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New Bills: Ringing in the New Year With Legislation

by Courtney Gross, Feb 11, 2008

In the first month of the New Year, 23 bills were introduced at the City Council. From the regulation of sex offenders to the study of vacant properties, here is a sampling of the legislation members of the City Council will be pushing for this year.

Vacant Properties

Sparked by a survey by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, several bills were introduced at the City Council that regulate vacant buildings.

Councilmember David Yassky is calling for the mandatory registration of vacant buildings, which will detail whether a property is intended for a particular use or demolition. The bill (Intro 693) would also include a $1,000 registration fee. Another bill (Intro 694), also introduced by Yassky, calls for an annual survey of all vacant buildings. Some officials have said if they city tallied all of its vacant buildings it could better capitalize on this wasted resource.

Councilmember Melissa Mark Viverito introduced legislation (Intro 687) last month that mandates all vacant buildings be inspected every five years. A bill offered by Councilmember Alan Gerson (Intro 681) would require the city’s Department of Administrative Services to conduct an inventory of all city-owned properties. For vacant properties, the department must submit an annual report detailing the location and best use for such property.

Sex Offenders

Between 1986 and 1995, nearly 50 percent of the sex offenders released from prison returned for violating their parole, according to a report from the state Department of Correctional Services.

Based on that, Councilmember Joseph Addabbo introduced legislation (Intro 672) banning any level-three sex offender -- those considered at a “high level of risk” for a repeat offense -- from living within 1,000 feet of a park or school. Under the legislation, a violator would be subject to six months in prison or a fine of no more than $500.

Recycling in Parks

Councilmember Jessica Lappin is calling for the introduction of a recycling program in public parks. Under legislation (Intro 673) introduced in January, at least 30 parks would start the pilot program in May and collect recyclable materials, including glass, paper and plastic, and monitor the contents. The program must be spread throughout the five boroughs.

Glass on the Beach

Legislation introduced by Councilmember Joseph Addabbo would prohibit the sale of materials made of glass or glass packaging within 150 feet of a city beach. Under the bill, (Intro 677) a violator would be subject to a fine from between $100 and $500.

Residential Segregation

Councilmember Letitia James introduced a bill that would require several city departments address racial and ethnic segregation in the city. Among its provisions, the bill (Intro 685) would require the Department of City Planning to analyze the impact of zoning changes on residential racial segregation 30 days prior to any public hearing.

Voting Registration

A bill ( Intro 690) introduced by Councilmember Darlene Mealy would require the Department of Education to distribute voter registration cards to all students within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

AIDS Services

Under current city law, those infected with HIV are eligible for city benefits and services only if they exhibit symptoms. Legislation (Intro 691) introduced by Councilmember Annabel Palma, would expand that definition to anyone who is HIV positive.

Fingerprinting at the Department of Aging

Legislation (Intro 692) introduced by Councilmember James Vacca would require all candidates for employment at the Department of Aging to be fingerprinted in order to determine whether they have a criminal background. The bill also would apply to any employee of an agency that has a contract with the department.  

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