"Good morning, Chairman Comrie and members of the Consumer Affairs Committee.
I am Jonathan Mintz, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs. I am
pleased to have the opportunity to comment in support of the proposed amendments
to the pedicab licensing law. We were delighted to work with the Speaker, her
staff, and others on the Council to identify a way to break the logjam that has
led to the last two years' frustration in our mutual efforts to license this
industry, hold its members accountable to the public, and increase public safety
through insurance requirements, pedicab equipment requirements and inspections,
and other appropriate provisions of Local Law 19.
"It's worth noting that despite the many good faith disagreements that
preceded this point in time, there is significant agreement among members of the
Council, the Administration, and the pedicab industry itself, that a sensible
and enforceable approach to regulation was, and continues to be, desirable and
in everyone's best interests. I can also add on behalf of the Department of
Consumer Affairs, specifically, that we have been champing at the bit to be
enabled to ensure that this industry is held accountable to the public for safe
operations. These proposed amendments go a long way toward making that happen.
With the exception of a couple inadvertent drafting glitches, which I will
address later, the path toward enabling DCA to do its job now seems clear.
"First, the bill substitutes the original approach to a license cap with a
60-day window during which pedicab owners can apply for their business licenses
and as many as 30 pedicab registration plates each. After the 60 days, the
window closes on the registration of additional pedicab vehicles until this
provision of the law sunsets in 18 months. I would note that the current
language inadvertently fails to include the 30-cab cap per licensee in that same
sunset provision. I would also note that the proposed cap does not limit the
number or timing for pedicab driver licenses.
"Additionally, the bill provides for the orderly transfer of registration
plates. Given the limited application window, a sensible transfer provision is
of vital importance. The current bill creates a smart transfer system by
allowing pedicab owners, with the Commissioner's approval, the opportunity to
sell or purchase licensed pedicab vehicles as their businesses respond to market
"This bill strives to balance the public's need for speedy transition to
licensing and safety requirements with the smooth operational transition for
those currently engaged day in and day out in the industry. It seeks to cushion
the impact of implementation by providing for 40 days' notice after it takes
effect before the 60-day licensing window opens to pedicab businesses.
Presumably and hopefully, to the extent that they haven't already, this will
allow industry members the time they need to take all steps necessary to settle
their business plans, secure insurance, and retrofit their vehicles in
preparation for DCA inspections. After the 40 days, the Department would begin
accepting and reviewing applications for licenses and pedicab registrations,
inspecting pedicabs for compliance with the safety equipment and insurance
requirements, issuing the business and driver licenses, and affixing pedicab
registration plates to pedicabs that have passed DCA's inspection scrutiny.
"Unfortunately, the current draft of this bill would place pedicab businesses
and drivers in an unnecessary and in fact impossible business situation. It
requires that businesses be licensed before the start of the 60-day license
application period. While I have always been inordinately proud of the DCA
Licensing Center's prowess, even we cannot bend time and space to make that
feasible! To avoid putting hardworking pedicab businesses and drivers out of
work for months and also creating chaos in a Licensing Center that already
serves over 120,000 businesses a year, the Administration has a simple
recommendation. While the amended bill should hold pedicab businesses and
drivers still responsible for the safety requirements, the requirement for
holding licenses should be held specifically in abeyance until the close of the
60-day license application window.
"One other minor timing issue bears mentioning. The law specifies that
business licenses and plates may not be issued for more than one year. As the
licensing system was initially constructed over two years ago, however, licenses
for pedicab businesses are slated to expire at the beginning of November each
year. Given the proximity between the presumed issuance of the first year of
pedicab business licenses and the November 1 expiration date, the bill before
you needs to be amended to allow the initial licenses and plates to be good for
a period longer than a year so that they would expire in 2010 rather than a few
months from now. Additionally, the Administration proposes some language that
will tighten the efficiency of the pedicab inspection process, including holding
businesses responsible for failing to produce a pedicab at a scheduled
"Thanks to the hard work of Council and Administration staff, with the
support of so many in the pedicab industry, and with these minor tweaks, New
Yorkers and our many millions of visitors will be able very soon to enjoy a
safer, more accountable pedicab experience. A DCA-licensed business and driver
will know to adhere to the rules of fair play as well as the rules of the road;
and a DCA-licensed pedicab vehicle will be equipped with seat belts, proper
brakes, and turn signals and will have to prove it to us and our colleagues in
the Police Department on a regular basis.
"Thank you. I'd be happy to take any of your questions."