The Council will also vote to allow restaurants to charge a COVID-19 fee
City Hall, NY – The New York City Council on Wednesday will vote on legislation that stops affordable housing providers who receive city funds from using an applicant’s credit score and debt (if less than $12,000) to determine eligibility for housing. Credit scores remain one of the key factors that landlords review during the application process for leasing. An applicant’s poor credit can drastically hinder their ability to attain much-needed affordable housing, and often has a disproportionately negative impact on communities of color.
The Council will also vote on a bill designed to help restaurants survive during the pandemic by allowing them to charge a fee of up to 10% of the total bill price for in-person dining (outdoor and indoor). The City’s restaurant and hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic, with many barely able to survive on outdoor dining or takeout. Even when indoor dining resumes, restaurants will still operate below capacity and need the ability to charge a reasonable dining fee to stay afloat. This fee is not mandatory and will only be charged at restaurants that feel it is necessary to apply to their bills.
The Council will also vote on a law that requires the Buildings Department to study the feasibility of using drones to inspect building façades. Building façade inspections are intended to ensure that the façades of buildings higher than six stories are safe and secure. They often involve erecting costly scaffolding around the buildings for inspectors to take a proper look at the façade. The use of drone technology may be a way to improve these inspections, enabling more thorough examinations and protecting pedestrians, but there are concerns about safety, privacy and federal rules.
Additionally, the Council will also vote on two governmental operations bills. The first would allow New Yorkers to register for e-mail notifications on items published in the City Record affecting their local community board district, and the second would allow city agencies to adopt any necessary rules prior to a local law’s effective date so that the rules and local law can take effect simultaneously.
The Council will also be voting on a resolution to support the agreement that the City Education Department has reached with several labor organizations (United Federation of Teachers, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, and District Council 37). The agreement will keep school buildings closed until September 21, while final safety arrangements are completed and require the DOE to reopen only if the guidelines in the United Federation of Teacher’ 50-item safety checklist is met.
Finally, the Council will vote on a land use item.
CIVIL & HUMAN RIGHTS
Prohibits the consideration of a prospective tenant’s credit score and debt less than $12,000 for the leasing of affordable housing
Proposed Intro No. 1603-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine, would prohibit a developer from using or considering a tenant or prospective tenant’s credit score, consumer debt judgment, collection account, medical debt or student loan debt, other than delinquent debt that exceeds $12,000, in the rental or lease of an affordable housing unit that receives city financial assistance. In addition, this bill would prohibit a developer, in the rental or lease of an affordable housing unit that receives city financial assistance, from (i) using the consumer credit history of anyone other than the designated representative of a household or (ii) failing to disclose the process and criteria by which the consumer credit history of the designated representative will be evaluated. This bill would apply only to projects for which the city financial assistance is expected to have a total value of $1 million or more.
This law would take effect one year after becoming law.
“The point of affordable housing is to offer a lifeline to those in need. This goal is directly undermined when we exclude New Yorkers from applying for housing simply because they’ve had some tough breaks which damaged their credit,” said New York City Council Health Committee Chair Mark Levine. “Today we are taking action to remedy this. Our legislation will ensure that tenants will no longer be penalized for their past credit score or consumer debt in their search for a safe place to call home.”
Allows food service establishments to charge a COVID-19 Recovery Charge
Proposed Intro No. 823-B, sponsored by Council Member Joe Borelli, would temporarily allow restaurants and other food service establishments to add a “COVID-19 Recovery Charge” of up to 10% of a customer’s total bill. The menu and bill would need to clearly disclose this charge. This surcharge would be permitted until 90 days after full indoor dining is once again permitted.
This bill would take effect immediately.
“This bill will give restaurants the freedom they need to increase revenue to help cover rapidly rising labor and compliance costs and keep them in business. Restaurants in New York City have been getting crushed by massively increasing costs over the last five years and their options for increasing revenue have been narrowing. This new policy is coming as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on our city but I have every intention of making this change permanent,” said Council Member Joe Borelli.
