Council also votes on legislation to support M/WBEs and small businesses, expand access to public pools and free swimming lessons, and require reporting on water safety issues and measures
City Hall, NY – Today, the New York City Council voted to establish a first-of-its-kind trade-in program that provides new lithium-ion batteries and powered mobility devices, such as electric scooters or electric bicycles. Such devices would be provided at reduced cost or no cost in exchange for used batteries and mobility devices that do not meet fire safety standards or are otherwise illegal. This bill is an important next step in the Council’s ongoing efforts to curb lithium-ion battery fires.
In addition, the Council voted to pass a comprehensive package of legislation to improve water safety throughout New York City, an issue highlighted in Speaker Adams’ 2023 State of the City address. The bills would mandate the City survey locations to site more public pools, require that second graders have access to free swimming lessons, and implement essential reporting measures concerning pool and beach staffing, and, safety, including information on the seasonal recruitment of lifeguards.
The Council also passed bills to support Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) and small businesses, another priority in the Speaker’s State of the City, as well as bills to promote municipal workforce retention, emergency food program awareness, and long-term sustainability.
“Today, the Council took decisive action to protect our communities by establishing an unprecedented trade-in program for uncertified lithium-ion batteries to reduce dangerous fires caused by those that don’t meet safety standards,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “This program will support the workers, who power our economy and rely on electric bikes and scooters, to exchange the batteries for their devices. The Council’s legislation to expand access to public pools, provide free swimming lessons, and improve water safety for New Yorkers is matter of public safety and justice, given one out of three Black students in New York can’t swim. In addition, we expanded access to information on CDFIs so that our city’s M/WBE’s can better connect with the financial resources that support their success. I’m proud to follow through on these priorities established in my State of the City address, and I thank my colleagues for their work to pass today’s critical legislation.”
Establishing Lithium-ion Battery Trade-In Program to Reduce Fires
Introduction 949-A, sponsored by Majority Leader Keith Powers,would establish a program for individuals to receive new powered mobility devices (electric scooters, electric bicycles, etc.) or lithium-ion batteries for use in such devices that meet relevant fire safety standards. Such devices and batteries would be provided at reduced cost or no cost, and available in exchange for the surrender of devices that do not comply with fire standards or are otherwise illegal. Lithium batteries can malfunction and explode, creating dangerous fires that have risen in frequency and become more deadly. There were 154 such fires in New York City this year, as of August, killing 14 people and injuring 93 others. The Council passed a package of bills several months ago, including laws that prohibitthe sale of uncertified batteries and require public education efforts on battery safety, which go into effect on Saturday, September 16, 2023.
“Today, the City Council took a decisive step by establishing a first-in-the-nation battery trade-in program,” said Majority Leader Keith Powers. “It provides a clear, immediate pathway to get thousands of unsafe batteries out of our homes and off our streets. While we must continue to explore long term solutions, this is a huge step forward for public safety.”
Expanding Public Pool Access and Free Swimming Lessons; Improving Water Safety
Introduction 760-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would require the Department of Parks and Recreation to provide free swimming lessons and water safety instruction to NYC public school second grade students. Second graders are the focus, because it is considered an ideal age for children to learn to swim.
“We must ensure that every New Yorker has the opportunity to learn how to swim and today, New York City takes a monumental step towards ensuring every child obtains this life-saving skill,” said Council Member Julie Menin. “For the safety of our youth and the well-being of our communities, learning how to swim should be as common as learning to read, write, or ride a bike and I am proud that the Council will vote today on my bill for no-cost swimming lessons for public school second-graders. Thank you to Speaker Adams for advancing this legislative package which is a vital step towards a more equitable city.”
Introduction 962-A, sponsored by Majority Whip Brooks-Powers, would require the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), along with other City agencies, to identify suitable locations where additional public swimming pools could be built, with a focus on communities that are currently lacking access. It will also require that DPR consult with the Department of Education (DOE) on creating a plan to open pools under DOE jurisdiction for use by the public, and that DPR offer free swimming lessons at indoor swimming pool locations.
“Every New Yorker should have the opportunity to swim – not only to enjoy the City’s waters, but to protect themselves from danger,” said Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “Pools provide community members a supervised environment for students to develop swimming skills. But far too many neighborhoods are deprived of pools nearby. That is why I am proud to sponsor Introduction 962, which will help improve access to pool infrastructure citywide. I will continue to fight for equitable access to the pools and programming that empower members of our community to swim safely.”
Introduction 1017-A, Sponsored by Council Member Shekar Krishnan, would help the City better prepare for upcoming beach and pool seasons by requiring the Department of Parks and Recreation to submit an annual report to the Mayor and Council on staffing levels and training for the City’s pools and beaches programs, including information on the seasonal recruitment of lifeguards, the number of emergencies that occurred at each beach and pool, and the current number of pools that are closed for public use due to maintenance or other issues.
“Today, the New York City Council passed landmark legislation that will bring more trees, more pools and lifeguards, and free swim classes to New Yorkers,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan. “The bills – advanced in partnership with Council Members Gale Brewer, Selvena Brooks-Powers, Julie Menin, and Erik Bottcher – are a direct response to the urgency of the climate crisis as well as chronic disparities in tree cover and access to pools and life-saving aquatics education. After a summer of extreme heat and wildfire smoke, crowded pools and lifeguard shortages, our legislation will make our City cooler, greener, and more resilient.”
Increasing Resources for Small Businesses, M/WBEs and Working Age New Yorkers
Introduction 1103-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would require the Department of Small Business Services to provide information on its website to educate small businesses on how to select a bank, including information on:
- Specialized small business services that banks may offer;
- Typical fees, interest rates, monthly charges, or balance requirements;
- Potential advantages and disadvantages of maintaining accounts at more than one bank; and
- Information about Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance and other available protections for small business deposits.
