The Council will also vote to extend protections for COVID-19 impacted commercial tenants
City Hall – The New York City Council will vote today on five bills and three resolutions designed to increase police accountability and reimagine public safety in our city.
To increase accountability, the Council will vote on a bill that will effectively end qualified immunity as a defense for certain civil rights violations. New York courts have created their own version of the federal doctrine of qualified immunity, which shields police officers who are performing discretionary functions from civil liability. Together, the State and federal versions of qualified immunity have effectively prevented countless victims of police brutality and their families from obtaining financial damages and holding officers and the cities that employ them accountable.
The Council’s legislation would end qualified immunity for police officers in New York City by creating a new local civil right protecting New Yorkers against unreasonable search and seizures and against excessive force and ban the use of qualified immunity, or substantially equivalent immunities, as a defense.
The Council will vote on a bill that will create a crash investigation and an analysis unit in the Department of Transportation (DOT), which will be responsible for investigating all crashes involving serious injury. This bill will center responsibility for traffic safety within the DOT instead of the NYPD.
To increase transparency, the Council will also vote on legislation that requires NYPD to issue a quarterly report on all traffic and vehicle stops, disaggregating information by precinct, race/ethnicity and age of the driver. The report will include information regarding summonses issued, number of arrests made, vehicles searched and if consent was provided.
The Council will vote on a bill that allows the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) to investigate police with a history of bias and racial profiling complaints.
In addition, the Council will vote on a proposal that transfers the authority of issuing, suspending and revoking press passes from the NYPD to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME).
The three resolutions being voted on include one that supports a state bill which gives final authority on discipline of officers facing civilian complaints to the CCRB rather than the Police Commissioner. Currently, the Police Commissioner has the right to disregard CCRB recommendations and offer a less severe discipline or no punishment at all.
A second resolution supports a State bill that requires police officers to live in New York City. Under the legislation, new NYPD officers will have to establish residency in the City.
A third resolution will adopt a policing reform plan. This plan, which a State Executive Order requires the Council no later than April 1. If the Council does not adopt a plan, the State is authorized to withhold State and federal pass-through funding.
Prior to its finalization, the Council amended the Plan to focus on prospective goals and policies, to add deadlines and responsible parties for fulfilling requirements in the plan, to enhance public transparency, public notice and stakeholder engagement requirements in its implementation, and included integral funding commitments totaling over $70 million dollars put towards existing and new initiatives to support and expand public safety alternatives to policing and incarceration and ensure that the City lives up to its commitments.
Finally, the Council will also vote on a bill to extend protections for commercial tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19 until June 30, 2021. The legislation will extend Local Law55, which suspended personal liability provisions in leases of businesses that were required to shut down as part of the State’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
The Council will also vote on a resolution calling on the State Legislature to impose a new tax on billionaires. The proposed “mark to market tax” would tax the increase in value of billionaires’ assets at the same rate as other income. The revenue would be used to fund a $3.5 billion Excluded Workers Fund to ensure that undocumented, essential workers can also access vital financial assistance like unemployment benefits. These actions would be important steps to address the wealth inequity that we have unfortunately seen grow exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, the Council will vote on several land use items.
Ends qualified immunity for police officers
Int. 2220-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, will establish a local right of security against unreasonable search and seizure and against excessive force regardless of whether such force is used in connection with a search or seizure. If an NYPD employee, or a person appointed by the Police Commissioner as a special patrolman, allegedly deprives a person of this right, the person would be able to bring a civil action against the employee or appointee, as well as against the employee or appointee’s employer, within three years after deprivation of the right. The employee or appointee (or their employer) would not be allowed qualified immunity, or any substantially equivalent immunity, as a defense. The Law Department would be required to post details of these kinds of civil actions online.
“Today we provide the people of New York City an important tool for accountability when law enforcement violates their rights,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “This legislation is simple—it creates a set of civil rights here in New York City, mirroring those conferred by the 4th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, so that people in New York City can hold officers accountable if those officers violate their civil rights. It eliminates the shield of Qualified Immunity to allow victims the opportunity to seek justice.”
