Gotham Gazette

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New Bills: Allergens to Parade Rules

Though the City Council's budget scandalremains at center stage in City Hall, the legislative process has continued on.

Over the past month, more than a dozen bills have been introduced on the council floor, from fighting asthma triggers to overturning the New York Police Department's parade rules.

Here is a sample of legislation you may have missed.

Reducing Asthma Triggers

New York City is known as having one of the highest asthma rates among children in the country. It is the number one cause for the hospitalization of children under 14. A study by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in 2000 found kids in New York City were twice as likely to be hospitalized for asthma compared to children nationwide.

While many attribute this staggering rate to an urban environment full of pollution and congestion, there are other culprits, like mice, cockroaches and mold, some city officials said. To nab these allergens, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Councilmember Rosie Mendez introduced legislation (Intro 750) that requires owners of buildings with multiple units to immediately remove allergens if the building is occupied by an individual with respiratory issues. These allergens would include mold, fungi and pests.

"These problems have serious health consequences and our bill will force landlords and inspectors to take them seriously," said Gotbaum in a prepared statement. "There has never been a consistent or appropriate standard for dealing with mold and pest infestations in New York City, and that needs to change.”

Some mold infestations are violations of Department of Housing Preservation and Development's regulations, but there currently is no protocol to deal with most infestations and remediation. The bill, city officials said in a prepared statement, would require a landlord take immediate action.

Under the legislation, landlords would be required to inspect a unit that is occupied with an asthmatic person at least once a year. If landlords do not comply, the could be subject to six month imprisonment or a $500 fine.

The legislation can also apply to apartment units where non-asthmatic residents live, depending on the size of the infestation.

Policing Processions

The New York Police Department's parade permit process has come under serious scrutiny ever since the Republican National Convention in 2004, where hundreds of protesters were arrested and dozens of lawsuits followed.

Last year the police department required any group to apply for a parade permit if they were a demonstration comprised of more than 50 people. Since then, community groups and city officials have railed against the department, calling the policy a violation of the first amendment.

In response two pieces of legislation were introduced recently, one by Councilmember Charles Barron, the other by (Intro 740) Mendez (Intro 743).

Barron's bill ensures the police department does not deny permits based on race or ideology, and it also requires the department employ the “least restrictive” measures to ensure the safety of the public.

Mendez’s bill would overhaul the department’s permitting process and overturn a department policy that requires of more than 50 to apply for a permit. The bill, called the “First Amendment Assembly Act," would exempt demonstrations that are an immediate response to an event from the permit process. It would also not require groups of less than 100 to apply for a permit.

The rules were drafted from a Washington D.C. policy that reportedly reduced tensions between police and protestors.

Parking Permits Reprise

Earlier this year, the Bloomberg administration decided to crackdown on civil servant parking permits by 20 percent. The move came after a New York Post report that found out 129 government agencies had qualified to receive the parking perk.

As a follow up, Councilmember Tony Avella introduced legislation (Intro 744) that would require the city create a public record of every permit on its website. There are some exceptions, according to the bill, including those who are victims of domestic violence.

Building Plans on the Web

Councilmember Mendez introduced legislation (Intro 749) that would require the Department of Buildings make all of its records available online. The bill would require any record be put online after July 2008.

Synthetic Turf

Councilmember Maria Baez introduced legislation (Intro 739) that would put a moratorium on the use of artificial turf with crumb rubber. Crumb rubber, which is made from recycled tires, can have high concentrations of lead, according to some reports.  

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