Tag Archives: Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Bloomberg vetoes NYPD oversight bills


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Mayor Michael Bloomberg kept his promise to veto two controversial bills that could increase oversight of the NYPD.

“New York is the safest big city in the country, and the NYPD is the most professional and most effective police department in the country,” Bloomberg said in his veto message Tuesday. “It is also subject to more internal and external oversight than any other police department in the United States.”

The Community Safety Act, which proposes two bills, was approved by the City Council about three weeks ago. One of the bills creates an independent inspector general to share oversight of the NYPD with the police commissioner. The other bill will make it easier for people to take the department to court over discrimination.

Opponents of the bill are praising Bloomberg’s veto.

“It is not an exaggeration nor is it a doomsday threat to say that passage of this legislation is dangerous for the city and that it will turn the NYPD from a successful, crime fighting, proactive department back into the hesitant and reactive one we had during the crime filled days of the 80s and 90s,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick J. Lynch. “If these bills become law, it will force police officers to protect themselves against frivolous lawsuits instead of protecting the city from criminals.”

Supporters have already vowed to override the mayor’s veto. They believe the bills will end “abuse” of the  stop-and-frisk policy, which they said overly targets minorities, and will help improve relations with cops.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to veto the Community Safety Act is another example of how out of touch this administration is with communities across the city,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who led a group of councilmembers and Borough President Helen Marshall to reaffirm their support of the bills in front of Queens Borough Hall.

“This Act will help build back the trust that is critical between precincts and their communities in order to find those who are actually breaking the law, and not the innocent people are who stopped every day,” Comrie added.

The City Council has 30 days to override the mayor’s veto.

 

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Bloomberg retracts statement on MLS coming to Yankee Stadium


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

The possibility that Queens might have a soccer stadium got another kick backwards.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Yankee Stadium will be the home for the new Major League Soccer (MLS) team, the New York City Football Club, on his latest weekly radio show.

“Yankee Stadium will become the home of the New York City Football Club, the first soccer club in the five boroughs since the 1970s,” Bloomberg said on Sunday, July 14, according to reports.

However, the mayor apparently committed a foul, and the statement was retracted.

“The script for the mayor’s radio address overstated the possibility that the New York Football Club could play some games at Yankee Stadium while they search for a permanent home,” said Julie Wood, a mayoral spokesperson. “No decision has been made on where they will play.”

The expansion team, which is jointly owned by English club Manchester City F.C. and the New York Yankees, will not begin play until 2015. Observers have speculated that the MLS has considered building a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and Assemblymember Francisco Moya, who has been a soccer fan since he was a child, have been advocating for the stadium. They say it would be an economic and cultural boon to the borough.

“Queens is the most diverse borough and is home to the largest soccer loving community in the city,” Moya said. “I remain confident that the stadium will be built in Queens.”

However, the proposal has drawn opposition from park lovers.

“Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is used by residents from all across Queens, and this usage by Major League Soccer would negatively impact park life,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie, chair of the council’s Land Use Committee. “While there are many soccer fans here in Queens, there are more appropriate places to build this stadium.”

Senator Tony Avella, who has suggested the stadium be built in the Rockaways, recently penned a bill apparently aimed at preventing proposals to change parkland use. That bill would require parkland taken for projects to be replaced with three times the space and within one mile of the project. If passed, it would lower the chances of getting the stadium in Queens.

The Senate’s Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee is expected to decide on the bill after the legislature’s summer recess.

 

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New York City gets unique .nyc web address


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

ROSA KIM 

New York City is out to conquer the digital world.

City officials announced a .nyc web address for New Yorkers and businesses on Tuesday.

“Having our own unique, top-level domain puts NYC at the forefront of the digital landscape and creates new opportunities for our small businesses,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “They’ll now be able to identify themselves as connected to NYC, one of the world’s strongest and most prestigious brands.”

NYC is one of the first cities in the world to be granted a geographic top-level domain by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit private organization responsible for overseeing the distribution of IP addresses and domain names. With .nyc, ICANN expands on already existing domains such as .com, .org and .edu.

Officials believe that the introduction of .nyc will allow businesses to identify their local roots and lead to a burst in economic activity.

“Small businesses benefit from a strong online presence, and the .nyc domain will give NYC’s small businesses an extra boost by making them more accessible and allowing them to build off the NYC brand,” said Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh.

In order to register for a .nyc domain, registrants will have to have a primary place of residence in NYC with a physical address or a “bona fide presence” in the city, meaning regularly performing lawful activities within the city and maintaining an office or other facility in the city. Registration for .nyc addresses will open in late 2013 and fees are to be determined.

More information is available on mydotnyc.com.

 

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NYC Council passes NYPD oversight legislation


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photo

The New York City Council approved legislation that could make dramatic changes to the management of the NYPD.

Early this morning the Council passed the Community Safety Act, which contains two separate bills.

One will create an inspector general to oversee the activities of the police department and have subpoena power, while the other bill will make it easier for people to sue the NYPD over racial profiling.

“#Victory! Tonight, the @NYCCouncil passed the #CommunitySafetyAct by a veto-proof majority! This day is long overdue,” tweeted Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who drafted the legislation.

Supporters of the bill are celebrating the passage of the legislation, saying the NYPD abuses its stop-and-frisk policy, which allows officers to halt people and search them, and the surveillance of Muslims.

“This morning the Council took a major step towards reining in racial profiling in New York City,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said. The Council acted to restore sanity and safety to the streets of New York City and the lives of hundreds and thousands of young people.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and others against the bill said that it will hamper the work of the officers and increase crime.

“Last year, there were a record-low number of murders and a record-low number of shootings in our city, and this year, we’re on pace to break both of those records,” Bloomberg said in a statement released earlier today. “Unfortunately, these dangerous pieces of legislation will only hurt police officers’ ability to protect New Yorkers and sustain this tremendous record of accomplishment.”

Bloomberg promised to veto the bills, but the City Council is expected to have enough votes to overturn the veto, according to reports.

 

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State lawmakers approve speed cameras near NYC schools


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The New York State Legislature passed a bill over the weekend allowing for the installation of speed cameras near 20 schools with documented speeding issues.

Drivers caught speeding by the cameras will face $50 fines.

“The Legislature has clearly stated that the streets around our schools should be safe havens, not speed traps. Speed cameras will help put a freeze frame on the number-one killer on our city’s roads,” said Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Though the city experienced historic lows in annual traffic deaths last year, vehicle accidents increased from 49 in 2011 to 81 in 2012, and were “the greatest single factor in traffic deaths,” according to the DOT.

In March, the City Council approved a resolution calling on the state Legislature to pass a law for a city speed camera pilot program that would test 20 to 40 speed cameras at high-risk locations.

The DOT asked that priority be given to streets near schools with documented speeding problems.

But the following month, the state Legislature failed to include funding for the program when it passed the 2013-2014 budget.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has supported speed cameras along with the City Council and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, publicly lambasted local state Senators for failing to approve the pilot.

“[Speeding] remains the single greatest contributing factor in traffic fatalities in New York City, and we have long advocated in Albany for the authority to install speed cameras to help save lives,” Bloomberg said in a statement Saturday. “If a driver strikes a child at 40 miles per hour, there is a 70 percent chance the child will be killed. At 30 miles per hour, there is an 80 percent chance the child survives.”

 

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Mayor, City Council reach on-time budget deal


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr/Photo by Samantha Modell

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and councilmembers yesterday reached an on-time, balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on Monday, July 1, hizzoner’s final budget.

Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget include no increase in taxes, compensating for federal cuts to public housing and funding toward storm protection.

The city will allocate $58 million toward the New York City Housing Authority after federal budget cuts took place as a result of the sequester in March.

“A Stronger, More Resilient New York” includes a $250 million fund that will be split between securing existing city facilities and building coastal resistance. The Rockaway ferry landing will get $3.3 million from this project.

The plan also restores funding to city firehouses, pools and libraries, several of which were on the chopping block under Bloomberg’s budget proposed in May.

Since the state Court of Appeals upheld expanded taxi sales, a major revenue boost from outer borough street hail livery service and additional medallions for wheel-chair accessible yellow taxicabs is expected to bring in $300 million this year.

“Our Administration’s final budget reflects the commitment to sound financial management that has helped keep our City on firm financial footing, and to the services and programs New Yorkers rely on. I want to thank Speaker [Christine] Quinn for her effective leadership, as well as the Council Members for their work,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

The budget ending in 2015, however, currently has a $2 billion gap for the next mayor to fill. This number is a slight dip from what was projected.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 81. Winds from the NNE at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 63. Winds less than 5 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY:  In Scena!

