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Wednesday, February 18, 2015
These people are so transparent.
I stopped trusting our councilman, Dan Garodnick, when he eased himself into a third term as councilman after voting against extending term-limits. It was a blatant hypocritical maneuver that is typical of politicians and why people are so disenchanted with them. Of course, we had clues as to Dan's steadfastness when he presented a coherent argument against the commercialization of the Oval (at the time, Stuy Town's greenmarket) before disengaging from his stance by agreeing to the commercialization as long as it was meant "for residents and their guests," a stipulation that became almost immediately laughable given the lack of a landlord's enforcement. Even the tenant fight for "affordable housing" became something of a joke, and a cruel one, when the only option given was a buy-out of the property with the involvement of Big Real Estate that would have meant the steady evaporation of true affordable housing in this community. Then there are Dan's yearly dinner dates with the REBNY, one of the strongest organizations in the city whose goal is the elimination of rent stabilization and the pursuit of building taller and taller at the expense of livability, the working class who can still afford to live in Manhattan, and just the simple charm of living in a city and not in a mega-towered landscape bottomed with chain drug stores, Starbucks, and banks.
Now that Bloomberg is gone, Dan has assumed a position of more influence and attention, as the above article indicates. Dan's "high rise" is no doubt propelled by a vision of becoming mayor of the city one day. His other vision is the more immediate one: changing Manhattan, specifically the East Side, midtown.
Dan is a smart man, though, and, as a lawyer and politician (why are the two always so joined at the hip?), he knows how to say the right thing to whomever he is addressing. One could say that he plays both sides, something both politicians and lawyers become so adept at. Aside from his skills at defining positions with succinct "reasonableness," Dan is also an attractive candidate on a physical level. The ladies, both young and old, must like him. (But a warning: He should stop eating cannoli, as I've been noticing a slight girth advancing along his waist in recent photos. More of this and he'll start looking like Scott Stringer, another hopeful candidate for the position of mayor of New York City.)
Dan's position on the rezoning of east midtown is typical of his "reasonable" stances on other issues. On one hand, he is all for extra zoning privileges for Big Real Estate (the current curse of what's happening with the build-up of sliver high-rises in Manhattan), while on the other hand, he wants to upgrade transportation venues and give people mini-parks with waterfalls. Playing both sides.
So while New York is still turning into Bloomberg's vision of Dubai on the Hudson, the humanitarian perks are meant to assuage the peons and give politicians nice photo-ops, a win-win situation on the surface.
Unfortunately, I still see Big Real Estate winning, Big Time.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Thursday, February 12, 2015
The TA Presents Its "The Courts" Safety Report to CW, but Fails to Notify the Fire Department and the DOB
Well, that's nice and friendly. Perhaps the TA could have gone the extra step of informing both the Fire Department and the DOB (Department of Buildings), so a record of the infractions could be official, but no....
Management thanked the TA, but blew it off on tenant concerns about noise and just who is using the "The Courts" at Playground 11, which has been taken over by commercial enterprises for "residents and their guests."
But we are reminded: "The Tenants Association takes seriously any incursion on our traditionally open spaces...."
Another loss for the Mayor. And Robbie Speyer.
I may have posted this before.... If I did, it still shocks me, so worth a repeat.
As we know by now an apartment with more than three unrelated tenants is a legal no-no in the city.
From the above "I was surprised...." statement it appears that the leasing office/management is aware of such situations. And our TA certainly is.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Nearly 50 city building inspectors and construction contractors — some with alleged mob ties —turned themselves in Tuesday as part of scheme in which builders paid off city employees to fast-track projects. Inspectors also routinely took cash to overlook building code violations, authorities said.
More at the above link.
So, what's the betting that some of this isn't going on in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village?
Fumigate, fumigate, fumigate!!!
(Hat tip to Edmund's post at the TA Facebook page.)
Monday, February 9, 2015
Finally! Some action from our TA! The TA will hold a free raffle for free tickets to see Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreeme at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn.
More info at the TA Facebook's pinned post.
Let's fiddle while Rome burns.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
And please don't tell me that our politicians don't know about this. And the REBNY certainly has to not only know, but it also welcomes and indulges such a situation.
We need someone to fumigate what's going on in the city.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
The complete text of the mayor's speech is here. Stuy Town gets mentioned, though nothing is said about proactively maintaining whatever affordable housing remains in ST/PCV.
