City Hall – The New York City Council will vote today on legislation that requires the de Blasio Administration to create a plan to vaccinate homebound seniors for COVID-19. The pandemic has been particularly devastating to our seniors, especially those over 75-years-old who are at highest risk for hospitalization and death compared to all other age groups. Sadly, this population has had trouble getting vaccinated because of hurdles getting appointments as well as physical challenges getting to vaccines sites. This legislation will require the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or another designated agency, to create a plan to vaccinate homebound seniors and provide a report to the Council after the plan has been implemented. The report would include the number of homebound seniors vaccinated, disaggregated by zip code, and outline any obstacles faced while implementing the plan.
The Council will also vote on a bill to require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to study the feasibility of constructing a new wastewater treatment facility on Rikers Island and how such a facility could impact existing treatment plants in the city. The study will consider possible alternatives to wastewater treatment and disposal and will include the minimum capacity a wastewater plant should have and composting opportunities. Additionally, the feasibility study will also assess the presence of methane on Rikers Island and the possibility of installing methane recovery systems, and the potential for electricity generation.
In addition, the Council will also vote on two bills to address potential fire safety hazards at film production locations, which are in response to the tragic death of firefighter Michael Davidson in 2018 at a Harlem film set. One of the bills will require a safety manager be on site during certain types of film productions and conduct inspections. The other bill includes the creation of protocols for inter-agency information sharing when film production activities are authorized by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. The Fire Department will have access to all permit information on production location conditions, including alterations to buildings.
The Council will also vote on a bill that will require the Brooklyn Navy Yard to submit an annual report to the Mayor and the City Council regarding the progress in the non-profit entity’s master plan for the use of the land. The legislation will facilitate the oversight of the long-term development of the property.
Also, the Council will vote on four resolutions calling for removal protections and immigration relief for certain immigrants during the pandemic and provide relief for family members of frontline workers who passed away because of COVID-19. One of the resolutions calls on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to halt all deportation proceedings during the pandemic to restrict the global spreading of COVID-19. More than 10 countries have reported COVID-19 outbreaks linked to deportations of their expatriates.
Another resolution calls for a moratorium on removal proceedings for employment-based status holders that lost their jobs because of the pandemic. A third resolutions calls on Congress to pass legislation that will retain lawful status to foreign-born individuals with employment-based visas who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. A fourth resolution calls on the federal government to provide relief for family members of frontline workers who passed away because of COVID-19.
The Council will also vote on a resolution calling on the Department of Education to help ensure remote learning is as effective as possible for students with disabilities by providing their families with the necessary training and equipment to assist their children.
Finally, the Council will vote on several land use and finance items.
Creates a Vaccination plan for homebound seniors
Int. No. 2225-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger, would establish a plan for COVID-19 vaccination of homebound seniors, and reporting on such a plan. This legislation would require the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene, or another designated agency, to establish a plan to vaccinate homebound seniors for COVID-19. The plan would be posted on the department’s website and provided to the City Council. The Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene, or another designated agency, would also be required to report to the Council on implementation of the plan every two months after the plan is issued.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in New York City has been riddled with issues relating to short supplies, technical hurdles with booking appointments, vaccine skepticism, and challenges with reaching large segments of the population. In particular, older adults have faced barriers when trying to receive the vaccine due to digital illiteracy, issues surrounding mobility, isolation, and fear of entering crowded or busy spaces because of COVID. For older New Yorkers who are homebound, it is particularly challenging to receive the vaccine.
“Those who need the most help must be prioritized in the government’s vaccine distribution plan. My legislation will hold the de Blasio administration accountable to ensure our homebound seniors have access to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “This law will provide fair access to healthcare services and equity in the distribution of the vaccine so that our most vulnerable residents are not left behind. I want to thank Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Margaret Chin for fast-tracking this legislation and thank our community partners for their tireless advocacy efforts to help move this initiative forward.”
The bill would take effect immediately.
Conduct a feasibility study to build a new wastewater treatment plant on Rikers Island
Int. 1591-B, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in consultation with the Department of Sanitation, to study the feasibility of constructing a new wastewater treatment facility on Rikers Island as part of the Council’s vision for a “Renewable Rikers.” This particular study will take into consideration population projections and possible alternatives to wastewater treatment and disposal, the minimum and maximum capacity a wastewater treatment facility should have and the amount of wastewater that could be diverted from other facilities. Also, DEP would assess the presence of methane on the island and the potential for installing methane recovery systems. DEP would solicit public comment and the Rikers Island Advisory Committee would make recommendations for the study.
