Council Votes to Provide Relief to Restaurants and Small Businesses impacted by COVID-19
The Council will also vote to create a livery and black car task force
City Hall, NY – The New York City Council on Thursday will vote four bills to provide support to small businesses. The first extends the cap on the amount of commission a third-party delivery service is allowed to charge for delivery and all other types of charges while a second bill will prevent third-party delivery platforms from charging restaurants for telephone calls that do not result in an order. These new measures would be in effect until restaurants are able to resume indoor dining at maximum occupancy and for an additional 90 days afterward.
Members will also vote on two additional bills within the small business package. They will vote on legislation requiring the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to report on businesses that received a grant or loan from the New York City Employee Retention Program or New York City Small Business Continuity Loan Fund. These grants were created in response to the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses. The reporting would determine if the grants were distributed equitably across the city.
The fourth bill is the continuation of the Commercial Lease Assistance Program (CLA), for which funding has since been restored after being temporarily unfunded in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. This vital program provides lease-related assistance and counseling for small business tenants, which is more important than ever as businesses struggle to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation would also allow the extension of the CLA to encompass “in-court” legal representation for tenancy issues, such as filing a notice of appearance for small businesses facing eviction.
The Council will also vote to create a task force to study the challenges to the viability of the livery and black car industries which has seen a significant decline in ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This pandemic has also made it difficult for some construction workers to complete the required site safety training courses to receive the “Full Site Safety Training (SST) Card by the current deadline of September 1, 2020. In light of this, the Council will be voting to move the deadline to March 1, 2021.
The Council will vote on environmental protection legislation. The bills will require the Department of Buildings (DOB) to conduct outreach to building owners to provide information regarding energy efficiency improvements and compliance with existing energy regulations; create the same level of water controls for the entirety of New York City, regardless of the sewage system currently in use; and create a metric to measure fuel cells for any installations happening before January 2023.
Additionally, the Council will vote to codify an office of cyber command, which plays an essential role in protecting city infrastructure from cyber-attacks.
Finally, the Council will vote on several land use related items.
SMALL BUSINESS & RESTAURANTS
Extends the third-party delivery platform delivery fee cap until restaurants can operate at maximum indoor capacity plus an additional 90 days
Introduction No. 2054-A, sponsored by Council Members Francisco Moya and Mark Gjonaj, would extend the fee cap for third-party delivery platforms (Local Law 52 of 2020) until restaurants can operate at maximum indoor capacity plus an additional 90 days. The bill also adjusts the fee cap so that the delivery platforms may charge restaurants for fees they incur from third parties for processing the customer’s transaction. These “pass-through” processing fees, which may be incurred by the platforms and passed along to the restaurant, will be exempted from the fee cap. The bill provides that a delivery platform could charge a restaurant no more than the actual cost to the platform for processing the transaction.
This bill would take effect immediately.
“This bill will provide our neighborhood mom and pop restaurants a temporary reprieve from the exorbitant fees charged by billion-dollar tech companies for as long as the pandemic prevents them from operating at full indoor capacity,” said Councilmember Francisco Moya. “It’s a bit of breathing room they desperately need. We’re all thankful to see the city’s positivity rate slow down but restaurants are well aware that we haven’t outrun COVID-19 yet. They know the industry will be reeling from the pandemic’s effects for months to come. As legislators, we can and must make sure that they’re not grappling with exorbitant fees from these third-party food apps while they’re struggling to keep their shops on life support. I thank Council Member Mark Gjonaj for co-sponsoring both this bill and our previous legislation it builds on, which temporarily capped fees from third-party food delivery services, and Speaker Corey Johnson for his steadfast support of New York’s small business restaurants.”
Extends the prohibition on third-party delivery platforms charging a fee for telephone calls that did not result in actual transactions until restaurants can operate at maximum indoor capacity plus an additional 90 days
Introduction No. 2043-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Gjonaj, would extend the prohibition on third-party delivery platforms charging restaurants for telephone calls that did not result in an actual transaction during the call (Local Law 51 of 2020). As with the bill described above, this law would be in effect as long as restaurants are restricted from operating at maximum indoor capacity, plus 90 days thereafter.
This bill would take effect immediately.
Codifies the Commercial Lease Assistance Program and allows expansion of offerings to encompass “in-court” legal representation for tenancy issues
Introduction No. 1470-B, sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine, would codify the Commercial Lease Assistance Program, which is operated by the Department of Small Business Services (SBS). This program offers legal assistance to small businesses related to their commercial lease.
SBS would be required to offer “out-of-court” (pre-litigation) legal assistance on lease-related matters, including the drafting and negotiation of lease terms and lease termination issues. In addition, this bill would empower SBS to extend the program to “in-court” legal representation, so attorneys could assist with tenancy issues such as filing a notice of appearance in court for small businesses facing eviction. This bill would also require SBS to offer assistance with understanding and applying for COVID-19-related funding programs. That requirement would expire 180 days after the Mayor’s state of emergency is no longer in effect. SBS would also be required to report every two years on the outcomes of the legal services they have provided, including certain characteristics of small business tenants who have utilized the program, and a description of the types of legal matters handled by attorneys in the program.
Small business tenants are defined as those with incomes no higher than 500% of federal poverty guidelines that meet size requirements established by the Small Business Administration, and which are not chain businesses.
