The Council will also vote to require public education ahead of ranked choice elections.
City Hall – Today the New York City Council will vote on historic legislation to mandate significant reforms to the street vendor system. The number of food vending permits has been capped at 3,000 since 1983, despite high demand. The cap has prevented talented, hard-working individuals from entering this classic NYC small business industry and also led to a thriving illegal-market for the permits.
The legislation provides new opportunities to legally vend and addresses concerns regarding the lack of effective enforcement of vending laws.
Starting July 2022, the legislation allows for the release of 400 food vending permits a year for ten years. Of the 400 each year, 100 permits allow Manhattan vending (or vending in any other borough if they choose). The rest allow for vending in other boroughs outside of Manhattan.
The legislation requires that a permit holder must be always present at the cart. By 2032, all permits—existing and new – will transfer to this system. This new requirement will close the loophole that has led to widespread and illegal practice of renting the permits for thousands of dollars.
A dedicated unit will be established to enforce street vending laws, with a focus on locations where street vending is plentiful and congestion issues persist.
The legislation would also create an advisory board to monitor the enforcement unit, oversee new permit roll-out, and make recommendations to both the Council and the Mayor on issues related to vending. The board includes representatives for street vendors, the small business community, workers at retail food stores, property owners and community organizations, as well from city agencies (includes Consumer and Worker Protection, Transportation, and Health and Mental Hygiene).
The city’s Green Carts program would also be expanded to increase options for selling healthy food throughout the city.
The Council will also vote on a bill related to Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Currently, the Charter requires the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) to conduct a voter education campaign to familiarize voters with RCV but does not specify how such campaign must be conducted. The bill being voted on today would establish concrete steps that CFB must take as it works to educate voters on the new RCV system.
Members will vote to reform the city’s tax lien sale system by increasing the delinquency thresholds for certain residential properties to be eligible for the tax lien sale in the first place, creating an exemption for eligible property owners who are facing a COVID-19 related financial hardship, and mandating a more robust outreach program.
The legislation would extend the city’s authority to sell tax liens for just one year.
During that year the Council, the Administration, and advocates will form a task force to examine ways that the city’s collection of municipal debt can be made more fair, effective and efficient. In addition, the task force will consider alternatives to the tax lien sale that would include transferring tax delinquent properties or liens to mission-drive not-for-profit organizations such as community land trusts. As part of the agreement between the Council and the Administration, the city will provide $1 million in discretionary funding (spread across FY21 and FY22) for community-based organizations to conduct lien sale outreach.
The Council will also vote on two bills related to the city’s 311 hotline. The first bill would require the City to conduct a study and submit a report on anonymous 311 complaints. Although 311 is designed to be a way for New Yorkers to report legitimate problems, there is concern that it occasionally has been used as a tool for harassment, whereby a caller makes repeated, anonymous, unsubstantiated complaints against a private property. This bill would help the City understand the extent of 311 harassment and generate ideas for addressing the problem. The second bill would require 311 to notify city agencies when a service request has not been closed within a designated time frame and is designed to promote the timely resolution of complaints made to 311.
Members will vote on two pieces of legislation regarding workplace safety. The first bill would create a nine-member board which will hold two public hearings on workplace safety protocol, after which it will review and issue recommendations on workplace health and safety guidance issued during public health emergencies and, specifically, the current COVID-19 pandemic. The second bill would require the Citywide Office of Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) to proactively monitor federal, state, and local occupational safety and health agencies for any guidance they might issue on matters related to workplace safety and public health and deliver the guidance electronically to each agency safety and health coordinator (ASHC) within 24 hours of it being issued. The ASHC will then be required to email the health and safety guidance to city employees and provide any necessary education or training to help compliance.
Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members will vote on legislation to extend deadlines for applicants to the basement legalization pilot program (established by Local Law number 49 for the year 2019) to allow applicants additional time to submit required construction documents to the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB).
Finally, the Council will vote on several land use items.
CONSUMER AFFAIRS & BUSINESS LICENSING
Mandates significant reforms to the city’s street vendor permit system
Introduction No. 1116-B, sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin, would mandate significant reforms related to street vendor permitting throughout New York City, aiming to address problems with the current system through three key changes.
First, the legislation would expand the availability of food vendor permits by gradually releasing 4,000 new permits over the course of ten years. For these new permits, the permittee would be required to be present and working at their cart. Ultimately, all permits would convert to this system, putting a stop to the illegal market for vending permits. Second, this legislation would create a dedicated unit to enforce street vending laws, with an increased focus on locations where street vending is plentiful and congestion issues persist. Thirdly, a street vendor advisory board including relevant city agencies, and representatives of the business and real estate community, as well as street vendors, will be established to monitor the work of the enforcement unit and the roll out of new permits, as well as make recommendations to both the Council and the Mayor on issues related to vending.
