The Council will also vote on resolution to urge state to pass Walking While Trans bill
City Hall – Today the New York City Council will vote on two important pieces of legislation to support the city’s arts and culture sector. The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on New York City’s arts and culture organizations. Institutions of all types and sizes are struggling to survive amidst closures, restrictions, and cancelled programming.
The first bill would allow eligible art and cultural institutions or cultural venues to use approved open, public street space for artistic or cultural events through an “Open Culture” program. This program would be similar to the “Outdoor Dining” program and be established by March 1, 2021. The second bill would require the city to develop a website that would provide information on open spaces designated by the city for art and cultural programming accompanied by a searchable open space map.
While the city has lacked a vibrant arts scene during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also coping with a grim job market. As the pandemic continues, any barrier to employment is intolerable. Individuals with criminal records already faced significant barriers to stable employment pre-COVID-19.
In an effort to strengthen employment protections, the Council will vote to expand the Fair Chance Act, which was enacted by the Council in 2015 to help end workplace discrimination against those with a criminal history. The new legislation would close a loophole in the law, by adding unsealed violations and adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (ACDs) to the category of dispositions that may never be considered for the purpose of making employment-related decisions. The bill would also extend the Fair Chance Act to current employees, not just new ones. By expanding the protections in the Fair Chance Act, workers in the City can seek employment or better protect their jobs, without fear of discrimination, especially during this time of massive unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council will also vote on two housing bills. The first would require the city to inform NYCHA tenants of the Mold Ombudsperson and a mold complaint call center.
The second would create an Interim Certificate of Occupancy (ICO) for floors of a building that are complete, in buildings where all work is not complete and as a result a Certificate of Occupancy cannot be issued. This would be in addition to the existing the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO). Unlike the current TCO the ICO would not have to be renewed every 90 days. The ICO would remain in effect until the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. This eliminates the need for multiple inspections leading to savings in agency resources.
The Council will also vote on legislation that would prohibit the sale of biometric identifier information, such as face scans used by facial recognition technology, and require certain commercial establishments to post signage notifying consumers if they collect this information.
Additionally, the Council will vote on two resolutions that support the repeal of the Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution law, also known as the Walking While Trans law.
Finally, the Council will vote on several land use items.
Establishes an “Open Culture” program
Int. No. 2068-A, sponsored by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, would require the city to create an “Open Culture” program that would allow eligible art and cultural institutions or cultural venues to use approved open, public street space for artistic or cultural events. This program would be similar to the concept of the “Open Restaurant” outdoor dining program launched this year. There would be an application fee of $20 for participation in the program, to cover costs and discourage frivolous applications.
The program would be established by March 1, 2021 and remain in effect until October 31, with the possibility of extension, but would expire by March 31, 2022. The program would be developed by the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (CECM), in consultation with the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Buildings (DOB), the Police Department (NYPD), the Fire Department (NYFD), and any other agency designated by the Mayor. DOT would be required to share a list of spaces eligible for the program by February 1, 2021.
This bill would go into effect immediately.
“Arts and culture are the lifeblood of our City. With the new Open Culture program, artists and art groups can start staging performances – and charge for them – starting March 1. There will be dancing, singing & comedy on the streets bringing joy and jobs to thousands. We need to use our City’s space in new and creative ways to make sure the cultural community can perform and create. This new law will be a dynamic and transformative program for our cultural community and will create a dynamic open space use – a true win-win,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.
Requires the creation of a website for information on open spaces for art and cultural programming
Int. No. 2034-A, sponsored by Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, would require the creation of a website that would provide information on open spaces designated by the city for art and cultural programming, such as roadways, parks, or pedestrian plazas; facilitate the use of such space by art and cultural institutions; and allow users to search for such open space on a map. The website would also allow users to search for information about outdoor programs offered by art and cultural institutions that are coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (CECM) and provide information about other events either hosted by art and cultural institutions or outdoor events held on private property.
The website would be created by the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (CECM), in consultation with the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), the Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks), the Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT) and any other relevant agency or office.
This bill would go into effect 90 days after it becomes law.
