Secondary Navigation

Mayor de Blasio Holds Public Hearing for Legislation Encouraging New Yorkers to Use Reusable Carryout Bags

May 10, 2016

Signs legislation protecting building service workers under transitioning management

Also signs package of legislation creating a more equitable fee structure at the Department of Buildings

NEW YORK––Mayor de Blasio today held a public hearing for legislation requiring stores to charge a fee of at least five cents for single-use carryout bags provided to customers in an effort to encourage people to use reusable bags when shopping. The Department of Sanitation projects that this bill could reduce paper bag waste – which have clogged water systems and littered City streets – by approximately 60 percent.

“Intro. 209-A strikes the right balance, reducing reliance on single-use bags and incentivizing the use of reusable bags, while safeguarding consumers with some logical exemptions to protect vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This bill is integral to OneNYC – our commitment to sending Zero Waste to landfills by 2030 – a necessary goal that will create a more sustainable City. I would like to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Vivertio and Council Members Lander and Chin for sponsoring Intro. 209-A . I look forward to signing this bill.”

"Whether it's protecting New Yorkers who suffered property damage in natural disasters, making our youth athletic leagues safer for young athletes, or improving job security for building workers, the Council is proud to continue its work on behalf of all New Yorkers," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "I thank my colleagues on the City Council and the de Blasio administration for their partnership in making our city a better place for all to live across the five boroughs."

The first bill, Intro. 209-A, requires stores to charge a fee of at least five cents for each carryout bag provided to a customer. This bill includes exemptions for take-out or delivery orders from restaurants, produce, meats, fish and dairy product bags without handles used within grocery stores and bags provided by pharmacies prescription medications. The fee is also waived for customers using food stamps and for emergency food providers, such as food pantries. Stores will also be able to provide their customers with reusable carryout bags free of charge for a two-week period from October 1, 2016, to October 14, 2016 and for a two-week period each year thereafter from April 17 to April 30. Intro. 209-A also includes requirements for a robust campaign to educate the public on reducing single-use carryout bags and increasing the use of reusable carryout bags. By 2019, the Department of Sanitation will issue a study exploring a variety of aspects on this law and its effect on residents, including whether the law has reduced the number of single-use plastic or paper carryout bags used by residents. Making this effort successful will also require close coordination between the City and local businesses. That is why the administration is pleased to partner with the Food Industry Alliance and New York Metropolitan Retail Association, representing New York City’s largest retailers and grocery stores, to help distribute reusable bags to New Yorkers. This bill strikes the right balance, reducing reliance on single-use bags and incentivizing the use of reusable bags, while safeguarding consumers with some logical exemptions to protect vulnerable New Yorkers. The Department of Sanitation projects that the five-cent fee could reduce plastic and paper bag waste by approximately 60 percent, based on the experiences of other cities. The bill will be signed by Mayor de Blasio at a later date.

The Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said, “I am thrilled that City Council has passed a fee on single-use bags. New Yorkers throw out 10 billion bags every year, and it costs the City $12.5 million to dispose of them. Single-use plastic bags are especially problematic. They frequently blow onto branches of trees, get washed into storm sewers and end up in our waterways. They also often jam the sorting machines at recycling facilities. We look forward to working with the Council, the business community and all New Yorkers to reduce the number of single-use bags disposed in New York City.”

“From ensuring that businesses are keeping their doors closed while the air conditioning is on to helping to reduce plastic bag consumption in our city, DCA is proud to be one of the agencies charged with enforcing key laws that will go a long way to protect our environment and realize the Mayor’s goal of a greener, more resilient New York,” said Department of Consumer Affairs First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico. “As always, we will be focused on educating small businesses in many languages about the law as it goes into effect, helping them come into compliance before beginning enforcement."

“Regular testing confirms that New York Harbor is cleaner today than it has been in over 100 years, but far too often we still find plastic bags fouling our waterways,” said Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Steven Lawitts. “This new law is a sensible way to encourage New Yorkers to take a reusable bag with them when they shop, which will help protect our shared environment and the City’s wastewater treatment plants.”

Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Nilda Mesa said, “New York is a city of islands. The plastic bags we use often wind up in our sewer system and out into our rivers and waterways, with an estimated 165 million plastic particles floating around at any given time. We anticipate that this law will cut down on pollution on land and sea, improving the marine environment and making our waterways more sustainable, an important goal for all New Yorkers.”

“New York City is taking a big step forward to get rid of the 9 billion plastic bags we waste each year. Intro 209-A, the Bring Your Own Bag bill, will eliminate tens of thousands of tons of solid waste, save the City millions, reduce truck trips in communities of color and help clean up our trees, parks, playgrounds, streets, beaches, oceans,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “In city after city, a small fee on single-use carryout bags has been overwhelmingly successful in getting people to bring their own reusable bags when they shop – across lines of race, income, and age – and generated a 60 percent to 90 percent drop in plastic bag waste. New Yorkers will start bringing reusable bags to avoid the fee, and together we will drastically cut back on the number of bags we use. Thank you to my Council colleagues for voting in support of the bill, and to Mayor de Blasio for holding today’s hearing.”

Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, said, “New Yorkers send 91,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills every year, which means these bags account for more than 7,000 truck trips every year. These trucks travel primarily to low-income communities of color, causing high levels of asthma and other respiratory problems, noise pollution, and dangerous streets. Reducing plastic bag waste is just one part of the City’s larger goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030, and reaching this goal will make a huge difference in quality-of-life in these environmental justice communities. I want to thank my colleagues for their hard work and support of this legislation, and look forward to working with all Councilmembers and the Department of Sanitation to coordinate reusable bag giveaways, so we can ensure that every New Yorker who wants to make the switch can do so easily.”

The second bill, Intro. 1006-A, removes the requirement that motion picture projectionists obtain a license from the City. Currently, motion picture projectionists must obtain a license from the Department of Consumer Affairs. To obtain a license, applicants must pass an exam on safety measures when using 35mm film projectors, which may use highly flammable film. This requirement is largely outdated as nearly all movie theaters – both in New York City and nationally – use digital film projection. Digital film projection is much safer and does not use flammable materials. For those theaters that continue to project non-digital film, rules and regulations promulgated by the State Department of Labor impose requirements to ensure safety in the use, handling and storage of non-digital film and the Fire Code regulates the handling, use and storage of cellulose nitrate films. This legislation is part of the City’s ongoing efforts to improve and modernize requirements on businesses. Removing this requirement will improve the ease of doing business in the theater industry without in any way compromising safety. This bill will be signed by the Mayor at a later date. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Rafael Espinal.

"At the Department of Consumer Affairs, we believe that it is not only our job to protect consumers, but also to reduce onerous burdens on businesses where they might exist," said First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs Alba Pico. "In this digital era, the repeal of the Motion Picture Projectionist License category, one originally created to regulate the usage of now-outdated and rarely-used equipment, is an example of how government can appropriately respond to changes in the marketplace while ensuring consumers aren't harmed.”

“The NYC Department of Small Business Services is committed to the goals outlined in the Mayor’s ‘Small Business First’ plan, which aims to make government more efficient in helping businesses to open, operate and expand,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “This bill eliminates an obsolete requirement within the motion picture sector, and properly aligns government with the needs of a rapidly evolving industry.”

The third bill, Intro. 902-A, requires youth baseball leagues to have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) when playing on Parks or DCAS ballfields. The City will provide AEDs and training in the use of AEDs to the leagues. These leagues would be required to bring an AED to every game and practice. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Steven Matteo, and co-prime sponsor, Council Member Corey Johnson.

“Defibrillators can save lives, if they are in the right place at the right time,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “I applaud the Mayor for signing this important piece of legislation, which could save the life of a young baseball player or spectator should the need ever arise. Congratulations to the Council Members and advocates who championed this policy.”

“At NYC Parks it's our job to make sure that youth get the chance to safely participate in sports and fitness activities. This new bill supports that effort and for that we thank the City Council for leading the discussion, and Mayor de Blasio for signing the bill into law,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.

