Quality of Life Enforcement Legislation Signed by Mayor

04/21/2016

$1.6 billion in outstanding debt could be recovered

New York, NY – Today, Mayor de Blasio signed three bills into law written by Council Members Ben Kallos and Julissa Ferreras-Copeland to improve quality of life enforcement by including specific information to identify who is responsible for violations and requiring agencies to consider prior offenses when issuing or renewing permits, licenses, and registrations.

Every day council members receive calls, emails, and tweets about quality of life problems like trash on sidewalks, excessive noise before or after hours, and dangerous construction or building conditions. A 311 complaint might result in a violation being issued, but many of those violations were difficult to collect and were often ignored or written off by bad actors and repeat offenders.
 
This package of legislation will give the City the power to collect this debt, ensure the underlying conditions listed in the violations are finally fixed, and deter future violations:
  • Int. 810-A by Kallos, requires agencies to consider all outstanding or repeated quality of life violations when renewing or granting permits, licenses, or registrations, with reporting on when they are denied.
  • Int. 807-A by Ferreras-Copeland, requires the City to make reasonable efforts to determine the person responsible, instead of generically writing a summons to “owner of.” 
  • Int. 812-A by Kallos, requires agencies to include unique identifiers like the borough, block, and lot number (BBL) and building identification number (BIN) on the summons.
The $1.6 billion in uncollected debt was first raised by Kallos and Ferreras-Copeland during a joint budget hearing of their committees in May 2014. This hearing was followed by a June 2014 report by the Department of Finance (DOF) -which provided the basis for the legislation enacted today- and Local Law 11 of 2015, which required reporting on Environmental Control Board (ECB) violations. The first report under that local law, issued in November 2015, demonstrated the need for more reform legislation.
 
“Quality of life is about to improve because not only will these reforms improve the City’s collection efforts, they will more importantly change the behaviors that harm quality of life and jeopardize public health and safety,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “For far too long, quality of life violations have gone uncollected, with bad actors continuing bad behavior to the detriment of our communities. That is about to change.”
  
“Thanks to the collaboration between the Council and the Department of Finance, we now have ongoing reporting and increased enforcement of outstanding Environmental Control Board judgments, which will go a long way in  helping us recuperate the $1.6 billion the City is owed. The goal of this amnesty program is not only to ensure even faster resolution of ECB debt, but to give property owners and small businesses an opportunity to pay before tougher enforcement is implemented. I thank Council Member Ben Kallos and my colleagues for their support in passing this bill. The Council's Finance Committee will continue to track the Department of Finance’s effort and find new avenues for collecting what is owed,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.
 
 “We appreciate CM Kallos’ efforts and constructive engagement in helping us collect all related judgments on ECB violations,” said Samara Karasyk Assistant Commissioner of External Affairs at the New York City Department of Finance.
 
“The Environmental Control Board plays a vital role in protecting quality of life in New York City,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “These three bills will help ensure that the ECB’s rulings will be taken seriously and that violators will be held accountable. I thank Council Members Kallos and Ferreras-Copeland for their leadership on this important legislation.”

Twelve agencies issue ECB violations, which are adjudicated by a tribunal under the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH). The issuing agencies are:
 
  • Business Integrity Commission (BIC)
  • Department of Buildings (DOB)
  • Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
  • Fire Department (FDNY)
  • Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)
  • Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT)
  • Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
  • Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR)
  • Police Department (NYPD)
  • Department of Sanitation (DSNY)
  • Department of Small Business Services (SBS)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)

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