Reporting on traffic and vehicles stops
Int. No 1671-A, sponsored by Council Member Adrienne Adams, will require the New York City Police Department to issue a quarterly report on all vehicles stops. The report would include the number of summonses issued, arrests made, vehicles seized, related use of force incidents, and vehicles searched and whether consent was provided. This information would be disaggregated by precinct, race/ethnicity, and age of the driver.
“To better understand who is affected by traffic encounters with the police, we must require the NYPD to report on all vehicle stops and have that information disaggregated,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety.“This legislation is a crucial step in the push for accountability, transparency, and true police reform, and it will shed light on the inequities that Black and brown communities have faced for so long.”
Calls to remove the Police Commissioner’s final and exclusive disciplinary authority
Res. 1538-A, sponsored by Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, supports State Senate bill S.5252 and its companion bill in the Assembly, A.6012, which will provide final discipline authority over civilian complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The state legislation is sponsored by State Senator Jamaal Bailey and Assembly Member Catalina Cruz.
While the CCRB can recommend discipline against officers, the Police Commissioner has final authority over discipline and can choose to disregard these recommendations and may impose lesser or greater discipline, or no discipline at all.
“Our city and all those affected by our policing policies and procedures deserve to see real reform, and accountability measures put in place to ensure true fairness and justice,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo. “Allowing the CCRB to impose disciplinary measures resulting from complaints received is a critical first step in doing so. I am so proud to stand alongside my fellow colleagues in the City Council as we celebrate the passage of this resolution, and I am excited to roll up my sleeves and collaborate with our State legislators, Jamaal T. Bailey and Catalina Cruz to ensure the passage of meaningful reform at the State level. Thank you to Committee on Public Safety Chair Adams and Speaker Johnson for supporting all efforts to create a more just policing process. Together, we are making real change for our City. “
Calls on the State to require police officers to live in New York City
Res. 1547, sponsored by Council Member Francisco Moya, supports State Senate bill S.6012 and its companion bill in the Assembly, A.1951, sponsored by State Senator Kevin Parker and Assembly Member Catalina Cruz, respectively, will establish a residency requirement for police officers in cities with a population of one million or more residents, which includes New York City. If passed, the legislation would require newly hired NYPD officers to live within one of the five boroughs of New York City.
“We have long ways to go to have meaningful police reform and this requirement is one step towards creating more accountability. Requiring NYPD officers to live within the boroughs enables them to be integrated into the community they patrol. If police officers know their neighbors and the issues in the neighborhood, it opens the path to create trust and build relationships with the community. This requirement is not new to New York City given that NYPD civilian staff and other City agency staff need to reside here for two years. Police officers should be held to the same standard, at a minimum,” said NYC Council Member Francisco Moya, who represents District 21 in Queens. “I am proud to be part of a legislative body that stands up for racial justice and am grateful to see the state legislature taking up the issue as this needs to be legislated at the state level.”
Adopts a police reform plan required pursuant to State Executive Order 203, Res. No. 1584 adopts the New York Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Plan.
On June 12, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 203, directing each local government in the State to create a plan to reform and reinvent their police force. If a plan is not adopted by the Council by April 1, 2021, the State Director of the Division of the Budget is authorized to withhold future appropriated State or federal funding for which New York City would otherwise be eligible.
The plan lays out dozens of initiatives and policy changes, centered around five goals: 1) the decriminalization of poverty, 2) recognition and continual examination of historical and modern-day racialized policing in New York City, 3) transparency and accountability to the people of New York City, 4) community representation and partnership, and 5) a diverse, resilient, and supportive NYPD.
