April Legislative Updates from NYC
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Posted by: James Versocki
In New York City, our team constantly advocates on behalf of the hospitality industry at City Hall, before the City Council, and with numerous City agencies. Here is our monthly recap of what’s going on in the New York City political scene for the month of April.
Last month we met with key city council members – including the heads of three important council committees – to continue reinforcing the message that the City should take on an “educate first” versus “fine first” mentality. This will hopefully translate into further fine reductions for restaurants and support the Association’s efforts to make sure existing laws are implemented fairly and effectively. Upcoming city laws to watch are the implementation of the polystyrene ban, changes to the revocable consent process for sidewalk cafes, and organic separation. Stay tuned for more details on this.
The PSL Takes Effect
DCA Gets a Commissioner
The Mayor finally announced a new Commissioner for the Department of Consumer Affairs – Julie Menin. Commissioner Menin comes from a small business background (she was a restaurant owner!) and the general consensus it that she should be a Commissioner with an open ear to the concerns of business in the City. The Mayor’s office has stated that she will be tasked with business outreach and continuing the efforts to reduce fines on small businesses.
Set Fines at the Health Tribunal Are Here (Almost)
On April 29, 2014, the NYS Restaurant Association submitted comments in support of a new fine structure for the Health Tribunal. The proposed rules will set forth specific fines for violations and remove the wide discretion that administrative law judges had to set varying fines for the same violations. The Council has projected that these changes will reduce fines to pre-letter grade (2010) levels. The rules cannot take effect till at least June so we will let you know when they are effective.
Our team and NYS Restaurant Association board members met with senior NBAT staff to discuss additional, systemic problems with certain agency processes that should be fixed to streamline the opening of new businesses and upgrades to existing businesses. NBAT is now a part of the City’s Small Business Services. NYS Restaurant Association members can get a designated case manager to assist with new permits (and sometimes get help with existing permit problems) so please contact our office if you need assistance contacting NBAT.
Char Broilers Are Now a Regulated Device
Last year, the Mayor pushed for major revisions to the City’s Air Code and Mayor De Blasio has continued to push those revisions. The changes include regulating restaurants that cook large quantities of meat on char broilers. The proposed regulations will require upgrades to char broilers. The Association testified that these changes should be enacted over time so that operators have time to purchase new equipment and absorb the cost of implementing new technologies in their operations. And watch out, fireplaces and wood burning stoves will soon be a thing of the past.