New York City Council Stated Meeting Report

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.

STATED MEETING - April 21, 2004

Quote of the Day:

"We will extend the [airport] leases until the year 2050 and the terms of the lease, I believe, are extraordinary for the city of New York." - City Councilmember Melinda Katz on the new airport agreement between the Port Authority and the city.

Meeting Summary:

The New York City Council approved a landuse measure as part of a new 35-year lease agreement between the city and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports. Under the agreement, the city will get more annual rent for the two airports and $700 million for missed payments in the past.

For decades, the city and the Port Authority have argued over how much the city should get in rent for its airports. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani fought to renegotiate the lease and tried to take over control of the airports. (Read more on the history of the airport lease.)

Ending years of stalemate between the two sides, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the agreement last fall. The City Council's action relates to the property on which the airports sit. The mayor must now hold a public hearing on the specific terms of the lease.

Under the current agreement - which expires in 2015 - the city receives $3.5 million a year in rent from the Port Authority. The new lease will raise the rent to $93.5 million a year, or eight percent of the gross revenues, whichever is greater. The $700 million payment is also an essential part of the city's current budget plan. The new lease extends to the year 2050.

An eight-member advisory board will also be created, consisting of the Queens borough president, three members appointed by the city, and four appointed by Port Authority. A community advisory board will also be established to help neighborhoods near the airports voice concerns about issues like noise, flight patterns, and pollution.

However, not all of the council members agreed that the new lease is a good deal for the city.

Brooklyn City Councilmember David Yassky said the council had not been given enough information and did not explore all of the possible options. The Port Authority, he said, still makes over $100 million a year in profit under the new agreement, which will subsidize other projects in the city, across the state, and in New Jersey.

"Anyone who thinks that New York City is getting our fair share of that is dead wrong," said Yassky.

The measure passed by a vote of 48 to 1, with one abstention. Yassky voted "no" and Bronx Councilmember Oliver Koppell "abstained."

The council also passed a bill (Intro 4) requiring carbon monoxide detectors in apartments, private homes, hotels, certain hospitals, schools that have oil burning furnaces or boilers. In January and February of 2004, four New York City residents were killed by carbon monoxide leaks in two buildings.

The City Council also renamed 94 city streets, the majority after people who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11. Several streets were also renamed after New York City soldiers who died in the war in Iraq.

The next Stated Meeting is scheduled for May 5, 2004.

For an archive of past meetings and council votes, visit Gotham Gazette's Searchlight.

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