Bill expands the scope of program-eligible contracts and increases agency accountability

Council will vote to provide financial relief to owners of property damaged by Hurricane Sandy
New York, NY- Today, the City Council will vote on legislation that will significantly improve the City’s Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) program by expanding the scope of program-eligible contracts and increasing agency accountability.

Additionally, the Council will vote on a bill to provide some financial relief to owners whose property was damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The bill would waive all Department of Buildings (DOB) fees for work on properties that were severely damaged or destroyed, as well as any electrical and plumbing fees for buildings with Sandy-related damage, for a set amount of time.

To streamline the Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PACO) renewal process, the Council will consider a bill that will require fewer steps, and charge only one agency with oversight of the process.

The Council will also vote to designate Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room as an interior city landmark.

Finally, to express its collective grief and sorrow for the victims, their families and for all those affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Council will vote on a resolution calling on elected officials at all levels of government to work together to combat gun violence.


In 2005, the Council passed Local Law 129 to help level the playing field for minorities and women in City contracting, establishing goals for increasing the number of City contracts that go to MWBEs. While it was a step in the right direction, it has become clear that more needs to be done to ensure that minorities and women are fairly represented in City procurement.

Among several measures to improve the MWBE program, there are two main highlights of this legislation.

First, this bill would eliminate the current $1 million cap on contracts in the MWBE program. By allowing for larger contracts, the total value of program-eligible contracts is estimated to more than triple. Second, it establishes an accountability system called MWBEStat. Loosely based on the New York City Police Department’s successful CompStat model, under MWBEStat, agency officers will be required to periodically report to a Mayoral designee on their progress towards meeting the contract participation goals set forth in Local Law 129.

“For too long, minorities and women have been effectively shut out of City contracts,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This legislation is important not only because it provides fairness and equal opportunity to MWBEs, but because it will help grow businesses that will provide jobs, spur economic growth and diversify our City’s economy.”

“I began my career in the City Council with the aim of strengthening opportunities for minority and women owned businesses; I am proud to be closing my tenure here with a stronger, more robust MWBE program,” said Council Member James Sanders. “This bill does not fix all the problems facing minority and female business owners and the struggle for economic justice in this area will continue, but today we have taken a significant step in the right direction. I thank Speaker Quinn for her leadership on this issue, and for recognizing the vital importance of pursuing economic justice for all New Yorkers.”

“This legislation is a sound solution to many of the problems that minority and women-owned businesses face. I look forward to seeing more and more women and people of color securing City contracts. I thank Speaker Quinn for her leadership on this issue,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy.

“Local Law 129 was enacted to address the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the City’s procurement market. However, after several years of discussion with industry leaders, community advocates, and local business people my colleagues and I realized that the program was not functioning as efficiently or productively as it could,” said Council Member Diana Reyna. “Intro 911 addresses some of the most serious problems of the M/WBE program: holding agencies accountable to their M/WBE goals, eliminating the cap on program-eligible contracts, and strengthening the directory of certified M/WBEs. With these amendments, the City has vastly improved upon its most significant resource in correcting historical economic injustices.”

Department of Buildings Fee Waiver Bill

This legislation would waive, until October 31, 2014, all DOB fees for work on buildings that were severely damaged or destroyed by Sandy. The bill would also waive electrical and plumbing fees for all other buildings with Sandy-related damage until April 30, 2013.

The Mayor began waiving DOB fees for buildings damaged by the storm on November 12. This bill would establish these fee waivers in law, and set a timeframe for when they will expire.

Over 1,000 properties sustained severe damage or were destroyed when Sandy hit New York City, and thousands more experienced flooding that caused electrical and plumbing systems to fail. For those owners who are rebuilding or making repairs, this bill will eradicate DOB fees for such work.

“New York City has pledged to help in any way possible to bring relief to super storm Sandy victims. By waiving these fees, we are saving people money and time in getting their lives back to normal. I appreciate and applaud the quick action by Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and all those who worked on this bill in getting it moved so rapidly,” said Council Member Vincent Ignizio.

“With Proposed Int. No. 977-A we have a common sense piece of legislation that will provide some relief to owners who were adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy and were forced to undertake certain repairs or re-build their property as a result of the damage brought on by the Hurricane,” said Council Member Erik Martin Dilan. “Waiving the permit fees for these owners is the right thing to do.”

Sandy Hook Resolution

With this resolution, the Council is asking for meaningful changes to gun control laws while honoring the 26 lives taken by a gunman on December 14, 2012.

The federal government should immediately pass legislation that would ban the sale, possession, transfer or manufacture of high capacity ammunition devices and semi-automatic, military-style assault weapons. Portions of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 achieved this but unfortunately expired in 2004 without being renewed.

The Council unites in solidarity with the families of Newtown during this painful time, and endeavors to ensure that the lives lost will forever be remembered. This horrific event is another tragic reminder that more must be done to protect the lives of innocent Americans from gun violence. While there is no one simple solution to this problem, this resolution is a step towards finding some of the answers.

Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation Bill

A PACO is required for premises where 75 or more members of the public gather indoors – or 200 or more gather outdoors – for religious, recreational, educational, political, social or dining purposes.

Currently, DOB issues a PACO which is valid for one year, the FDNY conducts a yearly inspection and sends a list monthly to DOB of all locations that passed. After these steps, the DOB issues the PACO renewal. However, as identified by the City’s Regulatory Review Panel, the involvement of two agencies (DOB and FDNY) in the renewal process is overly cumbersome and has caused extensive delays. The result is that many businesses are often unable to get a PACO renewed before it expires.

This bill will simplify the renewal process and will make only one agency responsible (FDNY) for the renewal.

“In essence, this bill will streamline an arduous procedure by removing unnecessary components of a process to make it easier for small businesses. Instead of directly obtaining permits and registering with both the FDNY and DOB, this new revision lets a business owner deal primarily with the FDNY and removes the tasks of dealing with two agencies. Also, Place of Assembly Certificates will no longer have expiration dates, but would need to be accompanied by a New York Fire Department permit after one year which can be renewed every year. It is important to remove any extraneous barriers afflicting our small businesses and this legislation takes us in the right direction,” said Council Member Inez Dickens.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. This bill will reduce regulatory fees and eliminate unnecessary steps by saving money and time in the renewal process. The City will now have a better way to monitor whether small businesses are in compliance with Fire and Building Code regulations, which improves public safety and ensures that all businesses play by the same set of rules,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.

Designate Rainbow Room as Interior Landmark

The Council will vote to designate Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room as an interior city landmark.

This famed Supper Club, with unparalleled views, is located in the eastern section of the 65th floor at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, originally known as the RCA (Radio Corporation of America).

Construction of the Rainbow Room began shortly after the repeal of Prohibition in early 1934 and was opened in October of that year. Its name was inspired by an RCA organ that converted music into changing colors.

Aspects of the Rainbow Room to be designated as an interior landmark include the rotating wood dance floor, stage, chandeliers and wall sconces. This room is particularly notable because few interiors of this type survive from the early 20th century.