New York City Council Votes to Make Outdoor Dining Permanent

The Council will also vote to Improve oversight of the Taxi Industry

 

City Hall, NY – The New York City Council will today vote on legislation to make outdoor dining permanent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor dining has offered restaurants a vital way to stay afloat but more is needed as the colder months approach. The Council today will vote to extend the program in its current form through Sept. 2021, and to allow propane heaters to be used by restaurants. Currently, only piped natural gas heaters (not propane) are allowed for use. This legislation will also require the city to create a permanent outdoor dining program for the future that uses city roadspace.

The virus has also financially hurt the taxi industry, which was struggling prior to the pandemic because of a decline in revenues and medallion values. The Council will be voting on a package of legislation aimed at providing increased oversight to this industry and combating predatory lending practices, including through the creation of an Office of Financial Stability within the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), which would be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the financial stability of the taxi industry.

A second bill would require annual financial disclosures from any person with an interest in a taxicab license. This bill would help to combat the issues resulting from a lack of information collected on the financial situations of TLC’s licensed owners, brokers and agents. This is especially problematic when the need to assess the financial situation of medallion owners and evaluate potential conflicts of interest regarding taxi-related businesses arises.

The final bill would require the TLC to evaluate the character, honesty and integrity of taxicab brokers, agents and licensees when they submit a new license application or when they submit an application to renew an existing license. TLC would be authorized to refuse to grant or renew a license based on findings during this process, such as the commission of fraudulent, deceitful or unlawful acts in connection with a business licensed by TLC.

The Council will also be voting on two additional bills that help seniors and housing affordability. The first reauthorizes the $50,000 maximum eligible income level for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption programs, a move designed to conform the state bill. The second would amend the expiration date of the New York City Rent Stabilization Law of 1969, a move allowed by the state. Typically, a housing survey and vacancy survey is required to assess the need for rent stabilization, which is conducted by the US Census Bureau and the Housing and Preservation Development. This requirement has been waived this year because the census is busy with the 10-year national count.

Finally, the Council will be voting to appoint Stanley Richards to the NYC Board of Correction and José M. Araujo to the New York City Board of Elections. In addition, they will vote on several land use items. Also, on Thursday the Council’s Democratic Conference voted to appoint Rodney L. Pepe Souvenir to the New York City Board of Elections.

 

CONSUMER AFFAIRS

 

Introduction 2127-A, sponsored by Council Member Antonio Reynoso, would extend the expiration of the City’s current outdoor dining program until September 30, 2021. That program would then be replaced by a permanent program to allow for the use of roadway seating as outdoor dining areas. The bill would permanently also allow the use of portable propane heaters in outdoor dining areas, subject to guidelines issued by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).

“New York City’s outdoor dining program has been a remarkable success,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “Now, by making outdoor dining permanent and allowing for the use of outdoor heating lamps, my bill will allow for the continuation of the program into the colder months. This is a huge win for the restaurant industry and its workers, diners, and the morale of residents. I look forward to continuing to craft outside the box solutions for how we can safely revitalize our city and its economy.”

 

TRANSPORTATION

 

Creates an Office of Financial Stability within the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission

 

Proposed Int. No. 1610-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie J. Torres, would require the creation of an Office of Financial Stability within the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The office would monitor and evaluate a range of factors related to the financial stability of the taxi industry, including income and expenses for medallion owners, medallion loan terms and market manipulation. The office would also be required to post online and submit to the Council, Mayor and Department of Investigation an annual report on the office’s activities, an assessment of the financial stability of the taxi industry and any recommendations regarding industry stability.

This bill would go into effect 120 days after becoming law.

“We cannot afford to have the TLC auction off medallions at speculative prices or approve medallion transfers with speculative loans. This bill will create a new office that will have the statutory obligation to oversee and regulate the financial stability of the medallion market. We must ensure that taxi drivers are not driven into another financial crisis cause by a medallion bubble and predatory lenders,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres.

 

Requires annual financial disclosures from anyone with an interest in a taxicab license

 

Proposed Int. No. 1584-A, sponsored by Council Member Adrienne E. Adams, would require any person with an interest in a taxi license to make annual financial disclosures to the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). Required disclosures would include information about income from and expenses related to each taxi license, any loans secured by a taxi license and any other interests the person filing the disclosure has in any taxi, livery, or for-hire vehicle business.

This bill would go into effect 120 days after becoming law.

“Unfortunately taxi drivers in New York City were sold the American dream that not only did not materialize but placed them in severe financial debt,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “Taxi drivers desperately need assistance and Introduction 1584 will be a step forward toward transparency and an end to predatory behavior. As a city we must do all that we can to end the suffering for taxi drivers.”

 

Requires the taxi and limousine commission to evaluate the character and integrity of taxicab brokers, agents, and taxicab licensees

 

Proposed Int. No. 1608-A, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, would require the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to evaluate the character, honesty and integrity of taxicab brokers, agents and licensees when they submit a new license application or when they submit an application to renew an existing license. The commission would be authorized to refuse to issue or renew a license upon a finding that an applicant lacks good character, honesty and integrity. The commission would consider, among other factors, misstatements or misrepresentations in connection with an application and commissions of fraudulent, deceitful or unlawful acts while engaged in the business licensed by the commission.