The review would be submitted to the Mayor, the Council Speaker, the Rikers Island Advisory Committee, and the public within three years.
“A critical part of the Renewable Rikers Act is not just about what else can be put on the island, but what can then be removed from overburdened communities,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “With Intro. 1591-B, the city will be required to determine whether it makes sense to move wastewater treatment capacity to Rikers Island and away from EJ communities such as Hunts Point in the south Bronx. The city will also study how much organics waste recycling can be done on the island, expanding the capacity of which is a critical piece of our 80×50 goals. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson for his support of this legislation and all the advocates who fought with us to make this bill a reality.
The bill would take effect immediately.
FIRE AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
Increase fire safety at film production locations
Int. 1849-A, sponsored by Council Member Joseph Borelli, would require the Fire Department (FDNY) to establish fire safety provisions for certain film production locations. The legislation would also establish a Certificate of Fitness for a “production location fire safety manager,” and designate circumstances where certain filming activates would require Fire Department inspection or supervision of the location, or the presence of a production location fire safety manager during filming. Additionally, the bill would require the designation of a “production location fire safety manager” whenever a permit for rigging or production activities is obtained from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
The bill would take effect 120 days after becoming law.
Council Member Joe Borelli said, “Firefighter Davidson leaves behind a loving family, and it has been an honor to work with his wife Eileen to ensure the tragedy that robbed them of a father does not happen to any other members of the FDNY. These updates to the City’s fire code will make sure firefighters have the information they need when entering a structure at filming locations, provide necessary checks on improvised film sets, and give FDNY the discretion to regulate the presence of dangerous and flammable prop furniture containing harmful chemicals. It took a few years, but I am glad we were able to work out a final product that significantly reduces risk, while still encouraging the growth of filming in New York. In truth, the past law gave a pass to the film industry that would never have been allowed for any other type of owner or lessee. It’s just too dangerous.”
Int. 1852-A, sponsored by Council Member Robert Cornegy, would require that the FDNY and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) establish protocols to enable inter-agency information sharing regarding film production activities authorized by a permit obtained from MOME. Under the legislation, these protocols would provide the Fire Department with access to all permit information, require local firehouses be notified when certain film permits are issued, and enable firefighters to receive detailed information on production location conditions, including any alterations. The bill requires that at film production locations, means of egress are maintained, portable fire extinguishers are present, and the location is maintained free of accumulated flammable waste.
The fire safety hazards at film sets legislation stems from the tragic death of firefighter Michael Davidson in 2018. When responding to a fire in Harlem, the FDNY was not aware that the location was being used for film production. The location was a converted brownstone with temporary walls and subdivisions built to facilitate filming, while impeding means of egress and altering the conventional layout. As a result, firefighter Davidson lost his life responding to the fire and experiencing heavy smoke inhalation as he was trapped in the burning building.
“Firefighters put their lives at risk every day,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “The least we can do is to provide adequate information when they arrive at a building that has been altered during a filming. This legislation is a practical solution that will prevent future firefighters from meeting the same fate as Lt. Michael Davidson.”
The bill would take effect 120 days after becoming law.
Annual report on Brooklyn Navy Yard land use progress
Int. No. 1839-A, sponsored by Council Member Paul Vallone, would require the Brooklyn Navy Yard development corporation to submit an annual report to the Mayor and the City Council Speaker in which it details the non-profit entity’s progress in achieving the master plan for the utilization of the land. This requirement would be added to future contracts between the Department of Small Business Services and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The next such contract is scheduled to be renewed in June of 2022 and the first report would be due on January 15, 2023.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard development corporation is a non-profit entity that contracts with the Department of Small Business services to develop and manage City-owned property on the Brooklyn waterfront.
This legislation will facilitate ongoing oversight of the long-term development of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The bill would take effect immediately after becoming law.
