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Mayor de Blasio Signs Package of Legislation to Increase Gas Safety in NYC Buildings

December 6, 2016

Also signs bill to establish electric car charging pilot program

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today held public hearings for and signed 17 pieces of legislation into law – Intros. 738-A, 1079-A, 1088-A, 1090-A, 1093-A, 1094-A, 1098-A, 1100-A, 1101 and 1102, in relation to gas safety; Intro. 1124-A, in relation to establishing an electric vehicle charging station pilot program; Intro. 1138-A, in relation to establishing a task force on affordability, admissions and graduation rates at the City University of New York; Intro. 1228-B, in relation to amending the New York City charter to review the operations, policies, programs and practices of the Department of Correction; Intro. 300-A, in relation to the removal of snow and ice from fire hydrants; Intro. 1147-A, in relation to establishing an Office of Crime Victim Services; and Intros. 1213-A and 1214-A, in relation to services provided to NYCHA residents, including the Jobs-Plus program.

"Gas safety is important for all New Yorkers, and this legislative package will resolve numerous regulatory oversights. These bills will help protect tenants in the event of an outage, and require greater information sharing between City agencies and gas utilities to enhance safety," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Most importantly, these reforms will ensure both property owners and utility companies are accountable for keeping buildings safe."

"I would like to thank Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her continued support fighting for the safety of all New Yorkers and for sponsoring Intro. 1079-A. Additionally, I would like to thank Council Members Mark Levine, Rafael Espinal, Vanessa Gibson, Rosie Mendez, Donovan Richards, Ydanis Rodriguez, Jimmy Vacca and Jumaane Williams for sponsoring Intros. 738-A, 1088-A, 1090-A, 1093-A, 1094-A, 1098-A, 1100-A, 1101-A and 1102-A respectfully," said Mayor de Blasio.

"Ensuring meaningful oversight in New York City jails is paramount to our commitment to a fair and equitable criminal justice system," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "First proposed in my State of the City address earlier this year, establishing a permanent entity to monitor, review and report on DOC activity marks an important milestone toward achieving this goal. I thank Mayor de Blasio for signing this measure into law, and commend my fellow council members for their advocacy on this critical issue."

The first bill, Intro. 738-A, requires that all work on gas piping systems be done by a licensed master plumber, a person with a gas work qualification or a person with a limited gas work qualification. This bill also requires that such qualifications be issued by the Department of Buildings.

The second bill, Intro. 1079-A, requires the final inspection of gas pipe systems to be conducted by the Department of Buildings in the presence of the building holder or the superintendent of the building.

The third bill, Intro. 1088-A, requires building owners to have their gas piping systems inspected by a DOB qualified inspector every five years. This bill also requires building owners to report on any fixes or corrections which were made after this inspection.

The fourth bill, Intro. 1090-A, requires dwelling owners to deliver a notice to all current and prospective tenants with written guidance of what they should do if a gas leak is suspected or discovered.

The fifth bill, Intro. 1093-A, requires gas service operators and owners to notify the DOB within 24 hours of gas service being shut off in a building. Additionally, gas service operators and owners must notify the DOB within 24 hours if gas cannot be restored due to safety concerns.

The sixth bill, Intro. 1094-A, requires an agency or office designated by the Mayor, to identify potential risk factors that may indicate a hazard to health or safety. Some risk factors include unauthorized gas usage, abandoned structures or structures condemned by the City and unusual gas usage for small buildings.

The seventh bill, Intro. 1098-A, requires gas utility corporations to provide annual reports with information on gas asset conditions, a summary of major planned infrastructure projects and investment priorities over the next year. This report will be discussed with City officials each year after being submitted.

The eighth bill, Intro. 1100-A, requires the DOB to establish or adopt a standard governing the installation and location of natural gas detectors after an industry standard has been promulgated. Intro. 1100-A also require that owners install and maintain these detectors.

The ninth bill, Intro. 1101-A, requires the Commissioner of the DOB to establish a penalty waiver program, allowing building owners an opportunity to bring appliances and systems up to code without paying a penalty. Eligibility would be restricted to building owners who own more than one building with fuel gas piping systems.

