Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

City Council Stated Meeting Report: January 19, 2004

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.

Quotes of the Day:

"[The Far West Side] will not only be a 24-7 community; this is a precedent setting application and rezoning because of the affordable housing that will now be contained in this district." - Councilmember Melinda Katz

"Tragically enough, if you're trying to find out about what car to buy, or what toaster oven to buy, until now it has been a lot easier to get that information than to find out about child care centers and whether they're safe." - Councilmember Bill Deblasio

Meeting Summary:

After a hearty debate, the City Council approved a plan to rezone a 59 square block area on the Far West Side of Manhattan. By voting to approve the plan, the council agreed to a deal made last week between the Council Speaker Gifford Miller and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Proponents of the resolution (resolution 760) pointed to the increase in affordable housing as the plan's greatest virtue. The plan provides for about 28 percent of housing built to be affordable, a significant increase from the 19 percent included in the previous plan. To accommodate the existing community, the density of commercial development in certain areas was lowered.

In exchange, the City Council agreed to pay for a greater percentage of the plan upfront, a move supporters say will save the city upwards of $1 billion.

Speaker Miller took pains to point out that no money used to fund the rezoning would be used for a proposed football stadium - which he opposes - or to extend the Javits Convention Center.

"I will continue to fight against it because I think it's wrong," Miller said of the stadium. "But it's not before the Council, unfortunately. I wish it were." Miller declined to comment on whether the Council would consider a resolution voicing opposition to the stadium.

The mayor immediately issued a statement praising the resolutions, but several councilmembers expressed concern. Councilmember James Sanders said he was uncomfortable with the definition of affordable housing. Councilmember Charles Barron described the incentives given to developers to create affordable housing as a tax break. Councilmember Lewis Fidler joined him in saying that the Council should wait to consider the plan until after seeing Mayor Bloomberg's preliminary budget later this month. They were the only two "No" votes in a 45 to 2 vote in favor of the resolution.

The council also unanimously passed a package of legislation intended to make it easier for parents to get information about conditions at day care centers. The four bills (Intros 516-A, 473-A, 475-A, and 522) require the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide quarterly reports on childcare to the City Council, and to make inspection reports of childcare centers available through its Web site and the city's 311phone system. Childcare centers must also post signs near entrances telling parents how to access reports on conditions.

The reforms were the result of a high profile case this summer in which seven-month old Matthew Perilli suffocated in an understaffed daycare center in Forest Hills. His parents, Vincent and Maria, attended the council meeting yesterday, and urged the city to enforce the new legislation.

The council also unanimously overrode the mayor's veto on a bill (94-A) that establishes a minimum amount of service for the Staten Island Ferry.

Three councilmembers also received new committee chairmanships:

  • Councilmember Domenic Recchia to chair the Cultural Affairs Committee
  • Councilmember Michael Nelson to chair the Small Business Committee
  • Councilmember G. Oliver Koppell to chair the Revenue and Forecast Subcommittee, part of the Finance Committee.



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