Legislation will require the installation of accessible (audible) pedestrian signals at intersections that present the greatest crossing difficulty for visually impaired people.
Council will also vote to override Mayoral vetoes on two bills passed as part of the Fair Parking Legislative Package.
New York, NY- Today, the City Council will vote on three bills to make it safer and more manageable for disabled New Yorkers to navigate the city. The legislation calls for the establishment of a new Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) program, notification of all major City transportation projects in a user-friendly format for the disabled and an added provision to the livery passenger bill of rights to inform passengers that they are entitled to request a wheelchair accessible vehicle.
The Council will also vote to override Mayoral vetoes on two common sense parking bills passed in January. Part of the Fair Parking Legislative package, these bills support the Council’s continuing efforts to ensure that enforcement of laws – in this case, parking regulations – are administered in a way that is as fair as possible to New Yorkers.
TRANSPORTATION BILLS PACKAGE
More than 200,000 New Yorkers have serious vision difficulties. APS, which include audible alerts, are necessary and potentially life-saving, as they audibly notify those with visual impairments when it is safe to cross city streets. To this end, the Council will vote on a bill that requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish a new APS program.
Under the program, DOT will work with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, advocates and members of the visually impaired community to identify intersections that present the greatest crossing difficulty for visually impaired people. The legislation will also require DOT to install an accessible pedestrian signal at each corner of 25 intersections every year, beginning this year. There will be consistent examination of the program: DOT must analyze the program’s progress annually, and post a report on its website, identifying 50 intersections in need of these signals while also exploring ways to expand the program. Finally, DOT must post on its website the locations of all accessible pedestrian signals sorted by community and Council district.
“An Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) program is essential to the visually impaired community as crossing signals are to the sighted. Intro 183, by requiring an expansion of the city’s APS program, is a step in the right direction, and a commitment toward a world of equal accessibility for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Gale Brewer.
The second bill the Council will consider goes in tandem with the first as it requires DOT to post on its website, in an format accessible to people with disabilities, the location of all past and future major transportation projects, as well as past and future installations or removals of bicycle lanes, pedestrian plazas, and several categories of signals, including APS. This bill will ensure that disabled individuals are aware of ongoing changes to city streets and of those that will be made in the future. This notification will be helpful to all New Yorkers, especially those with visual impairments and the elderly, so that they can make necessary arrangements to safely travel throughout the city.
“Today’s transportation legislation is aimed at making city streets safer for our most vulnerable users,” said Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca. “Blind and visually impaired individuals have too often been precluded from safely using our city streets, and this package of legislation takes a step toward correcting that. I especially want to thank all of the advocacy groups for working with us on these issues. We must always strive to make our streets safer and more accessible for people with disabilities.”
The final piece of this legislative package would add language related to wheelchair accessibility to the livery passenger bill of rights. Currently, a passenger bill of rights must be posted in all livery vehicles. This third piece of legislation would add a much-needed provision to the bill, informing passengers that they are entitled to request a wheelchair accessible vehicle, as well services equivalent to non-wheelchair users to accommodate their needs.
“With the expansion of livery service, including the larger number of accessible livery vehicles pursuant to state legislation, it is important to alert riders to the availability of accessible vehicles. This legislation will help to get the word out,” said Council Member G. Oliver Koppell.
“Getting around the city can sometimes be challenging for any New Yorker, but for New Yorkers with visual impairments or for those who have difficulty walking, just crossing a street or getting from midtown to downtown can present hazards and prove more difficult than most of us can imagine,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Simply put, passing this legislative package is the right thing to do. We want every New Yorker to feel that this is his or her city; that it is safe and free of obstacles. We will continue to ensure that the city stays accessible for all.”
FAIR PARKING BILLS VETO OVERRIDES
Today, the Council will also vote to override Mayoral vetoes on two bills passed as part of the Fair Parking Legislative Package.
