City Hall – The New York City Council on Thursday will vote on legislation aimed at preventing and recognizing incidents of domestic violence in New York City, which will rely in part on the unique relationship New Yorkers have with their hairdressers and barbers. The Council will vote to mandate that the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence (ENDGBV) conduct trainings for cosmetologists on recognizing the potential signs of domestic violence, and to equip them with resources to aid survivors. The Council will also vote to require ENDGBV, in conjunction with the New York Police Department (NYPD), to create a report on the City’s domestic violence initiatives. Additionally, the Council will require ENDGBV to provide clients at Family Justice Centers with a satisfaction survey evaluating the domestic violence services they receive.
The Council will also vote to create an Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, in order to better coordinate response and outreach by city agencies in response to a hate crime. The Council will vote to require this office to conduct hate crime prevention trainings.
In addition, the Council will vote to authorize the Department of Finance to establish three new types of affordable installment agreement plans for low-income homeowners to defer property taxes and/or address property tax arrears. The new plans will be available to owners of one- to three-family homes and condominiums, where such home is their primary residence, who earn up to $58,399.
The Council will also vote to allow public officials to create stand-alone trusts to take donations to pay for legal expenses they, or members of their staff, may incur as a result of certain criminal and civil matters. The Council will also vote to establish a requirement that the Department of Veterans’ Services report annually on all services it provides, and on the number of veterans who receive each service. The Council will then vote to require the Taxi and Limousine Commission to create rules regarding the financial agreements that drivers enter to obtain a for-hire vehicle.
Additionally, the Council will vote on a rule strengthening the licensing requirements for commuter van service providers. The Council will also vote to formalize the recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day and to call on the Mayor to expand unlimited sick leave for civilian officers and employees of the City of New York who are seeking treatment for a qualifying World Trade Center condition.
Finally, the Council will vote on several finance and land-use items.
Expanding Domestic Violence Prevention Initiatives
Requiring Educational Outreach to Cosmetologists on the Signs of Domestic Violence
Introduction 371, sponsored by Council Member Rafael Salamanca, would require the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence (ENDGBV) to conduct outreach to cosmetologists that includes trainings, an online toolkit to help the cosmetology community recognize potential signs of domestic violence in their clients, and information about resources for survivors across the five boroughs. It would also require ENDGBV to provide an annual report on outreach methods.
“According to the Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV), there were over 108,000 intimate partner related domestic incidents reported in New York City in 2017. These alarming numbers, which does not reflect the countless number of unreported incidents, show that we in the City of New York must continue to do everything we can to protect, defend AND educate New Yorkers. My bill, Introduction 371B, would require ENDGBV to provide tailored toolkits to cosmetologists that would include information on recognizing signs of domestic violence among their clients, as well as information on domestic violence trainings and other resources across the five boroughs. More often than not, the bond between a cosmetologist or barber and their client is a longstanding relationship built on trust and friendship. Empowering the vast community of cosmetologists with the means to identify what various forms of abuse looks like will create a network of allies who can help and support victims of domestic violence,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca.
Requiring Reporting on Domestic Violence Prevention Initiatives
Introduction 351, sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would require the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence (ENDGBV) to submit to the Mayor and Speaker of the Council, and post on its website an annual report detailing information about the City’s domestic violence initiatives, indicators, and factors, including data on attorneys and service providers in Family Justice Centers (FJCs), programs and initiatives offered by the FJCs that relate to economic empowerment, and information on publications, research, outreach events, trainings, and educational workshops offered by the office. The bill also requires the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to submit an annual report that includes data on chronic domestic violence complaints, chronic offenders, and NYPD outreach efforts to survivors. Finally, the bill updates the name of the office to ENDGBV in the administrative code and city charter.
“The insidiousness of domestic violence means that it permeates every aspect of a victim’s life: victims struggle to find stable housing, maintain a job with a living wage, and find legal assistance. My bill, intro 351, seeks to address the full scope of domestic violence, and shine light on the City’s efforts to make victims whole and turn them into survivors. Requiring the City to report on a wide range of domestic violence offenses, including chronic offenses, means that policy makers, advocates, and the public will gain a better sense of the problem. Similarly, by requiring the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence to report in detail on services it provides, including those for non-English speakers, we can more readily identify critical gaps as we help survivors rebuild their lives,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
Creating Service Satisfaction Surveys for the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence
Introduction 542, sponsored by Council Member Rory Lancman, would require the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence (ENDGBV) to provide clients with service satisfaction surveys after they have received domestic violence services from ENDGBV. Completion of the survey by clients would not be mandatory and the surveys would be anonymous. ENDGBV would be required to submit to the New York City Council, on an annual basis, all service satisfaction survey questions and data completed.
