jamaica Plain Gazette (Use Plan JP/Rox to support local business, September 9th, 2016)
However, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) has yet to make revisions
reflecting our suggestions. For instance, even the simple suggestion of translating the plan into
Spanish has not been met, despite the fact that several small business owners in the plan area
speak Spanish exclusively. Most importantly, timely provision of legal services and mediation
for small business owners at risk of eviction is critical to preventing displacement, and yet
these provisions have not been included explicitly in the plan.
The BPDA board will vote on the JP/Rox plan on November 17th. Regardless of the outcome of
the vote or the depth of the revisions, we would like to meet with you so that you can hear from
the business owners themselves. Their need for legal recourses and a seat at the negotiating table
is key to their survival and we hope that you will commit to help us advocate effectively for the
provision of the support they need to address eviction and prosper.
Time is of the essence. At this point we have identified over twenty small businesses at risk of
eviction. We believe that you are the two people best positioned to support neighborhood small
businesses given your roles in our city’s government.
Please let us know if you would be available to meet with small business owners and advocates
on Wednesday November 16th at 10am in Egleston Square. If not, please let us know a few
options that work for you.
We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Carlos Espinoza-Toro Small Business Program Director, JPNDC
Luis Edgardo Cotto Executive Director, Egleston Square Main Street
Lisa Owens Executive Director, City Life/Vida Urbana
Adam Gibbons Membership and Community Outreach, JP Local First