Council to Vote on Fair Work Week Legislative Package and on Assigning Department of Health Letter Grades to Mobile Food Vendors

Council will also vote on Reforms to the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals and on Increasing the Minimum Nighttime Heating Temperature Required in Residential Buildings

City Hall – Today, the New York City Council will vote on the Fair Work Week legislative package, aimed at regulating scheduling for fast food and retail employees, and on legislation to require mobile food vendors to display health inspection grades. The Council will also vote on several items of legislation to reform the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals. Next, the Council will vote on increasing the minimum nighttime heating temperature building owners are required to provide in residential dwellings, and on requiring that existing multi-line telephone systems in certain businesses and City agencies have direct telephone access to 911. In addition, the Council will vote on legislation to require the Campaign Finance Board to send previous year voting histories alongside quadrennial voter guides, and on legislation to require the Department of Parks and Recreation to post notices of temporary parking restrictions when conducting maintenance work. Finally, the Council will vote on 53 street co-namings, the permanent renaming of the 163rd Avenue Pedestrian Bridge to the Joel A. Miele, Sr. Pedestrian Bridge, and on multiple rezoning, public siting, and landmarking designations, including the landmarking of the Morningside Heights Historic District.

Fair Work Week Package to Regulate Fast Food and Retail Industry Employment Practices

Tens of thousands of residents are employed in fast food and retail positions throughout the five boroughs. In response to the concerns of workers and advocates, the City Council has developed the following package to improve working conditions for these employees, which is expected to serve as a national model for other jurisdictions.

“The Fair Work Week legislative package aims to protect and enhance basic employment rights and to address many of the work-related challenges faced by those trying to make a living in fast food and retail,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This package addresses employment concerns that plague workers throughout the city. The New York City Council stands with working Americans and will continue to advocate on behalf of fast food and retail employees across the five boroughs, and I thank Council Members Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Corey Johnson, and Brad Lander for their commitment to this issue.”

Introduction 1384-A, sponsored by Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, would create a mechanism for fast food workers to make contributions from their salaries to not-for-profits of their choice via payroll deductions and would require employers to deduct and remit such donations to such not-for-profits. Labor organizations would not be eligible to receive donations.

“I am proud to sponsor the Fast Food Workers Empowerment Act, a first of its kind legislation that will allow fast food workers to gather their financial resources and focus on the issues that are important to them, enforce penalties and remedies for violations by employers who break the rules, and protect workers against retaliation from employers,” said Committee on Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “At a time the President and the federal government continue to gut protections previously available to low wage workers, working families, communities of color, women, and children, it is vital for workers to have the ability to make voluntary contributions to a non-profit that can advocate for their needs. Today the Council will vote on the Fast Food Workers Empowerment Act and help make that a reality.”

On-call scheduling is when an employer requires an employee to be available to work, to contact the employer or to wait to be contacted by the employer, to determine whether the employee must report to work.

Introduction 1387-A, sponsored by Council Member Corey Johnson, would ban the practice of “on-call scheduling” for certain retail employees, unless the business has to close for reasons specified in the bill.

“Clopenings” are when an employee is required to work back-to-back shifts involving closing and opening the establishment.

Introduction 1388-A, sponsored by Council Member Corey Johnson, would ban “clopenings” for fast food employees with fewer than 11 hours in between shifts. An employer would have to pay $100 to an employee who voluntarily works such shifts.

“This package of legislation is about fairness,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “The workers who will be affected by these bills are the lifeblood of our economy and I’m proud to ensure their employers use respectful scheduling practices. I want to commend Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership, my colleagues for their work, and Hector Figueroa and 32BJ SEIU, Stuart Appelbaum and the RWDSU, and the many advocates who have pushed for better labor protections for hardworking New Yorkers.”

Employers often fail to offer existing employees a path toward gaining additional hours and eventual full-time employment by hiring additional part-time employees to fill scheduling gaps.