The tenth bill, Intro. 1102-A, classifies certain violations as "immediately hazardous," including supplying or installing gas without a permit; operating an altered or newly installed gas piping system without first notifying the utility company; or operating an altered or newly installed piping system without completing a compliance inspection.

"I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and our partners in the City Council and in the construction industry for their effort on these bills. This package of legislation builds upon the Department's work to enhance gas safety for all New Yorkers, while further enhancing coordination between DOB's inspectors and utility companies," said Rick Chandler, P.E., Commissioner of the Department of Buildings.

"In a relatively short time we've seen a number of gas explosions take place in the City; many of them due to failures to report and handle gas leaks properly. To ensure the well-being of New Yorkers and first responders, it's vital we pass legislation that will implement and enforce a system of safety procedures followed by all building owners and plumbers," said Council Member Jumaane Williams, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings.

"Gas explosions are devastating, tragic and, in many cases, preventable. I applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Jumaane Williams for championing a package of bills that will set forth new regulations for monitoring gas installations and enact harsher punishments against those whose actions put the safety of their neighbors at risk, and I thank Mayor de Blasio for signing them into law today. As we continue to examine the potential impacts of our aging infrastructure, I look forward to continued conversations with all stakeholders, the Administration and the public in pursuit of a better and safer New York," said Council Member Vanessa Gibson.

"We saw several explosions over the last few years related to gas from Harlem to the East Village, so my bill looks to identify risk factors that could lead to another fatal incident and have the city take more action in this particular area," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "We want to have a more proactive approach before we have to lose more people to these catastrophes. There are risk factors that the City, working with the gas companies, can identify. We want to catch the bad actors, the people cutting corners to save a few dollars. If we can identify a cracked pipe or illegal hookup early, maybe we can prevent a tragedy. I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and all of my colleagues in the Council who sponsored this package of bills."

"In the wake of several gas related tragedies throughout New York City in recent years, it is time that we reform our laws in relation to gas piping systems," said Council Member Rafael Espinal. "I was shocked to learn that the City has required inspections for boilers, elevators, water tanks, water recycling systems, and sprinklers, but until now, no inspections for gas piping systems have been required. I am proud to be the lead sponsor of Intro 1088-A, which will ensure proper monitoring of gas piping systems to prevent future gas related incidents. I would like to thank Mayor de Blasio for signing this bill into law and applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, as well as, Chair Jumaane Williams on putting forth a comprehensive set of bills that will go a long way to ensuring lasting safety in our city."

"Natural gas alarms will make our multifamily dwellings much safer," said Council Member James Vacca. "I'm proud to sponsor legislation that will provide potentially lifesaving early warnings of a dangerous gas leak. We have seen horrible tragedies throughout our city due to natural gas explosions. By requiring natural gas alarms, we will treat natural gas leaks with the same care and concern we have for carbon monoxide and fires. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for their consideration of this legislation and the package as a whole."

"I am proud to work with my colleagues in the City Council to have introduced a package of legislation aimed at preventing another disaster. We have a duty as legislators to make sure that we hold individuals and agencies accountable, particularly when the public is a risk. Intro. 1093 would require gas service operators and building owners to notify the Department of Buildings ("DOB") within 24 hours when gas service to a building is shut-off or not restored based on safety concerns. Our city has had several gas explosions in recent years, in particular the East Harlem in 2014 and East Village Explosions in 2015 that caused several casualties, unspeakable damage and shook New Yorkers to our core. Intro. 1093 coupled with the other bills in this legislative package will NYC safer and ensure that the agencies are receiving information in real time that will go a long way to prevent future disasters," said Council Member Rosie Mendez.

"After the tragic east Harlem explosion, it was clear our gas regulations needed an upgrade to prevent these catastrophes going forward," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, sponsor of Intro. 1098. "The Council has responded with important measures aimed at ensuring gas workers are experienced and licensed and that companies are attentive to decaying infrastructure."

