Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation Requiring Single-Occupant Bathrooms to be Usable by Persons of Any Gender

June 28, 2016

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed six pieces of legislation – Intro. 871-A, in relation to ensuring equal access to single-occupant bathrooms for transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers; Intro. 1149-A, in relation to requiring ticket sellers to be licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs; Intro. 868-A, in relation to issuing an annual report on the implementation of Next Generation 911; Intro. 851-B, in relation to protecting against the harassment of tenants who lease space for a commercial rather than residential nature; Intro. 775-A, in relation to creating timeframes for the landmark designation process; and Intro. 1223, in relation to reducing the use of carryout bags. The Mayor also held public hearings for Intros. 1122-A, 1123-A and 1128-A, in relation to increasing access to feminine hygiene products.

“Any New Yorker – no matter how they identify or express their gender – will now be able to use any public, single-occupant bathroom. With this bill, we take yet another step toward becoming a place where all can live with dignity, free from fear and free from judgment,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I would like to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership, Council Members Daniel Dromm and Corey Johnson for sponsoring this legislation, and the rest of the Council for their commitment to improving the lives of New Yorkers.”

"From providing better access to gender-neutral restrooms to modernizing our 911 system or updating our landmarks process, the Council is proud to make New York a better place for every resident to live," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "I thank all of my colleagues in the Council and the de Blasio Administration for their continued cooperation in addressing issues that impact New Yorkers in a positive way across all five boroughs."

The first bill, Intro. 871-A, requires single-occupant bathrooms be made usable by persons of any gender. Public facilities will have to post legible signs near the entrance of single-occupant bathrooms that the bathroom is accessible for people of all genders, gender identities and gender expressions. This bill does not require the physical alteration of a single-occupant bathroom, nor does this bill affect or alter the number of bathrooms in a building as otherwise required. Intro. 871-A builds on new legal guidance issued by the Commission on Human Rights and an Executive Order to make bathroom access safer for transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsors, Council Members Daniel Dromm and Corey Johnson.

“Most New Yorkers take their unfettered access to bathrooms for granted,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “Yet, every single day, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals must grapple with the fact that their choices may lead to harassment or worse. Designating single-stall bathrooms as all-gender is an easy way to create a welcoming environment for transgender and gender-nonconforming people. As an added bonus, anyone looking for an unoccupied bathroom will now have more options. Simply put, single-stall, all-gender bathrooms make sense. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues in the Council for supporting this important effort that positively impacts the lives of so many people across the five boroughs.”

“This important bill is an affirmation of our commitment to dignity and equality for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “When civil rights are under attack around the country, we in New York emphasize the importance of inclusion and diversity. By ensuring the availability of gender-neutral accommodations, we are strengthening our values as New Yorkers and promoting acceptance and inclusivity in our society. I thank Council Member Daniel Dromm for his incredible leadership on this issue, as well as Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark Viverito and my City Council colleagues for this profound piece of legislation.”

The second bill, Intro. 1149-A, requires that ticket sellers be licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs. They will be required to wear their licenses openly, in addition to an outer garment that makes their profession clear. The license is valid for one year and the commissioner of Department of Consumer Affairs will be able to revoke licenses if an applicant fails to answer a civil or criminal summons or pay fines or penalties two or more times within a one year period. The commissioner will also be able to immediately suspend a license if the holder poses an exigent danger to the public. This bill will give the City the tools needed to keep consumers safe without jeopardizing the industry that helps the City’s economy thrive. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Daniel Garodnick.

"There have been far too many instances of illegal street ticket-sellers taking advantage of the public. Many of the victims are tourists and other individuals who have no effective way of distinguishing legitimate ticket-sellers from con artists. This legislation will help prospective consumers avoid the ‘scammers’ while ultimately benefiting the legitimate ticket vendors," said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.

"By requiring ticket sellers to get licenses, we are taking an important step to increase protections for city residents and tourists alike,” said Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “While we know that the majority of ticket sellers are hardworking New Yorkers trying to earn an honest living, we have seen too many examples of false advertising, exorbitant pricing and even physical violence in the ticket selling business. This law ensures that anyone who wants to contribute to our economy by taking a ferry ride or catching a comedy show is safe when they are buying tickets.”

“We are fighting back against scammers and hucksters, who prey on tourists every day with very little consequence,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “This licensing scheme is a way to bring this under control and to deal with those bad actors.”