“Prior to COVID-19, the cultural sector in NYC was one of the largest industries in NYC, employing nearly 400,000 workers, paying them $31 billion in wages, and generating $110 billion in economic activity. In merely seven months, employment within this sector has fallen over 60%, with 95% of organizations being forced to cancel some programming. The passage of Intro 2034 is symbolic of our city’s commitment to innovation in the face of a “new normal.” I look forward to seeing how open spaces are utilized by our cultural sector in the near future with use of this newly designed website. Thank you to Speaker Johnson for leading a legislative body that is consistently responsive to the needs of our city,” said Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo.
Strengthens the Fair Chance Act
Int. No. 1314-A, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams (by request of the mayor), would add unsealed violations and adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (ACDs) to the category of dispositions that may never be considered for the purpose of making employment-related decisions. This bill extends critical employment protections for individuals with pending ACDs and convictions for violations prior to sealing.
This bill would also prohibit discrimination in licensing against applicants with convictions for violations, even prior to sealing. Additionally, this bill would clarify protections for applicants and employees with pending criminal cases by explicitly requiring an employer to make an individualized assessment of the relationship between the charged conduct and the job, much like what is required for consideration of an individual’s conviction history.
Requires the city to inform NYCHA tenants of call center for mold ombudsperson
Introduction No. 1911-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, would require an office or agency designated by the Mayor to distribute a pamphlet or other printed document that contains information about the Mold Ombudsperson, the mold ombudsperson’s call center, and how to make a complaint to the mold ombudsperson to every NYCHA tenant.
The office would also be required to communicate this information to each tenant by telephone. For tenants enrolled in electronic billing, the office can opt to send the information via e-mail instead of distributing a paper copy.
This legislation would also require the designated office to distribute such pamphlet to certain elected officials and community representatives, and to hold a public briefing at least once a year to provide information about the Mold Ombudsperson.
This legislation would take effect immediately.
“The NYCHA Ombudsman Call Center (OCC) has proven to be effective in repairing and removing mold from NYCHA apartments across the City. More than 4,100 families have benefitted from the OCC but unfortunately thousands of NYCHA households do not know of its existence, and what their rights are when it comes to mold removal. This bill will ensure that NYCHA residents receive proper notification and information about the OCC and their rights, and ensure that NYCHA is properly monitored when doing repair work,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.
Prohibits the sale of biometric identifier information and requires businesses to notify customers of the use of biometric identifier technology
Int. No. 1170-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, would prohibit the sale of biometric identifier information. It would also require certain commercial establishments, such as retailers, restaurants, and entertainment venues, to post signage notifying consumers if they collect biometric identifier information. Financial institutions are exempt from the signage requirement, as are businesses that use cameras solely for security purposes, do not use the cameras for automated identification of individuals, and do not share their video footage except with law enforcement.
The bill also provides for a private right of action that allows for judgments of $500 for failing to post signage or negligently selling/sharing biometric information and $5,000 for the intentional or reckless sale of biometric information. The bill requires the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to conduct outreach and education to affected commercial establishments.
This bill would take effect 180 days after it becomes law.
“Facial recognition technology and biometric identifiers remain largely unregulated in the US, without proper guidelines on how it should be used and how private data is stored. This bill will regulate the use of biometric identifiers by businesses and commercial venues, require notification when facial recognition technology is used, and prohibit the sale of consumers’ private data. This will make NYC the nation’s largest city to regulate these new technologies and ensure that consumers are protected,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.
HOUSING & BUILDINGS
Creates an Interim Certificate of Occupancy
Int. No. 2033-A, sponsored by Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, would permit the Department of Buildings (DOB) to issue an interim certificate of occupancy (ICO) to authorize occupancy of specific floors of a building before a final certificate of occupancy is issued. The ICO would remain in effect until a final certificate of occupancy is issued.
This bill would allow for the permit holder to submit a signed statement of compliance required by the Administrative Code of the City of New York. It would also require building owners to post a copy of partial certificates of occupancy and temporary certificates of occupancy (TCO), including ICOs. Additionally, this bill would further allow the DOB Commissioner to revoke TCOs and ICOs that were issued in error or on the basis of incorrect information. This bill would not apply to residential buildings with fewer than eight stories or four dwelling units, non-residential buildings with fewer than five stories, mixed-use buildings with fewer than four dwelling units, or parking structures.
This local law would take effect in 120 days.
