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New York City Council Stated Meeting -- September 27, 2006

by Joshua Brustein, Sep 27, 2006
 

Every two weeks the New York City Council meets for its Stated Meeting to introduce and pass legislation. As a regular feature, Gotham Gazette covers these meetings and posts a summary of the bills passed.

It would no longer be illegal to wash sidewalks with hoses or wash your clothing in the middle of the night under a new law passed by the City Council at its stated meeting on September 27, 2006. The law is intended to update the city's administrative code.

"What we have done in a fairly painstaking detail is go through the administrative code and find what is out-of-date," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn. She added that aside from being antiquated, some of the pieces of code being changed were "silly."

One can assume that Quinn's definition of silly includes subdivision (f) of section 20-268 of the administrative code, which says used clothing merchants cannot sell "any junk, old rope, old iron, brass, copper, tin, lead, rubber paper, rags, bagging, slush or empty bottles" -- or collect such items in a cart or a boat -- "unless he or she is also licensed as a junk dealer."

Subdivision (f) would be eliminated under the new law. In addition, tour guides would no longer be required to submit three letters of recommendation from New Yorkers to get licensed, 24-hour laundromats would no longer be illegal, and the special license for "the peddling of old clothes from house to house" would be eliminated.

While many of these regulations go unenforced, small businesses are often subjected to fines for inadvertently violating them, said Councilmember David Yassky, the bill's primary sponsor.

The council passed the bill (Intro 349-A) by a vote of 48 to 0.

The council also passed a resolution that would allow the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications to solicit cable franchises interested in providing service to New York City. A similar resolution was in place until it expired in 2003.

Currently only two companies --- Time Warner and Cable Vision -- have contracts to provide bundled cable, telephone, and Internet services in the city. The resolution allows other companies to compete, which should result in lower prices and better service for consumers, according to Councilmember Melinda Katz, the measure's primary sponsor. The resolution was approved 48 to 0.

The Council also approved two mayoral appointments to the city's Board of Standards and Appeals, which hears cases from property owners seeking exemptions from the city's building code.

One of the appointees, Dara Ottley-Brown, was approved without incident. Several council members raised concerns about the other, Susan Hinkson, however. Councilmember Vincent Gentile criticized Hinkson, a Republican, of being overly partisan as the Brooklyn Borough Commissioner of the city's Department of Buildings, and Councilmember Lewis Fiddler said that she had not been forthcoming about an incident at a Kings Plaza in which several complaints were made that the public process was intentionally subverted to help a real estate developer.

The final vote on the appointment was 45 to 1, with two abstentions.

Fiddler voted against Hinkson's appointment; Gentile voted for it. Councilmember Bill De Blasio expressed concerns about Hinkson's relationships with developers and abstained. Councilmember Alan Gerson also abstained for what he described as unrelated "procedural reasons."

 


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