It’s the year of Italian culture in the U.S., and Mare Nostrum Elements joins forces with In Scena! Italian Theater Festival NY to present three one-act plays by renowned author Mario Fratti. At the Secret Theatre in Long Island City, June 19-23. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City releases updated hurricane evacuation zones 

The city has released an updated hurricane evacuation zone map that replaces Zones A, B and C with zones numbered one to six. Read more: The Queens Courier

Worker rescued from trench collapse in Kew Gardens

The FDNY rescued a construction worker in Kew Gardens Tuesday after he became trapped in a collapsed trench. Read more: The Queens Courier

Parents attempt to block new school from opening in Campus Magnet in Cambria Heights

Southeast Queens parents are attempting to block a plan to put a new school in a crowded Cambria Heights campus. Read more: New York Daily News

Civil rights groups sue NYPD over Muslim spying

The New York Police Department’s widespread spying programs directed at Muslims have undermined free worship by innocent people and should be declared unconstitutional, religious leaders and civil rights advocates said Tuesday after the filing of a federal lawsuit. Read more: CBS New York/AP

18 mayors: Limit use of food stamps to buy soda

The mayors of Los Angeles, Chicago and 15 other cities are joining New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in reviving a push against letting food stamps be used to buy soda and other sugary drinks. Read more: NBC New York

NSA director says plot against Wall Street foiled

The U.S. foiled a plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange because of the sweeping surveillance programs at the heart of a debate over national security and personal privacy, officials said Tuesday at a rare open hearing on intelligence led by lawmakers sympathetic to the spying. Read more: AP

Bloomberg presents plan to protect city against climate change


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor's Flickr/Photo by Spencer T Tucker

Sandy not only showed New York’s City vulnerability to powerful storms; the superstorm also highlighted the future impact climate change could have.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg released the results of a 430-page report on Tuesday examining that very issue. The report contains 250 recommendations on how the city can further protect its neighborhoods and infrastructure against climate events.

“We’ve done a lot to attack the causes of climate change and make our city less vulnerable to its possible effects,” Bloomberg said during his announcement of the report, entitled “A Stronger, More Resilient New York.”

“But Sandy – which tragically took the lives of 43 New Yorkers — made it all too clear that, no matter how far we’ve come, we still face real, immediate threats,” he continued.

The report assesses weather-related threats such as hurricanes, droughts, heavy downpours and heat waves as well as rising sea levels that could result from climate change.

To mitigate the damage from such phenomena, the report makes recommendations for coastal protections. Several are specific to Queens.

Proposals for the borough include studying future surge barriers for Jamaica Bay, installing a dune system on the Rockaway Peninsula, setting up a storm surge barrier at Newtown Creek with gates and connecting levees and installing and raising bulkheads to protect the shoreline in south Queens.

The report also makes recommendations on flood resistant measures for buildings. Those include $1.2 billion in loans or grants for owners to reinforce their structures.

Further, the report calls for reducing flood insurance rates for homeowners through methods other than elevating people’s homes, and for creating more insurance price options.

Beyond flooding, the report looks at ways to strengthen the city’s healthcare system. Methods include making sure facilities are prepared to handle patients’ needs as well as power, telecommunications and other critical systems during disasters.

To read the full report, click here.

 

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Queens pols hopeful about Build it Back Sandy recovery program


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor's Office Flickr/ Photo by Spencer T Tucker)

Federal money is here.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new plan to distribute $648 million for New Yorkers trying to rebuild more than seven months after Sandy.

The Build it Back program offers four options for homeowners as the city shifts its focus to long-term repairs in the wake of the storm. Homeowners can use a city contractor to make minor or moderate repairs, rebuild their homes based on a city model, be reimbursed for out-of-pocket payments or sell their home to the city, which will then redevelop the site.

Affected city residents can begin applying next year and will be contacted by a program specialist, Bloomberg announced.

The city included homeowner reimbursements in the plan at the behest of elected officials, who made their case in April.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, whose own home was damaged by Sandy, said he is hopeful the project will be a success.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the chances of this program’s success,” he said. “I’m very excited that the federal funding is going to be put to use. However, I want to make sure that the money goes to the families who need it most.”

Councilmember Donovan Richards said the plan offered enough options for homeowners dealing with damages, and ensures the money will go to the right people.

“With the thousands of different situations people find themselves in, we need a variety of resources,” he said in a statement. “There is no one fix for every situation. This is why I am very happy about the new Build it Back program. I believe this is a big step in the right direction of a comprehensive recovery effort.”

