Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) and Assemblymember John T. McDonald III (D-Cohoes) joined local officials and representatives from the New York State Conference of Mayors on Thursday to announce the signing of their code enforcement legislation (S1633/A3028) into law.
When faced with having to demolish distressed structures, local governments have previously been required to seek approval for building condemnation from a Supreme Court in the judicial district where the property is located. For resource-strapped municipalities, Supreme Court approvals can be a lengthy, complicated, and costly affair. This law provides that local governments will now be able to pursue a condemnation approval from civil, city, district, or county courts instead, allowing municipalities to more quickly and efficiently perform necessary demolitions, reducing blight, and improving neighborhood safety.
This legislation was first introduced as part of a package of code enforcement reforms following a lengthy 2019 investigation by the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee, chaired by Skoufis.
“When a structure gets to the point of no return, we expect our local governments to step in to properly enforce code and fire prevention laws,” said bill sponsor Senator Skoufis. “This new law will help cut through red tape and reduce barriers that often keep municipalities from doing what’s necessary to keep residents safe. I thank Assemblymember McDonald for his commitment to this issue and I thank Governor Hochul for signing this important reform.”
“As a former Mayor, I fully understand the challenges that localities face in addressing blight, especially when it comes to dealing with serial code violators and bringing them to court,” said bill sponsor Assemblymember McDonald, “that is why I believe that this new law that Senator Skoufis and I sponsored is a step toward ensuring that tenants have quality and safe housing and gives our local officials more tools in the toolbox to remedy blight and get properties in the hands of responsible owners. I thank Senator Skoufis for his partnership on this issue and want to recognize his thorough Investigative Report on Code Enforcement, which paved the way for this legislation. Thank you also to the New York State Conference of Mayors for their support and assistance on this issue and I appreciate Governor Kathy Hochul signing this measure into law.”
“NYCOM thanks Assembly Member McDonald and Senator Skoufis for championing this important legislation,” said Peter A. Baynes, Executive Director, New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM). “One tool local officials use in dealing with distressed and neglected properties is the equitable powers of the New York court system. However, until now, only New York Supreme Courts could issue injunctive relief to correct property violations. Unfortunately, seeking redress from a Supreme Court is a time-consuming and costly endeavor for local governments. Now, with these amendments, city, county, and district courts will also be authorized to issue orders directing the remediation of Uniform Code violations, greatly facilitating the ability of local officials to make their communities safer, while at the same time reducing the caseload of our overloaded Supreme Courts.”