Council will also vote to impose civil penalties for hit-and-run traffic accidents

City Hall – Today the Council will vote on legislation creating new penalties for harassing tenants into leaving their apartments. The Council will also vote on legislation to impose civil penalties for hit-and-run traffic collisions.

Tenant Harassment

New York City’s law currently prohibits harassing tenants into leaving their apartments, however, according to numbers from HPD, there have been over 3,000 known cases of tenant harassment.

Introduction 129-A, sponsored by Council Member Chin, would double the maximum penalty for tenant harassment from $5,000 to $10,000 and increases the minimum penalty for repeat offenders from $1,000 to $2,000. Additionally, this legislation would require HPD to post information about landlords who harass tenants online. The new penalties and the reporting provisions would take effect in 180 days.

“By passing this legislation to increase fines and create a public list of offenders, we’re setting a new standard for punishing landlords who harass tenants,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging. “We’re doing it because these unscrupulous landlords are ruining lives and killing affordable housing. Tenant harassment leads to the illegal deregulation of rent-regulated apartments, and it often targets our most vulnerable seniors. Preserving New York City’s affordable and senior housing stock means getting tougher than ever on landlords who engage in this behavior, and that’s exactly what we’ve done today.”

Civil Penalties for Hit-and-Run Collisions

New York State law requires any driver who knows or should know that they have been involved in an incident where property damage, injury, or death with their vehicle results to remain on the scene in order to report the incident to law enforcement and provide the property’s owner or the injured party with their insurance and personal contact information. However, violators of this law face a maximum fine of just $5,000 and often are not held accountable as bringing criminal charges for hit-and-run collisions can be difficult.

Introduction 371-A, sponsored by Council Members Van Bramer and Rodriguez, would provide for civil penalties to be issued when a driver violates the provisions of State law. Under the bill, those who leave the scene of an incident without taking action required by law would be subject to pay a civil penalty of up to $500 if property damage results from the incident; $1,000 to $2,000 if a person is injured; $2,000 to $10,000 if there is serious injury; and $5,000 to $10,000 if death results. The law would take effect ninety days after the Mayor signs the bill into law. The passage of this much needed legislation out of committee comes six days before the one year anniversary of Luis Bravo’s death on September 28th, 2013. Council Member Van Bramer introduced the legislation after Mr. Bravo was killed on Broadway in Woodside, Queens by a hit-and-run driver.

“With the passage of “The Justice for Hit-and-Run Victims Act” we are sending a message directly to hit-and-run drivers that leaving a fellow New Yorker to die in the streets is unconscionable, and if you do this, you will be punished,” said Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “With this historic bill we can and will save lives by introducing heavy civil penalties for the first time to reckless drivers who kill innocent victims and break the law. Vision Zero will become a reality in New York City and the passage of this law brings us closer to that day. I was proud to introduce this piece of legislation in honor of Luis Bravo, Kumar Ragunath and Karen Pheras who were killed by hit-and-run drivers in my district and I am prouder still that after the hearing we are increasing the penalties as a result of testimony given by advocates. This Council listens and responds.”

“Today the City Council took a firm stand against hit and run drivers by adding civil penalties to this horrific crime ,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, “The ‘Justice for Hit and Run Victims Act’ will undoubtedly save hundreds of lives per year by forcing drivers to think twice before they coldheartedly leave the scene of an accident. I vote today in memory of my fallen friend Josbel Rivera who died on Mosholu Parkway in 2012 and all victims of this inhumane crime.”

Ovarian Cancer Month Resolution

Proposed Resolution 380-A would recognize September as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in New York City. The American Cancer Society estimates that almost 22,000 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer and over 14,000 women will die from ovarian cancer in the United States in 2014. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women. According to the American Cancer Society, a woman’s lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 100. Without a reliable screening test for ovarian cancer, increasing awareness is important to educate women and their providers on symptoms and risk factors, helping us save lives.