Legislation will help building owners accommodate seniors residing in buildings
City Hall – Today the Council will vote on legislation creating an aging-in-place guide to help owners of residential buildings make their units more livable for seniors. The Council will also vote on legislation requiring transparency in the Fire Department of New York’s recruiting and hiring process as it pertains to women and minorities. Additionally, the Council will vote to require that landlords provide tenants with advanced notice of service interruption due to planned work on residential buildings. Next, the Council will vote on legislation mandating yearly of the city’s catch-basins by the Department of Environmental Protection. The Council will also vote on legislation regarding the community engagement process in the Percent for Art Law. Additionally, the Council will additionally vote on technical amendments to bills passed in 2014 that regulate the city’s pet shop industry. Finally, the Council will vote on legislation restricting the conversion of city hotels to other uses.
New York’s seniors have expressed an overwhelming desire to remain in their own homes as they age. As residents age, however, many face challenges such as limited mobility, vision, and other impairments that make it difficult for them to safely remain in their homes.
Introduction 702-A, sponsored by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Aging Committee Chair Margaret Chin, would require the Department for the Aging (DFTA) to develop, publish, and distribute a guide for building owners on or before July 1, 2016 regarding modifications and improvements that may be made to residential units to assist older tenants to remain in their homes safely and for as long as possible. This policy was first proposed by Speaker Mark-Viverito in an October 2014 address about making New York more senior-friendly. DFTA would be required to consult with the Department of Buildings, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations with expertise in design for dwellings occupied by older residents as part of the guide development process. The guide would also include information on available public and private sources of funding to assist building owners in making such modifications and improvements.
“Simple modifications to housing units can make a big difference in an aging resident’s ability to stay in his or her home for as long as possible,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Through this guide, we’ll be providing landlords with the information they need to best accommodate their tenants so they can age in place, keeping neighborhoods and communities intact.”
“Seniors are projected to represent around 20 percent of our city’s population by 2030, and our efforts to improve life for older New Yorkers must keep pace with this rapid growth,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “By providing building owners with the informational tools to make their properties more age-friendly, this housing guide will play an important role in helping to keep seniors safely and securely within the communities they call home. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her leadership on this bill, and for her continued focus on supporting New York City’s seniors.”
The Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) is currently comprised of approximately 10,500 firefighters and fire officers. Of that 10,500, only 44 are women, a total of approximately .4 percent. Nationally, women compromise four percent of all firefighters. Racial minorities currently constitute 14 percent of FDNY firefighters, and roughly 17 percent of firefighters nationally.
Introduction 579-A, sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would require the FDNY to report on the number of females and minorities it hires as firefighters, covering every phase of the firefighter hiring process from the most recent written examination in 2012, disaggregated by gender and race or ethnicity. It would also require the FDNY to issue an updated version of such report within 30 days of the graduation of any class of firefighters from the FDNY’s probationary firefighter school. Additionally, the FDNY would be required to report on its recruiting activities, including its recruiting expenditures, provide a list of the recruiting events in which it participates, and provide a list of the preparatory materials for firefighter applicants.
This bill would go into effect sixty days after it becomes law.
“The numbers just don’t add up: 13% of San Francisco’s firefighters were women, roughly 15% of the active-duty U.S. military are women, 17% of New York police officers are women — and less than half of a percent of New York firefighters are women,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “I am eager to learn what is so unique about being a firefighter in NYC that it excludes women. The data we will receive from this bill will shed light on how many women apply to be firefighters and where they drop off along the long application process, which can take several years from start to finish. I am grateful to Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, Chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Services, who has been persistent in pursuing this issue for years, and I am proud to have introduced this bill with her.”
“New York City has the toughest, strongest women anywhere in the world,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. “Are we to believe that in a city of over 8 million, there only 44 women who want to and are qualified to be firefighters? The City needs to increase and rethink its recruitment efforts and keep consistent Fire Academy training standards for all trainees. I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Rosenthal and Cumbo and all who are committed to ending this injustice”
Notice to Tenants for Service Interruptions
Introduction 222-A, sponsored by Council Member Rosie Mendez, would require landlords to provide building occupants with notice prior to performing work which would cause an interruption in building services expected to last for at least two hours. The notice would be posted in a prominent place in the building, state the type of work being performed, and the estimated start and end date of the service interruption. When work is performed on an emergency basis, and results in a service interruption which lasts for two or more hours, notice would be posted as soon as possible after the commencement of such interruption.
This local law would take effect 120 days after enactment.
“This legislation codifies common sense and common courtesy,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez. “No longer will tenants come home from a hard day’s work to find out that work in their building is interrupting some basic service or possibly obstructing access to their apartment. This law requires that landlords notify tenants when such work will affect services and for how long.”
