Council also votes to strengthen violence prevention programs, provide mental healthcare in homeless shelters for families with children, require performance evaluation of criminal justice programs, and create board to advise city on juvenile detention issues
City Hall, NY – Today, the New York City Council voted on a legislative package strengthening fire safety of e-bikes and scooters, and the lithium-ion batteries that power such devices. This package is aimed at beginning to address the fire dangers posed by powered devices and batteries that lack recognized safety standard certifications. The lithium-ion batteries commonly found in these devices can malfunction and cause extremely dangerous fires that are difficult to contain and extinguish. Last year, the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) investigated 220 fires caused by lithium-ion batteries, fires that tragically resulted in 147 injuries and 6 deaths. This year already, the City has experienced more than 20 lithium-ion battery fires, that have caused serious injuries and deaths. The package passing today will be a first step in mitigating the fire risk posed by lithium-ion batteries found in e-bikes and scooters and prevent future fires from occurring.
The Council also voted to require the City’s Office for Neighborhood Safety and the Prevention of Gun Violence and Office of Criminal Justice to provide training and operational support to not-for-profit service providers participating in the city’s crisis management system and evaluate the performance of organizations that receive funding from the City for criminal justice-related services, such as alternatives to incarceration, reentry services, pretrial supervised release, and violence prevention programming, respectively. Additionally, the Council voted to create a juvenile justice advisory board and require mental health professionals for families with children in shelters.
“The toll that fires are increasingly having on families and communities is devastating and requires the urgent attention of all levels of government,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “We must reduce the avoidable fire tragedies caused by the wide proliferation of uncertified lithium-ion batteries. These bills are an initial step to increase public education and reduce the growing commercial circulation of uncertified batteries that pose the greatest danger. There is continued work to do with all stakeholders, particularly our deliveristas, to support livelihoods and safety. I thank the bill sponsors for their leadership on this issue and all of my colleagues for their support.”
Introduction 663-A, sponsored by Council Member Oswald Feliz, would restrict the sale, lease, or rental of powered mobility devices, such as e-bikes and electric scooters, and storage batteries for the devices that fail to meet recognized safety standard certification.
In order to be legally sold, these devices and their storage batteries would be required to have been certified as meeting the applicable Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety standards by an accredited testing laboratory. The testing laboratory logo or name would be required to be displayed on the product packaging or documentation, or on the vehicle or battery itself, to aid in enforcement.
“The sharp rise in fires involving e-bike batteries is incredibly concerning,” said Council Member Feliz. “Last year, there were approximately 220 fires caused by defective e-bike batteries. Families were displaced, and some of them lost loved ones. This cannot become the norm, so we are taking action. Not all batteries have caused fire safety challenges. Batteries that are certified have safety-related tools that help prevent overheating and other malfunctions that lead to fires. My legislation will require that batteries go through certification in order to be sold in NYC – to ensure they are safe for our communities to use. I also look forward to working on additional bills, including Majority Leader Keith Powers’ bill, which would create a battery swap program. We are dedicated to ensuring that e-bike batteries are safe and accessible for all New Yorkers.”
Introduction 722-A, sponsored by Council Member Robert Holden, would require the FDNY to submit five reports (one per year for five years) related to fire risks associated with powered mobility devices, such as e-bikes and electric scooters. These reports would include data on fires caused by the devices, actions taken by FDNY to reduce the risks, and recommendations to further decrease risks.
“With the growing use of lithium-ion batteries, we must have a better understanding of the risks associated with these batteries and what we can do to mitigate those risks,” said Council Member Holden. “Intro 722-A will help the FDNY to stay ahead of the curve and be better prepared to respond to any incidents involving lithium-ion batteries.”
Introduction 656-A, sponsored by Council Member Gale Brewer, would require the FDNY, in consultation with the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), to develop an information campaign to educate the public on the fire risks posed by powered mobility devices such as e-bikes and electric scooters. The campaign would be required to include guidance on how to identify safe products, as well as best practices for maintenance, storage, and charging.
Introduction 752-A, also sponsored by Council Member Brewer, would restrict the assembly and reconditioning of lithium-ion batteries with cells removed from used batteries, and their commercial sale.
