Council Will Vote to Regulate Sightseeing Bus Industry to Monitor Congestion and Traffic

City Hall – Today, the New York City Council will vote on legislation to regulate the sightseeing bus industry. The Council will also vote to restrict vending in certain zones around the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and downtown Flushing in Queens in response to safety and congestion concerns. The Council will vote to codify the advisory opinions of the Conflicts of Interest Board. Next, the Council will vote on legislation related to environmental protection, education reporting and runaway and homeless youth information posting and reporting. Finally, the Council will vote on several finance and land-use items.

Sightseeing Bills 

Requiring sight-seeing bus operators to submit operating plans to the Department of Consumer Affairs

Introduction 723-A, sponsored by Speaker Corey Johnson, would require sight-seeing bus businesses to submit a list of their proposed stops to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for approval prior to obtaining an operating license from the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). This would enable the Department of Transportation to monitor congestion and traffic caused by sight-seeing buses on the road.

“New York City is the greatest city in the world, and we are all lucky to live here. Because it is the best place on earth, New York is the premier travel destination and generates tons of revenue and jobs for our city. The sightseeing bus industry is a major component of the tourism market, and it is always thrilling to see visitors enjoy their rides throughout our streets. However, when people from all over the country and the world visit our home city, it is our duty to ensure their safety, minimize traffic congestion and hold these sightseeing bus companies accountable. Introduction 723-A will give city agencies further authority to monitor these companies so tourists and native New Yorkers alike are able to enjoy the greatest city in the world. I thank Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing Chair Rafael Espinal and our colleagues for their support and work on this legislation,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.  

Strengthening the licensing requirements in the sight-seeing bus industry

Introduction 727-A sponsored by Council Member Rafael Espinal, would expand licensing requirements for sight-seeing bus companies. Sightseeing bus drivers must meet basic requirements, such as not having accumulated nine or more points on their driving record within an 18-month period, not having their licenses suspended or revoked, and not being convicted of an alcohol or drug-related offense over the past three years. Sightseeing bus companies must maintain driving records for each of their drivers and make them available for inspection by the Department of Consumer Affairs. Additionally, the company must notify the Department of Consumer Affairs if any of their drivers are involved in a motor accident or are charged with an alcohol or drug-related offence. The company must also register New York-licensed drivers in the Department of Motor Vehicles License Event Notification System.

 

Street Vending Bills 

Expanding the zone around the World Trade Center in which food and general vendors are prohibited

Introduction 959-A, sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin, would extend the vending exclusion zone around the World Trade Center (WTC) to encapsulate new security points that were not included when the zone was first created. Under this bill, no general or food vendor will be permitted to vend in the area bounded on the east by the easterly side of Broadway, on the south by the southerly side of Liberty St., on the west by the westerly side of West St. and on the north by the southerly side of Barclay St.

“The streetscape around the World Trade Center is unique, and with the area becoming more heavily utilized over the years, important security infrastructure – including bollards, security-credentialing kiosks and vehicle checkpoints – has been installed to adjust for the reality of a newly revitalized site. By pursuing a limited expansion of the no-vending zone around the World Trade Center to include security checkpoints, Intro 959-A accomplishes two important goals: ensuring safety for a growing number of residents, workers and visitors while minimizing the impact on surrounding street vendors. I thank Speaker Johnson, Council staff and my office for their hard work to create a balanced bill that increases safety for those that live, work and visit the Financial District, as well as acknowledging street vendors’ vital role in our downtown economy,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

Extending obstructions and street vendors in certain areas of downtown Flushing

Introduction 969-A, sponsored by Council Member Peter Koo, would extend the restricted hours that food vendors can vend on certain streets within Flushing. This builds off current legislation that creates certain windows for food vending on streets. This bill proposes to limit food vending on the following streets between the hours of noon to midnight: Main St. between Northern Blvd. and Sanford Ave.; 38th St. between Prince St. and 138th St.; Prince St. between 38th Ave. and 39th Ave.; 39th Ave. between College Point Blvd. and Union St.; Roosevelt Ave. between College Point Blvd. and Union St.; 41st Ave. between College Point Blvd. and Union St.; Kissena Blvd between 41st Ave to Barclay Ave; and Sanford Ave between Frame Place and Main St.  The bill also restricts obstructions on certain sidewalks within this heavily congested area of Queens.

