Council will also vote on legislation relating to illegally placed clothing bins

City Hall – Today the City Council will vote on legislation to require an 80% reduction in citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Council will also vote on legislation regulating publicly accessible clothing collection bins. Additionally the Council will vote on legislation to expand the city’s Alternative Enforcement Program for the most hazardous apartment buildings in New York. Finally, the Council will vote to create inspection fees for landlords who are habitually in violation of the Housing Maintenance Code.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In 2006, the City Council passed the “New York City Climate Protection Act,” which required a 30% reduction in citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. In September 2014, the Council announced a comprehensive agenda to combat climate change, including a more ambitious requirement for greenhouse emission reduction. Introduction 378, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would increase the mandated reduction of citywide greenhouse gas emissions to 80% by the year 2050.

“While rising seas and extreme weather events are likely to be part of New York City’s future, we can still prevent the worst outcomes,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Not only can we turn the tide of climate change, but as the most populous city in the country, and a global leader, we have a moral responsibility to do so.”

“We are a city that leads the way on housing, public health, and transportation policy, so we must continue to lead the way on environmental protection,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “Combatting climate change is a 21 Century issue that affects all New Yorkers and that’s why we must construct policies that keep us on par with global standards. I am proud that with INT. 378 we will be taking bold steps to provide 21st Century solutions to improve our resiliency, encourage public and private sector innovation, and bring technological progress. This paradigm will not only meet the challenges of climate change but also help reduce asthma, improve our overall health, and create new green jobs.”

Illegal Clothing Bins

Clothing collection bins that are illegally placed on public property obstruct pedestrian traffic and create quality of life issues. From Fiscal Year 2012 to Fiscal Year 2014, the number of violations for illegal clothing collection bins on city property skyrocketed from 97 to 2,093. The Department of Sanitation is currently authorized to remove collection bins 30 days after posting a notice on the bin, however, bin owners are able to simply relocate the collection bin to a new public location within this 30-day period to avoid receiving a violation. Introduction 409-A, sponsored by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would allow the Department of Sanitation to immediately remove any illegally placed collection bin located on public property. The bill also establishes a civil penalty of $250 for the first offence and $500 for each subsequent offense within 18 months for the placement of publicly accessible collection bins on city property, and doubles those penalties if the bin has been attached to city property.

“Illegally placed collection bins are a nuisance, an eyesore, and blight on our public spaces,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “While we want to encourage New Yorkers to donate clothing and other materials to those in need, we also want to ensure that organizations collecting these items are doing so responsibly, and this bill will achieve both of those goals.”

Alternate Enforcement Program Expansion

In 2007, the City Council passed legislation establishing an “Alternative Enforcement Program” (AEP). Under AEP, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) targets the 200 most distressed multi-dwelling residential buildings in New York City and actively works with owners to correct outstanding violations and the underlying conditions causing those violations.

Introduction 345-A, sponsored by Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Dan Garodnick, would expand the number of buildings enrolled in AEP from 200 to 250, give HPD more flexibility in setting criteria for inclusion in the program to ensure full enrollment, and require that owners of AEP buildings post a notice informing tenants of their building’s participation in AEP. This bill would take effect 180 days after enactment.

“As housing prices continue to rise, our existing stock of affordable housing is more threatened than ever,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. Mayor de Blasio has committed to the preservation of 120,000 units of affordable housing in his new housing plan. However, in many gentrifying areas, landlords are turning to disinvestment as a tactic to drive rent-stabilized tenants from their homes. I am excited that the Council will pass Intro 345 today, which will expand HPD’s Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP), resulting in increased accountability for deadbeat landlords and improved quality-of-life for tenants.”

“This program has been a big part of some of the City’s more recent success stories in protecting distressed housing, but it has been limited by law,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “We should be looking to expand the reach of successful programs like this.”

Creating Inspection Fees for Repeat Offenders of Housing Maintenance Code

Introduction 348-A, sponsored by Council Members Ritchie Torres and Antonio Reynoso, would create inspection fees for residential building owners whose repeated, uncorrected violations of the Housing Maintenance Code require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to conduct numerous inspections of the property. Under the bill, if (1) the HPD performs two or more inspections in response to tenant complaints within a 12-month period, (2) each of those inspections results in the issuance of a hazardous or immediately hazardous violation, and (3) the owner does not promptly correct all of the violations, then HPD would be authorized to charge an “inspection fee” for each subsequent inspection within the same 12-month period. The inspection fee would be $200, but HPD would be able to increase it by rule to account for increased inspection costs. Inspections where the property owner is not found to be at fault for a violation would not trigger a fee.

“New York City has a responsibility to preserve affordable housing, and that includes more rigorous enforcement of housing codes to ensuring quality, livable housing for all residents. By enacting a three strikes fee on landlords who fail to cure hazardous and immediately hazardous housing conditions, the City Council is providing tenants and HPD with an additional tool to target repeat violators of the Housing Maintenance Code,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.