The Council will also vote on pilot program to test sewage for virus that causes COVID-19
City Hall – Today the New York City Council will vote on legislation to transfer the land, buildings and facilities of Rikers Island from the Department of Correction (DOC) to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). This legislation comes ahead of the August 31, 2027 deadline that prohibits Rikers Island from being used for incarceration. The Council will also vote on a bill to require a feasibility study to determine whether different types of renewable energy sources, combined with battery storage, are feasible on Rikers Island.
The Council will also vote to create a pilot program to test sewage for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Wastewater samples are an underutilized early detection tool for this virus. Early detection of the virus early can help to track circulation or re-emergence in the community. This legislation will include a plan for increased testing at each City wastewater treatment plant if deemed appropriate and offers recommendations for making the program permanent.
The Council will also vote on a bill to address health disparities for women and communities of color. The bill will create an advisory board for gender and racial equity in hospitals to advise the Mayor and the Council on issues related to gender and racial equity in the provision of health care services and healthcare services in hospitals in New York City. Implicit bias has been a major factor in negative health outcomes. Members will also vote on a resolution that calls on New York State to require medical schools to train students in implicit bias.
Additionally, the Council will vote on legislation that disqualifies people who have been convicted of certain felonies that relate to public corruption and depriving the public of honest services from holding local elected office. The bill would apply to the offices of Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, Borough President, and Council Member.
The Council will also vote on two bills related to the city’s 311 service. The first would require 311 to conduct customer satisfaction surveys in eleven different languages. The second would require 311 to publish the timeframes in which agencies are expected to respond to 311 service requests. In addition, the Council will vote on a bill to extend the moratorium on the issuance of accessory sign violations.
Finally, the Council will vote on several land use items.
Transfers the land, buildings and facilities of Rikers Island to the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services
Int. No. 1592-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would establish a process for the transferring of the land, buildings and facilities of Rikers Island from the Department of Correction (DOC) to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). In biannual evaluations, any portion not in active use for the housing of persons, or providing of services for such persons, would be transferred, with the entirety being transferred no later than August 31, 2027. The DCAS Commissioner would have the authority to plan and coordinate the actions of city agencies with respect to prospective uses of Rikers Island for purposes including sustainability and resiliency. Additionally, a Rikers Island Advisory Committee would be established, consisting of relevant commissioners, persons impacted by Rikers, and experts in environmental justice and sustainability. The advisory committee would evaluate and provide recommendations on potential uses of the island for purposes including those for sustainability and resiliency.
Expands the City’s long-term energy plan to include a study of the feasibility of different types of renewable energy sources combined with battery storage on Rikers Island
Int. No. 1593-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would require the City of New York to undertake a feasibility study designed to ascertain whether different types of renewable energy sources, combined with battery storage, are feasible on Rikers Island. The City is already required to complete a long-term energy plan to assess the feasibility of replacing in-city gas-fired power plants with renewable energy sources. This local law would add an appendix that would be required in the initial long-term energy plan to assess the feasibility of constructing renewable energy sources combined with battery storage on Rikers Island. It would include an evaluation of economic costs, value, rate of return, and sustainability. The Rikers Island Advisory Committee would be able to issue recommendations during the study process. This initial long-term energy plan, with this feasibility study, would be due on June 30, 2022.
“The 413 acres of Rikers Island have, for far too long, embodied an unjust and racist criminal justice system,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “Far too many New Yorkers found themselves caught in a cycle of over-policing and over-incarceration symbolized by an island named for the family of a slave catcher. Now, however, we will have a golden opportunity to put the principles of the Green New Deal into practice with the Renewable Rikers Act. These bills will offer the city a pathway to building a hub for sustainability and resiliency that can serve as a model to cities around the world. I want to thank all the advocates who have fought so hard to make this day a reality, as well as Speaker Corey Johnson for his steadfast support of this legislation.”
Creates a pilot program to test sewage for SARS-CoV-2
Int. No. 1966-A, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would establish a pilot sampling program to test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes the disease known as COVID-19, in sewage no less than twice per week at each City wastewater treatment plant. Testing would be done by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method known as the PCR using N1 Primer method, which measures the copies of targeted viral RNA segment in a wastewater sample, unless the Commissioner of Environmental Protection determines that another testing method, which reflect best practices should be used.
The sampling results would be disaggregated by the site where the sample was collected, the date the sample was collected and the date the sample was tested. This legislation includes a plan for increased testing at each City wastewater treatment plant if the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene or State Commissioner of Health declare that the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 is appropriate for such action or if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues a SARS-CoV-2 pandemic declaration. The legislation also includes recommendations for making the pilot program permanent. A report on the pilot sampling program would be due no later than January 31, 2022.
“DEP did a good job of setting up an initial COVID testing program, but now it’s time to push further,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “Not only do we need more data sharing, but we also need to be prepared to respond to the next pandemic as well. With this bill, we will bring the program out into the open and position it to be a lasting piece of our wastewater system. I want to thank Speaker Johnson and the advocates who supported us in passing this legislation.”
Disqualifies persons with certain felony convictions from being elected to, or holding, an elected city office
Int. No. 374-A, sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan, would disqualify any person that has been convicted of certain felonies related to public corruption and depriving the public of honest services from being elected to, or holding, the office of Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President, or Council Member.
The felonies included are grand larceny (if the property stolen included public funds), theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, making false statements in violation of section 1001 of title 18 of the U.S. Code (if committed through the use of, or in connection with, the person’s elected office), wire and mail fraud, interference with commerce by threats or violence, and felony attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the aforementioned felonies.
Under this bill, convictions that have been vacated or pardoned under state or federal law would not prevent a person from being elected to or holding office.