....And when it comes to affordable housing, we will prove them wrong again.
In fact, we’re already doing so … already making real progress towards a more affordable New York.
First, our Rent Guidelines Board passed the smallest rent increase ever last year – helping protect tenants from being squeezed by their landlords.
Second, we are following through on a plan to build and preserve affordable housing on an unprecedented scale. We’ve committed to the construction of 80,000 new units of affordable housing by 2024.
Let me put that in perspective: It means building new affordable units at twice the average annual rate of the past 25 years.
When you add that to the 120,000 units that our plan preserves, it means affordable housing for a half million New Yorkers … more than the entire population of the city of Miami. Take that, Miami!
This is what our housing plan does. It’s real. Those here … can pick up a copy. And anyone can read it online at NYC.gov.
And we’re already putting this plan into action. Our goal for 2014 was to create and preserve 16,000 units. We beat that goal — achieving 17,300 affordable units last year alone.
Third, because it’s been projected that New York City will be home to nine million people by 2040, we’re pursuing every kind of housing.
Increasing the overall supply of housing is critical to serving New Yorkers at all income levels — and to assuring we can accommodate the work force who will continue to grow our economy.
So we plan for the construction of 160,000 market rate units as well.
All told, our plan will create hundreds of thousands of construction jobs – and over 20,000 permanent jobs.
Fourth, we’re cutting red tape to speed up our progress.
To expedite the right kind of development, we must expedite the development process.
What we need, and what we will have, is fundamental reform at the Department of Buildings. This agency must better serve its customers – including thousands of small businesses that drive our economy. We’ll speed up inspections and cut bureaucracy, so that more jobs can be created and more housing can be built.
Fifth — for the first time in New York City history, we are creating a Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning requirement that will apply to all major residential rezonings.
This is a big one. Listen to this.
In every major rezoning development, we will require developers to include affordable housing. Not as an option. As a precondition.
Want to see this approach in action? Look at Astoria Cove in Queens. As a result of this
Administration’s framework — and the City Council’s tough negotiations — 465 units of affordable housing will be created at this site alone.
That’s 465 families who no longer have to choose between living in the city they call home, or finding another city they can afford. It means that hundreds of kids will live and learn and grow in our city.
Astoria Cove is a site in which previous City rezoning policy wouldn’t have required any units of affordable housing. Zero. That was, in fact, the original plan.
So if you want to see the difference that our approach is already making – it’s the difference between 465 ... and zero … on one site alone.
And there are many more rezonings like this coming soon to neighborhoods across the five boroughs – from East New York to Long Island City; from Flushing West to East Harlem; from downtown Staten
Island to the Jerome Avenue Corridor in the Bronx.
Each of these efforts will make our neighborhoods stronger and more affordable.
And here’s one that will be a game-changer when it comes to keeping our city affordable for thousands of New York families: Sunnyside Yards.
Right now, there are 200 acres of land in the heart of Queens, land that exists in the form of a rail yard – and only a rail yard. But the fact is, those tracks could easily exist underground – allowing us to build housing – much of it affordable — above them.
At Sunnyside Yards, we envision a plan that incorporates what diverse and dynamic neighborhoods need — access to transportation, parks, schools, retail stores, and job opportunities.
Now 200 acres is a lot of land. We know some parts of this site can easily handle larger buildings… and others can’t. So we’ll work closely with elected officials and community leaders to determine what makes sense.
Our approach is not entirely novel. Developments that prioritize affordability and livability HAVE been built before — from Starrett City to Co-op City to Stuy Town, to the Big 6 towers in Woodside, Queens.
And these developments created affordability on a grand scale.
Stuy Town, when it opened in 1947 provided our city with 11,250 affordable apartments… a community where trees and parks, and shops dotted a landscape from which residents could actually see the sky.
We’re bringing that same kind of scale — and a real sense of urgency — to Sunnyside Yards … and setting the same exact goal of 11,250 affordable units, as part of a neighborhood that anyone would be proud to call home.
And in contrast to the recent history of Stuy Town, we’re going to make sure that affordable housing at Sunnyside Yards stays that way.
To paraphrase one of my former employers, it takes a village to build a neighborhood. So we look forward to partnering with Amtrak and the M.T.A. in this extraordinary effort at Sunnyside Yards.
