New York City Adopts Pathbreaking POPS Law in 2017.

David Greenfield, former Chair of New York City Council’s Land Use Committee. Image courtesy of council.nyc.gov.

In 2017, the New York City Council passed a new law about privately owned public space (POPS) requiring (1) annual reporting by the Department of City Planning to the Mayor and Speaker about all POPS, the posting of POPS information on the Department’s website including an interactive map and a mechanism for electronically filing complaints, (2) proactive inspections of all POPS every three years and an annual report to the mayor and speaker about POPS complaints and enforcement actions by a city department (presumably the Department of Buildings), and (3) the posting of signs with information about POPS at every POPS in the city. The City Council passed the bill on June 21, 2017, following a June 29, 2016 public hearing held by the Council’s Land Use Committee, chaired by Council Member David Greenfield, to examine City oversight of POPS.  Sixteen members of the Council, including Barron, Chin, Cohen, Dickens, Garodnick, Gentile, Kallos, Koo, Lander, Levin, Mendez, Reynoso, Rose, Torres, and Williams attended the hearing. Witnesses who testified included Edith Hsu-Chen, Director of the Manhattan Office in the Department of City Planning, Anita Laremont, General Counsel of the City Planning Commission, Patrick Wehle, Assistant Commissioner for External Affairs in the Department of Buildings, Joseph Ventour, Chief of Special Operations in the Buildings Department, Harvard professor and Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space founder Jerold S. Kayden, and representatives of various civic groups interested in POPS. Information about the hearing, including a video of the hearing and a transcript, can be found at the City Council’s website here..

City audit spotlights ongoing lack of POPS compliance with legal requirements.

An audit by the City Comptroller’s Office reveals that 55% of POPS locations have conditions in violation of applicable legal requirements. Of these 333 POPS locations, 275 have not been inspected by the Department of Buildings in at least four years. Of the 58 inspected, 41 remain out of compliance, yet only 18 violations have been issued to 10 of those locations. The audit results are reported in a document entitled “Audit Report on the City’s Oversight over Privately Owned Public Spaces,” dated April 18, 2017. The report is accessible here. Media coverage of the report may be found in a New York Times article written by Eli Rosenberg.