Council will also vote to Enhance HPD Practices Related to 421-a and Affordable Housing Development and to Create a Real Time Enforcement Unit in the Department of Buildings

City Hall – Today, the New York City Council will vote on legislation to establish construction safety training requirements and programming. The Council will also vote on enhancing Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) practices related to 421-a and affordable housing development, and on creating a Real Time Enforcement Unit (RTEU) in the Department of Buildings. Next, the Council will vote on regulating the sale and consumption of hookah and other non-tobacco products, and on mandating disclosure on used automobiles and a consumer bill of rights when selling secondhand vehicles. In addition, the Council will vote on streamlining electronic receipt of City procurement vouchers, commissioning a traffic study and report on Brooklyn and Manhattan truck deliveries, and on requiring electronic notifications of Department of Transportation street projects. Finally, the Council will vote on multiple land use items, including the 126th Street bus depot and Harlem African Burial Ground Memorial development project in Manhattan.

Establishing Construction Safety Training Requirements and Programming

Introduction 1447-C, sponsored by Council Members Jumaane Williams and Carlos Menchaca, would implement the following measures to work toward increasing construction site safety in New York City:

  • Establishes site safety training requirements for workers at most construction sites.
  • Requires workers to undergo between 40-55 hours of safety training. These hours will be specified by the Department of Buildings (DOB) and will be phased in over time.
  • Allows workers to fulfill their training requirement by completing an alternative training program, such as an apprenticeship program, but only if DOB determines that that program is equivalent to, or more extensive than, the standard safety training requirements.

The bill would also include provisions to aid laborers in receiving sufficient site training:

  • The bill allows laborers to continue working while they complete training. After completing 10 hours of initial training, workers will be eligible for temporary cards that will authorize them to work on construction sites while they complete the rest of the required training.
  • The Department of Small Business Services will also develop a program to help ensure that all workers have equal access to training resources, particularly workers who may have a harder time having the costs of training covered by their employers – for example, day laborers and workers employed by small MWBE contractors.

Based on ongoing discussions with the Administration, the development of such a program would assist thousands of workers comprised of day laborers, employees of small businesses, and other individuals during the first year of the program, at an estimated cost of $1,000 per person, or about $4 million in FY 2018. An additional $1 million would be reserved to cover administrative costs of the program.

“The wellbeing of all New Yorkers is paramount, and legislation to ensure safety on and around the hundreds of construction sites that operate each day in our city has been long overdue,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I thank Council Member Williams and Council Member Menchaca for their dedication to making construction sites safer for everyone – from the people who live and work near them, to the workers who build them. The Council will continue to look for productive ways to improve safety standards and protect workers and the public.”

“I am proud of the City Council for taking this landmark step to help ensure that the safety of workers is a priority,” said Committee on Housing and Buildings Chair Jumaane Williams. “Requiring a uniform baseline amount of safety training is a long overdue and critically important measure to having a tangible impact on worker’s well-being. Additionally, this action begins to address the eroded culture of worker safety in the New York City construction industry, an erosion that has led to unsafe conditions, injuries, and death. I want to thank Council Member Menchaca, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and all of my colleagues on the Council for passing this bill and demonstrating our commitment to keeping this city safe.”

“As Chair of the City Council Committee on Immigration, I have a special responsibility to speak out for immigrant workers who lack access to training and workplace protections,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “Introduction 1447-C will set new construction safety training standards and save lives. No other industry tolerates such high levels of danger, and there is no justification for delay imposing strict new training requirements. Our construction safety emergency must end now. New York City has endured an unacceptably high number serious injuries, preventable incidents and 39 construction worker deaths since 2015. I commend my Council colleagues for recognizing that safety for everyone is achievable. I call on New York City developers, contractors and agencies to adopt a culture of construction safety through worker education and strict enforcement of workplace regulations.”

Enhancing HPD Practices Related to 421-a and Affordable Housing Development

Introduction 1359-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, would require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to audit buildings receiving benefits under the 421-a tax exemption program to determine whether such buildings are complying with the applicable affordability requirements.

“Our residents deserve access to affordable and stable housing, especially if the landlords received tax benefits to build those units,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “It’s unconscionable that landlords are receiving millions in tax breaks to provide community benefits and are instead charging rents that push New Yorkers out of their homes. With the help of this legislation, this will come to an end. I am proud of working together with Council Member Williams to require HPD to audit properties where developers benefit from 421-A tax credits. These audits will determine whether developers have met their obligation to provide affordable or rent-stabilized units, and file timely, accurate qualifying paperwork. Properties found failing will be reported to the NYC Council and Department of Finance for revocation of tax benefits. This legislation will send a strong message — hold up your end of the deal or pay the consequences.”

Introduction 1366-A, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, would require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to audit buildings receiving benefits under the 421-a tax exemption program to determine whether such buildings are in compliance with applicable rent registration requirements.