 

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Rockaway Ferry service extended for at least six more weeks


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Though the A train is returning to the Rockaways tomorrow, the ferry is still going to continue, at least until July.

Rockaway Ferry weekday service between the peninsula and Manhattan has been extended for the next six weeks, with the possibility of continuing through Labor Day weekend, city officials announced Tuesday.

The ferry will also start an additional one service run in each direction every Saturday and Sunday, from July 4 through Labor Day, and will now also stop at Beach 108th  Street.

“The continuation of the weekday service will give Rockaway residents another transportation option, and the expanded summer weekend service will make it easier for visitors to get to the Rockaways, bringing additional economic activity to the beaches throughout the summer season,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The service will be extended through the end of the summer “if ridership remains strong,” according to officials.

After Sandy damaged the A train and cut off service past the Howard Beach/JFK Airport stop, the city provided several transportation options for residents served by the portion of the subway that was no longer running.

One of those options included ferry service between Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways, and Pier 11/Wall Street and East 34th Street in Manhattan.

Even with the return of full A train service, there is support to make the ferry permanent, including from Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

A petition he started to keep the boat running gathered 2,000 signatures in three days.

 

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NYPD detective convicted of Queens attempted murder


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A 19-year-veteran of the NYPD who was reportedly once assigned to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s security detail has been convicted of attempted murder.

“This is truly a sad day for everyone when a police officer is convicted of breaking the very laws he had sworn to uphold. But in the pursuit of justice, nobody is above the law,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.

On Thursday a jury found Leopold McLean, 48, of Queens, guilty of second-degree attempted murder and first-and second-degree reckless endangerment in connection to the an off-duty shooting of an unarmed man, said the district attorney. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13, and faces five to 25 years in prison.

Testimony during the trial revealed that McLean shot the victim, Lepaul Gammons, then 39, on November 15, 2010, after he saw him near the Jamaica residence of a woman the men both knew and demanded to know why Gammons was at her home.

McLean chased and shot at Gammons numerous times, hitting him in the buttocks before Gammons was able to drive off in his car.

 

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Muppets coming to Museum of the Moving Image in new Jim Henson gallery


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYC Mayor’s Office’s Flickr

Hi-ho, the Muppets are coming to town.

On Tuesday Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials announced the late Jim Henson’s family has donated close to 400 puppets, costumes, props and other items to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. The announcement included special appearances by Miss Piggy — who got a kiss from the mayor — Oscar the Grouch and Gobo Fraggle.

The objects will go in a new gallery dedicated to Henson’s film and television achievements including “The Muppet Show,” “Sesame Street” and more.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Henson family and to the City of New York for identifying the museum as the location of a permanent New York City attraction devoted to this transformational figure,” said Carl Goodman, executive director of the Museum of the Moving Image.

The 2,200-square-foot gallery, which has received $2.75 million in city funds, will be on the second floor of the museum and is expected to open in winter 2014-2015. Along with donations from Henson’s family, the exhibit will feature character sketches, storyboards, scripts from The Jim Henson Company’s archive, film and television clips, behind-the-scenes footage and interactive activities.

“We are delighted that the Museum of the Moving Image will house this permanent collection of my father’s work,” said Cheryl Henson, daughter of the late Jim Henson. “Our fondness for this city and its institutions is deeply rooted as NYC was home for The Jim Henson Company for many years and is now for the Jim Henson Workshop in Long Island City.”

In 2012, “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World,” a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, concluded its five-year national tour at the Museum of the Moving Image.

The new Henson exhibition will be accompanied by ongoing programs such as curriculum-based events for school children and live presentations by people who worked with Henson and continue to advance his unique artform.

 

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MLS announces deal with Manchester City, Yankees for New York soccer team


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MLS

The announcement of a new team may be a major score for soccer officials, but it pushes back the goalposts for a new Queens stadium.

Manchester City Football Club and the Yankees are partnering up to establish the New York City Football Club (FC), officials announced today. It is Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 20th expansion team.

MLS and the partnership aim to have the squad up and running by the 2015 soccer season, The team will start by playing at a temporary venue. “This is a transformative moment for Major League Soccer and soccer in America as we welcome our 20th club called New York City Football Club,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber. “It provides us with a rivalry with the New York Red Bulls [...] rivalries drive the success in soccer around the world.”

In the partnership, England’s Manchester City FC will handle soccer operations while the Yankees will focus on establishing the team in New York.