“The City is committed to providing a safe and healthy playing environment for all of our families. This bill further demonstrates that commitment by offering life-saving equipment to the children and families who are involved in little league baseball at DCAS fields,” said Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camilo.

"This legislation will save lives, by making automated external defibrillators and training on how to properly use them available, free of cost, to thousands of little league teams across the city. I want to thank Council Committee Chair Corey Johnson for his partnership and dedication to making this a reality and my Council colleagues and Mayor de Blasio for their support. This bill is just another step in our efforts to make more of these indispensable lifesaving tools available for all New Yorkers,” said Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo.

“I’m incredibly proud to see this lifesaving legislation signed into law,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “New Yorkers deserve the highest standards of safety, and this legislation delivers on that promise. The fact is that when cardiac arrest strikes, every second matters. Because of this bill, there will be life-or-death situations that we will be equipped to respond to more quickly. I am particularly grateful for the outstanding work of Minority Leader Steve Matteo, who has been an extraordinary leader throughout this legislative process.”

The fourth bill, Intro. 1004-A, strengthens a law passed in 2002, the Displaced Building Services Worker Protection Act, and mandates that whenever a building service worker gets displaced because of a change in building ownership or a transfer of contract, the new owner or contractor must retain the workers for a period of 90 days. After the 90-day transition period, the successor employer or contractor would be required to evaluate the employees and offer continued employment if his or her employment is deemed satisfactory. No less than 15 days before the sale or change in control, the incumbent owner or contractor must post a notice with information regarding the change in control and employees’ rights during the transition. This bill will help prevent employers from shutting their doors on individuals and families who depend on these incomes to get by. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Robert Cornegy.

Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. said, “Service work is honorable work and the families who made their livings, bought homes and raised families on these jobs built communities like the ones I represent. We could not allow the original Displaced Building Service Workers Act to become obsolete. With the help of 32BJ and other building service workers across the city, I am proud that we updated this model law to keep pace with the changing times. Building service workers and their families are still worthy of and in need of reasonable protections to keep their jobs secure at times of transition. Today’s bill signifies the progress we as a city are making to improve family life in all boroughs.”

“I am pleased to once again be here today for a new law that will protect some of the most vulnerable workers in our City. Intro. 1004 will enhance the rights of those who keep our buildings safe and clean with an increased salary cap, additional titles, and extends the protections to include sub-contractors as well,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “This law now also covers buildings that are over 35 thousand square feet, bringing in even more people who will be protected under these provisions. I would like to thank Councilman Robert Cornegy for working with me on this legislation and Mayor Bill de Blasio for signing the bill into law.”

The fifth bill, Intro.448-A, codifies existing practices within the Department of Buildings, and officially require that owners or occupants of buildings shall not be subject to a civil or criminal penalty for violations resulting from work done by a City employee, or party under contract with the City, in response to a natural or man-made disaster, provided that such condition was cured either by the recipient or the City. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Alan Maisel.

“The Buildings Department strongly supports enshrining in law DOB’s existing policy of not issuing violations for damage sustained during a natural disaster or for work performed to address an immediately hazardous condition. We are also pleased that the Mayor signed into law Department-sponsored legislation to reduce filing fees for homeowners and ensure that large projects are assessed fees commensurate with the work required to approve them,” said Rick D. Chandler, PE, Commissioner of the Department of Buildings.

"It is critical that the city not penalize property owners for joining a city recovery program that elected officials and city agencies direct them to join in the aftermath of a natural or manmade disaster. This legislation creates a process to protect building owners from civil and criminal penalties when the violation is for repair work done by a city disaster recovery program or its contractor. It also provides for a possible waiver or refund for any such violations previously issued since Superstorm Sandy,” said Council Member Alan Maisel.

The sixth bill, Intro. 1037-A also codifies existing practices within the Department of Buildings, and officially require that owners or occupants of buildings affected by disasters shall not be subject to civil or criminal penalties for building code violations immediately after such disaster or while enrolled in a disaster recovery program. This bill also creates an affirmative defense to sanitation violations for failure to maintain a property, when issued immediately after a disaster, and for failure to maintain a property or failure to remove snow when the owner or occupant is displaced and the property is undergoing or scheduled for work in a recovery program. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Mark Treyger.

