Tuesday’s New York City Council hearing on three bed bug bills

by nobugsonme on February 25, 2009 · 12 comments

in bed bug laws, bed bug legislation, bed bug task force, bed bugs, gale brewer, new york, new york city, new york city council, new york vs. bed bugs

The press is starting to appear about the hearing yesterday.

Frank Lombardi in the Daily News said,

Prodded by rising complaints and pressure from some elected officials, activists and the media, the Bloomberg administration gave limited support Tuesday to launching a war on bedbugs.

Testifying at a City Council hearing, representatives of the health, housing and sanitation departments announced their support for Council legislation to establish a task force to study the city’s widening bedbug problem and recommend remedies.

Although it is true that some of the experts and departmental officials who testified rejected some or other of the bills or provisions (more on that in a later post), I am not sure how limited the support was. Among those who testified, support for the Bed Bug Task Force was unanimous, and I suspect this had a profound effect on the City Council Members.

Done properly, and quickly, and peopled with the right individuals, a bed bug task force can really make things happen.

City Room blog (NYTimes.com) quoted Gale Brewer, the City Council Member who has so long been trying to pass legislation on this issue that her City Hall peers call her “The Bed Bug Lady:”

Ms. Brewer is optimistic about the formation of a task force, though there is considerable debate over the specifics, such as the mattress legislation.

“I was glad that all the questions are all out there,” she said in an interview during the hearings. It is a multifaceted problem involving the city’s health department, public housing agencies, the Police Department (since prisons are infested), the Sanitation Department (since it involves disposal of furniture), and Department of Consumer Affairs. “You have to do it as a collaborative effort,” she said.

AMNY covered the event too, and gave a taste of what people with bed bugs go through:

Those who have lived with the pests say it often takes multiple exterminations – and sometimes thousands of dollars – to get rid of them.

“I threw away everything,” said Sirajul Laskar, 42, of Jackson Heights, who added that 22 of the 52 apartments in his building have had bed bugs. “They sprayed three times and still bedbugs.”

Overall, I had a positive impression of the event. The City Council members took the testimony very seriously, and do seem to grasp the importance of the bed bug problem — especially the wonderful Council Member Robert Jackson, who himself lived with bed bugs as a child, and who mentioned having seen bed bugs recently, in New York city, in public places.

It’s nice to have someone on the City Council with this sort of first hand experience and awareness of the problem, though of course we don’t wish bed bugs on anyone.

I also want to say how grateful I am to everyone who testified, especially Renee Corea who represented New York vs. Bed Bugs, and a second of my fellow New York vs. Bed Bugs co-founders who represented herself in testimony, entomologists Lou Sorkin and Jody Gangloff-Kauffmann (both also Advisors to New York vs. Bed Bugs), Rick Cooper and Gil Bloom, and the many citizens who had battled bed bugs themselves and testified about their experiences. The witnesses did a wonderful job of conveying the problems of bed bugs, which are complex indeed.

I am also grateful to everyone who showed up to support the speakers and the cause.

I will be posting more of my impressions and notes later today…

1 freedom241 February 25, 2009 at 5:50 pm

hello everyone, i also testified at hearings most who spoke missed key points.
I spoke last as a choice. i wanted to hear what others had to say. outside of victims basicly same old stuff. i touched on areas related to sanitation pick up and landlords.
and multi-unit apartment buildings. WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO CONTROL OR STOP BED BUGS FROM PLAYING PING PONG. i know gale brewer has a good heart and she is great for the cause. i will be posting in near future to say thank you to all who have posted on bedbugger and have written great reviews on me and my company. i will be giving away afew encasements as my way of saying thank you. Cesar Soto Deleon of Freedom Pest Control