Introduction 1395-A, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, would require fast food employers with available work hours to offer shifts to existing employees before hiring new employees.

Introduction 1396-A, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, would set out general provisions for most of the package. The bill then would turn to requiring fast food employers to provide employees with an estimate of their work schedule upon hire, to provide a work schedule 14 days in advance (including regular and on-call shifts), to post the work schedule in a conspicuous place accessible to all employees, and to pay employees a premium for certain changes to the work schedule that occur fewer than 14 days before the shift.

“With the Trump Administration working to undermine the progress we’ve made on workers’ rights and setting an anti-worker agenda, it’s instrumental that we continue to protect all working New Yorkers. I’m proud to stand with the New York City Council as we help New York City fast-food and retail workers achieve a fair work week,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “This legislation will help low-wage workers in the fast-food and retail sectors — to secure advance notice, stable schedules, a pathway to full-time hours, and a new way for workers to organize together.  I want to thank 32BJ, RWDSU, A Better Balance and the Center for Popular Democracy among many others for their strong advocacy and organizing on this critical issue, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership, my colleagues at City Council for their strong support of the bills, and DCA Commissioner Salas and OLPS Director Liz Vladeck for their commitment to enforcing workers’ rights in NYC.”

Assignment of Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Grades to Mobile Food Vendors

Introduction 1456-A, sponsored by Council Member Karen Koslowitz, would require food carts and trucks to post a letter grade that is based on their most recent health inspection by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“I cannot imagine someone not looking for a restaurant’s letter grade from our city’s Health Department before deciding whether or not to patronize a restaurant,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz. “The ‘A, B, C or GRADE PENDING’ carries with it real significance. The letter grade has become absolutely essential as it relates to restaurants. Yet, every day, countless numbers of people in New York are expected to purchase food from a street vendor without knowing to a general degree the cart’s compliance with the NYC Health Code. The customers who buy food from a street vendor deserve to have the same ability to make an informed decision as patrons of restaurants. Intro 1456 would mandate that the Health Dept. expand letter grading to street food vendors and that it should mirror the restaurant grading system as closely as possible.”

Reform of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals

The Board of Standards and Appeals affords a right to the City Planning Commission, Community Boards, Borough Boards, owners, lessees, and tenants to appear before them for the purpose of making arguments or submitting evidence on any matter before the Board that is related to New York City’s zoning resolution. Some have expressed concerns that the arguments or evidence they submit are not fully considered by the Board of Standards and Appeals.

Introduction 282-A, sponsored by Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, would require that the Board of Standards and Appeals refer to such evidence or arguments, and the extent to which they were considered, in rendering its final determination.

“The five commissioners of the Board of Standards and Appeals wield enormous power and make consequential decisions that affect neighborhood character and affordability,” said Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “When a developer in pursuit of higher profits requests an exemption from a zoning law by submitting an appeal to the Board, concerns from members of the community often arise. The bill being voted on today would add a new layer of transparency and public accountability by requiring that the Board reference and address concerns and dissent from the public, community boards, and elected officials in their final decision. If the Board ever votes against the wants and needs of a neighborhood, I believe that the members of the community who will ultimately live with the consequences of the Board’s decision deserve to know why.”

As part of the public process for considering variances or special permits, Community Boards and Borough Boards may hold public hearings on the issue and submit recommendations to the Board of Standards and Appeals. Some community members have expressed concerns that such recommendations are not fully considered by the Board of Standards and Appeals.

Introduction 418-A, sponsored by Council Member Karen Koslowitz, would require the Board of Standards and Appeals to respond to recommendations from Community Boards and Borough Boards when granting or denying an application for a variance or special permit.

“Community and borough boards spend significant time and effort on special permit applications brought before them for review,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz. “Public hearings, community outreach, special committees and full board review are common when considering special permits. Community and borough boards should not feel that their recommendation on a matter was cavalierly discarded by the BSA.  Intro 418-a would require the Board of Standards and Appeals, in granting or denying an application before them, to respond to any relevant recommendation filed by a community or borough board regarding such application.”

