Also Votes on Major Affordable Housing Project in Williamsburg

City Hall, April 14, 2010 – At today’s Stated Council meeting, the members of the City Council will vote on legislation that will improve living and working conditions for carriage horses in New York and increase the rates carriage drivers may charge for rides. In addition, the Council will consider legislation on a new development project in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that will create housing, commercial and public waterfront space.

The Council will vote today on legislation, introduced by Council Member James Gennaro, that improves conditions for carriage horses in New York City. The bill will mandate larger stall sizes, require 5 weeks furlough per year, and set lower and upper age limits for carriage horses, in addition to doubling the number of required annual veterinary visits for all working horses. Drivers will also be required to carry heavy blankets for the horses’ use during cold weather and waterproof blankets for wet weather.

Additional provisions that will increase safety for carriage drivers’ horses and pedestrians include requirements for:
• Reflective material on all carriages;
• An emergency brake system on all carriages,
• Additional training time for new drivers; and
• Drivers licenses for new horse carriage drivers.

The legislation will prohibit carriages from operating below 34th Street and prohibit rides in any part of New York between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m., seven days a week.

Rates for horse carriage rides are set by local law and have remained unchanged for over twenty years. This legislation will increase these rates to ensure they are equivalent to rates charged for other tourist attractions in New York. The rates will increase from $34 for the first half hour to $50 for the first twenty minutes. The charge for additional minutes will increase from $10 for fifteen minutes to $20 for ten minutes. In addition, the bill will allow for rates to be adjusted for inflation every three years, based on the Consumer Price Index.

“These drivers have not received a raise in 20 years – that wouldn’t be acceptable in any other industry and this should be no different,” Speaker Christine C. Quinn said. “As most struggle during this economic time, it only seems just that these drivers receive fair pay.

“I believe that the new rates, along with the new requirements, are huge steps forward for this industry – increasing safety for passengers while also improving conditions for the horses. With these steps, this industry will continue to delight generations of tourists and New Yorkers year after year.”

“This bill makes the best horse carriage industry in the country even better, with reforms that will provide a host of additional protections to the horses, economic sustainability for the drivers and an even better experience for New Yorkers and tourists who come from around the world to see Central Park from an open carriage provided by this iconic industry,” said Council Member James F. Gennaro, the prime sponsor of Int. No. 35. “I am grateful to those in the animal rights community, the horse carriage industry and equine specialists who worked with the Council and the Bloomberg Administration to craft the humanitarian and economic reforms that are central to this bill – the most comprehensive reform of the industry in more than twenty years.”

“I am pleased that the council will be voting on a bill that both strengthens the living and working conditions of horses as well as provides a needed rate increase for carriage drivers,” said Karen Koslowitz, Chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee. “Through debate and testimony, we have a bill that will make life better for all those involved in the horse carriage industry in New York City.”

The Council will also be voting on Rose Plaza, a new development in Williamsburg that will provide 800 units, 30 percent of which will be affordable housing. The space will also create almost 30,000 square feet of commercial and community facility space and about 500 parking spaces. This is in addition to the 30,000 square feet of public waterfront space, from Division Avenue and Schaeffer Landing along the East River, that will be developed into a public walkway and a circulation path.

“I am proud that the communities I represent stood up, with my fellow Brooklyn elected officials, to demand a development that will benefit our community,” Council Member Steve Levin said. “The approved proposal guarantees that this development will have 30% affordable housing, up from the 20% originally proposed. The development will also provide 144 family-sized apartments, with a 50% community preference. We are now guaranteed a development that will accommodate the needs of the greater Williamsburg community. I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this agreement a reality.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the parties involved with the Rose Plaza project that worked together to make this a successful outcome,” said Leroy Comrie, deputy majority leader and land use chairman. “I applaud my colleague, Council Member Levin, for his tireless efforts on behalf of his community and for ensuring that this development created affordable and mixed units for his constituents. I also would like to commend the representatives of Rosa Plaza for their diligent efforts in ensuring that this project remained viable while listening to the concerns of both elected officials and residents. This approval of this project proves that open dialogue and communication can lead to the successful re-development of areas in our great city, while creating jobs, affordable housing, and opportunity for all New Yorkers.”

The Council will consider a bill requested by the Mayor based on a negotiation between the administration and the United Federation of Teachers. The Bill will change the accrual of health benefits after retirement, increasing vesting time by five years.

“I am happy to have played a part in introducing a bill that was mutually agreed upon by all parties. I congratulate the UFT on their hard work, dedication, and vision in seeing this bill through,” Council Member James Sanders Jr. said.

In honor of their efforts in the recent wake of hate crimes, the Council will present a proclamation to the Hate Crimes Task Force.

“I want to thank the NYPD and the HCTF for taking swift action in response to high-profile cases in Staten Island and the Lower East Side,” Speaker Christine C. Quinn said. “We would have never caught these attackers if it hadn’t been for the hard work and resilience of the Hate Crimes Task Force and the NYPD’s dedication. Hate violence of any kind does not have a place in our City and I’m glad that the City and its police force are doing everything in its power to ensure that these crimes will not happen again.”