WOMEN & GENDER EQUITY
Urges the passage of legislation allowing for the sealing of convictions for Loitering for the Purpose of Engaging in a Prostitution Offense
Resolution No. 1444-A, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera, would call on the New York State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, a bill to amend the criminal procedure law to allow convictions for Loitering for the Purpose of Engaging in a Prostitution Offense (PL § 240.37) to be sealed and have the law apply retroactively.
Declares the Council’s support of S2253-A654, which would repeal Penal Law 240.37
Resolution No. 923, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera, would declare the City Council’s support for S2243/A-654, sponsored by Senator Hoylman and Assembly Member Paulin, which repeals Penal Law 240.37.
“I’m so happy that after over a year of organizing in the Council, we are finally voting on these important Resolutions, which I believe will send a clear signal to leaders in Albany that the removal of this section of the State Penal Code is a top priority for New Yorkers from across the Five Boroughs. This law has been used for decades to disproportionately target Black and Brown trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers solely because of their race, their gender expression, and frankly their existence. It is unacceptable that our government continues to allow this violation to remain on the books, and I hope that after the deep public reckoning our nation has faced around police brutality and systemic racism this year, the State Legislature will act quickly to repeal the Walking While Trans Ban and ensure any New Yorkers who’ve been previously prosecuted deserve the chance to seal their records,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, prime sponsor of resolutions 923 and 1444.
Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Queens Sanitation Garage 1- Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) seek to acquire approximately 9.8 acres of undeveloped industrial property, as well as easements for vehicular and utility access, adjacent to Luyster Creek in the Astoria Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) of Queens Community District 1. The acquisition would facilitate the development of a 93,775 SF sanitation garage serving Queens Community District 1 and 20,000 SF salt shed serving Queens Community District 1 and portions of Community District 3 in Council Member Costa Constantinides’ district.
Special Flushing Waterfront District – Today we will vote to approve L.U.s 694 and 695, an application submitted by FWRA LLC., for the Special Flushing Waterfront District proposal, relating to property in Council Member Koo’s district in Queens. The application seeks a zoning map amendment to establish the Special Flushing Waterfront District, including the rezoning of existing C4-2 and M3-1 districts to an M1-2/R7-1 district; as well as a zoning text amendment to create Special District rules regarding use, bulk, and parking, and related modifications to the underlying district regulations, including the establishment of a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing area, utilizing Options 1 and 2. The proposal is intended to facilitate the development of approximately 1.6 million square feet of residential space, including 1,725 dwelling units, 1.4 million square feet of commercial space, and 22,000 square feet of community facility space. The district would include a new private road network; and new waterfront regulations, in order to create 2.8 acres of publicly-accessible open space, a new public plaza, and a 40-foot-wide shore public walkway along the Flushing Creek waterfront. Council Member Koo has spent months negotiating the best possible project for his community. Due to his efforts, the applicants have committed to maximizing affordable housing on
Development Site #4 – which includes approximately 300 units. The applicants will work with city and other public agencies to secure funding to achieve that goal.
This project will provide an economic lifeline in the form of union employment and tens of millions in additional tax revenues to the City of New York.
Bedford Avenue Overlay Extension – 223 Troutman LLC, seeks a zoning map amendment to map a C2-4 commercial overlay district over an existing R6B district on the western side of Bedford Avenue between Grand Street and North 1 Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The proposed addition of a commercial overlay would facilitate the development of a three-story mixed-use building in Council Member Antonio Reynoso’s district.
803 Rockaway Avenue Rezoning – Bridge Rockaway Housing Development Fund Co. Inc., seeks a zoning map and text amendment to facilitate a new development of a mixed-use building including approximately 174 units of affordable housing, of which 80 of the units will be for formerly homeless adults with mental health conditions and homeless veterans and seniors in Council Member Inez Barron’s district
Mansion Restaurant Sidewalk Café Amendment – Yorkville Mansion Inc., is proposing an amendment to the zoning text to allow unenclosed sidewalk cafes within the C1-5 district at the northeast corner of York Avenue and East 86th Street. This will facilitate, subject to a separate sidewalk café licensing process through New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, an unenclosed sidewalk café with 23 tables and 47 seats in Council Member Ben Kallos’ district.