Community Involvement in the Percent for Art Program
The Percent for Art law was passed in 1982 by the New York City Council. The law requires that one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects be spent on artwork for City facilities. The program offers City agencies the opportunity to acquire or commission works of art specifically for City-owned buildings throughout the five boroughs. However, there have been concerns raised that there has not been sufficient community involvement in choosing these works of art.
Introduction 742-A, sponsored by Majority Leader Van Bramer and Council Member Cumbo, would require that the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) provide reasonable advance notification of its intention to include works of art in a Percent for Art project on DCLA’s website. The bill would also require that DCLA hold or present at a public meeting, such as a meeting of the community board of the community district in which a project is located, on such works of art prior to inclusion. The bill would further require that notice of the hearing be published on DCLA’s website at least fourteen days before the hearing takes place.
The bill would take effect immediately following its enactment into law.
“Public art has the ability to inspire and make us see the world around us through a different lens,” said New York City Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee Jimmy Van Bramer. “My bill aims to enhance the Percent for Art program by giving New Yorkers the ability to have an greater role in selecting public art projects that truly reflect the diversity of our City. The arts have played a tremendous role in shaping New York City. With the passage of this bill and mandating public hearings on Percent for Art projects we will solidify our City’s presence as the cultural mecca of the world by ensuring more communities have access to the public art that will continue to beautify the world around us.”
“As a lifelong lover of the arts and as the founder of Brooklyn’s first museum dedicated to the African Diaspora, I value artistic freedom, self-expression and the vital role that it plays within our society. It is imperative, now more than ever, that we support open dialogue and active civic engagement around art in our public spaces. For the past 33 years, the Percent for Art program has operated successfully under the guidance of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs but one important voice has been left out – the public. In collaboration with my colleague, Majority Leader and Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs Jimmy Van Bramer, we have introduced an amendment to the local law calling for an increase in community input and greater transparency within the Percent for Art program. Art in our public spaces remains one of the greatest forms of collective community expression. As a member of the Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, it brings me great pleasure to unite the diverse voices of our artistic communities,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.
A catch basin is a type of storm drain that is normally located adjacent to a curb, where it collects rainwater from the streets and directs it into the sewer. Catch basins can become clogged with refuse and debris, which may lead to localized flooding. Currently the 148,000 catch basins maintained by the Department of Environmental Protection are inspected approximately once every three years.
Introduction 240-A, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, would require the Department of Environmental Protection to inspect catch basins, at a minimum, once every year and unclog or repair clogged catch basins within nine days after inspection or the receipt of a complaint that catch basin is clogged. This local law also requires that the Department submit reports twice each year to the Mayor and the Speaker regarding the inspection, maintenance and repair of catch basins, disaggregated by community district. Catch basins that have not been unclogged or repaired within nine days after an inspection or the receipt of a complaint shall be identified in the next report.
This bill would take effect on July 1, 2016 and sunsets on June 30, 2019.
“For parts of this city – including several residential roads in my district – the rain causes larger headaches than it should because of frequently clogged catch basins. It’s an issue that not only inconveniences neighborhoods, but can cause significant water damage to property. Though the Department of Environmental Protection checks these drains every 3 years, we know that’s not enough to adequately ensure that problematic drains are cleared. I am proud to sponsor Int. 240, which will require annual inspections of catch basins and a semi-annual report by the DEP to the Council. I would like to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Council’s Chair of Environmental Protections Donovan Richards for pushing this important legislation,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee.
In December of 2014, the City Council passed a legislative package regulating city pet shops. Introductions 761 and 772, sponsored by Council Members Corey Johnson and Elizabeth Crowley, provide technical edits to these bills.
Hotel Conversion Study
Introduction 592-A, would require a study of the effects of hotel conversions on the City’s economy, including its effects on employment. For a period of two years, while the study is conducted and its results considered, the legislation would limit the ability of owners of large hotels in Manhattan to convert hotel space to other uses. Owners could apply to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a waiver and would be required to demonstrate for the board that their hotel was unable to earn a reasonable financial return in order to convert the building. The bill provides an exemption for recently purchased hotels where the new owner can show the board that he or she bought with the intent to convert the hotel.
This legislation would take effect immediately and would sunset two years after enactment.
“New York City’s hotel industry is a bedrock component of our economy,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “It funds critical services in our budget and provides many stable, good-paying, middle-class jobs to hard working New Yorkers. This vital sector of the tourism industry and the jobs it creates are presently at risk by the rapid conversion of hotel rooms into luxury condominiums. If this trend continues, we will continue on a trajectory towards being a City geared toward the very wealthy, with few small businesses and living wage jobs to show for it. This moratorium on conversions not yet contemplated will allow us to consult with agencies to determine a long-term fix to protect vibrant neighborhoods, local business, the tourism industry and good middle class jobs. ”