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November 11, 2016
by Justin Pascone
Office of the City Clerk

On 10.25.16, The Office of the City Clerk issued a favorable advisory opinion to clarify language from the 2013 Lobbying Law impacting architects, design professionals, and engineers. The opinion was prompted after AIANY and other trade organizations requested clarification about whether applications for work permits from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) and preceding communication about those permits or other documents that are part of the normal construction process are considered lobbying.

According to the City Clerk, “an application to DOB for work permits and any ensuing communications with employees of DOB relating to the issuance of permits, approvals, or other construction-related documents and determinations by DOB is not ‘lobbying’ or a ‘lobbying activity’ because such issuance or denial is not included within the definition of ‘lobbying’ or ‘lobbying activity’ pursuant to Administrative Code §3-211(c).”

Many of our members voiced concern over this specific issue, as a significant portion of their practice involves those fundamental interactions with the DOB. AIANY is anticipating a second advisory opinion being released on whether appearances related to the City’s Environmental Quality Review process will be determined as lobbying or not. Upon request, the City Clerk will respond to questions and publish advisory opinions on the Lobbying Law.

In October, The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) distributed a helpful FAQ for architects and engineers regarding lobbying and land-use actions. This FAQ should be useful for understanding the state law, which differs at points from the city law. For more information and updates on the lobby law, visit AIANY’s Advocacy site.

Pulse Points

  • On 10.27.16, The New York City Council passed Intro. 1017, or the ”Freelance Isn’t Free Act,” sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander. The bill establishes and enhances protections for freelance workers, specifically the right to written contract, the right to be paid timely and in full, and the right to be free of retaliation. The bill also creates penalties for violations of these rights, and requires the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) to receive complaints, create a navigation program, gather data, and report on the effectiveness of the law.
  • On 11.01.16, the NYC Department of Transportation and the NYC Economic Development Corporation released a 25-page report detailing the benefits and drawbacks of potential routes for a new streetcar line from Queens to Brooklyn, known as the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX). The $2.5 billion waterfront streetcar would run through some of most popular and crowded neighborhoods along the East River. City officials plan to discuss the routes at community meetings over the next months before selecting a path early next year.
  • On 11.02.16, Mayor de Blasio signed Intro. 1341, a bill to expedite approval of demolition and construction work performed by city-procured contractors under the Build it Back program. Intro. 1341 allows paperwork to be completed post-demolition, as long as the work is supervised by licensed safety professionals. It also allows projects that could not proceed because of violations pre-dating Build It Back to move forward, while at the same time ensuring the safety of those homes.
  • On 11.14.16, the AIANY Committee on the Environment and the Urban Green Council are hosting “Road Map to 80×50” at the Center for Architecture. Speakers will discuss NYC’s new Roadmap to 80×50, a comprehensive report released in September that assesses what will be necessary to reach our 80×50 goal. Register here.
  • On 11.17.16, the AIANY Public Architecture Committee and the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s Town+Gown are hosting “Approximating Integrated Project Delivery in Design-Bid-Build Environment” at the Center for Architecture. During the free, half-day event, presenters will share current trends, exploring the inter-dependent aspects of construction contracts, integrated project delivery, lean theory and practice, and BIM in action. Register here.
  • On 12.01.16, the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rule will will go into effect. Over the summer, the Department finalized its update of overtime regulations, raising the salary threshold so that every full-time, salaried employee making less than $47,476 annually (or $913/week) would be eligible for overtime pay. To better understand how this rule will affect you or your firm, the AIA released a brief outline of what to expect. You can also visit the Department of Labor’s overtime rule resource page. If you have additional questions, AIANY recommends consulting with a qualified HR professional or attorney.

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