This Week in New York City Government
Mayor de Blasio Announces Selection of Rise: NYC Technologies to be Deployed at Sandy-Impacted Small Businesses Across New York City
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the selection of 11 organizations to deploy their innovative technologies and climate change solutions to at-risk and vulnerable small businesses. The technologies were selected from a group of 27 finalists competing in the Resiliency Innovations for a Stronger Economy (RISE : NYC) competition, a New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) program designed to help small businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy prepare for future storms, sea level rise, and other effects of climate change, while strengthening New York City’s long-term resiliency efforts.
RISE : NYC uses an innovative procurement model to identify and deploy creative new technologies and solutions to make New York City small businesses more resilient. The winning technologies are receiving a total of up to $30 million via the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement their technologies at Sandy-impacted small businesses across New York City. Over the coming months, NYCEDC will work with the winning organizations to implement projects at small businesses across the five boroughs.
The announcement comes one week after the de Blasio administration announced the release of “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City,” a comprehensive plan for a sustainable and resilient city for all New Yorkers that addresses the profound social, economic, and environmental challenges ahead. OneNYC builds upon prior long-term sustainability and resiliency plans for New York City, expanding on the critical targets established under previous plans, as well as on the work of the de Blasio administration over the last 16 months. Growth, sustainability, and resiliency remain at the core of OneNYC – but with the poverty rate remaining high and income inequality continuing to grow, the de Blasio administration added equity as a guiding principle throughout the plan. OneNYC sets measurable goals for tackling these challenges in the coming years with critical action in the short-term to put the City on the path to achieving these goals.
Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Provide Tax Relief for Property Owners Impacted by Sandy
Mayor de Blasio signed legislation to provide long-term property tax relief to property owners who rebuilt and repaired homes and businesses damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
State and City legislation signed into law last year authorized the City to address similar concerns with a one-year abatement, as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Sandy recovery overhaul that streamlined Build it Back and provided direct financial relief to homeowners.
Many homeowners and business owners saw significant increases in their property taxes after rebuilding or repairing property damaged by Sandy. Intro. 727 allows the City to limit increases in assessed value for homes or businesses that underwent construction or repairs after the storm, providing much-needed relief to property owners who received significantly larger tax bills as a result of their renovations.
This legislation lowers the assessed value of property that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy and whose assessed value subsequently increased between 2013 and 2014 due to renovations or reconstruction. The legislation ensures that most of the owners of affected properties will receive a tax bill similar to what they would have received had the storm never occurred.
To qualify for this tax relief, the property must meet the following criteria:
- The Department of Finance decreased the assessed value of the building on the property in 2013 from the assessed value in 2012 because of damage resulting from Hurricane Sandy; and
- DOF increased, or will increase, the assessed value as a result of repairs or reconstruction of damage caused by Sandy on any assessment roll completed from 2014 through 2020.
To read a full transcript of the Mayor’s remarks, please click here.
Mayor de Blasio: 68,849 Children Apply for Free, Full-Day, High-Quality Pre-K in First Round of Admissions
Nearly 69,000 children applied for free, full-day, high-quality pre-K during the first round of admissions that closed on Friday, showing tremendous demand from parents in the second year of pre-K expansion. Enrollment specialists worked right up to the midnight deadline helping families find the right programs and assisting them through the application process.
The Department of Education will now begin the work of matching children to individual programs. Parents will receive offers in June, and have the option of accepting their offer or continuing their search. When school opens in September, for the very first time, there will be a free, full-day, high-quality pre-K seat waiting for every four-year old who applies. More than 75,000 seats are currently offered in the official Pre-K Directory.
“This is big! Every one of these applications means a child put on a path for success for school and beyond. We worked hard to reach parents in parks, at barbershops and at beauty salons. We worked the phones, promoted pre-K online and knocked on doors. And it was all worth the energy and effort,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We made Pre-K for All the centerpiece of our fight against inequality. And come September, our vision of free, full-day, high-quality pre-K for every child will become reality.”