“While I believe that the majority of ticket sellers in the city contribute positively to the tourism sector, there has been a subset of sellers that has generated dozens of complaints and arrests for aggressive behavior and fraudulent sales over the past several years. This subset of individual ticket sellers have been accused of intentionally misleading potential buyers by promising shows that will feature prominent comedians, or involve a television taping to secure purchases. These types of fraudulent and aggressive practices cannot be left unchecked, and it is my hope that by enacting this bill, they will be eliminated,” said Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr., Chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs.

The third bill, Intro. 868-A, requires the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, in consultation with the Police Department and Fire Department, to issue an annual report on the implementation of Next Generation 911. The reporting will include information on current implementation plans, planned next steps, the steps taken towards implementation, a description of the feasibility of implementing a 911 text message transmission capability before full implementation of Next Generation 911 and any other information deemed relevant by the Commissioner of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Upon determining that Next Generation 911 has been fully implemented or that no further implementation will occur, a final report will be issued. This bill is part of a strategy for upgrading the City’s 911 system so that it incorporates a range of next generation applications like photos, videos and text messages. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsors, Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson.

“From mass shootings and acts of terrorism to the rise in violence against women, we live in a tumultuous climate that requires the adaptation of text to 911 capabilities within the City of New York. With more than 8.4 million residents, our city is one of the largest municipalities in the United States that does not have an emergency communications system in place that would allow citizens to seek assistance by sending text messages, photos and videos to 911 operators and police dispatchers without endangering their lives by alarming the perpetrator(s) of a crime. The passage of Intro. 868-A ensures that New Yorkers in dire situations will be served more effectively through the use of smart technology to create a safer and more connected city. Additionally, this bill would help expand our capacity to better communicate with youth; LGBTQ; legal and undocumented immigrants; the deaf; speech-impaired; and mute communities. I look forward to working with the administration, NYPD and DoITT towards the implementation of a 21st century emergency communications system within the City of New York,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.

“The implementation of Next Generation 911 will be a giant leap forward for emergency communication capabilities in New York City,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Committee on Technology. “The ability to text 911 is a common-sense feature that will increase access to emergency services. Those with hearing or speech disabilities will benefit tremendously from the ability to text and connect with 911 using other digital means. In addition, it will provide alternative connection methods for those in the midst of a home invasion, a domestic violence episode, or other active situation where it might be dangerous to speak on the phone. I look forward to the full implementation of the entire Next Generation 911 system. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, along with Council Members Cumbo and Levine for their attention to this important bill.”

"Today we take the next step in integrating 21st Century technology to our current emergency services system. Text to 911 isn't a new concept, but rather it gives us an opportunity to enhance emergency services for New Yorkers most in need," said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. "Texting has become a dominant form of communication and devising a system to provide New Yorkers the opportunity to text or send images in an emergency will expand our ability to provide real help, in real time, when its needed most. I thank my fellow bill sponsors Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Mark Levine as well as Chair of the Committee on Technology Council Member Jimmy Vacca for their partnership on this effort, DoITT for their willingness to embrace new emergency services technology, and Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for their continued commitment to the safety of all New Yorkers."

The fourth bill, Intro. 851-B, creates a private right of action for commercial tenants that suffer harassment by landlords to protect against the harassment of tenants who lease space for a commercial rather than residential nature. It specifies acts and omissions, on the part of landlords, that would constitute non-residential tenant harassment, such as interrupting services the landlord must provide under a lease with the intent to cause a tenant to vacate. The bill also specifies what does not constitute commercial tenant harassment – for example, lawful terminations of a lease – and includes an affirmative defense for certain claims. If a judge finds that commercial tenant harassment has occurred, civil penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 will be imposed. Injunctive relief, equitable relief and compensatory or punitive damages as well as reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs may be awarded as well. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Robert Cornegy.

“SBS is committed to helping small businesses start, operate and grow – and it is imperative that they are treated fairly by commercial landlords so that the City can maintain the longevity and diversity of its commercial corridors," said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “I want to thank Council Member Cornegy for his leadership in bringing forward this historic piece of legislation, which delivers invaluable tools allowing small businesses to defend themselves against harassment. This legislation is an important complement to the pre-emptive legal support that SBS provides on commercial leasing issues, which we will continue to expand."

Council Member Robert Cornegy, Chair of the Committee on Small Business, said, “Intro 851 is the first bill of its kind and represents a significant step forward for the small business community of New York City. With real estate prices rising and the city gentrifying, predatory landlords are harassing small business owners while concurrently raising rents to levels that make it impossible for commercial tenants to stay in business. This law will serve as a deterrent against landlords that try to extort higher rents by harassing their tenants until they pay up or move out.”