Director of the Office of Housing Recovery Amy Peterson said, “We appreciate the continued partnership of Council Member Treyger, Council Member Maisel, and the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency in working to broaden resources and reduce red-tape for Sandy-impacted New Yorkers. These bills will expand on practices that the City has long stood by – to make sure that those still recovering will be given the assistance they deserve.”

The seventh bill, Intro. 831-A, creates a more equitable fee structure at the Department of Buildings. Major development fees have not been adjusted in nearly a quarter of a century – since 1991 – and in the decades since then, development projects have increased significantly in number and grown in size and complexity. The City must expend significantly more resources to ensure projects are safe and compliant with the City’s Codes. This legislation will ensure that fees are updated to accurately reflect the services provided. The updated fee schedules include higher fees for the bigger, more complex projects and will decrease fees for projects involving 1, 2, and 3 family homes. This legislation will enable the Department of Buildings to provide essential services and ensure the safety and compliance of development projects throughout the City in a more equitable way. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Jumaane Williams, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings.

The eighth bill, Intro. 1118, extends J-51 benefits to conversions, alterations and improvements completed by June 30, 2019. In New York City, housing, including affordable housing and particularly older buildings, are in need of repairs – new heating or plumbing, windows and other necessary capital improvements. In conjunction, the eighth bill, Intro. 1119, extends the sunset date for tax eligibility for real property tax law exemptions and abatements for owners rehabilitating certain Class B buildings, Single Room Occupancy housing, and not-for-profit institutions with sleeping accommodations. The legislation extends eligibility for eligibility commencement prior to December 31, 2019. J-51 benefits are an essential tool to financing the maintenance and preservation of buildings across the city including affordable housing by providing exemptions from taxes on any increase in assessed valuation resulting from these improvements and related abatement of property taxes. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor Council Member Jumaane Williams, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings.

“It is important to preserve investments made in New York City’s existing housing stock. Mayor de Blasio’s actions today will allow us to extend the affordability of numerous homes across the city,” said Vicki Been, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “I would like to thank City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Jumaane Williams and Department of Finance Commissioner Jiha for their dedication and commitment to making New York City a more affordable city for the long-term benefit of all New Yorkers.”

"I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and the administration for signing three pieces of legislation that I sponsored, Intros 831, 1118 and 1119, into law. Homeowners should not be deterred from making needed improvements to their properties for fear of an onerous tax bill. Renewing the J51 tax incentive will encourage property owners to make renovations and upgrades to their properties. We’ll also modernize the fee structure for permits filed to the Department of Buildings, making it less onerous for small property owners to obtain permits. I look forward to continuing conversations with the Administration, Speaker and stakeholders on how we continue to improve these programs in the months and years ahead,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings.

The ninth bill, Intro. 809-A, furthers our goals of reducing crime; unnecessary arrests and incarceration; promoting fairness; and building strong and safe neighborhoods. This bill does three things: identifies 35 priority areas with higher levels of crime as compared to the entire City; reports on the current provision of certain City services in and around those areas; and requires the creation of a plan to coordinate services to these areas. Intro. 809 will help the City analyze the provision of services offered or funded by Human Resources Administration, the Department of Homeless Services, Department of Education, Department of Buildings, Housing Preservation and Development, FDNY, NYCHA and other agencies in these 35 priority areas. The City also will create a plan to coordinate services in the 35 priority areas and will share the plan with the Mayor and Council. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, and co-prime sponsor, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“Decreasing crime in our community goes beyond the traditional work of law enforcement. We know that criminal activity doesn’t happen in a vacuum and occurs more frequently in areas of high poverty and low opportunity. By examining City Agencies’ work in high crime areas and legislating their increased coordination, this Council will be innovating a new method of fighting crime that will yield a safer and healthier City. I am proud to have sponsored this legislation and to be spearheading the effort to make public safety everyone’s responsibility. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for their commitment to a holistic approach to criminal justice and my bill co-sponsor Council Member Ritchie Torres for his continued support of this important effort,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety.

Media Contact
(212) 788-2958