Families that did not apply during the first round will have additional opportunities later in the process, and are encouraged to call 311 or visit nyc.gov/prek to find information on when to apply next.
Mayor de Blasio Swears in 28 Judges Recently Appointed to Family Court, Criminal Court, and Civil Court
Mayor de Blasio swore in 28 judges recently appointed to the Family Court, Criminal Court, and Civil Court. Eight of the judges sworn in were reappointed, and 20 were newly appointed.
“To ensure New Yorkers have access to a fair, equitable justice system, we need judges who are qualified, honest and reflective of the people of this city,” said Mayor de Blasio. “With their wealth of legal experience, these appointees represent all five boroughs and all walks of life. From the first female South Asian-American judge in New York City to a former NYPD First Deputy Commissioner, these talented leaders truly reflect the diverse range of communities that make up our great city.”
Family Court, Criminal Court, and Civil Court are part of the New York State Unified Court System. The Mayor appoints judges to 10-year terms in the New York City Criminal Court and the Family Court within the city. While Civil Court judges are elected to 10-year terms, the Mayor appoints judges to interim one-year terms to fill vacancies in the New York City Civil Court.
To read a full transcript of the Mayor’s remarks, please click here.
Mayor de Blasio on Conclusion of BNP Paribas Bank Criminal Prosecution
Federal District Court in Manhattan, BNP Paribas S.A. (“BNPP”) was sentenced for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act by processing billions of dollars of transactions through the U.S. financial system on behalf of Sudanese, Iranian, and Cuban entities subject to U.S. sanctions. BNPP previously entered a guilty plea in New York State Supreme Court in June for violating U.S. sanctions and falsifying the business records of financial institutions in Manhattan by illicitly moving billions of dollars through Manhattan banks. The sentencing, which follows an earlier State Supreme Court sentencing on April 15, brings the global case to a close. Pursuant to the plea agreement and the resolution of the joint investigation, BNPP agreed to adhere to best practices for international banking transparency, implement procedures and training designed to ensure compliance with U.S. sanctions, and pay nearly $8.9 billion in criminal penalties and forfeiture, including $448.7 million to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and $447 million to the City of New York.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “This funding will help transform the public safety system in New York City so that we can continue to reduce crime and the city’s jail population in a lasting way while promoting fairness and efficiency. We have already pledged some of this funding toward equipping all police officers with smart phones, building technology that will decrease court delays, and providing police, judges, lawyers, and providers with the data they need to make wise, real-time decisions. In the last year, we have made great progress in bringing this city’s criminal justice system into the 21st century ” and in the next year, this funding will help accelerate our efforts even further. I would like to thank Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance fo”r his leadership in reaching this settlement and ensuring that financial institutions operate with integrity in New York. We look forward to the impact these funds will make on improving the quality of justice in this City.”
The settlement, which amounts to nearly $8.9 billion in total, includes the resolutions of parallel regulatory inquiries, through which the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the New York State Department of Financial Services imposed civil monetary penalties in the amount of $508,000,000 and $2,243,400,000, respectively, with these amounts being credited against the total forfeiture amount. The total amount also includes a settlement of $963,619,900, reached with the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Department of the Treasury, arising from an inquiry into the same pattern of conduct.
Mayor de Blasio: NYC Service and Citizens Committee for New York City Join Poppa and Momma Jones’ Historic Community Garden to Celebrate the 2015 Love Your Block Season
NYC Service, Citizens Committee for New York City, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Sanitation of New York, and Department of Transportation join together tomorrow to celebrate the 2015 Love Your Block season by highlighting the work of Poppa and Momma Jones’ Historic Community Garden in East New York, one of 25 resident-led community groups awarded a $1,000 grant to transform and beautify their neighborhood block.
The Poppa and Momma Jones’ Historic Community Garden community group will mobilize more than 40 community volunteers to revitalize a community garden and the adjacent street. Volunteers will add sidewalk planters, a bulletin board for community events, and solar-powered lighting along the garden perimeter to improve pedestrian visibility of the block.
