The New York City Council voted to pass Intro 1789-A which accelerates existing deadlines for side guard implementation in the NYC fleet and for trade waste hauling vehicles by a year from January 1, 2024 to January 1, 2023. The bill also requires that a side guard is equipped on any large vehicle used to fulfill a contract with New York City of at least $2 million, starting with contracts registered on or after January 1, 2023.
Using the City’s purchasing power in this way made plenty of sense in a pre-covid world (when the legislation was drawn up) but the timing after the past eighteen months is odd for a few reasons. Shortly before the pandemic the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) required that all registrants double their insurance liability requirements in addition to more stringent emissions standards. This dramatically increased costs right before massive shutdowns. BIC registrants are still waiting for construction and public works projects to pick up again. In addition, the costs of equipment has skyrocketed as supply chains slowed and material costs increased. We expect these shortages to continue well into 2022 and the 2023 implementation date may not be feasible due to supply.
Yet, some of the questions that remain unanswered include, who would have to bear the burden of the cost of installation and what impact would this have on Women and Minority Owned Business (W/MBEs)? Does this apply to subcontractors? If so, how far would it extend to subcontractors and what impact will that have on smaller organizations and W/MBE companies that subcontract, particularly in the heavy construction industry? NYC can fulfil the 30 percent W/MBE mandate on public works projects via the heavy construction industry. The $2 million in contracts puts these W/MBEs at a competitive disadvantage and may force many to make difficult decisions from selling off vehicles, to being unable to bid on certain contracts.
The intent of the bill is understandable, but the timing is curious. As NYC looks to rebuild from the pandemic this was the perfect time to address all of the concerns and unintended consequences in the bill and pass legislation that works for all stakeholders. At minimum City Hall as well as the Department of Transportation (DOT) should reach out to W/MBEs that currently contract with the City and take their feedback to heart.