2 MightyHuntress February 26, 2009 at 1:58 am

I do not live in New York City but I and many of my neighbors have a bedbug problem. We live in an apartment complex in Stillwater, Oklahoma. There are over 250 units here. I discovered my apartment was infested about two months ago after living here for almost two months. I have since learned, from speaking to other tenants, that there has been a bedbug problem at this complex for years yet management has denied this. I have been told that I and the tenant across from me are the only ones who have complained but I have since found out that that is not true. My family and others are literally being eaten alive. I have bites all over me. I have ziploc bags with bedbugs in them. I never had a problem with them prior to moving here. I did not even know what they looked like. I have been trying to come up with a plan to bring this problem to the public light in my community. It seems no one wants to talk about it. There is the stigma that they come from your dwelling being unclean, that is what most people blurt out when you mention the word bedbug. The manager in my complex has lied over and over about other tenants not having bedbugs and that they have never had complaints from other tenants prior to our moving here. This infuriates me. Some thing needs to be done. I called the health department weeks ago with no results because they had not received any other complaints. This is so frustrating. If anyone has any suggestions on how I can proceed please respond. Since management has denied that there is a problem, I plan on circulating a petition throughout this complex to get other tenants to verify that their is a problem. Some have said that they will try to evict me if I do. I am ready to face any and all repercussions.

3 nobugsonme February 26, 2009 at 2:22 am


My first suggestion would be to find out what the local laws are regarding pests in rental housing.

Next you need to find out which agency in the city, or the county, is responsible for enforcing the rental housing laws. This may be a housing dept. or another agency.

For both of these questions, I would seek out a tenants’ advice organization (which might be city, county or state-wide).

Alternatively, if you go to the public library, ask at the Reference Desk for help. Any public library should be able to help you find out the laws which cover pests in rental units, and should be able to help you find out who to contact if there is a problem.

If all else fails, some people have had wonderful success in getting help once the local media came and publicized the presence of bed bugs (especially in multiple units in a building). This may antagonize the landlord.

4 MightyHuntress February 26, 2009 at 3:36 am


Thank you for your suggestions. This is a very frustrating situation. I have been unsuccessful finding information locally so I turned to the internet.

It just amazes me how everybody wants to keep quiet. I am about to go nuts. Again, thanks.

5 nobugsonme February 26, 2009 at 5:29 am

You are most welcome. It is horrible that you have to go through all this, bed bugs are bad enough when you CAN get help and treatment.

Please come to the forums anytime if you need support: http://bedbugger.com/forum/

Good luck and please let us know what happens!

I hope you and your neighbors get good aggressive help and the problem is gone soon.

6 Julius Davis March 20, 2009 at 5:31 pm

I am a commercial pesticide applicator in New York City. The thing about bedbugs is that most people refuse to treat these pest because they cant afford too, so what I suggest is that both tenant and building owner split the cost. The longer they procrastinate the more these pest spread,also I would like for council women Gail stewart to look into investigating and inspecting cab stations and their cars for these critters.

7 nobugsonme March 20, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Hi Julius,

I definitely think the taxi and car service situation is worth looking into. Many PCOs have mentioned them.

However, I am not sure that having tenants and landlords split the cost of PCO treatment will make matters better. Yes, the laws in NYC mean landlords are generally liable. (There are, we’re told, some exceptions, but we don’t fully understand them.)

There are other localities where tenants are held liable to treatment. Reports from those places tell us many tenants simply won’t report bed bug problems because they can’t pay or won’t pay.

Additionally, since adjacent units need to be inspected and often need to be treated, neighbors will be reluctant to pay for this unless they have obvious and troubling signs that they have the problem. If the PCO thinks my neighbors need treatment, I’d like it done. But I don’t see how that would happen if I have to convince them to get on board. (And yes, I can see that landlords often don’t get adjacent units inspected or treated if need be, but the smart ones can see it helps avoid an entirely infested building down the line.)

How would splitting the cost between landlords and tenants ensure people reported bed bugs promptly and sought treatment for them as early as possible AND that adjacent units were dealt with appropriately?

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