“The Brooklyn Navy Yard provides stable, affordable space for industrial businesses, and is now home to over 450 businesses employing more than 11,000 people and generating over $2.5 billion per year in economic activity for the City. While we commend the Navy Yard for being one of the most well-run engines for economic development, this legislation brings much needed accountability to one of our most vital economic assets. Any significant investment made by the City should come with equally significant oversight and transparency to ensure that we are responsibly using taxpayer funds,” said Council Member Paul Vallone.
Halt deportation proceedings
Res. 1416-A, sponsored by Council Member Mathieu Eugene, calls on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to halt deportation proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic as a public health measure to restrict the global spread of the disease. At least 11 countries have reported COVID-19 outbreaks tied to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportations. Despite the public health risk, ICE has continued to deport New Yorkers, risking further transmissions internationally.
Place a moratorium on removal proceedings
Res. 1417-A, sponsored by Council Member Mathieu Eugene, calls on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to place a moratorium on all removal proceedings for employment-based status holders who lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
Provide temporary work and residency authorization
Res. 1418-A, sponsored by Council Member Eugene, calls on Congress to pass, and the President to sign, legislation that would provide temporary work and residency authorization for employment-based status holders who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the health of the global community, I believe it is our moral obligation to increase protective measures for those facing deportation due to loss of employment,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. Resolutions 1416, 1417, and 1418 call on The Department of Homeland Security and Congress to take necessary actions to prevent the forced return of status holders who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. We know that deportees are often held in unsanitary and unhygienic conditions, which have only worsened during the pandemic. To continue deportations for those who have lost their jobs and face economic uncertainty is both inhumane and unsafe and will most certainly pose a continued COVID-19 risk to countries receiving deportees. There are so many members of the immigrant community who have dedicated their time and energy to being part of the fabric of New York City, especially during this public health crisis, and it is imperative that we provide protections for them as they search for new work opportunities. I am confident that with the support of the federal government, we can implement the necessary measures to protect our immigrant populations from the continued spread of COVID-19.”
Provide relief for immigrant families who lost frontline workers due to the pandemic
Res. 1419-A, sponsored by Council Member Francisco Moya, calls on the federal government to create a legislative solution that would provide immigration relief for family members of those frontline workers in the health profession who have passed away due to the pandemic.
“Immigrants have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, putting their lives on the line for so many. We need to value their contributions and honor the sacrifices they have made for our city and for our country during one of the worst pandemics of our time. And we must treat our immigrant community including and especially children with humanity–providing immigration relief to families of frontline healthcare workers that passed away due to COVID-19 is one definite way to do so. They are already suffering from loss while battling COVID-19, these families should not be fighting deportations and children should not lose the only home they’ve known here in the U.S. solely because their family members sacrificed their lives to help others during this unprecedented pandemic,” stated Council Member Francisco Moya, who represents District 21 in Queens.
Provide training and equipment to properly enable distance learning for students with disabilities
Res. 1473, sponsored by Council Member Farah Louis, calls on the Department of Education to ensure that remote learning is as effective as possible for students with disabilities by ensuring that their parents are well-prepared and receive all necessary support and materials to assist their children with remote learning.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, children with disabilities, which comprise twenty percent of all New York City students, faced countless challenges as they struggled through an education system that consistently failed to deliver on its promise to provide a high quality educational experience to all students,” said Council Member Farah Louis. “With the shift to distance learning, these challenges have been greatly amplified, and students with disabilities are now at great risk of falling behind. The complex needs of these students and their families, who due to the nature of distance learning are forced to be more involved in their children’s education, were not met by the New York City Department of Education during the initial transition, and even now, almost a year after the DOE announced the shift to distance learning, families of children with disabilities are still waiting for support. It is time that we provide help to those who need it the most. We cannot allow the most vulnerable children to be left behind.”
Clarify and codify the requirements regarding capital project commitment and status reporting
Int. No. 2046-A, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, would clarify and codify the existing requirement and practice of the mayor issuing capital commitment plans and capital project detail reports. The current language of the Charter does not clearly delineate the requirements and timelines of the two distinct reports that are produced. This local law would require that capital commitment plans be issued three times a year (within 90 days of the adopted budget and with submission of the preliminary and executive budgets). The capital commitment plans must include for the relevant fiscal years appropriations and planned commitments by project type; planned commitments by agency; for each capital project, as applicable, a description of such project, the schedule of planned commitments, available appropriations, expenditures and the current milestone associated with such project; and commitments by project type and total expenditures for the prior four fiscal years. The capital project detail reports, which are periodic reports on the progress of capital projects, would also be issued three times a year (within 120 days of the adopted budget and within 30 days of the submission of the preliminary and executive budgets).