The eleventh bill, Intro.1124-A, requires the establishment of an electric vehicle charging station pilot program. This program requires the City to install at least 25 electric charging stations across the city, with at least two stations in each borough. The pilot program will end on March 1, 2020. The Electric Vehicle Advisory Committee will monitor the results of the program. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's co-sponsors, Council Members Costa Constantinides and Ydanis Rodriguez.

"Reaching our 80 x 50 greenhouse gas reduction goal requires greater use of electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them. This new local law launches an important effort to provide a public-access electric vehicle charging network that will empower New Yorkers to go electric when they purchase vehicles," said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and the Chief Resilience Officer for the Mayor's Office. "We applaud Council Members Constantinides and Rodriguez on their stewardship to make sure we can meet the growing demand for sustainable transportation options in all five boroughs."

"The adoption of electric vehicles is a critical component of the City's commitment to green the transportation sector within our 80 x 50 greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan," said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability. "The pilot program that goes into effect with today's signing keeps us on the path to delivering cleaner transportation options for all New Yorkers. We thank Council Members Constantinides and Rodriguez for their efforts, and look forward to working with them to implement, support and grow these types of sustainable programs."

"The City currently operates 356 charging stations for City owned fleet vehicles, the largest single EV charging network in NY State," said DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo. "As DCAS grows this fleet network even further, we look forward to also supporting public access to charging through this bill."

"Thank you to Council Members Constantinides and Rodriguez as well as to Mayor Bill de Blasio for their leadership in reducing carbon emissions in New York City," said Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "DOT already proudly hosts electric vehicle charging infrastructure at municipal lots in all five boroughs and the pilot established in this bill will help us to expand on this program to serve even more New Yorkers."

"Now more than ever, our City must implement innovative policies that decrease our reliance on traditional fossil fuels. Intro. 1124-A will help us reach our goal of reducing our carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 by encouraging sustainable habits. A pilot program for electric vehicle charging stations will encourage more New Yorkers to use electric cars – a more renewable energy source than traditional gasoline. I look forward to continuing to be global role models in sustainability and to lead on environmental policy. I thank Mayor de Blasio and my Council colleagues for their support of this important legislation," said Council Member Costa Constantinides.

"The intersections between transportation and environmental protection are abundant and encouraging more environmentally-friendly vehicles is a serious first step toward a more productive future," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation. "I'm proud to sponsor Intro. 1124-A, so that New Yorkers become more familiar with electric vehicles and begin to see the value in them. This is a classic, 'if you build it, they will come' scenario, and we as a city should do all we can to lower our impact on the environment."

The twelfth bill, Intro. 300-A, requires property owners to keep snow and other materials from accumulating near fire hydrants which front their property. This bill will clarify the bounds of the area around the fire hydrant which property owners are responsible for clearing and removes the requirement that residents must clear snow from the street. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Andy King.

"There comes a time when all of us must shoulder the responsibility of keeping others around us safe, which is why I am pleased that today Mayor de Blasio is signing my piece of legislation, Intro. 300-A, into law. This law will make it so that there is a clear and explicit duty on building owners, homeowners, lessees and tenants to keep fire hydrants clear of obstructions such as snow or ice within four hours after the snow has stopped falling. This will add to the safety of our neighborhoods because it will prevent emergency responders, such as the FDNY that need access to fire hydrants, from being delayed in their work," said Council Member Andy King.

"As Chair of the Council's Sanitation Committee, I appreciate thoughtful legislation like Intro. 300-A. This bill helps provide better clarity over the responsibilities for property owners after a snowfall, and will require that fire hydrants are cleared of snow to help ensure the Fire Department has proper access to hydrants," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

The thirteenth bill, Intro. 1228-B, requires that the Commissioner of the Department of Investigation permanently maintain a position to monitor and investigate the operations, policies and practices of the DOC. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said, "As the City's independent Inspector General, DOI's work to date on Rikers has resulted in 36 arrests for violence and contraband smuggling as well as better hiring procedures going forward. To that end, I particularly appreciate that this bill reflects that confidence through the commitment of additional resources to carry out further work on these issues."