The fifth bill, Intro. 775-A, creates timeframes for the landmark designation process: one year for individual landmarks and two years for historic districts. This bill is in line with ongoing work the Landmarks Preservation Commission is already doing to bring greater clarity, transparency and efficiency to the landmark designation process. The final version of the bill does not include a moratorium that would have prevented the LPC from reconsidering a property or district for five years if it was not completed by the deadline. In the final bill, individual properties or historic districts may still be reconsidered for designation at any time. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsors, Council Members Peter Koo and David Greenfield.

“Our primary goal has been to ensure that the designation process is efficient, transparent and equitable. We appreciate the Council’s willingness to work with the Commission to modify Intro. 775. As approved, this legislation allows us to meet our common goals and maintain the flexibility necessary to carry out our mission,” said Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

"Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, a policy that has allowed our city to preserve and protect some of our greatest architectural achievements for generations to come. The bill we are signing today has always been about bringing predictability and accountability to this process, which, despite its many laudable accomplishments, has also allowed dozens of properties to remain in a perpetual state of limbo due to a lack of deadlines. Good government dictates nothing less than reasonable expectations for all involved in every level of government, and I'm happy we were able to work together to bring these worthy principles to our New York City landmarks. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Viverito, Council Member David Greenfield, the entire Land Use division and to everyone who spent their energy on making this a reality," said Council Member Peter Koo.

"Today we are bringing a long-overdue measure of transparency and predictability to our city's landmarking process by enacting binding deadlines. This bill will maintain our city’s strong protections for historic properties and neighborhoods while also rescuing property owners from what has too often been decades of languishing in ‘landmarks limbo.’ I want to thank my colleague and co-sponsor, Council Member Peter Koo and the land use staff for their hard work, as well as Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio for their leadership and vision on this issue," said Council Member David G. Greenfield.

The sixth bill, Intro. 1223, extends the effective date of Local Law 63 of 2016, which would require – with common-sense exceptions – retail, convenience and grocery stores to charge five-cents for each plastic and paper non-reusable bag. This bill will move the effective date from October 1, 2016 to February 15, 2017 and will move the six-month warning period during which warnings would be given instead of fines for covered stores who don’t comply with the law, from October 1, 2016 and ending March 31, 2016 to February 15, 2017 and ending August 14, 2017. In addition, now covered stores will be able to give away reusable bags free of charge from February 15, 2017 to April 30, 2017. According to the Department of Sanitation, 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 because they frequently get caught in tree branches, get washed into storm sewers and end up in waterways. This bill gives the City more time to educate the public and other lawmakers about the law and the thought that went into the bill. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsors, Council Members Brad Lander, Margaret Chin and Antonio Reynoso, and Public Advocate Letitia James.

Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Nilda Mesa, said, "This bill will dramatically reduce plastic bag pollution in New York City. The key to success will be having enough time for New Yorkers to get used to a new system and make the switch, and this bill helps. As a long-time resident of Harlem, I look forward to the day when looking up at trees I’ll see only branches and leaves. I also look forward to having my streets and sidewalks free of those bags as well as not having them wash down our street drains into our waterways, polluting our marine environment.”

“Intro. 1223 will give the City additional time to work with Albany to ensure even better implementation and outreach regarding our efforts to encourage more New Yorkers to bring reusable bags, and to reduce the staggering number of single-use bags thrown out every year,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “I thank Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito for their leadership in the fight for a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly City.”

The seventh bill, Intro. 1122-A, would require the Department of Correction to ensure that all female inmates are guaranteed access to feminine hygiene products, codifying an existing practice into law. This bill reaffirms that everyone under the care of the City should have access to the hygiene products they need. Intro. 1122-A will be signed at a later date. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsors, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

The eighth bill, Intro. 1123-A, would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to make available feminine hygiene products to agencies that operate temporary shelters or have oversight of providers operating temporary shelters. This includes the Department of Homeless Services family shelters and single adult shelters; HIV/AIDS Services Administration shelters; and Human Resources Administration domestic violence shelters. The bill also requires DCAS to make such products available to youth in secure detention facilities, and youth awaiting placement with a licensed foster care agency in congregate care facilities, both of which are operated by the Administration for Children’s Services. This bill will be signed at a later date. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsors, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Stephen Levin.

The ninth bill, Intro. 1128-A, would require the Department of Education to make feminine hygiene products available to students in the bathrooms of school buildings, free of charge. This policy will apply to school buildings in which there are students in grades 6 to 12, including charter schools in DOE controlled and operated spaces. This bill changes existing practices in many school buildings where the distribution of pads and tampons differed by school. Intro. 1128-A will be signed at a later date. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsors, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.
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