Some variances issued by the Board of Standards of Appeals expire after a fixed term. Possessors of property with such term variances may be unaware of a pending expiration. Continuing to use such property without a variance after such an expiration would be a violation of the certificate of occupancy.

Introduction 514-A, sponsored by Council Member Steven Matteo, would require that for any term variance granted by the Board of Standards and Appeals after December 31, 2013, the Board shall notify the owner of record of the subject property of such variance’s pending expiration six months prior to the expected expiration of the term of such variance. Such notification shall also state that the Board may not approve an application to extend the term of such variance until penalties imposed for a violation of the certificate of occupancy are paid in full.

“Currently, developers are able to work on structures that do not conform to zoning regulations and despite racking up fines for variances that have long expired, and there is no system to notify them that they must re-apply for these variances,” said Minority Leader Steven Matteo. “The legislation I introduced will fix that problem, and, along with this package of BSA reform legislation, will help bring better oversight and a stronger enforcement to a process that often circumvents the public will.”

 

Certain copies of Board of Standards and Appeals applications and application materials are required to be mailed by applicants to the relevant Council Member, Borough President, Community Board and City agency. However, some applicants do not mail such materials as required.

Introduction 1200-A, sponsored by Council Member Donovan Richards, would require that copies of Board of Standards and Appeals applications and applications materials that are required to be mailed are sent by certified mail, or any similar method that provides for proof of service. It would also further require that such proof of service be submitted to the Board of Standards and Appeals and that the Board note on its website that such proof of service has been received and verified.

“Introduction 1200-A will ensure that the Board of Standards and Appeals does its fair share of accountability when it comes to developers notifying communities and elected officials about applications in their neighborhoods,” said Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises Chair Donovan Richards. “It was shocking to hear that the BSA does not track these instances where developers do not follow through on this required step in the process. This requirement will ensure that the BSA is working with communities and elected officials and not against us. I’d like to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and Government Operations Chair Kallos for all of their work on improving accountability at the BSA.”

The Department of City Planning will sometimes provide testimony to the Board of Standards and Appeals on specific applications. Coordination between those agencies is seen as desirable and greater transparency on such testimony, and when it is provided, has been sought.

Introduction 1390-A, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, would require the Department of City Planning to place on their website the name and contact information of the employee who acts as a coordinator with the Board of Standards and Appeals. It would also require that the Department of City Planning post to their website a record of each application for a variance or special permit for which they submitted testimony and a copy of such testimony. Finally, the Board of Standards and Appeals shall provide a link on their own website to the posted testimony.

The Board of Standards and Appeals sometimes requires special expertise to evaluate applications before them. This can include real estate and appraisal expertise, yet they do not currently have on staff a State certified general real estate appraiser.

Introduction 1391-A, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, would require the Executive Director of the Board of Standards and Appeals to ensure the Board has access to the advice of a State certified general real estate appraiser with no less than five years of experience in analyzing and auditing real estate investments, either by engaging the services of an appraiser retained by another agency, retaining the services of a third party consultant, or appointing at least one staff member so qualified.

The materials submitted in support of an application to the Board of Standards and Appeals are relied upon by the Board in their determination, so there is a strong public interest in ensuring there is accuracy and consistency between applicants.

Introduction 1392-A, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, would require the Board of Standards and Appeals to establish by rule minimum required materials to be submitted along with an application, in addition to certain required materials enumerated in the bill.

All calendared applications to the Board of Standards and Appeals are made public, but some other aspects of their operations are not as easily determined, such as the number of pre-application meetings held or the average length of time for a decision to be rendered on applications.

Introduction 1393-A, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, would require the Board of Standards and Appeals to report twice annually on information regarding applications filed with the Board, including the number of pre-application meeting requests, number of applications, number approved or denied, and average length of time until a decision.

Information on the locations of variances and special permits issued is public, but it is not in a format that facilitates geographic analysis.