"We thank the Council for its support of our reforms. The legislation strengthens oversight by ensuring that our partnership with the Department of Investigation continues during future administrations," said Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte.

The fourteenth bill, Intro. 1147-A, creates an Office of Crime Victim Services. This new office will be a resource to connect crime victims to services designed to support them. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's co-sponsors, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Laurie Cumbo.

"After surviving a traumatic experience, it can be challenging for crime victims to navigate through our City agencies and nonprofit partners in search of immediate assistance. Through my legislation, Intro. 1147-A, we will create a dedicated office that can connect New Yorkers directly to the vast network of service providers that will support their recovery," said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women's Issues and co-Chair of the Women's Caucus.

"Following an attack, crime victims may need access to a number of services, ranging from trauma therapy to relocation. In her State of the City speech, our Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito proposed a new, cohesive strategy of victim services, one that centralized services to make life easier for victims and their families. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and co-Chair of the Women's Caucus Council Member Laurie Cumbo for their leadership and their commitment to close this long standing gap in criminal justice reform. As Chair of the Committee on Public Safety, I am so proud to see this plan come to fruition and for New York City to have an office dedicated to ensuring victims can become victors," said Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety.

The fifteenth bill, Intro. 1138-A, creates a task force to examine ways to increase affordability, admissions and graduation rates at CUNY schools. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Inez Barron.

"I am a proud graduate of Hunter College. I was fortunate to have attended CUNY when tuition was free. Our current CUNY students find themselves struggling to balance tuition, student fees, textbook costs, rent, food, transportation and child care costs, as well as often times having work schedules. We, as elected officials have an obligation to assist with helping college students achieve a college degree. As we know, it is access to higher education that leads to improved academic, social and economic conditions, both for the individual and for the society at-large. It is our obligation and responsibility as political leaders to remove barriers to admission and completion of college. We know that student debt has surpassed consumer debt levels. Tuition cost is a contributing factor to students not completing their college program. In today's highly technological world, if we make provisions to provide for college as a mandatory post-secondary education, we will expand the opportunities and increase the number of those who have been marginalized and locked out of participating meaningfully in the world economy. It is my hope that this task force will conduct the necessary research and identify possible funding streams to lift the burden of students from having to pay for tuition," said Council Member Inez Barron.

The sixteenth bill, Intro. 1213-A, requires the City of New York to report on utilization of services and the outcomes of services provided to public housing residents. This report will be completed on an annual basis. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Ritchie Torres.

The seventeenth bill, Intro. 1214-A, calls for the City's Center for Economic Opportunity to develop a recommendation for how the City might expand the Jobs-Plus program for public housing residents. Jobs-Plus is a comprehensive employment program including job and career support. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Ritchie Torres.

"The Center for Economic Opportunity, housed within the Mayor's Office of Operations, is committed to building effective programs through data-driven and evidence-based decision making," said Mindy Tarlow, Director of the Mayor's Office of Operations. "Intro. 1214-A advances these goals by asking for a plan that shows how Jobs-Plus, a robust employment program, could expand to serve all eligible public housing residents."

"The Center for Economic Opportunity assesses programs and policies with two significant considerations in mind: Are they effective, and can they operate at citywide scale?" said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Center for Economic Opportunity. "We look forward to producing a plan that assesses how the promising Jobs-Plus model could be made available to all eligible New Yorkers."

NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye said, "Jobs-Plus is a proven-effective employment program that is strengthening pathways to opportunity for our residents and creating more connected communities. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio and Public Housing Committee Chair Torres, more residents will have access to this tool. Additionally, today's legislation will increase transparency and help us ensure all of our residents receive services more effectively, efficiently, and equitably."

"Jobs-Plus is NYCHA's hidden gem that has proven to raise income and employment opportunities for public housing residents. It has been implemented in various parts of the country and in several public housing developments in the City, and has shown to increase the earnings of public housing residents by as much as 17 percent. Jobs-Plus should be expanded to all NYCHA developments so that residents have the tools to land jobs and stable careers. These 2 bills are steps in that direction and I look forward to them being signed into law," said Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, Chair of the Council's Public Housing Committee.

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