Prior to its finalization, the Council amended the Plan to focus on prospective goals and policies, to add deadlines and responsible parties for fulfilling requirements in the plan, to enhance public transparency, public notice and stakeholder engagement requirements in its implementation, and included integral funding commitments totaling over $70 million dollars put towards existing and new initiatives to support and expand public safety alternatives to policing and incarceration and ensure that the City lives up to its commitments, including:
· The expansion of Summer Youth Employment through the addition of 5,000 new spots in summer 2021 for CUNY students.
· $15 million toward the Council’s critical anti-violence, social safety net, and hate violence prevention initiatives.
· $14.5 million to fund a new mental health case management program to provide 850 people with mobile and site-based intensive, ongoing case management services in under-served communities.
· An additional $4.4 million to double FY2021’s available funds for Intensive Mobile Treatment (IMT) Teams, which serve those with recent and frequent contact with the mental health, criminal justice, and homeless services systems, recent behavior that is unsafe and escalating, and those who were poorly served by traditional treatment models.
· $25 million in funding for the City’s Cure Violence programs starting in Summer 2022 and a commitment to triple the City’s Cure Violence program workforce. This is an increase over the current $15-$18 million commitment.
· At least $30 million for the Department of Education to ensure that every school can effectively support students’ social emotional and behavioral needs with a trauma-informed approach.
· More than $1 million for the creation of a pilot program to assist families with children at risk of homelessness earlier in the housing instability spectrum, before their housing situation reaches a crisis point.
The Council’s amended Plan notably eliminated several of the Administration’s draft recommendations where the Council found such recommendations would unnecessarily increase the NYPD’s footprint and budget or would otherwise fail to achieve Executive Order 203’s core goal to “reform and reinvent” the City’s police force.
Finally, the Council’s amendments removed recommendations and language from the Administration’s initial drafts where the City described existing initiatives, previously announced commitments, or progress toward reform but was unwilling to make any additional substantive commitments to expand or improve those initiatives moving forward. With these deletions, the Plan now exclusively outlines the commitments made in response to Executive Order No. 203, to ensure greater transparency and lay the groundwork for rigorous public and Council oversight of the City’s implementation of the Plan in coming months.
Moves traffic crash investigations to the Department of Transportation
Int. 2224-A, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, bill will require the Department of Transportation to create a crash investigation and analysis unit tasked with investigating, analyzing and reporting on all vehicle crashes involving significant injury. In addition to its crash investigation functions, the unit created by this legislation would be responsible for public statements regarding serious vehicular crashes and would be required to make recommendations for safety-improving changes to street design and infrastructure and to post quarterly reports regarding its crash reviews on the department of transportation website. The legislation also makes clear that nothing in the bill inhibits or interferes with NYPD’s ability to conduct criminal investigations.
Many serious vehicular crashes could be prevented through changes to the design and infrastructure of streets and intersections following an in-depth analysis of the factors that led to a crash. However, at present, serious crash investigations are the purview of the Collision Investigation Squad at NYPD, and a DOT liaison. These resources are deployed to conduct systematic investigations at fewer than 350 crashes per year.
“In this version of the bill the DOT will be responsible for immediately appearing at the site of any crash and begin evaluating the road for any possible redesign to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The NYPD will maintain a level of the investigative process, a concern expressed by the District Attorneys. My goal as Chairman of the Transportation Committee has been to ensure that we are prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of New Yorkers,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee. “By establishing a crash investigation and analysis unit within DOT, we can make the changes that are needed to help decrease the number of serious or fatal crashes across our city.”
CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Accountability for bias-based policing
Int. 2212-A, sponsored by Council Member Vanessa Gibson, will clarify that the Civilian Complaint Review Board has the power to investigate bias-based policing and racial profiling complaints made by the public. It would also provide that based on a final determination by the NYPD, the Board, the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Investigation or a court that a member of the NYPD engaged in an act of bias, the Board would be empowered to investigate past professional conduct by the member.
If the act of bias was “severe” (defined by the Board), the investigation would be required. After the member has had an opportunity to respond to the Board’s findings and recommendations, the Board would be required to provide final versions to the member, the Police Commissioner and others. The Police Commissioner would have to respond in writing. The NYPD would be required to engage an independent consultant to review cases handled by the NYPD’s Equal Employment Opportunity Division between October 1, 2017 and October 31, 2020.
“NYPD employees have a sworn duty to serve and protect all New Yorkers and their personal beliefs should not impact how they perform their job,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “It is important for us to have a structure in place to identify officers that have a track record of being prejudice so we can conduct an investigation and hold them accountable. This bill would create that mechanism to ensure that NYPD employees are fulfilling their duties without bias.”
Issuance, suspension, and revocation of press credentials
Int. No. 2118-A, sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers, would transfer authority over press credentials from the NYPD to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME).
Currently, NYPD issues press credentials that allow members of the media to cross police and fire lines and attend City-sponsored events open to the press, subject to safety concerns, evidence preservation concerns, and space limitations.
This bill would eliminate NYPD’s authority to issue, suspend, and revoke press credentials, and transfer that authority to MOME. The bill would also codify the existing division of press credentials into three types—press cards, reserve press cards, and single event press cards—and would empower MOME to establish additional types of press credentials by rule.
Under the bill, MOME would be required to promulgate rules setting forth application procedures for press credentials, criteria for the denial of an application for a credential, and criteria for the suspension and revocation of a credential. Such rules would be required to ensure that press credentials are issued, suspended, and revoked in a manner that promotes a free and independent press, subject to reasonable safety and evidence preservation concerns.
Any person whose application for a press credential is denied would be entitled to challenge such denial at a hearing. In addition, a hearing would be required before any press credential could be seized, suspended, or revoked. Accordingly, police officers would not be permitted to summarily seize press credentials from members of the press.
All hearings regarding the issuance, suspension, or revocation of a press credential would be conducted by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), in accordance with the due process procedures of the City Charter and the OATH rules.
Press credentials previously issued by the Police Department would remain in effect until their expiration date or until 270 days after the effective date of the bill, whichever is later.
“Freedom of the press is one of our country’s greatest protections. In New York City, we are taking one step further today to ensure that this protection is guaranteed,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “My legislation ensures that we have a system for distributing press credentials that is fair, equitable, and accessible.”
Personal Guaranty protection in commercial leases for tenants impacted by COVID-19
Int. No. 2243-A, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera and Council Speaker Corey Johnson, will extend the timeframe during which Local Law 55 applies for three additional months through June 30, 2021. Local Law 55/Int. 1932 temporarily suspends personal liability provisions in the leases of certain COVID-impacted businesses.
Provisions that hold a business owner personally liable in the event they are unable to pay rent are common in small businesses leases. In order to prevent the seizure of personal assets or property, an owner must turn in the keys to the property, effectively ending their lease.
The Council has passed two laws suspending personal liability provisions for the following business types that were impacted by the mandated closures and service limitations in the Governor’s executive orders: (1) businesses that were required to stop serving food or beverages on-premises (restaurants and bars); (2) businesses that were required to cease operations altogether (gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters); (3) retail businesses that were required to close and/or subject to in-person restrictions; and (4) businesses that were required to close to the public (barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors and related personal care services).
“I want to thank Speaker Johnson and his team for their tireless support of this personal liability suspension legislation, ever since we first passed it 10 months ago at the height of the pandemic. This legislation is the effort I continue to hear the most about from small business owners, many who reached out over the past month, worried they would have to shut down their business without an extension. The continued suspension of personal liability clauses in commercial leases until June 30 will ensure that countless businesses teetering on the edge can continue to focus on paying workers and supporting their communities without the threat of landlords going after their personal life savings and assets if they have to shut down,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, prime sponsor of Intro 2243-2021.
Calls to impose a billionaire mark to market tax and to create a $3.5 billion excluded workers fund
Preconsidered Res. 1583, sponsored by Council Member Francisco Moya, supports State Senate bill S.4482 and its companion bill in the Assembly A.5092, sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa, respectively, which would establish a billionaire mark to market to tax the growth in wealth of New York’s billionaires.