Love Your Block, now in its seventh season, is a citywide campaign to connect New Yorkers to resources for block beautification. Love Your Block encourages community volunteer groups to engage their members in an organized, one-day block beautification event by providing resources in the form of a cash grant and facilitating access to relevant City services from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Transportation, and Department of Sanitation that support their projects. Since its inception in 2009, over 250 Love Your Block awards have been granted, 850 City services provided and more than 8,500 community volunteers have been engaged in beautification projects.
Twenty-five neighborhood volunteer groups were selected to receive the 2015 Love Your Block award –each receiving a $1,000 grant, made possible by Citi, to cover materials needed for their block beautification projects. In addition, upon the groups’ requests, City agencies provided services including, but not limited to: free mulch delivery for gardening projects, speed hump surveys, and litter basket replacement. For a full list of our 2015 grantees, please visit nyc.gov/service.
Citywide and Borough Electeds:
Council Bill Aims to Prevent Landsmarks Agency from Keeping Properties in Limbo for Decades
A City Council bill introduced Tuesday would give the Landmarks Preservation Commission 18 months to make a decision on roughly 100 historic structures, some of which have sat in limbo since being proposed for landmark status in the 1960s. Last year, the commission caused an uproar from preservationists when it attempted to purge the properties wholesale from its dusty to-do list, before reversing itself.
The legislation was introduced by City Council members Peter Koo, D-Queens, and David Greenfield, D-Brooklyn, and would also establish a time frame for the landmarking process, which currently can drag on indefinitely.
Currently, there is no time limit on how long Landmarks can keep an item “calendared,” or under consideration, meaning the owners of the affected properties cannot make alterations without consent from the commission.
Should the bill pass, it would require the commission to hold a hearing on a structure or property within 180 days of receiving a request to consider it for historic status. The commission would then have another 180 days to vote. If an entire district is being considered, the commission would have a total of two years to make a call. In each case, if no action were taken, the property or district would be removed from the list and could not be resubmitted for five years.
The bill will likely make it to the full council for a vote: Mr. Koo chairs the subcommittee on Landmarks Public Siting and Maritime Uses, while Mr. Greenfield chairs the Land Use Committee, which plans to hold a hearing on the legislation in the coming months.
Council to Vote on Legislation Protecting Used Car Buyers in New York City
The Council will vote on legislation to require full disclosure of vehicle prices at used car dealerships. Additionally, the Council will vote on reporting requirements related to Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in New York City. The Council will also vote on legislation requiring the Department of Buildings to inform local communities of planned hotel development. Finally the Council will vote on legislation requiring the creation of a citywide cultural plan for New York.
Introduction 178-A, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, would amend the administrative code to require that price displays advertising a used car for sale at a car dealership accurately reflect the total selling price of the vehicle, exclusive of any taxes or fees for securing a registration or certificate of title. This bill would ensure that an advertised price which attracts a customer into a dealership reflects the complete price of the vehicle being advertised. The bill would require that the price be displayed on the dashboard of the vehicle or on a sign displayed alongside the vehicle. In addition to requiring clear display of the total selling price of the vehicle, the bill would require that the dealership display the costs of any add-on products that are available for purchase with the second-hand automobile and disclose that the purchase of such add-on products is optional. A first offense violation of this law would be subject to a penalty of $500. A second offense committed within one year of the first offense would be subject to penalty of up to $750. A third or other subsequent offense committed within one year of the first offense would be subject to a penalty of up to $1000.
Introduction 51-B, sponsored by Council Members Margaret Chin, Corey Johnson and Peter Koo would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to issue an annual report regarding Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Hepatitis can cause chronic, persistent infection, which can lead to chronic liver disease. These two illnesses are generally underreported. There are about 100,000 HBV infected people in the City, many of whom are immigrants who contracted the infection in their country of origin where there was limited access to the HBV vaccine or from mothers who were not vaccinated. Additionally, there are approximately 150,000 New Yorkers livings with Hepatitis C, with high rates among baby boomers, and higher rates among African-Americans than any other racial or ethnic groups.
