New bills require a push from Queens voters

By Bob Harris

State Sen. Tony Avella recently visited a meeting of the Queens Civic Congress and handed out a list of more than 60 bills which are of concern to the civic associations of Queens. A bill is a proposal but does nothing unless it is passed by the state Senate and Assembly and signed into law by the Governor. Avella wants us to support the bills we like by asking our local legislators to vote to get them out of committee, and then vote for them in their branch of the Legislature.

One bill I support is Senate Bill No. 1030/2015. It relates to the restrictions of activities by former registered lobbyists which prevents them from running for any municipal or statewide elective office for a period of two years after termination of their service as a lobbyist.

Another interesting bill is Senate Bill No.1038/2015. It provides for a review process of proposals to alienate municipal parkland which prevents the sale of it only if there is compelling public need and there is no other alternative. Any replacement must be three times the size of land given away and at least one of the lots must be the same size as the lot being given away and be contiguous or within one mile of the lot being given away. This law is in response to the giving away of parts of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Senate Bill No. 1091 establishes a special prosecutor for fraud, waste and corruption in the New York City Department of Buildings and Board of Standards and Appeals. Any civic group which has dealt with the DOB or BSA would surely approve of this proposal. This would protect our quality of life and our local zoning.

Senate Bill No. 5050/2015 requires the Board of Standards and Appeals to notify local Assembly members and state senators of any application which could change the zoning of their communities.

Senate Bill No. S678 requires the city Department of health to respond to requests to remove raccoons from outdoor public or private property. A raccoon out and about in daylight is a sick animal.

Senate Bill No. S687/2015 requires that the BSA have a financial analyst with professional qualifications and at least 10 years’ experience. Too often applicants for a zoning variance give financial excuses for weakening the zoning laws.

State Senate Bill No. S688/2015 would require that variances and special permit decisions passed by the BSA have a two-thirds majority, as opposed to the current simple majority. Too many bad things are happening to fine communities due to the vote of the BSA.

State Senate Bill No. 889-A/2015 would create a new Class C felony for illegal conversions of apartments which results in the serious injury of a person. I still remember the two Bronx firemen who died when an illegal wall resulted in them becoming disoriented by smoke.

Senate Bill No. S896 would create a “Do Not Circulate Registry” with regard to circular advertisements, which would put the burden on the circular industry and not the property owner.

Senate Bill No. 1041 would eliminate the “self-certification” of building work by the architect or builder who did the work and require the hiring of a DOB plan examiner. The fee cost, which everyone pays, would pay for the salary of these workers. Responsible architects actually want this.

There are more bills but……