“Since the City Council oversight hearing on e-bike fire safety in November there have been 50 battery fires resulting in 57 injuries and 2 deaths,” said Council Member Brewer. “This problem disproportionately impacts immigrant, low income, and black and brown New Yorkers, and I say those words too often. The facts demand serious action such as the package of bills in front of us today, and there is more to do. E-bike battery fires are another example of new technology outpacing government regulation. Federal lawmakers need to create strict rules that stop companies from selling dangerous batteries. In New York City, drivers need opportunities to exchange dangerous batteries for safe ones, free battery disposal, and safe places to charge.”
Introduction 749-A, sponsored by Council Member Alexa Avilés, would require DCWP to develop and publish educational materials on e-bike safety risks and mitigation measures materials for delivery workers. It would also require third-party delivery apps, such as Seamless and UberEats, to distribute these materials to their delivery workers.
“Every fire is a traumatic event for the families who experience it, and we must do everything we can to stop preventable fires caused by battery-powered devices,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés. “This is a step in the right direction that will require a comprehensive response to fully address it. Intro 749-A seeks to empower New Yorkers to keep themselves and one another safe by mandating employers and app-based delivery services send up-to-date information in their workers’ language directly to them about battery safety. This bill is focused on public education, which is always our first line of defense. When we know better, we do better. Passing this bill and others like it won’t be our last effort to stop preventable fires, and I urge our federal government to take an active role in regulating and creating standards as battery-powered devices become commonplace.”
Committee on Public Safety
Introduction 756-A, sponsored by Council Member Kamillah Hanks, would require the Office for Neighborhood Safety and the Prevention of Gun Violence (ONS) to provide training and operational support to service providers in the City’s crisis management system. These would include training related to service delivery and capacity building, referrals to technical support, the facilitation of collaboration between crisis management system (CMS) stakeholders, and information related to relevant trainings and certifications for employees. CMS is a violence reduction program which aims to prevent gun violence by using a holistic public health approach.
“I am extremely proud to have Intro 756 passed by the City Council today,” said Council Member Hanks. “This bill will provide Crisis Management System providers the support that they need to continue their important work for our communities. As our city grapples with how to reduce instances of crime within our communities, cure violence providers offer an effective alternative to crime reduction in which credible messengers work with high-risk individuals to provide them the support and assistance they need. The work these organizations provide is invaluable, and I’m proud this legislative body agreed to support them with much needed resources.”
Introduction 439-A, sponsored by Council Member Nantasha Williams, would require the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) to evaluate the performance of criminal justice programs that receive city funding to improve services, published in an annual report to the Mayor and Council.
“There are many programs that the NYC criminal justice system has implemented to proactively keep our city safe,” said Council Member Williams. “These include things such as alternatives to incarceration, re-entry or diversion programs, pretrial supervised release services, crisis management groups and more. These are great methods to have a more holistic justice system that go beyond our typical understanding of just having police and jails. However, the data on these services are not made public, but they need to be. We need to see what parts are working great and what parts aren’t so we can replicate the parts that are working to make our city safer. Therefore I believe it is essential to pass Intro. 439-A, which will require the Mayor’s office of Criminal Justice to report on this important data to improve transparency and make government more effective.”
Committee on General Welfare
Introduction 436-A, sponsored by Council Member Althea Stevens, would create an advisory board focused on juvenile justice issues, consisting of representatives from city agencies, the Council, parents, and youth. This bill would update the current existing juvenile advisory board to give families and young people a voice and empower them to provide input into addressing the issues and concerns surrounding juvenile detention. This updated board composition and reporting requirements would increase transparency and allow for a more holistic approach to juvenile justice.
“After years of working with young people who had encounters with the legal system,” said Council Member Stevens. “I am proud to have passed legislation that is centered on giving a voice to young people in some of their most vulnerable moments. Intro 436, which establishes a juvenile detention advisory board, will allow for greater accountability and autonomy for our justice-involved youth.”
Introduction 522-A, sponsored by Council Member Erik Bottcher, would require mental health professionals to be available in each Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter serving families with children. The bill would require a ratio of one full-time mental health professional for every 50 families. It would also require DHS to annually report to the Mayor and Speaker on the provision of mental health professionals in its shelters for families with children, posting the report on its website.