Creating a Real Time Enforcement Unit in the Department of Buildings

Introduction 934-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, would create a Real Time Enforcement Unit (RTEU) in the Department of Buildings (DOB).

“Far too many try to bypass, bend, and break the law in pursuit of profit,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “We cannot and will not allow unscrupulous landlords to take advantage of our community. The STS package of bills goes to lengths to provide tenants the protections they deserve. Now with the passage of Introduction 934-A, which establishes a real-time enforcement unit, we are putting bad landlords on notice. This specially created unit will greatly increase the protections available to tenants facing harassment. We want to let tenants facing harassment and displacement know that they are not alone in this fight – through this coalition, we are a more engaged, compassionate, and just city.  I’m proud to continue advancing the work of the Stand for Safety Coalition, and I look forward to real progress for New Yorkers everywhere.”

Regulating the Sale and Consumption of Hookah and Other Non-Tobacco Products

Introduction 139-C, sponsored by Council Member Vincent Gentile, would prohibit the opening of new hookah bars by eliminating the non-tobacco shisha exemption in the Smoke Free Air Act. It would allow existing hookah bars that earn more than half of their revenue from hookah-related sales to continue to operate by creating a new permitting system operated by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, although these establishments would not be permitted to expand, and would have their permit revoked if they were found to be in violation of the law prohibiting the sale of tobacco.

“Today we once and for all “Clear the Air” on the dangers of hookah smoking,” said Council Member Vincent Gentile. “Authorities estimate one session of hookah smoking is equivalent to smoking 80-100 cigarettes. It has risen in popularity, especially among our youth because of the lack of regulation and an outdated Smoke Free Air Act. With Introduction 139-C we are adding non-tobacco hookah smoking to the Smoke Free Air Act. No longer will shisha be laced with tobacco, no longer will minors be allowed to smoke, and no longer will communicable diseases be spread from unsterile hookah smoking paraphernalia. Intro. 139-C grandfathers in hookah lounges who make 50% from the sale of non-tobacco smoking products and places new code and permit regulations that will make our City healthier and safer. Any way you cut it hookah smoke is no joke; it is not a safe smoking alternative. This legislation has been on a 7 year journey and I am proud that it will be passed by the City Council today.”

Introduction 1075-C, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, would add a signage requirement to hookah bars permitted to operate under the permitting scheme created by Introduction 139-C. It would require that hookah bars post a prominent sign at their entrance, and in any area in which smoking occurs, warning of the health risks associated with smoking.

Introduction 1076-C, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, would set the minimum age for the purchase of non-tobacco shisha, rolling papers, and pipes to 21, bringing them in line with tobacco products and e-cigarettes. With the passage of this bill, all smoking products would have a minimum purchase age of 21.

“I am proud to vote today with my colleagues in support of bills 1075-A, 1076-A, and 139-C to regulate the use of hookah, particularly by our youth. Marketing for tobacco and non-tobacco shisha products target our young people, disproportionately those in communities of color. We have made so much progress on curbing the use of cigarettes and now we are facing a similar challenge with hookah. The fact is that 45 minutes of smoking hookah is comparable to smoking 120 cigarettes. Its prevalent use is putting the health of our city and youth at risk. Today, we are taking an important step to address this issue,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

Mandating Disclosure on Used Automobiles and a Consumer Bill of Rights

Introduction 1539-A, sponsored by Council Member Rafael Espinal, would mandate that used car dealers disclose certain information to consumers, including: the price of each requested add-on product; the total cost of the vehicle, broken down by monthly payments and with or without any add-ons; the lowest interest rate (APR) offered to the consumer by a finance company; and any other financing-related disclosures the Commissioner prescribes by rule. It also requires used car dealers to offer a two-day contract cancellation option whereby consumers may cancel their vehicle purchase and any related financing contract within two days, subject to certain conditions.

“Second hand auto dealers will now come to understand that while their cars may be used, our city’s consumers will not be abused,” said Committee on Consumer Affairs Chair Rafael Espinal. “I am proud to pass Introduction 1539-A, which will rein in the used auto industry by increasing disclosure requirements, strengthening penalties for violators of the law, and introducing NYC’s first ever contract cancellation option, allowing consumers precious time to think-over their decision. The fallout from a bad car loan could be worse than the mortgage crisis, but now vulnerable New Yorkers will have the tools they need to be to empowered and make good financial choices.”

Introduction 1540-A, sponsored by Council Member Dan Garodnick, would require secondhand automobile dealers to conspicuously post and provide prospective buyers with a consumer bill of rights.

“Unscrupulous second hand auto dealerships prey on some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers and it’s long past time for this behavior to end,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “Deception cannot be part of anyone’s business model. Our Consumer Bill of Rights will crack down on predatory practices and better protect purchasers of used cars.”