This legislation would also address the congestion that often exists near grocery stores and restaurants with sidewalk cafes, by requiring both food and general merchandise vendors to maintain 20 feet from stoop line stands and sidewalk cafes. Finally, through this legislation the city’s Green Carts program would be expanded to increase options for selling healthy food throughout the city.
“Introduction 1116 finally puts an end to the underground market that currently preys on hardworking food vendors, the majority of whom are immigrant entrepreneurs. The gradual release of new permits in tandem with the creation of a dedicated enforcement unit protects those who are already vending and creates a streamlined and transparent system for vendors, businesses, and the public,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.
“Food vendors have always been part of New York City’s small business community; in fact, many successful restaurants started their business from a food cart. Vendors contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of our city and they deserve to make a living in a legal, dignified way.”
Mandates specific steps for the city’s voter education campaign regarding ranked choice voting
Introduction No. 1994-A, proposed by Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, would require the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) to take a number of concrete steps to familiarize voters with Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Specific steps the bill would require the CFB to take are:
- Conduct a citywide media campaign.
- Distribute a postcard explaining ranked choice voting to each household in the City with at least one registered voter.
- Create and maintain information on its website regarding RCV.
- Collaborate with community-based organizations in all five boroughs on RCV education.
- Produce educational materials regarding RCV and distribute such materials to the 26 city agencies designated as “participating voter registration agencies” under the Charter.
- Train the employees of such agencies on how to incorporate RCV into their interactions with the public.
- Conduct targeted outreach to voters in council districts where special elections have been scheduled to take place prior to the citywide primary on June 22, 2021.
The bill also would require the 26 participating voter registration agencies to post and distribute the educational materials provided by CFB. In addition, the bill would mandate that the Civic Engagement Commission include RCV education as part of its poll site language interpreter training.
This bill would take effect immediately and be deemed repealed on December 31, 2025.
“Ranked Choice Voting passed in November 2019,” said Council Member Ampry-Samuel. “In a year and two months, extremely minimal effort has been given to public engagement. Left to their own devices, Campaign Finance Board and Board of Elections would only satisfy the bare minimum of our city’s charter requirements of public education. That would be a waste of time and resources so I’m creating a space for us to ensure removal of barriers that keep people from voting and the opportunity to hold CFB accountable if they don’t.”
Requires the city to study and report on unsubstantiated 311 complaints
Introduction No. 1420-C, proposed by Minority Leader Steven Matteo, would require an agency designated by the Mayor to conduct a study on the frequency of anonymous complaints made to 311 since 2016 and whether such complaints were more likely to be unsubstantiated than other complaints. The agency would be required to submit a report discussing the findings of the study by December 1, 2021, which would include recommendations regarding the types of complaints that should be allowed to be made anonymously.
This bill would take effect immediately.
“By and large, the 311 system is a great amenity for New York City, and helps make government more efficient and more responsive to our residents’ needs,” said Minority Leader Steven Matteo. “Unfortunately, however, it also has been, at times, exploited by some people to harass neighbors with anonymous false and unsubstantiated complaints. The legislation I authored will require the city to study anonymous 311 complaints to help us determine the extent of 311 abuse, and will help inform us on how proceed to curb it.”
Requires 311 to notify each agency when a request for service or complaint has not been closed within the number of days specified by such agency’s service level agreement (SLA)
Introduction No. 1832-B, proposed by Council Member Fernando Cabrera, would require 311 to notify each agency when a service request has not been closed within the number of days specified by such agency’s service level agreement (SLA). When a customer makes a complaint to 311, the call often results in a service request for a city agency. SLAs are commitments that agencies make to respond to a particular type of service request within a certain time frame.
This bill would take effect 1 year after becoming law.
Reforms the city’s tax lien sale program
Introduction 2166-B, proposed by Council Member Adrienne Adams (by request of the mayor), would extend the City’s authority to sell tax liens for one year and will implement changes including, but not limited to:
- Creating an exemption from any 2021 tax lien sale for property owners who own ten or fewer residential units, where one such unit is the owner’s primary residence, and where such owner submits a hardship declaration to the Department of Finance stating that they are unable to pay their municipal charges due to a COVID-19 related financial hardship. These provisions are aligned with the provisions of the State’s recently enacted COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act.
- Increasing the property tax debt eligibility threshold for Class 1 and residential condominium and cooperative properties to $5,000.
- Increasing the water debt eligibility threshold for 2- and 3-family homes to $3,000.
- Increasing the income eligibility threshold for the Department of Finance’s Property Tax and Interest Deferral (PTAID) Program to $86,400.