“Victims of abuse and domestic violence deserve our full support to help them in their time of need. Client feedback is essential to ensure that Family Justice Centers continue to provide effective and efficient services. My legislation will allow Family Justice Centers and survivors to work collaboratively to improve services and set priorities,” said Council Member Rory Lancman.
Initiatives for the Prevention of Hate Crimes
Creating an Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes
Introduction 1234, sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine, would create an Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes to coordinate responses and outreach amongst city agencies.
“The epidemic of hate crimes sweeping across the country is a national crisis. As we’ve seen in recent months, this is a battle being fought on our New York City streets every day. When hate crimes and threats occur, they are not just an attack on innocent victims, but on the values we share as New Yorkers. We have an obligation to guarantee the safety and security of every community that calls New York home. We must do everything we can to help protect the diverse communities that define our city. An Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes–the first of its kind in the nation–will coordinate the efforts of City agencies to promote awareness and prevention, ensure proper investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, and monitor the impact of these heinous acts on our neighborhoods. I’m grateful to Speaker Johnson for his support of this bill, and look forward to seeing this office begin its important work in the months to come,” said Council Member Mark Levine.
Requiring the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes Conduct Educational Outreach
Introduction 1261, sponsored by Council Member Chaim Deutsch, would require the office for the prevention of hate crimes to conduct educational outreach and trainings.
Authorizing the Creation of Legal Defense Trusts
Introduction 1325, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, would allow public officials to create stand-alone trusts to take donations to pay for their legal expenses in certain criminal and civil matters and for the legal defense of anyone involved in a matter for which the trust was created. The law would set a donation limit of $5,000 per donor and would place restrictions on who could donate to a legal defense trust. Lobbyists, people doing business with the city, corporations, and LLCs would not be allowed to donate, and all donations would have to be reported to the Conflicts of Interest Board and be posted online.
“Our current legal framework has major gaps when it comes to allowing elected officials to cover their legal defenses — but, today, the Council is voting to change that. I am proud to sponsor this common sense legislation that allows a responsible and distinct system to be created so public officials can accept donations to cover needed legal fees, and will bring much-needed transparency and accountability to a shrouded process. Everyone deserves access to a fair defense without the requirement of being independently wealthy to cover their legal fees. While the goal is for no public official to ever have to set up their own legal defense trust, it is important that we have a system in place that is tightly regulated and that does not allow for taxpayer dollars or campaign contributions to fund a government official’s investigation when it does not involve their official duties. We need a separate third system that is not tangled up in campaign finance. Thank you to the Speaker for his leadership on this issue and to my colleagues for their support of this much-needed legislation to provide public officials a fair chance and guarantee New Yorkers have clear accountability,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
Establishing Reporting Requirements for the Department of Veterans’ Services
Introduction 1118, sponsored by Council Member Chaim Deutsch, would require the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) to submit an annual report to the Council and post on its website information about its personnel and the services provided. Specifically, DVS would be required to report, among other metrics, on the services the agency provides in their offices and in the field and the number, titles, and responsibilities of their employees. This report would also include an accounting of the number of veterans who have inquired about DVS’s services, those who have received services from DVS, as well as how veterans and their families learn about the services provided by the agency.
Creating Rules for Financial Agreements Related to Obtaining a For-Hire-Vehicle
Introduction 1070, sponsored by Council Member Francisco Moya, would require the Taxi and Limousine Commission to make rules regarding financial agreements drivers enter to obtain for-hire vehicles.
Increasing Safety in the Operation of Commuter Van Services
Introduction 897, sponsored by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, would require that commuter van license holders must not allow such commuter vans to be operated by a driver without a commuter van driver’s license. The bill would also establish penalties for commuter van license holders and commuter van services that allow their vehicles to be operated by unlicensed drivers.
“This legislation builds on the regulatory structure of my 2017 Commuter Van Safety Act, which has regulated the growth of the commuter van industry, stiffened penalties for rogue commuter van operators, and requires yearly reporting on commuter van safety. This latest measure demands accountability of companies and vehicle owners for unlicensed activity by expressly prohibiting anyone not licensed to drive a commuter van from ever getting behind the wheel and imposes stiff penalties for any failure to adhere to this stipulation. Despite possessing the authority to regulate dollar van companies, the TLC continues to experience serious challenges to its efforts to rein in unlawful activity, making this bill vital to strengthening its ability to root out bad actors. I thank Speaker Johnson and my colleagues for their support of this safety enhancing legislation. I will continue to advocate for targeted and sensible regulations that promote safety within the industry and better distinguish companies that operate in a lawful manner from those that do not,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller.