Introduction 419-A, sponsored by Council Members Levin and Van Bramer, would require the creation of a cultural plan for New York City. The Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) would be required to submit to the Mayor and the Speaker of the Council a comprehensive cultural plan (the plan) on or before July 1, 2017. The bill creates a Citizens’ Advisory Committee to advise DCLA with respect to development of the plan, gathering community input for the plan, and implementing the plan. Before the plan is released, the Committee would meet as often as needed but no less than quarterly. After the plan is released, the Committee would meet as needed, but not more than semiannually, to review the biannual reports.
Introduction 181-A, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, would ensure that communities are made aware when new hotels are developed within their neighborhoods. The bill would require that DOB, upon receiving an application for a new hotel, provide notice to each affected Borough President, Community Board, Borough Board and Council Member. This local law would take effect 180 days after enactment.
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Announces Participatory Budgeting Results in Council District 8
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito joined with residents to announce the results of participatory budgeting in East Harlem and the South Bronx. After a year-long process of neighborhood assemblies, delegate meetings, and project expositions, 3,700 residents voted to fund over $2 million for capital projects that address longstanding community needs in New York City’s 8th Council District.
Winning projects in the 8th Council District:
- Wilson Houses: Basketball Court Renovations (1,095 votes: $375,000)
- School Technology upgrades (998 votes: $500,000)
- 125th Street Library: ADA Ramp (963 votes: $500,000)
- Boys & Girls Harbor: Playground Renovations (844 votes: $275,000)
- Air conditioning at Bronx Schools (786 votes: $500,000)
Participatory budgeting voting in the 8th Council District took place April 11th to April 19th at over 27 poll sites across the district. Voting was open to all residents 14 years of age and older, and ballots were available in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Speaker Mark-Viverito’s district also featured feature digital voting stations at poll sites as well as pop-up mobile voting sites on commercial strips, in community centers and building lobbies using touch-screen tablets. Several community-based organizations in East Harlem and the South Bronx served as invaluable partners in organizing and mobilizing participatory budgeting and applauded the success of this year’s process.
Comptroller Stringer Announces New Diversity Initiative for Investment Managers
New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer announced that the New York City Pension Funds have taken steps to formally consider diversity as a criterion in manager evaluation and selection, by systematically asking current and prospective money managers about the diversity of their investment professionals.
The Comptroller’s Office, working with the City’s five pension systems, has taken formal steps to begin implementing a survey and response regimen by which firms will relate the composition of their boards and investment professionals. Diversity will now formally be considered as a criterion in determining which managers are most likely to achieve superior risk-adjusted returns for the pension funds, consistent with the Trustees’ fiduciary duties. As an industry, asset managers are failing on diversity.
These figures are an even greater cause for concern because of the body of research which demonstrates the value of diversity in promoting long-term sustainable business practices and investment value and lowering risk:
- A 2015 McKinsey study found that companies in the top quartile of racial/ethnic and gender diversity were 35 percent more likely to have above median financial returns.
- A 2014 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that racially and ethnically diverse traders had a 58 percent greater ability to calculate accurate pricing and true value of stocks.
- A 2012 Credit Suisse Research Institute study found that companies with women on their boards delivered higher average returns on equity, lower leverage, better average growth and higher price/book value multiples.
The New York City Pension Funds have a strong commitment to engaging Emerging Managers and Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs). The Funds currently have $10.9 billion invested with M/WBEs. Last year, Comptroller Stringer announced a new $1 billion commitment to Emerging Managers, including M/WBE managers, of which $250 million has been committed with significant investments to come. The initiative announced will create an additional category of investment managers to be known as Diversity Practitioners.