Another transformative opportunity lies in the Lower Concourse neighborhood on the waterfront in the South Bronx, a section of our city that was for so long synonymous with urban decay.
But the South Bronx is coming back strong, and waterfront development will be a big step forward.
When we look at this project, we don’t think about what used to define the Bronx; we think about all that will define the Bronx in the future.
With a $200 million capital investment, we can stimulate the development of 4,000 new units of housing – much of it affordable — and provide the parks, schools, and commercial development that support a growing, thriving population.
We look forward to partnering with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and our colleagues in government to make an investment that will bring hope and opportunity to a place with enormous potential.
And speaking of potential, let’s talk about the Rockaways.
Battered by years of economic distress even before Sandy’s gale force winds struck, there’s no place in our city that has persevered through more.
Our plan will jump-start the process of acquiring underutilized properties in the Rockaways – areas blighted or vacant for decades – as we look to create new, affordable housing for thousands there.
We must also remember that transportation is central to the mission of providing affordable housing and services — connecting neighborhoods in the five boroughs to New York’s largest job centers.
For years, the conventional wisdom has been that certain neighborhoods are doomed to isolation because of their geography.
Today, if you live in one of those neighborhoods – the Rockaways or Red Hook or Soundview, among others — a job in Manhattan can easily mean an hour or more of commuting, even when the skyline is visible from your home. You can actually see opportunity, but practically speaking, it’s very far away.
We are going to change that.
Today, we announce that we’re launching a new citywide ferry service to be open for business in 2017.
New ferry rides will be priced the same as a MetroCard fare, so ferries will be as affordable to everyday New Yorkers as our subways and buses. … so residents of the Rockaways and Red Hook and Soundview will now be closer to the opportunities they need.
And beyond connecting residents to jobs in Manhattan, our new citywide ferry system will spur the development of new commercial corridors throughout the outer boroughs.
We will also expand Bus Rapid Transit – or B.R.T. – serving 400,000 New Yorkers along key thoroughfares like Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, and Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens … completing a network of 20 routes over the next four years. BRT will cut transit time on existing routes by 15-25 percent. That means New Yorkers spending less time in transit and more time living their lives.
That’s the kind of housing that we’ll build.
Let’s talk about some of the people we’re fighting to help.
First, our veterans. We commit to ending chronic veterans homelessness by the end of this year. Those who fight to protect our freedom abroad should never be left without a home.
Second, our seniors. We’re providing 10,000 units of affordable housing for – New Yorkers who have worked hard all of their lives, and deserve to retire in dignity. Women and men who live on fixed incomes have little recourse when housing costs go up. They need our help, and they will get it.
Third, artists. We know that New York is the city it is today in part because of the contributions from generations of artistic visionaries who at one point struggled to make ends meet.
So we’ll provide 1500 units of affordable live/work housing for the artists and musicians who make New York culture so vibrant …. as well as 500 dedicated affordable workspaces for the cultural community.
These folks bring joy to everyday New Yorkers; and inspire young people to pursue their natural talents in professions that often don’t promise a big paycheck. They also help make our city a mecca for tourists, and are one of the reasons why a record number of people — 56.4 million — visited New York last year.
But whether or not you’re a veteran, a senior, or an artist, you’ve likely felt the pinch of skyrocketing housing costs in our city.
That’s due in part to a phenomenon that everybody sees, everybody feels – but nobody wants to really talk about: gentrification.
Ask 8.4 million New Yorkers what they think about gentrification, and you’ll get 8.4 million opinions.
Clearly, there’s good and there’s bad.
First, the good.
After two decades of steadily declining crime, people are excited to come to New York … about investing in our city.
With that influx of people and resources comes jobs and amenities ... more activity … safer streets.
The problem comes when we reach the tipping point … when New Yorkers get priced out of their own neighborhoods.
In the past, we’ve been told: sorry – there’s nothing you can do about that. You can either have a safe and clean neighborhood – or you can have one you can afford. Not both.
Well, as my grandmother might say, that’s “una cavolata!”
We can act, and we must.
You see, New York City’s last 20 years has had its share of bad actors.
First, there are the slumlords – the folks who refuse to make repairs … letting housing decay … making apartments uninhabitable.
Then, there are predatory landlords – the people who take advantage of a red-hot real estate market – employing ugly tactics to push out moderate-income tenants to make room for wealthier ones.
