New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Upper East Side Patch NYC Council Holds First Remote Stated Meeting by Kathleen Culliton

NYC Council Holds First Remote Stated Meeting

NEW YORK CITY — Ydanis Rodriguez stands next to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. A cat licks Ben Kallos' forehead. Chaim Deutsch is upside-down. This is Democracy's new normal in New York City.

New York City Council held Wednesday its first remote stated meeting — as Gov. Andrew Cuomo's stay-in-place order put the five boroughs on pause — with members live-streaming from their homes, offices and cars.

"I am so proud of the work we are doing together despite the physical challenges we're facing right now," said Speaker Corey Johnson. "This is what we owe the more than 14,000 New Yorkers who have died from this virus."

Fifty elected officials logged onto Zoom Wednesday afternoon to vote on a variety of resolutions related to housing and local business hubs.

The Council voted on measures to create and preserve more than 2,000 affordable housing units and to convert a former DUMBO hotel into a 500-unit supportive and affordable housing facility in Brooklyn.

Members also voted to provide additional services to the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub business improvement district in Queens.

Finally, the Council voted to designate five buildings on Tin Pan Alley in Lower Manhattan as a historic landmark.

Bills introduced include a law to temporarily open up 75 miles of city streets for pedestrians and cars, an act to suspend rents for certain tenants and a relief package for essential workers.

"To keep them safe is to better keep us safe," Kallos, the Upper East Side representative, explained. "Uh, you may here my daughter in the background."

Johnson held a moment of silence for those who had died from the virus, including former council members Arlene Stringer-Cuevas and Noach Dear, and Rafael Salamanca Jr.'s father.

And during one vote, members took a moment to laugh at their new situation.

"I vote aye and, Steve Levin, your child is wonderfully distracting," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. "Thank you."

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