“Serving the public in elected office is a privilege, not a right, and we should treat it like one,” said Council Member Justin Brannan. “Today, when trust in government is at an all-time low, the last thing we need are elected officials who use their position of power to enrich themselves or their friends, get caught, and then come back looking for more. We have enormous challenges facing us as a city, and now more than ever, we need elected officials who seek public office because they are determined to build a better future for all New Yorkers. With today’s vote, we send a message to those who wish to use an elected office to abuse their privilege: corruption is not welcome in New York City. And you don’t get a second chance to betray the public trust.”
Requires 311 to conduct annual customer satisfaction surveys in multiple languages
Int. No. 1525-B, sponsored by Council Member Peter Koo, would require 311 to conduct at least five customer satisfaction surveys per year. 311 would be required to conduct such surveys in English and each of the ten “designated citywide languages.” These are the top ten languages spoken by New Yorkers with limited English proficiency, as determined by data from the United States Census Bureau and the NYC Department of Education.
The bill would also require the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications to produce an annual report containing the results of such surveys, disaggregated by the language in which the survey was conducted.
“The residents of New York City speak hundreds of languages, and they’ve been cut off from our city’s main source of government information and non-emergency services for too long via 311. Conducting customer satisfaction surveys in multiple languages will help 311 identify ways in which it can better serve all residents while improving accessibility for non-English speakers,” said Council Member Peter Koo.
Requires the publication of 311 service level agreements
Int. No. 1830-A, sponsored by Council Member Diana Ayala, would require 311 to post each agency’s service level agreement (SLA) on the Open Data portal, provide a link to such posting on the 311 website, and maintain a separate page on the 311 website providing general background information on SLAs. SLAs are commitments that agencies make to respond to a particular type of service request within a certain time frame. By requiring these commitments to be published online, this bill would make the 311 customer service process more transparent.
“It is imperative that government not only serves in the best interest of the public but that they are also transparent with those services,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “Since its inception, 311 has been a valuable tool for New Yorkers to be able to access information to city services as well as providing feedback on issues that are important to them. This bill will further expand on that by helping New Yorkers research what actions have been taken since a service request has been placed.”
Creates an advisory board for gender and racial equity in hospitals
Int. No. 2064-A, sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would require the creation of an advisory board to report on issues relating to gender and racial equity in the provision of healthcare services in hospitals and other covered health care services in New York City. The advisory board would consider factors that contribute to gender and racial inequity in hospitals and other health care services and examine existing protocols these entities use to address such inequity.
The board would consist of a multi-disciplinary panel of representatives and be required to submit a report including recommendations for addressing and eliminating such inequities by December 1, 2021, and December 1 annually thereafter. The report would be submitted to the Mayor and the Speaker of the council, posted on the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website, and shared with a trade association representing hospitals, for distribution to its members operating in New York City.
Calls on New York State to require medical schools to train students about “implicit bias”
Res. No. 512-A, sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would call on New York State to require medical schools to train all students about implicit bias. Although some medical schools provide such training to their students, not all do. Training in implicit bias includes instruction on structural racism, ableism, and other forms of oppression in the medical field as well as reflection on individuals’ own implicit biases.
“Intro 2064 will shine an ongoing spotlight on the racial and gender discrimination impacting our healthcare workers, and in turn, their patients. Similarly, my resolution 512 calls on New York State medical schools to educate future doctors about underlying biases which can severely affect patient care. Together, my bill and resolution are important steps toward addressing the historic and ongoing discrimination that plagues our healthcare systems. Improving workplace conditions, and tackling implicit bias head-on, will both improve patient outcomes. I thank the Public Advocate, my Council colleagues, and all the advocates and healthcare workers who helped make passage today possible,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
HOUSING & BUILDINGS
Extends the moratorium on the issuance of accessory sign violations and increases the waiver of permit fees related to installing an accessory sign
Int. No. 2044-A, sponsored by Council Member Robert Holden, would mitigate the financial impact of accessory sign violations faced by many small businesses across the City. This bill would extend the moratorium on the issuance of accessory sign violations and the temporary Department of Buildings (DOB) assistance program established by Local Law 28 of 2019 for two years. The moratorium established by Local Law 28 of 2019 expired in early 2021 and the DOB assistance, which expired after six months, also included 75% waiver of certain permit fees related to installing an accessory sign. To provide further assistance, in addition to extending the moratorium and DOB assistance program, this bill would also increase the permit fee waiver to 100%.
This local law would take effect immediately and be retroactive to January 1, 2021.
“Everyone is talking about helping our small businesses, and this bill, Int. 2044, will help them in a real, quantifiable way that helps them save some money. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy, but they’ve been hemorrhaging throughout this pandemic. It has long been too difficult to run a business in New York City, but it has become almost impossible. Many of the owners and employees of small establishments are immigrants, working hard for their piece of the American Dream. The proprietors and employees of the Mom-and-Pop storefronts in my district and all over New York struggle to feed their families, pay for their children’s education, braces and clothing. This law will allow them to save a little more money. If the city doesn’t stop nickel-and-diming our small businesses and help them in meaningful ways, like this bill does, the only sign we’ll see on them is ‘out of business,’” said Council Member Robert Holden.
110 Lenox Avenue Cluster – The New York City Housing Preservation and Development seeks an Urban Development Action Area Project (UDAAP) approval and approval of a new 40-year Article XI tax exemption. These actions will facilitate the renovation of four partially-occupied city-owned residential buildings with 55 affordable units consisting of, 37 cooperative homeownership units and 18 affordable rental units, in Council Member Bill Perkins’ district.
Angel Guardian Home – Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation of a former orphanage, built in 1899 and operated by the Sisters of Mercy, in Council Member Carlos Menchaca’s district.