Council will also vote to Require the Disclosure of Automobile Recalls in Secondhand Sales and to Extend Commercial Bicycling Regulations to Independent Contractors

City Hall – Today, the New York City Council will vote on legislation to establish a sexual health education task force, a proposal made in the Speaker’s 2017 State of the City address. The Council will also vote on providing the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with authority over stormwater management practices, and on requiring the disclosure of automobile recalls in secondhand sales. Next, the Council will vote to extend commercial bicycling regulations to independent contractors, and to commission a feasibility study on the implementation of the Barnes dance pedestrian crossing system at high-crash intersections and a general study on locations with significant pedestrian traffic. In addition, the Council will vote on various residential and hotel conversion items. Finally, the Council will vote on appointments to four City commissions and boards, and on landmark status for the interiors of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and two banking facilities on Montague Street in Brooklyn.

Establishing a Sexual Health Education Task Force

Since 2011, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has mandated that middle and high schools include sexual health education as part of the comprehensive health education course required by New York State. Although the DOE recommends a specific curriculum, instruction in specific sexual health topics – such as consent, sexual abuse, and issues specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and gender non-conforming (LGBQ and TGNC) individuals – is not mandated.

As proposed in Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s 2017 State of the City address, the Council will vote to create a task force to examine potential improvements to the provision of sexual health education to students in grades K-12.

Introduction 1028-B, sponsored by Council Member Laurie Cumbo, would create a sexual health education task force comprised of a minimum of nine members, including experts in sexual health education, high school students, DOE staff, and at least one expert in the field of LGBQ and TGNC health education. Members would be appointed by the Mayor after consultation with the Speaker. The task force would review information about the current recommended sexual health education curriculum and the implementation of sexual health education in DOE schools, and submit a report to the Mayor and the Speaker by December 1, 2017, with findings and recommendations for the improvement and expansion of the curriculum and implementation in grades K-12.

“Research has linked comprehensive sexual health education with better outcomes for students,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Despite educators and administrators being armed with this information, public school students are often not receiving essential lessons on sexual health and wellness. In the 2017 State of the City, I pledged to reexamine how sexual health education is taught in our schools, and today we begin the process of thoroughly reviewing that practice and how it might be improved to better serve the needs of youth around the city. I thank Council Member Laurie Cumbo and members of the Committee on Education for their attention on this necessary issue.”

“Across the City of New York, youth ages 12 and under are making mature, life-changing decisions about relationships and their sexuality based on peer pressure and misinformation from mass media,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo. “As a city, we must empower our students to make informed choices by standardizing sexual health education in our classrooms and ensuring that our curriculum is comprehensive; age-appropriate; compliant with state law; reflective of our student body; taught by qualified and trained educators. As the prime sponsor of Introduction 1028-B, I am proud that this bill will brings us one step closer to charting a new course for youth of all ages and backgrounds to engage in meaningful conversations. This taskforce has the opportunity to infuse new ideas and voices to create an educational tool that celebrates the diversity of New Yorkers, particularly those who identify as LGBTQIA, that live and thrive here.”

Authorizing NYC DEP Stormwater Management Practices

Governments that maintain a storm drain system must comply with the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit which is issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In 2015, DEC issued a new MS4 Permit to the City that significantly expands the City’s obligations to reduce the discharge of pollutants into the MS4 system.

Introduction 1346-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides by request of Mayor de Blasio, would provide the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with the authority to implement and enforce stormwater management practices that are needed to comply with the State-issued Permit.

“Our waterways are our greatest natural resource,” said Committee on Environmental Protection Chair Costa Constantinides. “Introduction 1346-A ensures that our city regulates any activities that have the potential to contribute pollution into our waterways. It provides our city with legal authority to implement a Stormwater Management Program to meet the new requirements of the municipal separate storm sewer systems permit. The program will help reduce pollution in stormwater that reaches our waterways by finding and controlling litter and other sources of pollution.  The bill also requires that the feasibility of incorporating green infrastructure into any major capital project must be considered by the appropriate city agency.  Protecting our waterways from unnecessary environmental hazards will bring benefits to marine life, the water’s ecosystem, and our entire environment.  Thank you to Speaker Mark-Viverito and my Council colleagues for their support on this legislation.”