- Establishing a lower property tax late payment interest rate for properties with an assessed value between $250,000 and $450,000.
- Mandating certain outreach sessions to be conducted by the Administration during the tax lien sale notice period.
- Establishing a task force, with membership consisting of Administration staff, Council appointees, and representatives of community-based organizations, to examine ways that the city’s collection of municipal debt can be made more fair, effective and efficient, as well as consider alternatives to the tax lien sale that would include transferring tax delinquent properties or liens to mission-drive not-for-profit organizations such as community land trusts.
In addition, pursuant to an agreement between the Council and the Administration, $1 million in discretionary funding will be allocated across Fiscal 2021 and Fiscal 2022 to be designated to community-based organizations doing lien sale outreach. Moreover, the city will advocate for changes to State law that will make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to enroll in property tax exemption programs and to extend cease and desist zones to areas hardest hit by the tax lien sale.
“Introduction 2166-B has been a well fought journey and I am proud of how far we have come for the benefit of New Yorkers,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “This legislation addresses significant problems in the previous lien sale program and includes a diverse task force to ensure that we explore a preservation-minded approach. I thank the Speaker for his support, Attorney General James for her insight and the many advocates for their invaluable contributions in the process.”
CIVIL SERVICE & LABOR
Establishes a board to review workplace health and safety guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic
Introduction No. 2161-A, proposed by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, would create a nine-member board, which would hold two public hearings on workplace safety protocol for the purpose of reviewing and issuing recommendations on workplace health and safety guidance issued during public health emergencies and, specifically, the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the workplace health and safety guidance review board would solicit testimony and workplace guidance from relevant employees and stakeholders at two public hearings; the board would then review the content of any guidance agencies have issued to municipal officers and employees and that private employers have issued to private employees during the pandemic. The board would assess the efficacy of the guidance, including any gaps in protocol, and assess the efforts that agencies and private employers made to distribute the guidance and alert employees to workplace health and safety protocols.
The board would make recommendations based on its assessment and issue a preliminary report within one month of its first hearing on its findings and recommendations and a final report, by December 15, 2021, with updated assessments and recommendations.
This bill would take effect immediately and the board would terminate 180 days after the date on which it submits its final report.
Requires the dissemination of occupational safety and health information to city employees during a public health emergency
Introduction No. 2162-A, proposed by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, would require the Citywide Office of Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) to proactively monitor federal, state, and local occupational safety and health agencies for any guidance they might issue on matters related to workplace safety and public health. Within 24 hours of any new guidance being issued, COSH would be required to deliver the guidance electronically to each ASCH.
The Agency Safety and Health Coordinator (ASHC) would be required to post the newly issued guidance in the workplace and electronically deliver the guidance to each employee at the agency, while customizing each email to highlight the parts of the guidance most relevant to each employee or category of positions that email is directed to. The ASCH would also be required to provide employees with any necessary training or education needed to ensure compliance with new health guidance, such as how to properly wear masks.
This bill would take effect 90 days after it becomes law.
“All labor has dignity, and as we continue to battle the second-wave of this deadly COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we have clear, uniform guidance on best practices that save lives in real-time. Too many of the dedicated men and women that make up our City’s workforce were lost due to inaccurate and dangerous guidance from their employer. Just last week we saw three different responses from City agencies in response to an outbreak at the Board of Elections facility in Queens. Introductions 2161-A and 2162-A will create uniformity and continuity for workers in both the public and private sector. I thank my colleagues for their support of these two pieces of legislation, and look forward to their passage,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller.
Extends the deadline for applicants to the City’s basement legalization pilot program to submit required construction documents to the Department of Buildings
Introduction 2204-A, proposed by Council Member Darma V. Diaz, would establish a six-month extension for applicants to the City’s basement legalization pilot program (established by Local Law number 49 for the year 2019) to submit required construction documents to the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB). Applicants were originally required to submit the required construction documents by January 2, 2021 (18 months after the effective date of Local Law 49 for the year 2019), but the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has caused significant delays, making compliance with the deadline difficult and affecting DOB’s ability to review applications and conduct necessary in-person inspections.
“I am honored to be in a position today where I can actively participate in adding housing stock to New York City. As someone who advocated for this bill to legalize basements after living myself as a young mom in an illegal basement, I see the value of turning underutilized space for housing into binding housing stock,” said Council Member Darma V. Diaz.
4002 Fort. Hamilton Parkway –The New York City School Construction Authority proposed site selection for a new public intermediate school facility with approximately 475 seats which will serve Community School District 15. The privately owned site is 23,000 square foot and comprised of one lot located on the corner of Fort Hamilton Parkway, between 40th and 41st Streets in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn in Council Member Brad Lander’s district.