HOUSING & BUILDINGS
Requires the Department of Buildings to report on the safety and feasibility of authorizing building exterior wall examinations by unmanned aircraft systems (“drones”)
Proposed Intro No. 1853-A, proposed by Council Member Robert Cornegy, would require the Department of Buildings (DOB) to conduct a study of the safety and feasibility of allowing unmanned aircraft systems (“drones”) to conduct façade inspections. The use of unmanned aircraft systems (“drones”) may enable more thorough façade inspections and improve pedestrian safety. Further, they may reduce the need for sidewalk sheds, which are often installed for the purposes of conducting façade inspections and repairs. However, there are many questions regarding the safety and feasibility of allowing drones to conduct façade inspections, such as potential conflicts with federal rules and issues related to privacy.
This law would take effect immediately.
“Intro. 1853-A takes a step forward in a longer process of updating our laws to reflect the technological solutions available today. Drones could play a positive role in building management, from façade and roof inspection to energy efficiency analysis. The current 22-year-old and 72-year-old local laws that govern drone use are due for a review. As we pursue this first step, studying drone laws and regulations and offering recommendations for changes, Intro. 1853-A recognizes the need to include safety and privacy protections in our analysis. Ultimately, this legislation and the report it requires the Department of Buildings to produce will help us bring façade inspection and broader drone regulation up to date. New Yorkers, and the legacies of Grace Gold, Erica Tishman, Xiang Ji, and all those killed or injured due to building façades, deserve no less,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.
Allows New Yorkers to register for notifications on items published in the City Record affecting their local community board district
Proposed Intro No. 1874-A, sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin, would codify and improve upon the City Record Online’s (“CROL’s”) e-mail notification system. Currently, CROL allows individuals to sign up to receive e-mail notifications whenever a specific agency publishes a notice in the City Record regarding an upcoming agency action, such as a public hearing or the adoption of a new rule. Under this bill, individuals who sign up to receive CROL notifications would have the option to limit their notifications to items affecting their selected community board district. This would help ensure that individuals only receive notifications on the items most relevant to them.
This bill would take effect 180 days after becoming law.
“The crisis we are facing requires all of us to stay vigilant to what’s going on in government. I’m proud to pass Intro 1874, which will serve as a new tool to help expand digital access to information about City processes and agency updates and keep New Yorkers informed in real time,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.
Establishes a default rule authorizing agencies to adopt rules implementing a local law prior to the law’s effective date
Proposed Intro No. 1878-A, sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers, would establish a default rule providing that when a local law is enacted, the administering agency may start the rulemaking process and adopt any necessary rules prior to the local law’s effective date so that the rules and local law can take effect simultaneously. The Council would retain the power to expressly prohibit or require pre-effective date rulemaking for any particular local law.
This bill would take effect immediately.
“Intro. 1878 will help to expedite and smooth the often-arduous process of policy implementation in the city. By allowing city agencies to make rules around a new law, and form policies before it is required to go into effect, we are better prepared as a city and as New Yorkers,” said Council Member Keith Powers.
Supports agreement between the United Federation of Teachers and Department of Education to only open school buildings that have met the standards in the 50-item checklist
Resolution No. 1410-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger, would call on the Department of Education (DOE) to only open school buildings that have met the health and safety standards prescribed in the United Federation of Teachers’ (UFT) 50-item checklist. Additionally, the resolution would call on the DOE to implement a medically recommended mandatory randomized COVID-19 testing program for adults and students in all school buildings as agreed upon by the administration and the labor organizations representing school personnel including the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA), and District Council 37 (DC37).
“School communities are asking for honesty, transparency, and basic accountability. We need to be able to give schools everything they need to succeed during this difficult time. Resolution 1410 provides clear expectations of what needs to be met by the NYC Department of Education to guarantee a safe environment and transition for in-person learning. I thank Speaker Johnson for advancing this piece of legislation and the United Federation of Teachers for continuing to advocate for the safety of our education community,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.
LAND USE ITEMS
2774 Adam Clayton Powell – HPD is seeking Urban Development Action Area Project approval (UDAAP) and an Article XI tax exemption to facilitate the preservation of 4 buildings with 60 units of affordable homeownership.