Introduction 263-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would require the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to report annually on the services provided at Workforce1 career centers. The report would include the number of new registrants, the number of registrants who obtained jobs, and the number of registrants provided job training.
“Today marks a significant milestone as we successfully advance two bills with a clear mission: to bridge the gap between our economic sectors and the critical services offered by Workforce1Career Centers and to equip entrepreneurs with the essential banking knowledge they need to thrive in the business world,” said Council Member Julie Menin, Chair of the Small Business Committee. “I want to extend my gratitude to Speaker Adams for her invaluable support, as helping small businesses and career development is paramount to our city’s vitality and resilience.”
Introduction 969-A, sponsored by Council Member Mercedes Narcisse, would require the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to provide information on Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) via the one-stop-shop online portal established by Local Law 94 of 2022. CDFIs can provide small businesses and Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises with critical access to capital that supports their success.
“With the passage of this bill, we are affirming our commitment to economic growth and vital financial support for our city’s businesses. Increasing education about the services offered by community development financial institutions (CDFIs) will bridge the gap between these crucial institutions and businesses in need,” said Council Member Mercedes Narcisse. “We are ensuring that every entrepreneur, small business, and minority-owned enterprise in New York City has access to the resources and opportunities they deserve. This new law will help forge a path for a more prosperous and inclusive future for our city.”
Increasing and Tracking the Sustainability of our Tree Canopy
Introduction 1066-A, sponsored by Council Member Gale Brewer, would build on the City’s efforts to increase the size of the tree canopy by requiring the role of trees to be considered in its long-term sustainability planning in addition to the other factors it already measures in accordance with Local Law 84. Local Law 84 of 2013 requires the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability to create a long-term sustainability plan with goals for certain categories (i.e., air quality, energy, climate change, coastal protection, etc.) as well as tracking sustainability indicators for those categories.
“The tree canopy plays a vital role in our city’s sustainability. It provides us with clean air and water, helps to mitigate climate change, and improves our quality of life,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “One of the main quality of life improvements constituents ask for is more street trees, but to get the full benefit, the trees need at least ten years of attentive care. If city government believes trees are important for air quality, shade, and the environment, then the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability must include trees in its agenda. The commitment to trees can’t come and go with mayoral administrations, it has to be codified in the Administrative Code.”
Creating Exit Surveys for City Employees to Improve Retention
Introduction 877-B, sponsored by Council Member Shaun Abreu, would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to create a comprehensive exit survey and interview protocol for city agencies to gather feedback from resigning and retiring municipal employees regarding their experience in the city’s workforce. Beginning in 2025, and annually thereafter, the legislation will also require DCAS to submit a report to the Equal Employment Practices Commission and the Speaker of the Council, summarizing the responses received in these surveys and interviews.
“We’re in the middle of a personnel crisis that is stopping our government from functioning as intended, and we need to know why,” said Council Member Shaun Abreu. “It’s time for New York to adopt this common practice that has been employed by businesses, non-profits, and governments for decades. These exit interviews would capture vital information and data needed to address some of the challenges we’ve been facing in maintaining our municipal workforce. We can’t find solutions without asking some basic questions.”
Providing Information on Emergency Food Programs and Senior Centers
Introduction 1080-A, sponsored by Council Member Linda Lee, would require the Department of Social Services (DSS) to make information on emergency feeding and food benefits and senior centers available on DSS’s website as well as through Access HRA. The bill will also require DSS, in collaboration with the Department of Aging, to make this information available in written form at job centers, senior centers, SNAP centers, and any other relevant locations.
“According to the most recent data, an estimated 1.2 million New York City residents are listed as food insecure,” said Council Member Linda Lee. “This 15% of our City are our neighbors, friends, and family. As a former social worker who ran a Meals on Wheels program and two senior centers, I’ve seen firsthand how our seniors can be especially impacted. Despite the challenging and uncertain times our City is facing, New Yorkers should never have to worry about where they can obtain their next meal. With Intro 1080, the City Council will be mandating the Department of Social Services to make information on nearby emergency feeding programs, food benefit programs, and senior centers accessible and searchable through its website and the Access HRA application. This format will allow folks to input their zip code, hours of operation, status as a senior citizen, or any other relevant category. I want to thank Council Committee Staff, my colleagues in the Committee on General Welfare, Chair Ayala, and Speaker Adrienne Adams for bringing this legislation to the floor.”
Madison Square Garden (MSG) Special Permit and Arena Text Amendment – The City Council is approving a limited five-year extension to resolve the competing demands on the surrounding area and allow the State and City to convene all stakeholders to create a truly integrated arena and transit station complex that the public deserves. This limited term is conditioned on MSG submitting a transportation management plan to start addressing the needs of the public immediately.
893 Eagle Avenue Rezoning – Housing Options and Geriatric Association Resources, Inc. seeks a zoning map amendment to facilitate the development of a new thirteen-story plus cellar and sub cellar community facility building. It will include approximately 83 affordable supportive housing units with additional counseling offices and multipurpose rooms serving the residents of the building, in Council Member Rafael Salamanca’s district.
Transparency Resolution approving new designations and changes of certain organizations receiving funding in the Expense Budget.
Article XI Application for the remaining 4 clusters in the Paradise portfolio, covering 618 units across 8 buildings in the Bronx in the districts of CMs Sanchez and Feliz. Paradise Management is seeking partial 40-year Article XI exemptions which would impose new HPD regulatory agreements in each cluster.