Chapter 64: Department of Consumer Affairs

Section 2201.

Section 2201. Department; commissioner.

There shall be a department of consumer affairs, the head of which shall be the commissioner of consumer affairs.

Section 2202.

Section 2202. Deputies.

The commissioner may appoint two deputies.

Section 2203.

Section 2203. Powers of the commissioner.

(a) The commissioner shall plan, make recommendations, conduct research and develop programs for consumer education and protection, facilitate the exchange and dissemination of information in consultation with agencies, federal and state officials, commercial interests, private groups and others working in this field and coordinate the consumer protection activities of other city agencies.
  1. The commissioner shall enforce all laws in relation to weights and measures.
  2. The commissioner shall have cognizance and control of the granting, issuing, transferring, renewing, revoking, suspending and cancelling of all licenses and permits, except in the cases with respect to which and to the extent to which any of said powers are conferred on other persons or agency by laws, and shall collect all fees for licenses and permits the collection of which by some other person or agency is not authorized by law.
  3. The commissioner shall enforce all laws relating to the advertising and offering for sale and the sale of all commodities, goods, wares and services; in addition he shall receive and evaluate complaints and initiate his own investigations relating to these matters and take appropriate action, including referral to a federal or state agency.
  4. The commissioner shall have all powers as set forth in:

   (1) chapter 8 of title 20 of the administrative code relating to the receipt, investigation, and resolution of complaints thereunder regarding earned sick time, and the power to conduct investigations regarding violation of such chapter upon his or her own initiative; and

   (2) section 22-507 of the administrative code relating to the receipt, investigation, and resolution of complaints thereunder regarding the retention of grocery workers, and the power to conduct investigations regarding violations of such section upon his or her own initiative.

  1. The commissioner, in the performance of said functions, including those functions pursuant to subdivision e of this section, shall be authorized to hold public and private hearings, administer oaths, take testimony, serve subpoenas, receive evidence, and to receive, administer, pay over and distribute monies collected in and as a result of actions brought for violations of laws relating to deceptive or unconscionable trade practices, or of related laws, and to promulgate, amend and modify rules and regulations necessary to carry out the powers and duties of the department.
  2. The commissioner shall exercise the powers of a commissioner of public markets under the agriculture and markets law with respect to open air markets.
    1. Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law, the department shall be authorized, upon due notice and hearing, to impose civil penalties for the violation of any laws or rules the enforcement of which is within the jurisdiction of the department pursuant to this charter, the administrative code or any other general, special or local law. The department shall have the power to render decisions and orders and to impose civil penalties for all such violations, and to order equitable relief for and payment of monetary damages in connection with enforcement of chapter 8 of title 20 of the administrative code. Except to the extent that dollar limits are otherwise specifically provided, such civil penalties shall not exceed five hundred dollars for each violation. All proceedings authorized pursuant to this subdivision shall be conducted in accordance with rules promulgated by the commissioner. The remedies and penalties provided for in this subdivision shall be in addition to any other remedies or penalties provided for the enforcement of such provisions under any other law including, but not limited to, civil or criminal actions or proceedings.

   (2) All such proceedings shall be commenced by the service of a notice of violation. The commissioner shall prescribe the form and wording of notices of violation. The notice of violation or copy thereof when filled in and served shall constitute notice of the violation charged, and, if sworn to or affirmed, shall be prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein.

   (3) For the purposes of this subdivision, no act or practice shall be deemed a deceptive trade practice unless it has been declared a deceptive trade practice and described with reasonable particularity in a local law or in a rule or regulation promulgated by the commissioner.

   (4) Notwithstanding any other inconsistent provision of law, powers conferred upon the department by this subdivision may be exercised by the office of administrative trials and hearings consistent with orders of the mayor issued in accordance with subdivisions two and three of section one thousand forty-eight of this charter.

  1. [Repealed.]

Section 2204.

Section 2204. Consumers council.

There shall be in the department a consumers council which shall advise the commissioner on general goals for the development of programs, undertake studies and reports, and foster cooperation among city, state and federal agencies and private groups. The council shall consist of the commissioner, ex officio, and twelve members to be appointed by the mayor to serve for three years except that of the twelve members first appointed, four shall be appointed for a term of three years, four for a term of two years and four for a term of one year. One of these twelve shall be appointed chairman annually by the mayor. The members shall represent a cross section of consumer interests. They shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties.