The Council will also vote on a bill that creates an Office of Ethnic and Community Media
City Hall, NY – After a year that wreaked havoc on New York City’s small businesses, the Council will vote today on two bills to help relieve restaurants and mom-and-pop stores by restructuring the penalty system that hits them with onerous fines. The first bill would reduce or waive financial penalties for certain sanitation, health, transportation, consumer affairs, noise control and buildings violations. The bill would also allow small businesses to often fix a violation before paying a hefty fine, and for certain violations, they’ll face no fine on first offense. For instance, small business owners had to pay a fee if they didn’t properly label garbage bins. The new rules would allow them to correct the mistake instead.
The second bill would create an amnesty program that waives interest on penalties imposed by the Environmental Control Board, eliminates penalties for defaulting and offers significant discounts on base penalties for money paid during the amnesty period if judgement is paid during the established amnesty period. For judgments issued during the pandemic (on or after March 7, 2020), the person would receive a 75% discount on base penalties and interest would be waived. For judgments issued before that date, the person would receive a 25% discount and interest would be waived if they pay during the amnesty period. Default penalties would also be waived. This program would be created by the Commissioner of Finance and last 90 days with the option to extend at the order of the Commissioner.
The Council will also vote on a bill to codify and expand upon Executive Order 47, which requires all mayoral agencies to direct at least 50 percent of their annual print and digital advertising budgets towards community and ethnic media outlets. This bill would go beyond the original EO by including spending on television and radio advertising as well. It would also establish a new Office of Ethnic and Community Media tasked with implementing the law.
The Council will also vote on a bill to ban on-call scheduling for utility safety workers who locate and mark underground infrastructure or inspect gas pipe fusions and joints by prohibiting employers from canceling, changing or adding work shifts within 72 hours of the start of the shift, except in limited circumstances. The bill would require the employer to provide a utility safety worker with a written work schedule no later than 72 hours before the first shift on the work schedule.
Additionally, the Council will vote on a bill to change Local Law 55, which currently allows the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) to regulate all trade waste unions, by limiting the unions under BIC’s regulation to those that represent employees in the putrescible trade waste industry. Local Law 55 was passed to address issues of company-controlled unions in the solid waste industry and this amendment would ensure that the bill is more tailored to address the issue while remaining effective.
The Council will also vote on a bill to require the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), upon issuing a decision affecting the use of a parcel of land, to record a copy of the decision in the appropriate title recording system. This will help ensure that purchasers are made aware of any relevant BSA decisions prior to purchasing a property, which in turn will help promote compliance with BSA decisions among subsequent purchasers.
The Council will also vote on a bill to make permanent an expansion to the alternative veterans property tax exemption, first passed by the Council in 2017 and currently scheduled to expire in 2022. This will help continue to provide an increased benefit to our City’s veterans and ensure that they can afford to remain in the City and stay in their homes.
Finally, the Council will vote on several land use items.
Int. No. 1572-B, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Council Member Rafael Salamaca, will create a new requirement for applicants for most land use actions to provide the City Planning Commission and public with a report on racial equity in connection with their project. These newly required reports will include a statement describing how the proposed project relates to the City’s goals and strategies for affirmatively furthering fair housing and promoting equitable access to opportunity. They will also include a community data profile for the local project area drawn from a newly created “Equitable Development Data Tool” established by the Departments of Housing Preservation and Development and City Planning, with citywide, boroughwide, neighborhood and community district level data.
“Often rezonings are presented as being great for the city, but it’s clear that only applies to certain areas and communities. In others, in communities of more color, they have helped spur gentrification and displacement, displacement. Both developers and the city have been reluctant to recognize the role of rezonings in this racial and ethnic displacement, much less take adequate action to prevent it,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “This law can fundamentally change how our city approaches land use, how we grow and develop, how we create new opportunities without harming longstanding communities. I want to thank the advocates who have partnered with us on this work for years, Chair Salamanca for his collaboration throughout the process, and Speaker Johnson for bringing this bill to a vote today, as well as all of my colleagues on the Council for their support.”
The Council will also vote on the following items:
An 860-seat Primary and Intermediate School in Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s district.
West 16th Special Permit – would facilitate the development of a 2-story commercial warehouse, in Council Member Mark Treygers’ district.
Bed Stuy Central & North – would facilitate the development of 45 affordable home-ownership units in Council Member Robert Cornegy’s district.
Melrose Open Door – would facilitate the construction of twelve (12) new residential buildings with 70 affordable cooperative units, in Land Use Chair Rafael Salamanca’s district.
361 City Island Rezoning – would bring historic non-conforming commercial uses into conformance, in Council Member Mark Gjonaj’s district.
St. Joseph’s – 1949 Bathgate Avenue – would facilitate the development of a new 11-story building with 287 affordable units, including 130 units of supportive housing, in Council Member Oswald Feliz’s district.
30-02 Newtown Avenue Rezoning – would facilitate the development of a new mixed-use building with 104 dwelling units, including 26 affordable, in Council District 22.
72-H Transfer of Block 3930, Lot 50 – the transfer of City-owned property to the National Park Service will require that the property be used as an enhanced swamp and public access path, in Minority Leader Steven Matteo’s district.
Maintains expanded property tax exemption for veterans
Int. No. 1859, sponsored by Minority Leader Steve Matteo would make permanent an expansion to the alternative veterans property tax exemption that the Council first passed in 2017 that was scheduled to expire in 2022. That expansion, codified in Local Laws 120 and 128 and 2017, extended the alternative veterans exemption to both the school and non-school portions of the property tax and adjusted the maximum exemption thresholds. Currently, there are approximately 40,000 homeowning veterans in the City who are benefitting from this exemption and the Council’s expansion thereof.
Preconsidered Resolution, sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm, would provide a 0.5% discount to people who pay their property taxes early in Fiscal 2022.
Article XI property tax exemptions to preserve affordability
50th Street HDFC, in Council Member Carlos Menchaca’s district to preserve 48 units of affordable rental housing.
JOE Uptown, spanning Council Member Bill Perkins’, Mark Levine’s, and Ydanis Rodriguez’s districts to preserve 47 units of affordable rental housing.
Carroll Burke HDFC, in Council Member Rafael Salamanca’s district to preserve 219 units of affordable rental housing.
Habitat Net Zero Homes, in Council Member Adrienne Adams’ and Daneek Miller’s districts to construct 16 units of affordable homeownership.
Provides civil penalty relief
Int. No. 2233-A, sponsored by Council Member Vanessa Gibson, would provide civil penalty relief from 185 different sanitation, health, transportation, consumer affairs, noise control and buildings violations. It would set fixed penalties at the bottom of existing penalty ranges, lower existing penalty ceilings (or sometimes set a lower fixed amount), or lower existing fixed penalties. In certain instances, the bill would allow a cure period for a first violation, or it would eliminate the civil penalty for a first violation.
“Our small businesses are hurting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are in desperate need of financial relief,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. Instead of imposing punitive fines on them, we must educate them about the process and provide them with the necessary support to continue to operate their business successfully. Intro. 2233 will provide much needed support for our mom and pop stores that are the lifeblood of our economy and are what make our city unique.”
The majority of the provisions of this bill would take effect in 120 days.
Creates temporary program to resolve outstanding judgements
Int. No. 2234-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Gjonaj, would require the Commissioner of Finance to establish a temporary program to resolve outstanding judgments issued by the Environmental Control Board. Subject to certain conditions, default penalties and associated accrued interest would be waived, respondents would be able to resolve judgments docketed prior to March 7, 2020 by payment of 75% of the imposed penalties without payment of accrued interest, and respondents would be able to resolve judgments docketed on or after March 7, 2020 by payment of 25% of the imposed penalties without payment of accrued interest.
The program would last for 90 days in fiscal year 2022 and the Commissioner would be able to extend the program for an additional 90 days. Judgments entered in the 90 days leading up to the start of the program would be ineligible for resolution. Respondents who made certain partial penalty payments prior to the start of the program would be eligible to resolve the associated judgments.
“The amnesty program will lessen the regulatory burden on struggling small businesses. By dramatically cutting fee violations, businesses will be able to redirect much needed capital towards meeting operating costs, retaining their employees and making other payments. We want to ensure that our city’s small businesses are not merely surviving, but thriving as the city begins the long and difficult road towards recovery,” said Council Member Mark Gjonaj.
This bill would take effect immediately.
Prohibits on-call scheduling for utility safety employees
Int. No. 946-B, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, will ban the practice of on-call scheduling for utility safety employees who locate and mark underground infrastructure or inspect gas pipe fusions and joints.
The bill would prohibit employers from canceling, changing or adding work shifts within 72 hours of the start of the shift, except in limited circumstances. The bill would also require the employer to provide a utility safety employee with a written work schedule no later than 72 hours before the first shift on the work schedule and to provide, at the employee’s request, a written copy of an employee’s work schedule for any week worked within the prior three years.
“On call scheduling for utility workers is not only unfair to workers, but creates an incredibly unsafe environment” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Workers can be called in at any time, at any time of day or night, leading to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. My bill 946 we are voting on today will make these workers safer and not subjected to last minute scheduling calls.”
The bill would take effect in 180 days.
Amends law to regulate trade waste unions
Int. 2353, sponsored by Council Member Antonio Reynoso, will limit the unions that are under the regulation of the Business Integrity Commission pursuant to Local Law 55 to those that represent employees in the putrescible trade waste industry. Local Law 55 was passed to address issues of company-controlled unions in the putrescible trade waste industry and this amendment would ensure that the bill is narrowly tailored to address the issue, while still remaining effective.
Local Law 55 of 2019 gave the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) the authority to establish standards for the registration of unions representing workers in the private carting industry. These unions must report the names of all officers and agents of the union and information about each officer, including criminal convictions, civil or criminal actions, and investigations. BIC now has the authority to disqualify an officer of a labor union from holding office if they provide false information, are the subject of pending indictment or criminal action, have been convicted of certain crimes, have committed racketeering, or are associated with organized crime.
The law currently allows BIC to regulate all trade waste unions.
This local law would take effect immediately.
Creates the Office of Ethnic and Community Media and imposes certain requirements related to agency spending on advertising
In May of 2019, Mayor de Blasio issued Executive Order 47 (EO 47), requiring all mayoral agencies to direct at least 50 percent of their annual print and digital advertising budgets towards community and ethnic media. Int. No. 2313-A, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez,will codify and expand upon EO 47. This bill will require all mayoral agencies to seek to direct at least 50 percent of their annual print, digital, television, and radio advertising budgets towards community and ethnic media. In addition, it will create a new Office of Ethnic and Community Media headed by an Executive Director.
Under the bill, the Executive Director of Ethnic and Community Media will be responsible for, among other things, monitoring agencies’ distribution of advertising resources, developing a list of approved ethnic and community media outlets, and conducting annual trainings for city officers and employees responsible for purchasing advertising.
The bill will permit mayoral agencies to apply to the Executive Director of Ethnic and Community Media for an annual waiver from the 50 percent spending requirement. Any such application will need to include an explanation of the public purpose that would be served by the issuance of the waiver. If the Executive Director grants an agency’s application, the waiver will need to be posted on a city website along with an explanation of the waiver’s public purpose.
“I am proud to be working alongside Speaker Corey Johnson, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Council Member Oswald Feliz on Intro.2313, establishing the Mayor’s Office of Ethnic and Community Media. New York City is among one of the most diverse cities in the nation, with over 200 spoken languages and hundreds of different nationalities. It is crucial for the City to work with local ethnic and community media to reach out to all communities across the 5 boroughs,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “As a City, we are failing when it comes to supporting the hundreds of local media outlets that serve our communities and help disseminate important information. Spanish-speaking media outlets, for instance, receive a fraction of the City’s total advertising spending even though they make up over 28 percent of the total city population. The Mayor’s Office of Ethnic and Community media will ensure our local journalists and reporters receive the support they need.”
“The diversity of our city is represented well in our ethnic and community media outlets throughout the five boroughs,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “I truly appreciate the critical role these outlets play in empowering our communities, and I am committed to expanding the resources they need to continue bringing vital information to New Yorkers.”
This bill would take effect 45 days after becoming law.
Requires the Board of Standards and Appeals to record decisions
Int. No. 2257, sponsored by Fernando Cabrera, will require the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), upon issuing a decision affecting the use of a parcel of land, to cause a copy of the decision to be recorded in the appropriate title recording system. For property in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, that will be the Automatic City Register Information System (ACRIS). For property in Staten Island, that will be the corresponding database maintained by the Richmond County Clerk.
Although BSA already publishes its decisions on its website, purchasers of real estate do not always search the BSA website as part of the due diligence process. As a result, properties subject to BSA decisions are often conveyed without the purchaser being aware of the decision or the requirements thereunder (such as routine maintenance or landscaping). Publishing BSA decisions in the appropriate recording system will place this information more directly in the path of potential purchasers and their agents performing due diligence on a property, and help ensure that purchasers comply with any applicable BSA decisions issued prior to conveyance.
This bill would take effect immediately.
STATE AND FEDERAL LEGISLATION
SLR No. 8, requesting the New York State Legislature to pass bills introduced by Senator Gounardes, S.6981-A, and Assembly Member Abbate, A.7971, “AN ACT to amend the retirement and social security law, in relation to additional member contributions for certain members under the age fifty-seven retirement program,” would allow certain carpenter members of the City’s pension systems to stop paying additional members contributions.
SLR No. 9, requesting the New York State Legislature to pass bills introduced by Senator Gounardes, S.1608, and Assembly Member Abbate, A.4006, “AN ACT to amend the civil service law, in relation to the appointment and promotion of certain personnel of the sanitation department of the city of New York,” would provide that going forward, promotions to certain supervisory positions in the New York City Department of Sanitation would be subject to competitive examination.
SLR No. 10, requesting the New York State Legislature to pass bills introduced by Senator Gounardes, S.6985-A, and Assembly Member Abbate, A.7873, “AN ACT to amend the retirement and social security law, in relation to automotive members of the New York city employees’ retirement system,” would adjust age and service requirements for retirement benefits to allow automotive workers to start their careers later in life.