Introduction 1394-A, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, would require the Board of Standards and Appeals to compile data on the location of all variances and special permit applications acted upon by the Board since January 1, 1998, into a publicly available data set. Additionally, such data set would be included as a layer on an interactive City map.

“The thoughts and concerns of Community Boards all over New York City just got a lot more important as favorable decisions by the BSA will no longer be a sure thing for developers looking to circumvent a neighborhood’s zoning. From now on applications will have to be based on facts and the BSA will have to explain its decisions,” said Committee on Governmental Operations Chair Ben Kallos. “Thank you to the Municipal Art Society and Citizens Union for their reports and guidance, Borough President Brewer, as well as Council Members Koslowitz, Matteo, Richards, and Majority Leader Van Bramer for their long-standing leadership on this issue.”

Increase of Minimum Required Nighttime Heating Temperatures in Residential Buildings

During heating season – October 1 to May 31 – owners of residential buildings who are required to provide heat for their tenants must maintain certain minimum temperatures in areas of dwelling units that are used or occupied for living purposes.

Introduction 722-A, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, would increase the minimum nighttime (between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.) temperature during heating season from 55 degrees to 62 degrees, regardless of the outdoor temperature.

“Sufficient heat is a quality of life issue that cannot be ignored in the larger conversation of tenants’ rights,” said Committee on Housing and Buildings Chair Jumaane Williams. “Currently, outdoor temperatures have to be 40 Degrees to require a landlord to turn on the heat, and even then the minimum indoor temperature mandates is only 55 Degrees. I don’t think many people realize just how cold that is. There are a lot of seniors and young people who cannot deal with 55 Degrees, which ends up exposing them to health risks. I’m pleased that I was able to work with the Administration and my colleagues to get this bill passed that will impact thousands of New Yorkers during this next winter season.”

Equipping of Agency and Business Phone Lines with Direct 911 Dial-Out Capabilities

Introduction 951-A, sponsored by Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, would require that, by May 1, 2019, existing multi-line telephone systems in certain businesses and City agencies have direct telephone access to 911, such that a prefix is not required prior to dialing 911.

Supplying New York City Residents with Voter History Records

Introduction 848-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, would require the Campaign Finance Board to include with the quadrennial voter guide sent to each registered voter a copy of each such voter’s voting history for the prior four years.

“Alerting people to their voter history will encourage more people to vote. None us want to be reminded of our failure to fulfill our most basic civic duty. Voting is what breathes life into our democracy; the decline in voting is what will kill it,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

Posting Notice of Temporary Parking Restrictions by Department of Parks and Recreation

Introduction 1305-A, sponsored by Council Member Rafael Salamanca, would require the Department of Parks and Recreation to post notices of the effective date of temporary parking restrictions relating to tree removals at least two days before the commencement of such restrictions, with certain exceptions.

“This legislation was a community driven effort aiming to provide a simple fix to an issue that can affect all of us in our daily lives,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca. “Ensuring that a community gets ample notice of when off-street parking will be affected by tree maintenance simply makes sense, and I’m proud that we’re voting on my bill today that does just that.”

Permanent Renaming of 163rd Avenue Pedestrian Bridge in Queens

Introduction 1627-A, sponsored by Council Member Eric Ulrich, would permanently change the name of the 163rd Avenue Pedestrian Bridge to the Joel A. Miele, Sr. Pedestrian Bridge in the Borough of Queens, and amend the New York City Map accordingly.

“Joel was the epitome of a good citizen. He was known throughout the community as a leader and friend, having dedicated his life to helping others. He bravely served our country in the U.S. Navy and sat on Community Board 10 for nearly two decades,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich. “It has been a privilege and an honor to sponsor this bill. Naming the 163rd Avenue Pedestrian Bridge after Joel will serve as a beautiful reminder of his many contributions.”

The Council will vote on co-naming for the following streets and public places…

Introduction 1613-A, sponsored by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, would co-name 53 thoroughfares and public places, based on requests of Council Members whose district includes the location.