“Our city’s small businesses are facing extinction. We need to do everything possible to help them in their fight for survival,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “Expanding access to counsel for our residential tenants has had a dramatic impact. We need to build on this success by expanding legal assistance for commercial tenants as well. Whether renegotiating leases for lower rent, applying for financial assistance, or defending against unfair evictions, small businesses need and deserve the benefit of an attorney. Our bill will ensure more small businesses get exactly this kind of support, by strengthening and expanding the Commercial Lease Assistance Program. We need this initiative now more than ever.”
Requires reporting on businesses that received a grant or loan from the New York City Employee Retention Program or New York City Small Business Continuity Loan Fund
Introduction No. 1958-A, sponsored by Council Member Donovan Richards, would require the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to report on businesses that received a grant or loan from the New York City Employee Retention Program or New York City Small Business Continuity Loan Fund, which were created in response to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on small businesses in the city.
Reporting would include information on each business’s Council District, zip code, industry type including whether the recipient is a mobile business, and the amount of grant or loan received by the business. SBS would submit the report to the Mayor and Speaker, and would make the information publicly available by posting the report on its website.
Requires the Department of Buildings to conduct outreach to building owners and provide assistance in replacing gas infrastructure
Proposed Introduction No. 1946-A, sponsored by Costa Constantinides, would require the Department of Buildings (DOB) to annually distribute information to buildings of all sizes, including those connected to gas lines, regarding making energy efficiency improvements and complying with existing energy regulations.
This local law would take effect in 180 days.
Related to city-wide storm water management controls
Proposed Introduction No. 1851, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would amend the administrative code, the plumbing code and the building code as it pertains to construction projects intended to reduce the flow of storm water and waterborne pollutants into sewers that empty directly into the waters of the state or overflow into such waters due to rain or snow melt events that exceed the capacity of the wastewater treatment plants.
As it applies to the municipal separate storm sewer system, or MS4 projects, this local law will ensure that the rules for such projects are not less stringent than the NYC MS4 permit and the NYSDEC Construction general permit. This legislation would help improve water quality throughout our region and move us towards the goal of “fishable and swimmable” waters. This local law would take effect 180 days after it becomes law.
Related to marginal emissions
Proposed Introduction No. 1982-A, sponsored by Costa Constantinides, would require that, for the purposes of greenhouse gas emission limits accounting pursuant to Local Law 97 of 2019, fuel cells that are operational before January 1, 2023 will be credited compared to the electricity grid marginal emissions factor published by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Fuel cells that are operational after January 1, 2023 will be credited compared to an electricity grid marginal emissions factor decided by rule by the Department of Buildings.
This bill would also require that marginal emissions forecasts for Zone J are considered when determining the greenhouse gas coefficients of energy consumption for 2030-2034.
Creates a livery and black car task force
Proposed Introduction No. 1865-A, sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, would create a task force to study the challenges to the viability of the livery and black car industries and make recommendations for legislation to address these challenges. Among other issues, the task force would study the impacts of advertising on for-hire vehicles and its potential as an additional revenue source for for-hire vehicle drivers.
This legislation would take effect immediately.
“The livery and traditional black car industries are in crisis and the task force will play a major roll in identifying suggestions and ideas to rescue them. These bases have serviced local communities for decades and were vital services for many New Yorkers and essential workers during the pandemic,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee. “I will push hard for the immediate composition of this task force. I thank my colleagues, Speaker Johnson, and the advocates for all the work they’ve done to support the black car and livery industry.”
HOUSING & BUILDINGS
Extends the deadline for workers to receive the complete training required to obtain a “Full Site Safety Training (SST) Card”
Introduction No. 2059-A, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, would extend the compliance deadline for workers to complete the required site safety training courses to obtain a “Full Site Safety Training (SST) Card” from September 1, 2020 to March 1, 2021. This will provide additional time for workers who have been unable to complete these courses due to changes in course provider capacity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This local law would take effect immediately and be retroactive to September 1, 2020.
Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams said, “Construction has always been one of the most dangerous jobs in New York City, with inadequate training and protection for the people who build our city. Before the pandemic and throughout it, construction works have been too often labelled as essential but treated as expendable – COVID-19 has changed the way training is administered, but not the reasons it is critical. By expanding the timeline and the opportunity for workers to access safety training, we can save lives and rebuild the eroding culture of safety in the industry.”
Codifies an office of cyber command
Proposed Introduction No. 1297-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, would codify into the Charter the Office of Cyber Command. The Office was initially created in 2017 by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Executive Order 28. Codifying the Office would ensure the existence of the Office, which, among other things, shall establish and regularly update cybersecurity policies and standards for city agencies, train city employees on cybersecurity policies and standards, as well as direct cybersecurity defense and response.
This local law would take effect immediately.
“The greatest challenges we will face in the future are the pandemic, catastrophic climate change, terrorism and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure. The city cannot afford to take the same complacent approach to cybersecurity that we did to pandemic preparedness. The Office of Cyber Command will ensure that the city and agencies are prepared for future cyber-attacks and criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.
Grand Ave & Pacific Street Rezoning – – The applicant is seeking a rezoning and– Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Text Amendment. – This rezoning would facilitate the development of a 9-story mixed-use building with 64 residential units – in Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo’s District. The Council will be modifying this application.
52nd Street Rezoning –- The applicant is seeking a rezoning and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Text Amendment. The rezoning would facilitate the development of an 8 story –mixed-use building with 61 dwelling units, in Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s district. The Council will be modifying this application.