“An unfortunate side effect of widening the sidewalks of Main Street, Flushing last year to give pedestrians more space is that our community has become an obstacle course overrun with sidewalk obstructions. This is due to street vending and stooplines of all kinds, and this legislation is the first step to finally addressing the issue of sidewalk vendors impeding on the shared public spaces of downtown Flushing. I have no objection to people innovating in order to conduct their business, but I wholeheartedly object to those who do so at the expense of their community. While I am open to discussing the creation of a designated vending zone in our community in the future, we first need to address the problem of congestion that exists today,” said Council Member Peter Koo.

 

Conflicts of Interest Board Amendment

Codifying the advisory opinions of the Conflicts of Interest Board, and to repeal paragraph 4 of subdivision c of section 2603

Introduction 735-A, sponsored by Council Member Steven Matteo, would require the Conflicts of Interest Board to report on, and initiate rulemakings for, Advisory Opinions that have interpretive value in construing the provisions of the conflicts of interest law, and that meet certain criteria. It also requires the inclusion of certain informative statements in future Advisory Opinions.

“The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) plays a vital role not only in enforcing our city’s ethic laws, but in advising those of us in public service exactly where the line between ethical and unethical behavior is. But too often, COIB has blurred those lines, relying on advisory opinions – which are the result of specific requests by public officials for guidance and interpretation of ethics laws – rather than issuing clearly defined rules. The legislation I introduced, and the Council is passing today, will change that. By requiring COIB to review its advisory opinions every year and to initiate a public rulemaking process for those opinions that could be used for a more broad range of circumstances, this legislation will provide more clarity on our ethics laws and ultimately strengthen public trust in government,” said Council Member Steven Matteo.

 

Environmental Protection Package

Map of areas most susceptible to increased flooding

Introduction 628-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would require the city to create a map of the areas of the city that are most vulnerable to flooding due to the anticipated impacts of climate change and sea level rise.  This local law would also require the city to create a mitigation plan to address the flooding. The initial map would be prepared by 2020 and subsequent maps would need to be prepared no later than April 22, 2023 and no later than every four years after April 22, 2023.

Using groundwater for geothermal systems

Introduction 749-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would require development of a pilot program in southeastern Queens County to use dewatering discharge as a means of heating and cooling buildings. Dewatering is the process by which excess groundwater is removed from the lower levels of existing buildings to facilitate building operations. The bill would also require the City to study the efficiency and efficacy of existing geothermal systems in city buildings and require the development of a pilot program to provide heating and/or cooling, or any other beneficial reuse of discharge waters from dewatering operations in southeastern Queens County.

Codifying the Jamaica Bay Task Force

Introduction 750-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would create a New York City Jamaica Bay Task Force to provide advice and recommendations to the City regarding the cleanup of Jamaica Bay and Jamaica Bay resiliency. The duties of the Task Force will include a review of measures proposed to restore and maintain the water quality and ecological integrity of the Bay and an analysis of the impacts of sea-level rise on Jamaica Bay and the surrounding watershed, including the underground aquifer and groundwater service area.

“Passing the Jamaica Bay legislative package reflects our commitment to restore and enhance our precious waterways. Today, as we recognize Climate Week and the global threats of our changing environment, we can deliver a big win for the people of Queens. These bills will explore getting groundwater out of basements, set up a task force of stakeholders on rebuilding the Bay, and create a pathway for protecting our most vulnerable neighborhoods against floods,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides.

 

Education Bills 

Reporting on Parent Associations (PAs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs)

Introduction 561-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger, would require the Department of Education to submit annual reports to the Council regarding the income and expenditures for Parent and Parent-Teacher Associations. The data would be disaggregated by school district and school, and the report would also be posted on the Department’s website. 

Distributing civil service exam information to students

Introduction 672-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger, would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to annually provide DOE with materials relating to civil service examinations and require DOE to provide such materials to graduating seniors. The materials provided by DCAS would include information regarding the civil service exam process, including the application process, hiring system, typical test questions and scoring, the upcoming civil service exams that are open to high school graduates, and instructions for how to find more information online.

“Parent associations all want what’s best for students, but New Yorkers deserve to know the disparity between the extra funding some schools receive and the limited additional resources, if any, available to other schools. My legislation will create transparency, further inform the conversation we’re all having about inequity in our school system, and help shape policies going forward to ensure all of our city’s students are getting the same opportunities for the quality education they deserve. Students nearing the completion of their time in high school are faced with myriad options as they prepare to make a significant decision that can have long-standing implications going forward. They deserve to be made aware of all the possibilities available. My legislation will provide graduating high school seniors with detailed information about the civil service process so they can make the best, fully-informed decision for their future. I thank Speaker Johnson for his leadership and my colleagues for their support,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.

