Requires certain business signs to be posted in English in cities with a population of one million or more where such information is also posted in another language; specifies penalties and cure periods for violations related to signage for merchandise establishments and services; makes such provisions applicable to lessees.
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the administrative code of the city of New York and the general business law, in relation to requiring certain business signs to be posted in English
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
The legislation amends the administrative code of the city of New York and the general business law to require that commercial and merchandise establishments that erect canopies or other permitted signs that are written in a foreign language must also be provided in English and all languages used must be represented in equivalent size and proportion.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill amends subdivisions f through i of section 19-124 of the administrative code of the city of New York by re-lettering the subdivisions as g through j and adding a new subdivision f that requires commercial establishments which erect or maintain a canopy to display the firm name or duly filed trade name and the address of the premises. When such information is provided in a foreign language it must also be provided in English and all languages used must be represented in equivalent size and proportion.
Section 2 of the bill amends section 131 of the general business law, as amended by chapter 496 of the laws of 1973, by creating a new subdivision 1 and by repealing the exceptions to this section for leased premises, by amending the penalties for failure to comply from a misdemeanor to a violation with specifically graduated fines and by adding a new subdivision 2 that requires in cities of a million or more, any permitted sign containing information imprinted or displayed in a language other than English shall also contain the same information in equivalent size and proportion in English.
Section 4 of the bill provides for this act to take effect immediately and shall apply to each canopy or sign erected or replaced on or after such date.
The cultural diversity embodied by the city of New York is one of the many characteristics that make it one of the greatest cities in the world.
Over the past several decades, various neighborhoods throughout the city have become cultural and commercial hubs for numerous non-English speaking populations. As a result, a large proportion of the commercial signage seen in these areas has been created in languages other than English. While the success of these commercial hubs is welcome and appreciated, there are certain safety and community relations concerns that have arisen as an unexpected result.
In terms of safety issues, signs which are not printed in English present difficulties for fire, police or other emergency service providers in locating and responding to emergencies at such an address. Minutes are crucial in responding to any type of emergency and delays associated with trying to locate the site of an emergency are a dangerous and unnecessary hazard which is likely to be caused by an inability to read a commercial sign indicating the location of a particular business. In addition, it is also crucial for first responders to know the nature of a particular business in terms of potential hazardous chemicals or products which may be stored at such locations, e.g. chemical manufacturers, hardware/paint stores, dry cleaning establishments, chemical manufacturers, medical clinics, etc.
Community relations are also affected by signs printed solely in languages other than English. This English language requirement would serve to promote greater understanding amongst residents and patronage of establishments by all members of a community irrespective of a person's national heritage. Whereas, signs printed solely in the language of a majority of residents in one particular neighborhood serves only to isolate and intimidate other members of that community who do not speak the language of the majority.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
To be determined.
This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to each canopy or sign erected or replaced on or after such date.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 681 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. AVELLA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Cities AN ACT to amend the administrative code of the city of New York and the general business law, in relation to requiring certain business signs to be posted in English THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivisions f, g, h and i of section 19-124 of the admin- istrative code of the city of New York are relettered subdivisions g, h, i and j and a new subdivision f is added to read as follows: F. INFORMATION REQUIRED. 1. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY INCONSISTENT PROVISION OF THIS SECTION, A COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENT THAT ERECTS OR MAINTAINS A CANOPY SHALL BE REQUIRED TO PAINT, IMPRINT OR STENCIL DIRECTLY UPON THE CANOPY, WITHIN THE CHARACTER AND AREA LIMITATION PRESCRIBED BY THE ZONING RESOLUTION OF THE CITY, THE FIRM NAME OR DULY FILED TRADE NAME, AND THE ADDRESS OF THE PREMISES. WHEN SUCH INFORMATION IS PROVIDED IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IT MUST ALSO BE PROVIDED IN ENGLISH. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL APPLY TO ALL COMMERCIAL ESTAB- LISHMENTS REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ESTABLISHMENT OWNS OR LEASES THE PREMISES WHERE IT IS LOCATED. 2. NO LEASE OF A PREMISES TO A COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENT SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL PROHIBIT THE DISPLAY OF ANY INFOR- MATION REQUIRED BY THIS SUBDIVISION. S 2. Section 131 of the general business law, as amended by chapter 496 of the laws of 1973, is amended to read as follows: S 131.
[Ownership of]INFORMATION REGARDING merchandise establishments and services to be publicly revealed and displayed. 1. Every person, partnership, association or corporation owning or conducting any shop, store or other establishment or service wherein the sale of merchandise at retail or wholesale is carried on or transacted or a service isEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD02956-01-3 S. 681 2
performed as a business shall cause the true, full name, including the full first name or legally registered trade name or names of the propri- etor or owner or proprietors or owners of such shop, store or other establishment or service to be publicly revealed and prominently and legibly displayed in the English language either upon a window of such shop, store or other establishment or place where a service is performed or upon a sign conspicuously placed upon the exterior of the building containing the same.
[The foregoing provisions shall not apply to a person, partnership, association or corporation operating under a lease, a department in a shop, store or other establishment or service as afor- esaid where the lessor of such shop, store or other establishment or service is liable to customers for merchandise sold by and the oper- ations of such leased department.]Failure to comply with the provisions of this section shall constitute a [misdemeanor]VIOLATION, PUNISHABLE BY A FINE OF TWO HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS FOR A FIRST OFFENSE; AND A FINE OF FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A SECOND OFFENSE, PROVIDED THAT A PERSON, PARTNERSHIP, ASSOCIATION OR CORPORATION MAY NOT BE CHARGED WITH A SECOND OFFENSE WITHIN SIXTY DAYS OF THE DATE OF CONVICTION FOR THE FIRST OFFENSE; AND A FINE OF FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A THIRD AND SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE, PROVIDED THAT A PERSON, PARTNERSHIP, ASSOCIATION OR CORPORATION MAY NOT BE CHARGED WITH A THIRD OFFENSE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF THE DATE OF CONVICTION FOR THE SECOND OFFENSE. 2. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY INCONSISTENT PROVISION OF THIS SECTION, IN A CITY WITH A POPULATION OF ONE MILLION OR MORE, IN ALL DISTRICTS OF SUCH CITY, ANY PERMITTED SIGN CONTAINING INFORMATION IMPRINTED OR DISPLAYED IN A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH SHALL ALSO CONTAIN THE SAME INFORMATION IN ENGLISH. S 3. The New York City department of consumer affairs shall promul- gate any rules and regulations necessary to give effect to the provisions of this act, including but not limited to rules pertaining to the size and proportion of all English language signs required by the provisions of this act. S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.