The Council will also vote to ban vendors in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn during the holidays

City Hall – The New York City Council on Thursday will vote on a historic plan to permanently close Rikers Island and replace it with a borough-based jail system. The proposed plan will create a modern, more humane and safe justice system that includes substantial investments in our community. 

The plan to close Rikers also includes $391 million in investments to reform our criminal justice system, address the root causes of incarceration and support communities. Nearly 70% of that – $265 million – is new programming. This is on top of the $40 million in increased funding for criminal justice initiatives in the FY 20 budget that the Council successfully negotiated earlier this year. 

The investments, which were announced in detail earlier Thursday, include funding for housing, mental health care, violence prevention programs, alternatives to incarceration, and much more. 

In addition to the plan to close Rikers, the Council has also worked in tandem with criminal justice reform advocates to develop sound legislation that truly targets the issue of mass incarceration throughout New York City. This package follows the Council’s pledge that Rikers Island will be remapped so that it will not house incarcerated individuals after it closes in 2026 when the prison population is projected to fall to 3,300. A resolution that authorizes the filing of a land use application to amend the City Map so that Rikers Island can not be used for incarceration of individuals after December 31, 2026 is also up for a vote today.

“What we are doing today will reshape this city for generations to come and will impact the lives of every New Yorker. For decades, our City was unfair to those who became involved in the criminal justice system. We cannot undo all the mistakes of the past, but we must do everything we can to move away from the failed policies of mass incarceration. We’re on the cusp of a new, more humane era for our city,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.  

This comprehensive plan includes bills that would ensure that incarcerated individuals and communities near each of the borough-based jails are provided with important resources and investments. One proposed law amends the bill of rights for incarcerated persons, a historic feat. It also includes a bill that will require the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) to report on the progress of closing jails on Rikers Island. This bill requires the Board of Correction to produce a report on how the construction of city jails impacts the quality of life for those incarcerated. 

The Council will make every effort to work with communities impacted by the closing of Rikers Island and will vote on a bill that establishes a commission dedicated to identifying opportunities for reinvestments in those communities. 

The Council will also vote to prohibit vending in parts of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn during the holiday season when over 150,000 people visit the neighborhood to see popular light displays on homes. The bill is designed to reduce congestion, litter, noise and air pollution in the residential neighborhood.

Finally, the Council will vote on several land use items.

Rikers Island Package

Amends the bill of rights for incarcerated individuals and establishes guiding principles for the design of newly constructed jails

Preconsidered Introduction, sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers, would require new correctional facilities to be modernized and built in a way that is more livable for people in custody. It creates general requirements, such as permanent spaces for re-entry services and programming, access to clinical space for each housing unit, and heating and air conditioning. It requires individual living quarters in new facilities must be no less than 75 square feet, beyond state regulations which only require cells to be 60 square feet.  The bill also allows incarcerated individuals to decorate a designated area of their living quarters and requires DOC staff to address people in custody by their names and preferred pronouns where practicable.

“With my legislation, we ensure that no jail will ever look or feel like Rikers Island, regardless of who is at the helm in City Hall. The legislation includes mandates for larger cell space and natural light, a requirement for air conditioning in all facilities, and a responsibility for correctional officers to address people in custody by their names. This is a meaningful step to change culture in city jails. I thank my colleagues for their support and the Speaker for his leadership,” said Council Member Keith Powers.

Requires reporting on the impact on incarcerated individuals of closing jails on Rikers Island

Preconsidered Introduction,sponsored by Council Member Diana Ayala, would require increased reporting on the implementation of the borough-based jails plan. It will require the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) to issue a progress report on closing jails on Rikers Island and any related efforts to both reduce the jail population in the city and open jail facilities outside Rikers Island. MOCJ would also be required to report on jail population trends, the timeline for the closure of Rikers Island, budget and procurement of contracts related to closure, design and construction of jail facilities, changes to information technology infrastructure and staffing plans.