While regular New Yorkers struggle to make ends meet, the State’s 120 billionaires are $87.7 billion richer than they were at the beginning of the pandemic, their collective wealth jumping by 17 percent. The State Legislature estimates that this tax could raise $23.3 billion in additional revenue in its first year.
To address the growing wealth gap, these funds should be used to establish a $3.5 billion Excluded Workers Fund to assist the hundreds of thousands of workers who have been excluded from receiving unemployment and certain federal stimulus benefits because of their immigration status or recent incarceration. Many of these workers were employed in essential jobs, such as cleaning, home health care, and food delivery, until they lost their jobs or became ill with COVID-19 and could no longer work, and the fact that they are barred from receiving benefits like unemployment insurance and other federal benefits is unjust.
“The very people that were on the frontlines taking care of us, feeding our families, and keeping our city moving; who paid taxes contributing millions providing relief for so many were excluded from getting assistance during one of the worst pandemics of our time, said NYC Council Member Francisco Moya, who represents District 21 in Queens. “For us to work towards a real recovery from COVID-19 means that we cannot leave behind those that have suffered the brunt of this pandemic and who contributed and sacrificed so much for us. The rich can’t keep getting richer while New Yorkers struggle to make ends meet. This resolution establishing a billionaire wealth tax would raise the billions we urgently need and create the opportunity for excluded workers to get much needed relief after what has been a devastating year. It’s how we will recover from this pandemic equitably and with dignity. I thank the advocates, my colleagues in the City Council and the sponsors in Albany for pushing for this.”
Arverne East – New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, seeks a zoning map amendment to rezone a portion of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area (“URA”) from C4-4 to MX-21:M1-4/R6, a zoning text amendment to create a new Mixed Use (MX) district, and the designation of an Urban Development Action Area (“UDAA”) and approval of an Urban Development Action Area Project (“UDAAP”) to facilitate the development of a new mixed-use development with approximately 1,650 housing units, including 1,320 affordable units and 330 at market-rate. The building will also include industrial, commercial and a community facility with 3.3 acres of privately-owned recreation and open space, approximately 15 acres of public open space in the form of a dune preserve, a microbrewery and 1,765 parking spaces, in Council Member Selvina Brooks-Powers’ district.
Lower East Side Cluster ANCP – New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, seeks a UDAAP project approval waiver of the area designation requirements and the requirements of 197-c and 197-d of the New York City Charter, with an Article XI tax exemption to dispose and facilitate the renovation of 3 city-owned buildings for the preservation of 44 affordable units of housing. The properties will be rehabbed by a designated developer and converted to cooperative ownership, in Council Member Carlina Rivera’s district.
The Harlem NCP CB 11 Site, Central Harlem Infill NCP and Harlem NCP Western Site – New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, seeks a UDAAP to facilitate the developments of 8 additional buildings, with approximately 72 affordable rental units. The Harlem Open Door Cluster – a UDAAP and Article XI tax exemption, to facilitate the development of 4 new affordable homeownership buildings with approximately 48 total units of housing and retail space, in Council Member Bill Perkins’ district.
50-25 Barnett Avenue Rezoning – Phipps Houses, seeks a zoning map amendment to rezone the Project Site, from M1-1 to R6A and a zoning text amendment to facilitate a new mixed-use development, with approximately 167 affordable units for low- and moderate-income households with community facility on the ground floor, in Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s district.
1099 Webster Avenue Rezoning- Webster 1099 Realty LLC, seeks approval of a zoning map amendment to rezone M1-1, R7-1 and R7-1/C1-4 zoning districts to a R7X/C2-4 zoning district and a zoning text amendment to Appendix F of the New York City Zoning Resolution (“ZR”) designating the Rezoning Area as a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area to facilitate the development of two 100% affordable mixed-use buildings containing 238 residential units and ground floor commercial space, in Council Member Vanessa Gibson’s district.