213-227 West 28th Street Parking Special Permits – the disapproval of Zoning Special Permits requested by the applicants215 West 28th Street Property OwnerLLCand 225 West 28th Street Property Owner LLC, pursuant to Sections 13-45 and 13-451 of the Zoning Resolution, that together would allow a pair of accessory off-street parking facilities a combined maximum capacity of 77 automated spaces, on sites that only allow a combined maximum of 39 spaces as-of-right, in Council Member Erik Bottcher’s district.
547- Seat Primary School Facility – The New York City School Construction Authority,proposed site selection for property located at 23-10 43rd Avenue on the Southern side of 43rd Avenue, between 23rd Street and 24th Street in the Court Square/Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. The construction of a new primary school with approximately 547 seats will serve Community School District 30, in Council Member Julie Won’s district.
659- Seat High School Facility – The New York City School Construction Authority,proposed site selection for property located at 13-20 124th Street a/k/a 123-15 14th Avenue (site of the former St. Agnes Catholic High School), in the College Point neighborhood of Queens. The new high school with approximately 659 seats will serve Community School District 25, in Council Member Vickie Paladino’s district.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation of Melrose Parkside Historic District – this is a remarkably cohesive and distinctive groupof row houses built in the Jamcobean gables style. The neoclassical style harmonizes three disparate types of residences while maintaining lively visual variety along the streetscape in the Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn, which has become one of the city’s major Caribbean communities, in Council Member Rita Joseph’s district.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation of the Lesbian Herstory Archives – an organization founded in 1974 by activists Joan Nestle and Deborah Ede, at a time when the LGBTQ+ community faced enormous legal and social discrimination. For more than 30 years, the organization has been operating out of a three-story Renaissance Revival row house built in 1908, within the Park Slope Historic District in Brooklyn. The Archives began as a grassroots attempt to end the silence around lesbian history, and to create a physical archive for study, analysis, and community gathering, in Council Member Hanif’s district.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation of the Samuel Gompers Industrial High School – constructed in 1931-32, is a significant civic structure blending Medieval Revival and Art Deco aesthetics, arcaded brick facades and richly ornamented towers designed by William H. Gompert and Walter C. Martin. It was named after the labor leader Samuel Gompers. It was one of the first vocational high schools in New York City devoted to electrical professions, in Deputy Speaker Ayala’s district.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation of the Julius’ Bar Building, which opened as a speakeasy during Prohibition, and is in a building with portions dating to 1826.The Julius’ Bar Building is known as New York City’s most significant site of pre-Stonewall LGBTQ+ activism, in Council Member Erik Bottcher’s district.
The Council also voted on the following:
Introduction 524-A, sponsored by Council Member David Carr, would authorize a new interest rate for primary resident property owners with a combined income of no more than $200,000 and whose property has an assessed value of no more than $250,000, who have entered property tax payment plans with the City and stay current on those plans. This would provide these homeowners with a lower rate to resolve outstanding property taxes than those who have not entered payment plans to pay back taxes.
“The high interest rates the City charges for late property tax payments are designed to deter scofflaws, but they also punish families who are struggling to make ends meet and seniors who are on fixed incomes,” said Council Member Carr. “This legislation will fix that problem by helping those homeowners who make good faith efforts to pay their debt, rather than burying them in it.”
Pre-considered Resolution: Sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan, to authorize an Article XI exemption for one building in Harlem.
Transparency Resolution: Approving new designations and changes of certain organizations receiving funding in the Expense Budget including $1.2 million to more than two dozen non-profit organizations providing crucial services on the ground to families, people seeking asylum in New York City, and local communities.
The Council’s Fiscal 2024 operating budget and accompanying OTPS schedule: The Council’s Fiscal 2024 proposed budget includes $75.7 million dollars for personal services and $24.3 million for OTPS, or Other Than Personal Services.
Revenue Budget Modification: Recognizes $1.69 billion of new revenues in Fiscal 2023 and authorizes the appropriation of that new revenue to increase the Budget Stabilization Account by $1.46 billion to pre-pay Fiscal 2024 debt service in Fiscal Year 2023 and increase the General Reserve by $225 million to maintain funding.