Requiring Disclosure of Automobile Recalls in Secondhand Sales

Introduction 518-A, sponsored by Council Member Donovan Richards, seeks to ensure that consumers are aware of any recalls associated with a used car before making a purchase.  It requires secondhand automobile dealers to disclose recall information to consumers when selling automobiles, parts or equipment that are the subject of a recall by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Buying a vehicle can be a very exciting time for someone, but nothing can crush that excitement like having that vehicle break down due to a serious flaw that could have been fixed,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “Introduction 518-A will ensure that second-hand dealers are honest with their customers when selling a vehicle that has had a recall. It is our job as elected officials to stand up for those who have been taken advantage of or were misinformed. We must hold dealers accountable when they withhold vital information that could affect a consumer’s decision or put lives in danger. I’d like to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito, Chair Rafael Espinal, and DCA Commissioner Salas for working with my office to provide these protections for consumers looking to buy a used vehicle.”

Extending Commercial Bicycling Regulations to Independent Contractors

Commercial bicyclists—those operating a bicycle on behalf of a business—and businesses utilizing the services of commercial bicyclists are subject to a number of safety and record-keeping requirements such as completion of a bicycle safety course and wearing reflective vests that identify the business. These laws currently only apply to commercial bicyclists that are employees.

Introduction 1117-A, sponsored by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, would amend these laws to cover commercial bicyclists that are classified as independent contractors.

“At every hour of everyday, delivery cyclists used by businesses of all kinds race through our city quickly delivering meals and products right to our door,” said Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “With the rapid and continuing growth of services like UberEATS, Amazon, and Seamless, it is important that our city adapts to protect the safety of all commercial cyclists, who often work in dangerous traffic and through inclement weather. A loophole in the current commercial cyclist law allows certain businesses to unfairly and dangerously avert important safety measures required by law. I’m proud to have introduced legislation being voted on by the City Council today that will close this loophole and ensure the safety of all commercial cyclists throughout our city. If enacted, all businesses that use cyclists for delivery will be required to provide cyclists with a helmet, bike equipment that improves visibility like a headlight and taillight, working brakes, and a reflective jacket that displays the name of the business and the cyclist’s unique ID number. Beyond this, all commercial cyclists will be required to take a safety information course provided by the Department of Transportation that will help keep us all safe. This bill will save lives and build on the important work we’ve done to improve cyclist safety throughout our city.”

Commissioning a Study on Implementation of the Barnes Dance Pedestrian Crossing

A Barnes dance uses pedestrian control signals to allow pedestrians to completely cross an intersection in any direction, including diagonally, while traffic is stopped in all directions.

Introduction 1177-A, sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would require the Department of Transportation to prepare a report by August 1, 2017 regarding the feasibility of implementing Barnes dance pedestrian interval crossing systems at high-crash intersections.

“While street redesigns have made a number of New York City intersections safer for pedestrians, traffic injuries and fatalities persist at others,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “My legislation will require the Department of Transportation to comprehensively review implementation of pedestrian-friendly street designs at high-crash intersections. This includes outfitting intersections with a pedestrian-exclusive signal phase, sometimes called the ‘Barnes Dance,’ which allows pedestrians to cross the street while vehicle traffic in all directions is at a full stop, so there’s no chance of being struck by a turning car. The Barnes Dance lost favor with street engineers in the 1960’s because planning for cars took precedence. My bill seeks to reverse that, placing pedestrians at the center of policy making on street design, exactly where they should be. The Barnes Dance isn’t going to be appropriate at every intersection, but this analysis will help us identify where it is.”

Commissioning a Study on Locations with Significant Pedestrian Traffic

Introduction 1285-A, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, would require the Department of Transportation to prepare a report by June 1, 2018 relating to pedestrian traffic. The study would require DOT to identify six locations with significant pedestrian traffic and develop strategies for enhancing safety and traffic flow at those locations.

Increasing Penalties and Reporting Related to Illegal Residential Building Conversions

Introduction 1218-A, sponsored by Council Member Vincent Gentile by request of the Brooklyn Borough President, would increase the penalties for illegally converting residential space so that it contains three or more dwelling units above the amount legally allowed.

“Substandard housing is not affordable housing,” said Council Member Vincent Gentile. “Few neighborhoods are immune from the predatory scheme of illegally partitioning homes at the expense of tenant safety. This bill will serve as strong deterrents on the front end, and if needed, strong enforcement tools on the back end to combat aggravated illegal residential conversions.”