The league spent nearly a year publicly lobbying for a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Parkland advocates have actively opposed the effort.

While the league’s talks with the city have seen ups and downs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has remained confident New York and MLS will ink a deal before his final term ends in December.

Garber said it was too soon to discuss where New York City FC will play its first season. Yankees President Randy Levine said Yankee Stadium and Citi Field were possibilities. Both venues have hosted exposition soccer matches since each opened in 2009.

“We’re competitors with the Mets, but we’re also partners with them in Major League Baseball,” Levine said. “Citi Field could be as much of a temporary site as Yankee Stadium.”

Finding a long-term home is now up to the owners, Garber said, with MLS essentially taking a back seat in the process.

Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City Football Club, said Flushing Meadows-Corona Park will still be explored as an option along with other spots in the city. He added that wherever developers go, they will actively seek community input.

“We’re well aware of the conversations with the stadium in Flushing Meadows,” Soriano said.

“The stadium has to be a success from the soccer perspective commercially” and from the community perspective, too, he added.

During the lobbying process, Garber and other MLS officials said Flushing Meadows was the ideal location for a soccer pitch. But some Queens residents have argued the league should leave the park alone and look elsewhere.

After Tuesday’s announcement, the Fairness Coalition of Queens issued a statement saying it was open to the team, but suggested using a spot that would not take away parkland.

“The proposal for a stadium inside the heart of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is deeply flawed and would irrevocably damage a vital community resource.”

Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said the new owners’ openness to finding a new site was a sign that a stadium in Flushing Meadows would not have worked.

“The plan to install that stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was dead on arrival,” he said.

“We’re very happy that they are now beginning to acknowledge that.”

He faulted both MLS and the mayor for their discussions to date.

“I think Major League Soccer was getting some mixed signals from the [Bloomberg] administration,” he said. “But the problem is, Major League Soccer should be ashamed of themselves, to begin with, that they should get away with this.”

 

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Mayor’s budget could cut Borough President staff by half


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Half the staff at Borough Hall could get pink slips if cuts proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg go through.

Borough President Helen Marshall’s office is expected to receive about $3.14 million in funding for the 2014 fiscal year—nearly $1.8 million less than last year—officials announced at Marshall’s Borough Board meeting on Monday, May 13.

If the budget is approved, the cuts will result in half the staff’s dismissal, according to Chief of Staff Alexandra Rosa.

There were roughly 88 employees when Marshall was first elected in 2002, according to spokesperson Dan Andrews. If this year’s cuts go through, the current staff of 54 could be reduced to fewer than 30.

“This has somehow become a discretionary item,” Rosa said. “Funding for the borough president’s office should not be a discretionary item.”

Marshall said she is concerned over many of the cuts proposed in Bloomberg’s budget, particularly to her staff and to after school programs.

“We have to justify everything we ask for,” she said. “Our responsibility is to spend the people’s money.

We’ve got to spend it carefully and we have got to make sure that it’s going to really help our people. And that’s what we do.”

Cuts to discretionary funds would also result in the reduction or elimination of services to the elderly and the disabled. Five senior centers would have to close, according to Marshall’s office.

The facilities include the Kew Gardens Senior Center, the Forest Park Senior Center in Woodhaven, the SAGE/Queens Senior Center in Jackson Heights, the Korean American Senior Center of Flushing and the LeFrak Senior Center in Elmhurst.

Andrews said the borough president’s office was still performing the same functions it did in 1989, when its role was last updated in the City Charter, but with a significantly smaller staff.

“We are not a city agency,” he said. “We are the office of an elected official with charter-mandated responsibilities.”

 

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Amendment would delay flood insurance premium increases


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A new amendment will help Sandy victims avoid drowning in flood insurance premium increases—at least for several years to come.

Senator Charles Schumer announced his support for an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act that delays increases for those with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) coverage in communities affected by updated FEMA flood maps for five years.

“I will strongly support this amendment that staves off massive, looming flood insurance hikes for homeowners, many of whom are dedicating every available penny to rebuilding,” he said.

Following Sandy, FEMA decided to update the city’s flood maps. The changes, which are still under revision, will classify more neighborhoods as flood zones and bring about increases to insurance premiums there.

In January, shortly after FEMA published the first of two phases of updated Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an emergency executive order suspending height and other restrictions. The idea was to let buildings meet the new elevation standards and to mitigate costs of future flood insurance premium increases.

As of press time, the amendment was awaiting a vote.

 

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