These predatory landlords harass tenants by, say, intermittently turning off the heat or hot water, or by refusing to address simple matters of safety or sanitation.
That doesn’t just violate the law; it violates our values as New Yorkers.
And we have tools to address these things.
When I was public advocate, we published the Worst Landlords Watchlist – targeting those who refused to make simple repairs to the units they controlled.
It helped spur change, with hundreds of buildings coming off the list after making needed improvements … and thousands of tenants getting the repairs they needed. I applaud Public Advocate Tish James for energetically continuing this effort.
And there’s more we can do.
Albany has responsibility for enforcing our rent laws, but too often that doesn’t happen. We need Albany to step up and enforce the laws aggressively. Now.
Every day in this city, people are losing their homes unfairly. Albany cannot wait — we need help right now.
And we need stronger rent regulations that reflect today’s New York.
To preserve our city as a place for everyone, we need to do more than ever to protect the one million rent-regulated apartments in New York. For so many, it’s the only way they make ends meet … and the only path to the middle class.
If Albany truly believes in opportunity for all, they will strengthen our rent laws in 2015.
If they cannot do that, then we call on the State to provide the funding to help tenants … help themselves – by providing free legal services to victims of landlord neglect or harassment.
And even while we’re calling on Albany to step up, the City will do its part.
So today, I’m announcing that in any of the areas in which the city rezones, if we find evidence that tenants are being harassed, we will supply those tenants with legal representation, at no cost, to take their case to Housing Court … to seek justice before a judge.
Protecting our tenants – through whatever means necessary – isn’t just the moral thing to do. It’s a critical step in making New York City a more affordable place for everyone. And we should thank the City Council for their historic support of legal services for tenants.
All of the steps on housing that I’ve spoken about today – from responsibly building UP; to placing new demands on developers; to providing affordable housing to New Yorkers who need it most; to targeting predatory landlords – it’s all part of our new rules for helping people find a home they can afford.
Today we’ve focused on the number one expense in the lives of most New Yorkers. Reducing the expense of housing is absolutely critical to addressing the tale of two cities.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Where does our man and REBNY pal Dan stand on this? No surprises. In typical fashion, he kinda takes the middle road in his statement by raising a "strawman" argument--and goes along with the deal. From the article:
“The current zoning doesn’t respect the needs of the city,” said the Hon. Daniel R. Garodnick, a New York City Council member whose district includes all of Midtown East, a 73-block area surrounding Grand Central. He regards the Vanderbilt Corridor proposal, in which the city stands to gain infrastructure improvements in exchange for increased FAR, as a decent alternative to “unfettered as-of-right development” (that does not require review or approval by City Planning), “which would be the other extreme.”
More from the above article:
These, of course, are not opinions shared by those in the preservation community (none of whom were represented in the MCNY program). Architect Peter Pennoyer, a longtime preservation activist and author of The Architecture of Warren & Wetmore (W.W. Norton), points out that Grand Central was conceived as the centerpiece of Terminal City, a visually unified urban planning scheme in which dozens of hotels, office buildings, and apartment houses were built atop the station’s railroad yards in the 1910s and 1920s. “It was an urban ensemble, a mythic place, arguably more important than Rockefeller Center,” he says.
About three-quarters of Terminal City’s original buildings, which extended north into the East 50’s and east to Lexington Avenue, disappeared during the post-World War II building frenzy. The Vanderbilt Avenue building (51 E. 42nd Street), the Roosevelt Hotel, and the Yale Club are among those that remain. Efforts to preserve them have been hampered, thus far, by a public that hasn’t loudly taken up the cause. Pennoyer believes that’s because Vanderbilt Corridor is not a residential district. “There’s no natural grass-roots constituency to get engaged,” he says. “Instead of thousands upon thousands of people in apartments getting upset about zoning changes and demolitions, you have a few real estate companies."
And this is what NY Times reporter Charles V. Bagli, who wrote the book on the ST/PCV real estate deal, OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY, warned against recently:
At a January 20 panel discussion titled “Is the Vanderbilt Corridor the Future of East Midtown?,” held at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), moderator Charles V. Bagli, a New York Times real estate reporter, raised the specter of Dubai-like towers potentially looming not just over Grand Central Station but even obliterating the nearby Chrysler Building, designed by William Van Alen and completed in 1930.