The New York City Council voted 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 combatting 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.
Int. No. 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).
Creates an Office of Financial Stability within the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
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.
Requires annual financial disclosures from anyone with an interest in a taxicab license
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.
Requires the taxi and limousine commission to evaluate the character and integrity of taxicab brokers, agents, and taxicab licensees
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Industry City Street applications were withdrawn by the applicant.
Council subpoenaed the Education Department to obtain the data
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger announced key findings based on remote learning attendance data from the city Education Department (DOE), which was received in response to a subpoena issued by the New York City Council last month. That data on more than 1,500 schools shows racial disparities in student engagement – loosely defined as attendance that was tracked by student emails or participation in remote check-ins – during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highlights from the remote learning attendance data include:
“By forcing the Education Department to release attendance data on the pandemic, the City Council was able to confirm what many feared – that there were racial disparities in student engagement during remote learning. But we are still not seeing the full scope of the inequities that exist in remote learning because we don’t have specifics on what type of instruction these students received. The school system’s policy is to say a student attended even if all they did was send a text or email. The de Blasio Administration needs to provide us with more clarity and understanding of remote learning during COVID-19 so we can properly address the disparities and provide the support New York City’s students need. I thank Education Committee Chair Treyger for his leadership on this issue and for always being our students’ biggest advocate,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.
“The City administration cannot dismiss the significance of this concerning attendance data. It further paints a picture of a city perpetuating the divide between well-resourced and under-resourced communities. At the May hearing on remote learning, I asked how many kids never logged onto a device. I asked for school by school attendance data because as a former teacher, I understand how attendance is a major indicator of student progress and school climate. We need this information to know how to target and fight for additional support for kids who need it the most,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.
The data was originally requested in May by Education Chair Treyger at an oversight hearing titled, “Remote Learning: The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the City’s Schools.” The daily remote learning attendance data provided by the Education Department is from April 6 – June 26 for the Spring 2020 semester, July 6 to August 14 for the Summer 2020 semester, and September 16 and 17 for the Fall semester.
New York City schools shut down on March 16, 2020. Schools transitioned to remote learning a week later but after six months there are still unresolved issues that are preventing students from receiving a high-quality remote education, such as access to the internet and mandated special education services.
Remote learning attendance data is critical, but it doesn’t tell us if the student is really interacting with the teacher. On Friday, during an oversight hearing on school reopening by Council Committees on Education and Health, the Council will review two bills designed to obtain better metrics.
The hearing will review Intro 2104-2020 (Treyger) which would require the Education Department to report on a series of metrics any time the department is engaged in remote learning such as participation in synchronous and/or asynchronous remote learning instruction, IEP evaluations completed as well as mandated services provided to students with disabilities, among other metrics. The first report would be due on August 1, 2021, for the 2020-2021 academic year, and the 2019-2020 academic year report would be due on February 1, 2021.
The second bill, Intro 2058-2020 (Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Treyger), would require the Education Department to provide weekly mandated reports on student attendance data when remote learning is utilized fully or combined with in-person learning. The data would be required to be disaggregated by the school, school district, grade, race, individualized education plan status, multilingual language learner status and English language learner status.
You can access the DOE’s full data set on remote learning attendance here.
 For the purposes of this table, a school encountered a significant barrier to student interaction if its median daily student interaction rate for the period was low enough to put it in the bottom 20% of all schools. For Spring 2020, this means an interaction rate below about 79%, and for Spring 2019, it means a rate below about 89%.
 DOE’s attendance data for Spring 2019 can be found on the NYC Open Data Portal athttps://data.cityofnewyork.us/Education/2018-2019-Daily-Attendance/x3bb-kg5j.
 Student populations were estimated using Fall 2020 enrollment data provided in DOE’s subpoena response materials.
 COVID-19 data for each zip code is maintained by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and can be found online at https://github.com/nychealth/coronavirus-data. A “high” COVID-19 death rate means a death rate that would put the zip code in the top 20% of all zip codes.
Settlement Requires Developer to Increase Accessibility in 71 Buildings Encompassing More Than 6,000 Rental Apartments
Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has settled two related federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) lawsuits against ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT GROUP, LLC (“ATLANTIC”). Under the settlement, ATLANTIC has agreed to make retrofits at 71 rental buildings in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Westchester County, which together contain more than 6,000 affordable units as well as several hundred market-rate apartments. ATLANTIC also agreed to provide $600,000 to compensate aggrieved persons and pay a $30,000 civil penalty. Additionally, ATLANTIC agreed to establish procedures to ensure that its future residential development projects will comply with the accessibility requirements of the FHA. The settlement was approved today by U.S. District Judge Lewis J. Liman.
Chukwuemeka Okparaeke Netted Millions by Distributing Fentanyl Analogues and Synthetic Opioids Through a Darknet Marketplace and the United States Mail, Completing Over 7,000 Sales
Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Phillip R. Bartlett, the Inspector in Charge of the New York Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), and Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced that CHUKWUEMEKA OKPARAEKE, a/k/a “Emeka,” pled guilty to distributing U-47700, a controlled substance analogue of AH-7921; importing 100 grams and more of acryl fentanyl, a controlled substance analogue of fentanyl, from Hong Kong; and making false statements to prosecutors and investigators regarding the proceeds of his offenses. OKPARAEKE pled guilty today in White Plains federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román.