Also votes to preserve Manhattan’s Lower East Side, while creating a new stock of affordable housing

City Hall, November 19, 2008 – At today’s Stated Council meeting, the members of the New York City Council will vote on three pieces of legislation. The bills will:
• Allow motorists to park at a broken meters or muni-meters up to the maximum time permitted in the parking meter zone;
• Require the NYPD to make quarterly reports to the Council detailing the number of arrests made involving illegal firearms;
• Reform the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program (ICAP) in relation to the suspension of benefits for code violations.

The Council will also consider the rezoning of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

The Council will vote on legislation that seeks to prevent drivers from receiving unfair parking tickets. Int. No. 812, introduced by Council member Simcha Felder, would allow motorists to park at a broken meter or muni-meter up to the maximum time permitted in the parking meter zone.

Existing traffic rules can be unclear and confusing to drivers. On one hand, motorists may currently park at a missing meter up to the maximum amount of time allowed in the parking meter zone. However, drivers are only allowed to park at a broken meter for one hour – even if the maximum time permitted in the parking meter zone is longer.

This discrepancy in the rules has led some drivers to receive unfair tickets while parked at a broken meter, believing they could park for the maximum amount of time allowed. Int. No. 812 would add consistency to the law, allowing parking for the maximum time allotted at both broken and missing meters.

“In tough economic times, New Yorkers are being forced to cut costs and save money any way they can,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The last thing working families can afford is to be slapped with an unnecessary parking ticket as a result of confusing and archaic rules. This legislation will make our city’s parking regulations more uniform, and save drivers from having crucial funds taken right out of their pockets.”

“Most people have no idea that they are only allowed at a broken meter for an hour and that results in confusion, unfair parking tickets and anger,” said Council Member Simcha Felder. “Anything we can do to cut down on the number of unfair parking tickets issued by the City is a step in the right direction.”

“The broken-meter rule is another example of city parking rules that are grounded in faulty premises, effectively issuing thousands of costly parking tickets to conscientious drivers who had honestly thought they were following the rules,” said Transportation Committee Chair John Liu. “Council Member Felder’s bill, as part of the Committee’s ongoing efforts to make the City’s traffic regulations more sensible and less unnecessarily punitive, will remedy the nonsensical broken-meter rule. The Committee will continue to pursue changes to parking rules that serve little purpose other than to regard the driving public as a cash cow.”

The Council will consider a rezoning of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The rezoning plan will downzone much of the area north of Houston Street, between 3rd Avenue and Avenue D. It also includes the area south of Houston Street, between Pitt and Christie Streets. The plan includes new affordable housing opportunities while preserving the historic character of the Lower East Side and East Village community. For the first time, much of the area will have new height caps which will limit construction to 80 feet. The southern section rezoning will preserve traditional lower east side commercial and artisan manufacturing opportunities

“Today, the City Council approved a new zoning district for the Lower East Side and East Village,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez. “This action ensures the survival of the low scale character of a community which was recently recognized as one of the 11 most endangered neighborhoods in the US. We obtained inclusionary zoning, which creates the potential for new affordable housing. My community conceived of and demanded this plan and I am pleased to have been a part of their efforts to get it.”

“This rezoning is a win-win for the Lower East Side and Chinatown, which are fundamentally one community,” said Council Member Alan J. Gerson. “In addition to vital protections for the rezoned area, the plan creates and preserves an unprecedented amount of affordable housing in the Chinatown community, provides expanded and meaningful anti-harassment tenant protections and expedites an inclusive process for rezoning Chinatown.”

The Council will also consider a bill that would require that the NYPD report the number of arrests each year for possession and trafficking of illegal guns to the City Council. The bill would also require that these arrests be broken down by precinct and by type of firearm recovered.

This legislation will help to combat illegal firearms trafficking and draw more attention to the need to prevent illegal firearms trafficking. Quarterly reporting will also provide a systematic and efficient way to obtain the data and work against illegal firearms trafficking, thus preventing gun violence.

“Every time the police pick up a criminal carrying an illegal gun, there’s a second criminal who sold them that weapon,” said Council Member David Yassky. “Precincts need to know that their willingness to go after traffickers will be measured by the Council. What gets measured gets done. It’s as simple as that.”

“This is part of a long line of legislation we have passed in the Public Safety Committee to help keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” said Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Vallone. “I commend Council Member Yassky for taking steps to make our city safer and more transparent.”

The Council will vote to amend the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program (ICAP), a program that provides abatements of real property taxes for many of New York City’s commercial property owners throughout the five boroughs. The amendments will set a protocol for the suspension and restoration of benefits for a business that have serious New York City code violations.

Businesses that are found in violation of city regulations (i.e. environmental hazards like asbestos, building code violations or faulty fire safety plans) will have their ICAP benefits suspended if they have not corrected the violations within 180 days.

“We need to do everything we can to help our city make it through the downturn in our economy,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn, “but we also need to send the message to businesses that have serious violations that they need to comply with the laws of our city if they are going to receive benefits. These reforms will get us closer to the goal of responsible commercial investment.”

“During times of both economic expansion and contraction,” said Economic Development Committee Chair Thomas White,” we must make sure that the benefits which are granted to recipients of the City’s largest economic development program, the Industrial Commercial Abatement Program, are going to those who strictly adhere to the NYC Construction Codes as they pertain to immediately hazardous violations, which can be potentially life threatening.”

The ICAP legislation, which was passed by the Council in late September, pared down the original program, which was born out of the Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program (ICIP). It is designed to help encourage commercial investment and expansion, spurring development in New York City’s business throughout the five boroughs.

These reforms will take effect immediately after enactment and shall be in force retroactively from July 1, 2008.