This bill would go into effect 180 days after becoming law.

“Introduction 1608 will add much needed protections for taxi drivers. We saw what happened when taxicab brokers, agents, and taxicab licensees were left to their own discretion. They took advantage of vulnerable and mostly immigrant New Yorkers who were trying to make an honest living,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee. “With this bill, any taxicab broker, agent and licensee who violates TLC’s prescribed rules and regulations on this matter will face serious consequences, including denial or nullification of their license. I will continue to work alongside the administration, Speaker Corey Johnson, my colleagues at the Council, and advocates to ensure we are increasing protections for taxi driver.”

 

HOUSING & BUILDINGS

 

Continues the New York City Rent Stabilization Law of 1969 through 2022

 

Int. No. 2093, sponsored by Council Member Robert E. Cornegy Jr., would amend the expiration date of the New York City Rent Stabilization Law. In order to maintain the City’s Rent Stabilization Law, a housing and vacancy survey (HVS) must be conducted in partnership with the United States Census Bureau. Due to the limited capacity of the Census Bureau to conduct the HVS concurrently with the decennial census, the State of New York passed legislation delaying the requirement of the survey by one year. To reflect the State’s extension of the deadline, this bill would shift the current expiration date of the City’s Rent Stabilization Law from April 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022.

This bill would go into effect immediately.

 

AGING

 

Reauthorizes the $50,000 maximum eligible income level for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) programs

 

Int. No. 2030, sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin, would increase the maximum income threshold for eligibility in both the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption programs, otherwise known as the NYC Rent Freeze Program. In 2014, New York State increased the income threshold to $50,000 through June 2020. The State authorized the income threshold increase after its expiration this year and as a result, the City of New York must do the same and reauthorize the extension.

The bill is retroactive and would extend the current qualifying maximum level of income through June 30, 2022.

“With financial insecurity on the rise, our city must maintain the programs that can provide our most vulnerable populations with relief. Int 2030 keeps the threshold to qualify for SCRIE and DRIE programs at $50,000, allowing a greater number of seniors and disabled New Yorkers to qualify for rent increase exemptions. In the midst of ongoing uncertainty, this bill aims to give our most vulnerable New Yorkers, who have been disproportionately affected by rising financial and food instability, the much-needed time to recuperate from the detrimental effects of this pandemic. I thank my colleagues on the Council for their ongoing support to protect affordable housing for our disabled and older New Yorkers,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

 

LAND USE

 

1510 Broadway

An application in Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel’s district by HPD is seeking designation and approval of an Urban Development Action Area Project, to facilitate the construction of a new eight-story building with approximately 107 units of affordable housing with approximately 9,000 sq ft of ground floor commercial space.

 

Weeksville NCP at Prospect Place

An application in Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel’s district by HPD seeks designation of Urban Development Action Area Project approval for a new development of seven buildings with approximately 44 affordable rental units.

 

Old Stanley 641 Chauncey and Old Stanley II

An application in Council District 37 and Council Member Reynoso’s districts by HPD seeks designation and approval of Urban Development Action Area Project dispositions of City-owned property to facilitate the construction of three residential buildings with affordable homeownership units developed by a non-profit community-based developer.

Open Door Bed Stuy Central and North I

An application in Council Member Robert Cornegy’s district by HPD seeks approval of Urban Development Action Area Project waiver of the area designation requirement and Sections 197-c and 197-d of the New York City Charter, and approval of a real property tax exemption pursuant to Section 577 of Article XI of the Private Housing Finance Law to facilitate the construction of two two-family and nine-three family affordable homes.

Manida Street Historic District

An application in Council Member Rafael Salamanca’s district by the Landmarks Preservation Commission seeks approval for the designation of a new Manida Street Historic District in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the South Bronx.

 

Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue 

An application in Council Member Margaret Chin’s district, by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to rescind the designation. The building had been destroyed in a fire and has since been demolished.

 

Alexander Hamilton House (Hamilton Grange)

An application in Council Members Mark Levine and Bill Perkins districts, by the Landmarks Preservation Commission seeks approval of an amendment to update the designation location to reflect the current location at 414 W 141 Street.

 

Kingsland Homestead

An application in Council Member Peter Koo’s district, by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to update the designation location to reflect the current location at 143-35 37th Avenue.

 

5914 Bay Parkway

An application in Council Member Kalman Yeger’s district seeks a zoning map amendment and zoning text amendment to map Mandatory Inclusionary Housing on a portion of the east side of Bay Parkway between 59th and 60th Streets to facilitate a nine-story mixed-use building with 36 units of housing, 11 of which are affordable.

 

50 Old Fulton

An application in Council Member Stephen Levin’s district to rezone from M2-1 to M1-5 to facilitate the development of a five-story commercial building with approximately 33,000 sqf of retail and office space.

 

3 St. Mark’s Place

An application in Council Member Carlina Rivera’s district, for a special permit pursuant to Zoning Resolution Section 74-79, to transfer unused development rights from an Individual Landmark site to facilitate the construction of a ten-story commercial building.  The land use committee recommended the disapproval of this item.

 

Industry City

The Industry City Street applications were withdrawn by the applicant.

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