Manhattan Borough President Brewer Issues Plan to Expand Urban Agriculture
At City Hall, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer released “How Our Gardens Grow, Strategies for Expanding Urban Agriculture,” a report with recommendations for expanding urban agriculture in Manhattan’s schools, senior centers, and public housing facilities. Brewer also announced that her office will allocate up to $1 million in capital funding for innovative school gardening projects – such as hydroponics labs – in the next fiscal year.
Brewer also announced that her office will sponsor an Urban Farming Symposium in the fall of 2015 with Cornell University Cooperative Extension, bringing urban farming participants and experts together to share their knowledge and lay the groundwork for a support network.
Recommendations in the “How Our Gardens Grow” report include:
- Increasing city government support for urban agriculture, including both increased funding and city agencies’ support in identifying available and underutilized land that can be earmarked for use in urban agriculture. Currently only 20 percent of school gardens and 17 percent of NYCHA gardens receive support from city resources.
- Incorporating gardening into school curricula and community center programs. In a survey of urban agriculture programs that included 46 public schools, Brewer’s office found that more than half had difficulty finding time for students to participate in gardening and finding instructors with knowledge in gardens.
- Creating an urban agriculture network and citywide training programs. The spread of urban agriculture means that a wealth of information and experience is growing – from program leaders and participants to scientists and engineers. An urban agriculture network and training programs could harness these resources to help new gardens and urban farming efforts sprout faster and more successfully.
Bronx Borough President Diaz: IBO Issues Financial Assessment of Salon & Spa letter Grading Program
The Independent Budget Office (IBO) has issued a financial assessment regarding the potential cost of the salon and spa letter grading program proposed by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
The IBO analysis, which was requested by Borough President Diaz, shows that a salon and spa letter grading program would cost the city $7.2 million at the high end. This would provide for the twice-yearly inspection of each of the more than 5,300 nail salons, beauty salons and other personal care facilities located throughout the city. The cost could vary depending on specific changes made to the city’s health code and facilities covered under such an inspection system.
The IBO’s analysis of the program can be read at http://on.nyc.gov/1GFfKgo.
Bronx Borough President Diaz testified on Friday before a joint hearing of the New York City Council’s Committees on Consumer Affairs and Health in support of a legislative package concerning the creation of a “Nail & Beauty Salon” letter grading system, similar to one used by the food and dining industry in New York City, which he initially proposed last year.
The legislative package would allow for the creation of a system of letter grades for cosmetology businesses, based on the existing restaurant letter grading system already in effect in this city. It would also create a ‘Customers’ Bill of Rights’ for such establishments, and call on the State to expand training options available for licensed cosmetology professionals.
HPD Commissioner Been Announces Development Team to Build 208 New Affordable Apartments Featuring Active Retail and Community Spaces in Flushing, Queens
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been announced the selection of a development team for the Flushing Municipal Lot 3 in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. The joint venture between Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), HANAC Inc., and Monadnock Development was selected as the development team for this project through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process. The development team’s plan, called One Flushing, includes the creation of 208 units of housing affordable to households earning between $24,200 – $72,600 annually for an individual and $34,520 – $103,560 for a family of four. One Flushing will also feature a community facility program that will provide supportive care services to seniors, a rooftop farm, and weatherization services for low-income Queens residents.
The development of this city-owned parcel of land into affordable housing will be financed under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough, 10-Year Housing Plan. The plan aims to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. The most comprehensive affordable housing plan in the City’s history and largest municipal housing plan in the nation, its goal is to help address New York City’s affordability crisis by reaching more than half a million New Yorkers ranging from those with very low incomes to those in the middle class, all of whom face ever-rising rents.
“The One Flushing development plan is an example of a dynamic proposal that encompasses affordable housing, supportive senior housing, and services for the community as a whole,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “I congratulate the development team on their designation and would like to thank AAFE, HANAC, and Monadnock for their commitment to creating what is sure to be a vibrant addition to the Flushing community. I look forward to seeing this development take shape and will be thrilled to welcome future residents to their new homes.”