The Real Estate Board of New York to The Committees on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management and Public Housing on Intro 0442-2022

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The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association representing commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, salespeople, and other organizations and individuals active in New York City real estate. REBNY thanks the Committee for the opportunity to testify on abating rodents as a requirement for the issuance of certain construction permits.

New York City has been plagued by rodent problems for too long. According to a report from the Associated Press, New Yorkers called the City’s rat hotline an estimated 7,400 times January through April of this year alone. That figure is an increase of 20% from the same period in 2021 and up 60% from the first few months of 2019. Unfortunately, New York City ranks third in the nation among the most rat-infested cities.

In efforts to reduce the number of rodents, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has taken a number of steps, including the launching of the Clean Curbs Pilot program in Times Square, which is expected to scale to all five boroughs. The Clean Curbs Pilot places container waste bins around the city to get garbage bags off the street, reduce rodent infestation, improve the streetscape’s aesthetic, and give the streets back to New Yorkers.

REBNY supports the City’s efforts to keep the streets clean and free of rats. It is an imperative to public health and livability. What follows are comments on specific legislation being considered: 

BILL: Int 442-2022

SUBJECT: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to abating rodents as a requirement for the issuance of certain construction permits

SPONSORS: Erik D. Bottcher, Sandy Nurse, Chi A. Ossé, Farah N. Louis, Christopher Marte, Nantasha M. Williams, Shekar Krishnan, Shahana K. Hanif, Mercedes Narcisse, Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Tiffany Cabán, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Alexa Avilés, Justin L. Brannan, Lynn C. Schulman, Crystal Hudson, Kristin Richardson Jordan, Charles Barron, Pierina Ana Sanchez, Rita C. Joseph, Amanda Farías, (by request of the Manhattan Borough President)

Int. 442 would require that the applicant of a building permit working on 50% or more of the area of a building or adding more than 25% vertically or horizontally of the area of a building or the demolition of more than 50% of the area of a building, provide certification that a licensed pest management professional was retained for the prevention and control of rodents. Said applicant must abide by the requirements set forth by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) in buildings located in rat mitigation zones. Along with these requirements, DOHMH may, by rule, establish additional criteria limiting the kinds of buildings to which this section applies. 

New York City regulations for building demolition already requires a licensed pest management professional to inspect and bait the site before demolition. The proposed bill would broaden the regulation by covering active construction sites as well.

REBNY supports Int. 442. The prevention of rodents on construction sites not only guarantees a safer working environment, but also encourages strict hygiene measures for future construction sites. This will create healthier work conditions and will further mitigate the potential for construction sites to serve as breeding ground for rodents.  

Further, many construction projects today do retain pest management as a matter of practice. As construction sites need rat mitigation measures to prevent rats from overrunning their worksites and creating unsafe environments. For this reason, REBNY encourages the Council and DOHMH to look to the effective existing rat mitigation practices employed by the industry and use them as the basis for any specific requirements promulgated through legislation or rulemaking.

REBNY looks forward to working with the City to keep construction sites rat-free and, by extension, our streets healthy and safe for all New Yorkers. 

Thank you for your consideration of these points.