Recognizing Holocaust Remembrance Day
Resolution 673, sponsored by Council Member Chaim Deutsch, would recognize January 27, 2019 as Holocaust Remembrance Day and the week beginning on January 27, 2019 as a citywide week of Holocaust Education in New York City.
Calling on the Mayor of New York City to Grant Sick Leave to All Civilian Officers and Employees of NYC Seeking Treatment for a Qualifying World Trade Center Condition.
Resolution 655, sponsored by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, would call upon the Mayor of the City of New York to grant sick leave to all civilian officers and employees of the City of New York seeking treatment for a qualifying World Trade Center condition.
Creating a Low-Income Senior Property Tax Deferral Plan and Low-Income Homeowner Income-Based Property Tax Installment Agreements
Introduction 1143, sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm, would create three income-based installment agreements for eligible low-income property owners to help to pay off their tax arrears. The senior low-income installment agreement would allow property owners who are at least 65 years old to defer payment of a percentage of their tax arrears and prospective tax liability until the termination of the installment agreement, or upon expiration of the agreement, death, or transfer. The fixed-length income-based installment agreement would allow property owners to pay off tax arrears and one year of prospective tax liability by paying installments based on a percentage of income until the debt is repaid. The extenuating circumstances income-based installment agreement would allow property owners with extenuating circumstances (such as loss of income due to unemployment, death, treatment of an illness, military service, or involuntary absence) to enter into a one-year installment agreement to pay off tax arrears and property taxes that accrue during that year by paying installments based on a percentage of income. A property that is the subject of one of the installment agreements would be exempt from the tax lien sale. These options would not replace the current ten-year, zero down payment default plan.
“Thousands of low-income
homeowners struggling to make ends meet will be able to keep their homes thanks
to my legislation. This effort recognizes that many New Yorkers fall on hard
times and need a helping hand; that includes our homeowners. When enacted,
this legislation will provide homeowners who are unable to pay their property
taxes with affordable payment plans, including for the first time the option to
defer payment in several cases, most notably seniors. I thank Speaker
Johnson and my colleagues for their support of this important work, as well as
the Commissioner of Finance, Jacques Jiha, for working with the Council to
implement this important program. The passage of Intro 1143-A demonstrates this
Council’s ongoing commitment to aiding the housing insecure across the five
boroughs,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm.
Amending the Requirements for
Income-Producing Properties to Be Granted a Reduction in Real Property
Assessment by the Tax Commission
Introduction 1038, sponsored by Council Member Barry Grodenchik, would increase the threshold for when an income-producing property is required to provide a certified statement of income and expense in order to receive an assessment reduction by the Tax Commission from an assessed value of $1 million to an assessed value of $5 million, and it would index this threshold to the aggregate value of Class 2 and Class 4 properties every five years.
“I am proud to support small businesses with today’s legislation. In 1973, New York City passed a law providing that income-producing properties with an assessed value of less than $1,000,000 would not be required to submit costly audited financials when requesting property tax relief. This was done to give relief to small building owners who believed that their property taxes were too high. In today’s dollars, that $1,000,000 value is approximately $5.5 million. This new measure will save what are essentially small businesses more than $20 million a year by eliminating the requirement that income-producing properties with an assessed value of less than $5,000,000 submit audited financials when grieving their property taxes. In addition, the bill indexes that assessment amount to inflation to eliminate the need to revisit this issue, ” said Council Member Barry Grodenchik.
The Council will also vote on two Article XI Property Tax Exemptions at the following locations:
9-21 Sherman Avenue
The purpose of this exemption, located in Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s district, is to preserve 45 units of affordable housing.
Ft. George HDFC
The purpose of this exemption, also located in Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s district, is to preserve 92 units of affordable housing.
The City Council will also vote on the following land use items:
An application submitted by New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for an amendment to an Urban Renewal Plan and the disposition of City-owned property to facilitate the preservation of 325 affordable housing units at Waterside Plaza, in Manhattan, in Council Member Keith Power’s district.
4697 Third Avenue
An application submitted by New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for approval of an Urban Development Action Area Designation, project approval and disposition of property to facilitate the development of an 8-story mixed-use building with 52 affordable dwelling units in the Bronx, in Council Member Ritchie Torres’ district.