“Investing smarter in our infrastructure — in good jobs, public health, clean water, schools, transportation, affordable housing, and climate resilience — is key to a just recovery for our city,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “But half those projects fall behind or go over budget, so we have to manage capital projects more effectively. Last year, the Council passed my Capital Projects Tracker bill, to require an online, public database. Today’s bill clarifies and codifies the level of detail we need from the capital reports the City provides. This information will help us build more and better infrastructure, on-time and on-budget, in the neighborhoods that need it most, to create high-quality jobs, and to build a more resilient, equitable, thriving city for generations to come.”
Extending most property tax exemptions for low-income seniors and people with disabilities without requiring a renewal application
Preconsidered Int., sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm, would extend for the 2021-2022 tax year all senior citizen and disabled homeowner property tax exemptions (SCHE and DHE) that were received in the 2020-2021 tax year without requiring the submission of a renewal application, except in four circumstances where the Department of Finance has reason to believe the property is no longer eligible to receive the benefit. Those circumstances are 1) the owner has died, 2) the owner has sold the property to a new owner, 3) a new owner was added to the deed, or 4) the owner no longer uses the property as a primary residence.
Two Article XI Property Tax Exemptions
1045 Anderson Avenue HDFC, in Council Member Diana Ayala’s district, will have a prior approved 40-year, full exemption amended to begin at an earlier date to assist with property tax arrears.
728 Driggs Avenue HDFC, in Council Member Antonio Reynoso’s district, will receive a full, 40-year exemption to preserve 30 units of affordable housing.
Cort Theatre – Cort Theatre LLC, and Clarity 47 LLC, seeks a zoning text amendment and a special permit pursuant to the amended text, for property in the Special Midtown District. The requested actions are intended to facilitate the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing Cort Theatre, on West 48th Street, as well as the development of a new hotel building on the subject zoning lot, which would front on West 47th Street. The modification to the zoning text will clarify and narrow the applicability provision of the special permit, in Council Member Keith Powers’ district.
42-01 28th Avenue Rezoning – Vlacich LLC, seeks a zoning map amendment to change the rezoning area from R5 and R5/C1-2 zoning districts to R6A and R6A/C1-2 zoning districts. The application also includes a zoning text amendment to establish the rezoning area as a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (“MIH”) Area. The proposed development is a new eight-story mixed commercial and residential building; that will include 54 housing units, including approximately 14 permanently affordable units, in Council Member Costa Constantinides’ district.
16th Avenue Rezoning – Borough Park Realty, LLC, seeks a zoning map amendment from R5 and R5/C2-2 to C4-4A, elimination of a commercial overlay from R5/C2-2 to R5, and a zoning text amendment to map Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Options 1 and 2 on a portion of the west side of 16th Avenue between 58th Street and 59th Street, to facilitate the development of a five-story commercial office building, in Council Member Kalman Yeger‘s district. The Council will vote to disapprove these applications.
East 25th Street Historic District – is designated by the Landmark Preservation Commission as the first historic district in East Flatbush, in Council Member Farah Louis’ district.
Everlasting Pine HDFC Ground Lease Amendment – The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) seeks UDAAP project approval and disposition to amend the ground lease at 96 Baxter Street for an additional 50-year term for the preservation of 87 apartments for seniors, in Council Member Margaret Chin’s district.
Harlem East Harlem Urban Renewal Plan Amendment – The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) seeks an amendment to the Harlem East Harlem Urban Renewal Plan (URP) to extend its duration for 40 years continuous from the prior expiration date of the plan, December 19, 2020, in Council Members Bill Perkins and Diana Ayala’s districts.
214-32 Hillside Avenue Rezoning – Munir Mislam seeks a zoning map amendment to rezone several parcels along Hillside Avenue between Vanderveer Street and 215th Street. The proposal is to change from an R2 zoning district to an R2/C2-3 zoning district, to facilitate the development of a two-story commercial building including parking, in Council Member Barry Grodenchik’s district.