Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

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


"If you walk through Sheepshead Bay it looks nothing like it did four years ago. This neighborhood has been ravaged by developers. This measure comes four years after we asked for it and three-and-a-half years too late." - Councilmember Lew Fidler on a regulations meant to protect single-family homes.


The New York City Council under the new leadership of Speaker Christine Quinn is just beginning to put together its legislative agenda, so at the meeting of February 15 the council passed no new bills, but it did pass 18 land use measures, several aimed at slowing overdevelopment in the outer boroughs.

For Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn the council passed a "downzoning" measure - which limits the height and density of new development - that will protect 309 single family homes from being torn down. Councilmember Lew Fidler, however, said it was "too little, too late."

"If you walk through Sheepshead Bay it looks nothing like it did four years ago," said Fidler who blamed the City Planning Department for its slow response. "This neighborhood has been ravaged by developers."

The council also approved downzonings in the Ferry Point and Woodlawn sections of the Bronx and in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.

Other measures were aimed at creating new housing. In Harlem, the council approved a measure that will create 50 new units of affordable housing. Councilmember Inez Dickens said that the new units would be overseen by the West Harlem Group, a local community organization, which purchases buildings and then sells them to existing tenants at low mortgage rates.

The meeting was also an opportunity for council members to introduce new legislation, or to reintroduce bills that did not get passed in the previous session. Each bill will be sent to the appropriate committee for consideration.

As usual, the council's legislation ranged from enormous city-wide initiatives (approving a new plan to dispose of the city's garbage) to more local concerns (creating a database to track problem spots for graffiti) to the somewhat bizarre (prohibiting the resale of underwear that has been returned to a store).

Some other bills that the council will consider in the coming months include:
- Suspending alternate side of the street parking on the birthdays of Lord Krishna and Lord Buddha.
- Raising the legal age to buy tobacco to 19 years.
- Requiring two-way radios and tracking devices in school buses.
- Requiring new financial data from non-profit agencies that receive city contracts worth $100,000 or more.
- Allowing hybrid taxicabs to use bus lanes.
- Regulating horse-drawn carriages and bicycle pedicabs.
- And preventing the eviction of elderly tenants.

The City Council also announced its schedule of hearings on the mayor's preliminary budget, which will run from March 6 to March 23. For a full calendar of hearings, visit the council's Web site.

The next Stated Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 1, 2006.