The first bill vetoed by the Mayor would require Traffic Enforcement Agents (TEAs) to immediately cancel a ticket when presented with a muni-meter receipt that shows a time no later than five minutes after the time the ticket was issued. As a result, there will be immediate recourse: anyone who receives a ticket while purchasing parking time from a muni-meter will not have to fight that ticket at a later date.
“I thank Speaker Quinn and the rest of my colleagues who voted to overturn the veto of this common-sense bill,” said Council Member James Gennaro. “People who do the right thing by paying for parking using a muni-meter terminal and who are ticketed while using the muni-meter deserve neither the ticket nor the bureaucratic hassle of challenging the ticket after the fact. This law would prevent this injustice – it’s the right thing to do.”
The second bill vetoed by the Mayor would prohibit the City from placing hard to remove, garish stickers on vehicles that appear to violate alternate side parking rules.
“I thank the Speaker and my colleagues for their support of this common-sense legislation. New York City drivers have enough to deal with on a daily basis without having to worry about the government defacing their private property. I am pleased that these impossible to remove stickers will soon be a collector’s item,” said Council Member David G. Greenfield. “New York City does not use public humiliation and shame to punish those who violate serious crimes, and should not do so for minor parking violations. This is another step in our collective effort to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.”
Together, these bills will promote more judicious parking enforcement and ticketing practices, providing relief for motorists citywide.
“Today, we are returning to our commitment to parking fairness as we override the Mayoral veto of Intro 546. Drivers who allegedly violate alternate side rules will no longer be guilty until proven innocent. We are also overriding the veto of Intro 490, which allows drivers a five minute grace period to obtain their muni meter receipt. Parking is a big enough headache in our city already, and these bills will make life a little bit easier for drivers,” said Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca.
PREVAILING WAGE BILL
The Council will also consider a bill to establish a prevailing wage requirement for building service employees in certain City leased or financially assisted facilities. The Council is committed, along with our government partners, to find ways to get– and keep – New Yorkers working. Jobs that pay a decent wage are vital as they strengthen the working and middle class, and the city as a whole.
The legislation would cover building service employees working at economic development projects receiving more than $1 million in discretionary financial assistance, of at least 100,000 square feet, as well as those working in office buildings where the City leases at least 10,000 square feet and a majority of the total space.
The City has an obligation to lead the way in promoting good-paying jobs – especially when paying the greater part of rent in a building, or providing discretionary financial assistance. While most office buildings in which the City leases space already pay the prevailing wage, many do not.
The probable increase in total compensation for these employees is about 35 to 45 percent for each worker not already unionized or receiving prevailing wage. This wage increase will greatly benefit these workers and their families with minimal cost to the City: not even one percent of what the City spends annually on leasing office space – and not until all existing leases have been renewed in 2028.
“When New York City funds new development or leases space in a building, we should be treating workers fairly by paying them a decent wage. Our taxpayer dollars shouldn’t go towards undercutting working families in a race to the bottom,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Instead, this bill will ensure that office cleaners, doormen, and security guards working in buildings that receive money from the City are paid a fair wage. It takes a tiny fraction of our budget to do so but means that these workers will now be earning wages they can live on. I thank Speaker Quinn and Finance Chair Recchia for their leadership in bringing this bill forward, and SEIU Local 32BJ for their tireless advocacy in support of this legislation.”
“This is a historic piece of legislation, one that will provide a reasonable wage to building service workers without negatively impacting the financial health of New York City. I am honored to have worked alongside Speaker Quinn, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Administration, and others to ensure that this important piece of legislation gets passed and takes its rightful place in our city’s history,” said Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia Jr.
COUNCIL OPERATING BUDGET
Finally, the Council will vote to approve its operating budget. There is no increase projected from the current year, and the budget includes less than what was budgeted for Fiscal Year (FY) 11 and FY 10. There has also been no increase in staff headcount. The City Council – the legislative body responsible for monitoring the operation and performance of City agencies, analyzing and approving the City’s budget, performing Land Use responsibilities, and passing laws – has an operating budget that accounts for less than one-tenth of one percent of total City budget.