“Ensuring that used car buyers are presented with a bill of rights speaks to a fundamental issue of consumer protection,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams. “That buyers have these rights is essential, but guaranteeing that they are informed of and presented with their rights will help keep buyers from being exploited in an area where such actions have been far too common. Council Member Garodnick’s bill, which I have strongly support, will help to prevent that exploitation in the future.”

Streamlining Electronic Receipt of City Procurement Vouchers

Introduction 1292-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would require the Procurement Policy Board (PPB) to promulgate rules to facilitate the development and implementation of agency programs to accept electronic procurement vouchers, and each city agency to develop and implement programs to accept procurement vouchers electronically, to the extent practicable and consistent with operational and fiscal needs.

“As we continue make our city greener and more sustainable, we must look at all our city’s policies – both big and small,” said Committee on Environmental Protection Chair Costa Constantinides. “The paper we generate from vendors’ invoices, receipts, and other documents is wasteful and unnecessary.  Introduction 1292-A will ensure that all agencies accept these documents electronically, wasting less paper, streamlining businesses interactions when contracting with the city, and saving trees.  Thank you to Contracts Committee Chair Helen Rosenthal, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and my Council colleagues for their support.”

Commissioning a Traffic Study and Report on Brooklyn and Manhattan Truck Deliveries

Introduction 1031-A, sponsored by Council Members Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez, would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a study of traffic congestion resulting from truck deliveries in Manhattan below 59th Street and in downtown Brooklyn. The bill would require the study to include traffic congestion from truck deliveries at all hours of the day, night and overnight, and to include an analysis of the feasibility and necessity of implementing measures to reduce traffic congestion resulting from truck deliveries. The bill would require DOT to implement those feasible measures deemed necessary, and the study would be due no later than June 30, 2018.

“Our city is facing a serious congestion crisis that is inhibiting our mobility, threatening the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, and negatively impacting our environment,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “This legislation is an important first step towards addressing that crisis; however, we must continue to explore additional ways to mitigate traffic and pollution, including congestion pricing, and advancing the Move NY plan.”

“Increased commercial traffic, while an inevitable byproduct of consumption in the age of ‘e-commerce’, contributes to the congestion problem on our city streets. New Yorkers are stuck in slow-moving traffic and are forced to breathe more polluted air,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “Studies have shown that traffic in Lower Manhattan has worsen. The robust June Transportation Committee hearing on traffic congestion helped shed more light on this topic and how delivery trucks have contributed to the issue. I am proud to co-sponsor Introduction 1031 along with my colleague Council Member Mark Levine. We look forward to the recommendations put forth by the task force on what we can be done to change how we do truck deliveries in the city’s busiest areas.”

Requiring Electronic Notifications of Department of Transportation Street Projects

Introduction 1375-A, sponsored by Council Member Steven Matteo, would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide electronic notification to affected Council Members, Borough Presidents, and community boards upon its approval of a permit application to open a street segment or intersection that has been reconstructed or resurfaced within the previous five years .

“Thanks to the unprecedented funding that Borough President James Oddo and my City Council colleagues and I helped to secure, our roads are finally starting to get back to drivable condition. But that progress and the significant investment of taxpayer dollars we are making is being undermined almost every day by often unnecessary street cuts and the shoddy repairs made to them. While this bill does not fix that problem, by requiring that the DOT notify local officials before work starts, it gives us a chance to help correct or minimize the damage. It also facilitates better communication between all involved and provides much needed transparency to a process that has been anything but transparent for many years,” said Minority Leader Steven Matteo. “There is much more work to do to fix this process, including improving the standard for street cut repairs. But it is critical that we continue these efforts to maintain healthy and safe streets, which are a lifeline for so many small businesses and residents of outerborough communities that lack adequate public transportation.”

The City Council will vote on a land use action for the following location…

126th Street Bus Depot

Located at 2nd Avenue between E 126th and E 127th Streets, this proposal seeks approval of a zoning map change, zoning text amendment, city map change, and future disposition of City-owned property to facilitate the redevelopment of the 126th street MTA Bus Depot into a mixed-use project that includes the Harlem African Burial Ground Memorial.

Current renderings project the site to include the following:

  • 655,215 GSF of residential space, approximating 730 units
  • 50% affordable residential units at an AMI of 80% and below, approximating 375 units
  • 315,000 GSF of commercial, retail and office space
  • 30,000 GSF of community facility space, including 15,000 GSF to be used as a historical and cultural facility featuring the Harlem African Burial Ground Memorial

“The experiences of the enslaved are a gap in New York City’s collective history that must be filled, and the site of the Harlem African Burial Ground deserves the respect of a permanent commemorative space to aid in that process,” said Speaker and District 8 Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This has not existed in its current form, but redevelopment of the 126th Street Bus Depot housing the remains of the burial ground offers a fortunate opportunity for change. Along with the potential for new affordable housing in the neighborhood, this vote represents a bright future for remembrance and growth in East Harlem. I thank the African Burial Ground Taskforce for their diligent and respectful work on the vision for this project.”