The bill also requires an additional report from the Board of Correction (BOC) on the impact of the construction of city jails on the Department of Correction’s (DOC) compliance with BOC minimum standards and the impact of any significant changes to the design or construction of any new facilities on incarcerated individuals. BOC would be required to issue a report on conditions in facilities prior to the Department housing incarcerated individuals on conditions at such facilities. BOC would also be required to give the Board access to blueprints, program plans and other materials related to the design and construction of facilities.

“On this historic day, I am proud to join my colleagues in advancing a package of legislation that will improve the city’s plan to close Rikers Island. My reporting bill creates a mechanism to hold this administration and future ones accountable for delivering on the borough-based jail plan while empowering the City Council to conduct greater oversight. I thank Speaker Johnson, Criminal Justice Chair Powers, and the rest of my colleagues for supporting the critical bills in this package,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.

Establishes a commission to make recommendations on reinvestment in communities impacted by Rikers Island 

Preconsidered Introduction 1759A sponsored by Council Member Stephen T. Levin, would establish a commission on community reinvestment, to be chaired by the Department of Social Services. The commission would be required to issue a yearly set of recommendations on investments that address the root causes of mass incarceration. The first commission report would be due in January 2021, and the last report would be issued in 2027.

Codifies a three-quarter housing task force

Proposed Int. No. 153-B, sponsored by Council Member Stephen T. Levin, would codify the three-quarter housing task force. Three-quarter houses are typically one- and two-family homes, larger apartment buildings, or other structures run by operators who rent beds to single adults. These homes are referred to as three-quarter housing because they are seen as somewhere between halfway houses and private homes.

The task force would be comprised of representatives from the Human Resources Administration, Department of Buildings, the Fire Department, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Mayor’s Office. The task force would be charged with inspecting dwellings suspected to be three-quarter houses. The task force would be responsible for identifying buildings where 10 or more unrelated adults are living and issue violations. The task force would also be charged with offering informational assistance to individuals living in three-quarter houses in order to relocate to permanent housing. The bill would also require quarterly reports on the findings of the task force, as well as information on whether individuals relocating from three-quarter housing were given a rental subsidy and obtained permanent or temporary housing.

Requires Correctional Health Services to report information to the attorney of record for individuals in Department of Correction custody who are diagnosed with serious mental illness

Introduction No. 1590, sponsored by Council Member Margaret S. Chin, would require Correctional Health Services (CHS), which operates all mental health care for those in custody, to communicate with defense attorneys about the status and progress of individuals with serious mental illness. The bill would require CHS to make their best effort to obtain HIPAA releases, and provide information that attorneys can use, where appropriate, to advocate for housing or treatment alternatives. CHS would provide the attorney with updated medical information letters prior to every court appearance describing the individual’s condition.

“Above all, the effort to close Rikers is about enacting bold policy changes and building investments in marginalized communities to address the root causes of mass incarceration. These citywide investments signal an important step to reforming our broken criminal justice system while deepening support for the communities who need them the most – and that includes Lower Manhattan, which has housed the Manhattan Detention Center for decades,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin.

Borough Based Jails System

The land use applications would site four Borough Based Jails in Council Members Diana Ayala, Margaret Chin, Karen Koslowitz, and Steve Levin’s districts, in addition to a zoning text amendment creating a new special permit for borough based jails that would modify zoning regulations related to ground floor use, bulk, including an increase in floor area ration (FAR), and accessory and public parking and loading, which would facilitate the construction of new more humane jail facilities. Additional actions include amendments to the City Map in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens to enable direct connections between the future jails and existing adjacent courthouses, and a zoning map change and disposition approval to facilitate the development of affordable housing at 320 Concord Ave in the Bronx. The final application would facilitate the acquisition of property (leasehold interest in the Manhattan Detention Complex, which will be demolished as part of this plan) of an area approximately 6,300 square feet.

Preconsidered Resolution On The Filing of a Land Use Application
Regarding Rikers Island

The resolution authorizes the filing of a land use application amending the City Map to establish a public place, with a use restriction, on Rikers Island.  The restriction is that Rikers Island shall not be used for incarceration of individuals after December 31, 2026.