 

Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) 

RHY information posting and reporting requirements

Introduction 713-A, sponsored by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, would require prominent signage within all RHY services funded by the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) informing youth where they may call 24 hours a day with questions, comments, or complaints. The signage would also include where to find rules governing RHY services and participant conduct, and phone numbers to access mental health resources 24 hours a day. DYCD would also report on problems identified by callers and any changes made as a result.

“All runaway and homeless youth must have the information necessary to seek desperately needed city resources and to report misconduct at shelters 24 hours a day. The City must do everything it can to increase the transparency and accountability of homeless youth programs that receive city funding. LGBTQ youth are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, even at the facilities designed to help them. This bill would require new signage to provide runaway and homeless youth with hotline numbers to access urgent mental health care, to learn more about available services, and to report facility problems at all times,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

 

The City Council will also vote on the following finance item(s)…

The Council will vote on one Article XI Property Tax Exemptions at the following location:

Lakeview Apartments, Manhattan

The purpose of this exemption, located in Council Member Bill Perkins’ district, is to preserve the 446 units of affordable housing.

 

The City Council will also vote on the following land use items:

Central Harlem Historic District

To affirm the designation of the Central Harlem West 130-132 Street Historic District in Council Member Bill Perkins district, which consists of approximately 164 properties, primarily row houses with a handful of apartment and institutional buildings located on the mid-blocks of West 130th, West 131st, and West 132nd Streets between Lenox and Seventh Avenue.

NYPD Evidence Storage – Erie Basin, Brooklyn

Approval with modifications, of the site selection of Erie Basin on the Red Hook waterfront in Council Member Carlos Menchaca’s district to enable the New York Police Department’s (NYPD’s) vehicle storage facility to continue to locate on the site for a maximum of 10 more years.

640 and 644 Riverside Drive, Manhattan

Two Article XI Property Exemptions in Council Member Mark Levine’s district to facilitate the preservation of 226 units of affordable housing.

80 Flatbush, Brooklyn

Approval with modifications of the 80 Flatbush project in Council Member Stephen Levin’s district. Council Member Levin successfully pushed for significant reductions in the height and density of the proposal and important changes to the design. These modifications will be made while maintaining the promised two new schools.

“The 80 Flatbush process has been among the most inclusive land use processes that I have had the privilege of being a part of. I want to thank Speaker Johnson, Alloy Development, the Educational Construction Fund and Jennifer Maldonado, and the de Blasio administration, especially Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, and Council Land Use staff for their willingness to listen to the community’s concerns and their incredibly diligent work. I also want to express an enormous amount of gratitude to the community, the Boerum Hill Association, the Brooklyn Bears Community Garden, and everyone who spent their valuable time making sure their voices were heard. Because of their advocacy, this project will produce the community benefits that were promised while also being more appropriate to the surrounding neighborhood context,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

205 Park Avenue, Brooklyn

Approval with modifications of the 205 Park Avenue rezoning in Council Member Laurie Cumbo’s district. This rezoning will facilitate the development of an eight-story mixed-use building with 79 units including up to 20 affordable units pursuant to Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 1 and the Deep Affordability Option.

57 Caton Place Rezoning, Brooklyn

An application to facilitate the development of a nine-story mixed-use building with 107 residential units, including 27 affordable units pursuant to Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 1, at 57 Caton Place in Council Member Brad Lander’s district.

1881-1883 McDonald Avenue, Brooklyn

A rezoning to facilitate the development of an eight-story mixed-use building with 35 residential units, including 11 affordable units pursuant to Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 2 in Council Member Kalman Yeger’s district.

27 East Fourth Street, Manhattan

Disapproval of the 27 E. 4th Street applications in Council Member Carlina Rivera’s district. The applicant seeks a zoning text amendment to special permit 74-712 to make the site eligible for special permit,and seeks two special permits to allow a transient hotel and retail use and to modify bulk regulations. Our view is that the text amendment and special permits are inappropriate.

Victory Boulevard Rezoning, Staten Island

Approval with modifications of the Victory Boulevard Rezoning in Council Member Steven Matteo’s district. This rezoning would allow the applicant to expand its existing automotive repair facility.  Our modification, to remove the corner property from the rezoning, would ensure that neighboring residences are not adversely affected by the non-residential uses, including illuminated advertising signs that the new zoning will allow.

O’Neill’s Rezoning, Queens

A rezoning to allow for a second floor enlargement to a neighborhood establishment, in Council Member Robert Holden’s district.

HK Kitchen, Bronx

A sidewalk café in Council Member Mark Gjonaj’s district. The applicant has agreed to reduce the number of tables and chairs.

 

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