“Today, we take a positive step toward advancing safer communities to raise healthy children and families,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Today, we respond to the countless tragedies that have senselessly claimed lives due to critically substandard housing conditions. Today, we address the challenge of aggravated illegally converted homes with common-sense, bipartisan legislation that prioritizes the health and safety of at-risk tenants and neighbors. I thank Council Members Gentile, Grodenchik, and Williams for introducing Introduction 1218-A on my behalf and for their hard work in moving it forward to today’s meaningful passage.”

Introduction 823-A, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, would require the Department of Buildings to submit an annual report to the Council on the illegal conversions of dwelling units for other than permanent residence purposes.

“Affordable apartments across our city are being lost in droves, often times due to owners converting them into short term hotels instead of stable places to live,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “This legislation will ensure we are keeping track of where this is happening and dedicate the necessary resources to crack down on illicit behavior. Affordable housing is one of our most precious resources in our city, helping to maintain a city for all, and we cannot continue to let it slip away.”

Extending Hotel Conversion Limitations

Introduction 1586, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, would extend by two years the limitations placed on the conversion of certain hotel space for purposes other than use as a hotel, as imposed by Local Law number 50 for the year 2015. The bill would also require the preparation of a supplementary hotel industry report that analyzes the impact of the industry on the economy of the city, with specific attention toward analyzing and addressing any impacts hotel conversions have on the availability of quality jobs for city residents.

“The extension of the hotel conversion moratorium is intended to protect good-paying middle class jobs that are at the heart of New York City’s tourism industry,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “This extension allows us to be responsive to an ever-shifting set strains on the hotel industry this is a major economic contributor to our City.”

The Council will vote on landmark status for the locations…

Interiors of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 301 Park Avenue

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is one of New York City’s most prominent hotels, acting as a transient and residential space with stylish lobbies and spacious ballrooms. The interior designation includes the following:

  • the first floor interiors which include the Park Avenue Lobby and colonnade, West Lounge, West Elevator Lobby, Main Lobby Hall, East Arcade, Lexington Avenue stairs and landing;
  • the second floor interiors which include the Lexington Avenue stairs and landing;
  • and the third floor interiors which include the Lexington Avenue stairs and landing, the Grand Ballroom and balconies, Ballroom Entrance Hall, Ballroom Foyer, Basildon Room, Jade Room, Astor Gallery, and foyer connecting the Jade Room and Astor Gallery with Lexington Avenue stairs.

“The Waldorf-Astoria is a Manhattan gem, and its architectural impact has been felt all across the world,” said District 4 Council Member Dan Garodnick. “I am proud that we are moving forward in designating a number of the breathtaking interior spaces as historic landmarks, so that they will be forever protected as part of New York City’s rich design history.”

People’s Trust Company Building at 181 Montague Street

The People’s Trust Company building finished construction in 1906, and was one of the original commercial banks of Brooklyn at its inception. A double-height neo-Classical structure, the facility was critical to the development of Bank Row on Montague Street.

National Title Guaranty Company Building at 185 Montague Street

Another milestone for Bank Row, the completion of the National Title Guaranty Company Building in 1930 introduced a multiuse residential and commercial facility to a neighborhood in the throes of an historic financial crisis. Its use of Art Deco architecture remains a notable example of the style.

“These two buildings – distinct from anything going up today – are among the final buildings in Brooklyn Heights which would make the landmark district, now fifty years old, nearly complete,” said District 33 Council Member Stephen Levin. “The two-story 181 Montague Street – The People’s Trust Company Building – combines the Greek, Roman, and Renaissance Styles in a masterful way – exemplary of banks of its time. 185 Montague Street – The National Title Guaranty Company Building – rises 16 stories with its pierced-limestone screen façade, stepped buttresses, and projecting piers expanding onwards into the sky. Though different in aesthetic, these buildings are unified in the priceless historic value they bring to the community.”

The Council will vote on the following appointments to City commissions and boards…

  • Carlos Silvestri for appointment as a member of the NYC Tax Commission
  • Debra Scotto for appointment as a member of the NYC Environmental Control Board
  • Joseph Douek for re-appointment as a member of the NYC Planning Commission
  • Robert Nolan for re-appointment as a member of the Health and Hospital Corporation’s Board of Directors