Consumer Affairs Bill

Introduction 1657-A, sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan, would prohibit street vending on certain streets in Dyker Heights beginning on Thanksgiving until New Year’s day. The prohibited streets are bounded on the west by 10th Avenue, on the south by 86th Street, on the east by 13th Avenue and on the north by 81st Street in the borough of Brooklyn. The ban is in effect from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00am the following day.

“Dyker Heights lights started out as a local neighborhood tradition and has turned into an attraction that tourists from all over the world come to visit. While homeowners are proud of this tradition, issues like overflowing garbage cans, litter all over the street, and exhaust fumes from an ice cream truck idling outside their house for 12 hours a day, are just not acceptable. We hope this bill will allow tourists and Dyker Heights residents alike to enjoy the holiday season,” said Council Member Justin Brannan.

The Council will vote on the following Article XI real property tax exemptions approved by the Committee on Finance:

Crown Plaza Apartments in Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo’s district will receive a partial, 40-year exemption to preserve 76 units of affordable rental housing.

2178 Atlantic Avenue in Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel’s district will receive a partial, 40-year exemption to preserve 16 units of affordable rental housing.

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

Sunset Park Historic Districts

A series of landmark designations in Sunset Park, including the Sunset Park South Historic District, Sunset Park North Historic District, Sunset Park 50th Street Historic District, and the Central Sunset Park Historic District all located in Council Member Menchaca’s district.

Bay Ridge Parkway-Doctors’ Row Historic District

Located in Council Member Brannan’s district, the proposed landmark designation of Doctor’s Row Historic District.

776-780 Myrtle Avenue

HPD is seeking designation and project approval of an Urban Development Action Area Project (UDAAP) and disposition approval for vacant city owned property at 776-780 Myrtle Avenue in Council Member Cornegy’s district. These actions would facilitate the development of a nine-story building with approximately 59 units of supportive and affordable housing and 3,100 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.

Vernon Boulevard Broadway Rezoning

This application would create a zoning map amendment, a zoning text amendment, and a special permit for a large scale development. This development would facilitate the construction of three new mixed-use buildings with approximately 17,700 square feet of publicly-accessible open area in Council Member Van Bramer’s district. The proposed zoning text amendment will also establish a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area utilizing Option 1 after a modification from the Zoning Subcommittee.

Lefrak City Parking Garage

This application would facilitate the continued use of an existing three-floor public parking garage located in Council Member Moya’s district.  The Garage currently includes 356 spaces on the ground and second floors and 350 spaces located on the roof which are leased to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The Garage was constructed in 1968 with a special permit for a 50 year term.

38th Street – 35th Avenue Rezoning

The applicant is seeking a zoning map amendment and a zoning text amendment to establish a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area, utilizing Option 1 in Council Member’s Van Bramer’s district 

Beach Channel Drive

This application would establish a C2-3 commercial overlay within an existing R4-1 district, to legalize an existing funeral home and its accessory parking lot in Council Member Ulrich’s district.

Clintonville Street Rezoning

This application would establish a C1-3 commercial overlay within an existing R3-1 district in Council Member Vallone’s district. This change would legalize the existing commercial use on the property, as well as to facilitate its future redevelopment and modernization.

112-06 71st Road Rezoning

This application would rezone an existing R1-2A district to an R3-2 district in Council Member Koslowitz’s district. This change would bring into conformance two separate non-conforming Use Group 4 medical offices within the rezoning area.

Terence Cardinal Cooke

This applicant is seeking zoning a map amendment changing an existing R7-2 district to an R8 district and an R7-2/C1-5 to an R8/C1-5 and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Text Amendment in Council Member Ayala’s district. This would facilitate the rehabilitation and redevelopment of Terence Cardinal Cooke “Flower Hill” nursing facility, create 150 units of supportive housing, 379 residential units, and a PACE medical facility.

Hendrix – NIHOP

Amendment to a prior UDAAP project to allow HPD to forgive all or a portion of the “land debt” if HPD determines that the forgiveness is necessary to reduce the taxable consideration for the home.

III West 140th & West 150th

HPD is seeking the approval of a site acquisition of private property by the City, as well as an UDAAP designation, project approval, and disposition of City-owned property. These actions will facilitate the following redevelopment of three vacant lots across two development sites into 52 affordable homeownership units.