 

Co-named streets include…

  • Detective Steven McDonald Way at the 85th Street Transverse in Manhattan
  • Paul J. Tuozzolo Way at Metropolitan Ave and St. Raymond’s Ave in the Bronx
  • Honorable Jerome X. O’Donovan Way at Rochelle St and Dalemere Rd in Staten Island
  • Moises Locon and Nicholas Figueroa Way at E 7th Street and Second Ave in Manhattan
  • S. Coast Guard Way at School Road and Bay Street in Staten Island

“Commemorating New Yorkers who have made meaningful impacts on their communities is a time-honored way of working to ensure that their contributions extend far beyond their lifetimes,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “These co-named spaces represent residents and organizations who brought inspiration to local neighborhoods through law enforcement, educational pursuits, and religious leadership, among many other roles, and I am honored to recognize them today.”

The Council will vote on rezoning for the following location…

600 East 156th Street in the Bronx

Approval of a zoning map change and zone text amendment would facilitate the development of a surface parking lot and one-story parking garage serving a mixed-use project featuring a 450-seat charter school space and 175 units of 100% affordable housing.

“After careful negotiations, I’m pleased that we are bringing new affordable housing not just to our community, but for our community,” said District 17 Council Member Rafael Salamanca. “This project will have units priced for families in our community, as well as space for a new school, and other amenities.”

The Council will vote on the siting of two public schools…

357 Targee Street in Staten Island

Acquisition of 1.28 acres of privately-owned property will allow for the construction of an 800-seat elementary school on Staten Island.

“To address school overcrowding in my district, I have been working with the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education to identify a location that would best meet the needs of our families,” said District 49 Council Member Debi Rose. “We found 357 Targee Street to be an ideal location for a new, state-of-the-art school that would accommodate more than 800 students, a significant step forward toward alleviating overcrowding. Throughout the public input process, the response among my constituents has been overwhelmingly positive. I look forward to a City Council vote authorizing the purchase of this property so that I can take this process forward and ensure opportunity for North Shore families for generations to come.”

Atlantic Avenue and Chestnut Street in Brooklyn

Identified as part of the East New York Rezoning and East New York Community Plan, the development of a 1,000-seat elementary and middle school facility on the 1.23 acre parcel will help to ensure there is sufficient school capacity as this neighborhood grows.

“A school is so much more than a building with classrooms,” said District 37 Council Member Rafael Espinal. “It is where our youth spend the majority of their waking hours learning valuable lessons of community, respect and friendship. This public school is a major cornerstone of the East New York Neighborhood Plan and will be a great resource for our most historically underprivileged students. I particularly support the proposals to equip the school with high tech equipment, recreational facilities, and a state-of-the-art green roof, which will teach our youth valuable habits and a respect for the environment. I give thanks to the SCA for their hard work, the community for their input and my colleagues in the Council for their support.”

The Council will vote on landmark status for the following locations…

Morningside Heights Historic District

Consisting of approximately 115 residential and institutional buildings, the Morningside Heights Historic District stretches from West 109th Street in the South, to West 119th Street in the North, and from Riverside Drive in the West, to Amsterdam Avenue in the East.

Representing some of the finest examples of turn-of-the-century residential architecture, the majority of buildings in the area were constructed between 1890 and 1910.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and the largest Anglican church in the world. Built in 1873, it borrows its design from Romanesque, Byzantine, and Gothic architectural styles.

“More so than almost any other neighborhood in New York City, Morningside Heights is defined by its history,” said District 7 Council Member Mark Levine. “We are incredibly lucky that its unique architectural identity has survived remarkably intact into the 21st Century. As part of Morningside Heights’ new historic landmark designation, over 150 historic buildings essential to the identity and heritage of our community will now be preserved for decades to come. I am incredibly grateful to have worked with the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, and the countless residents who overwhelmingly supported this proposal, to shepherd this designation through the City Council.”

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