Legislators Announce Proposal for “Mom & Pop Rent Increase Exemption” to Help Save NYC’s Most-Beloved Small Businesses

New York City’s small businesses are increasingly under pressure as commercial rents rise, often facing rent increases upwards of 50 percent, especially when their leases expire. New legislation would create a property tax exemption for landlords who offer independently-owned small businesses a long-term lease with fair increases & a fair renewal clause. This “Mom & Pop Rent Increase Exemption” would save some of NYC’s most-beloved small businesses, preserve retail diversity, and create more livable neighborhoods.
December 15, 2017
New York City

Today, a group of New York elected officials announced their plan to create a new “Mom & Pop Rent Increase Exemption” program to help save some of New York City’s most-beloved small businesses. The program would encourage landlords to enter into long-term, affordable leases, with fair renewal clauses, with mom & pop retailers. Read more »

What matters most

Yesterday, Ady Barkan took an unsteady but unfaltering walk through the halls of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Read more »

A New Protection for NYC Tenants: “Certification of No Harassment”

November 30, 2017
New York

Today, the City Council, the de Blasio Administration, and tenant advocates celebrated a new policy to protect tenants from the cycle of harassment. The “Certification of No Harassment” (CONH) legislation, which the Council is expected to pass at its meeting Thursday, will require covered building owners seeking to demolish or make significant alterations to their building to prove they have not engaged in harassment before they can get the permits they need from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). If a landlord is found to have harassed tenants, they would not be able to pull those permits for five years – unless they make a substantial portion of their building affordable to low-income families, with no public subsidy.

The CONH program has been in place in Hell’s Kitchen since 1974, and a similar requirement applies to all Single-Room Occupancy buildings (SROs) citywide. Tenant advocates have been working to expand the program to neighborhoods with rising rents, where tenants are at particular risk of displacement. While NYC has taken significant steps to prevent harassment through legislation, proactive enforcement, and providing legal counsel, some unscrupulous landlords continue to harass their tenants. Once a tenant is driven out, the landlord can make significant renovations, or demolish and rebuild, enabling them to dramatically raise rents.

In June 2016, a working group co-chaired by Council Member Brad Lander and the HPD Commissioner, and comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, including government agencies, building owners and managers, tenant advocates, legal service providers, and policy experts, met to explore ways to further deter harassment, including the potential for an expanded Certification of No Harassment program.  Working with members of the group, the City performed innovative data analyses to find the characteristics of buildings where tenant harassment was suspected, reported, or confirmed. The group looked at many factors and learned that buildings that are physically distressed or recently sold may be associated with reports of harassment.

As a result of the Working Group process, the City Council and the Administration have developed new legislation for a 36-month pilot that significantly expands the Certificate of No Harassment (CONH) program. Read more »

Tell Governor Cuomo: End the MTA’s signal failure.



Every day, New Yorkers wait in near-agony for subway trains running far behind schedule, late for work, for school, for doctor’s appointments. As the New York Times reported in anepic story on the subway crisis this Sunday, every single subway line has worsened dramatically (except one, more on that below). On-time performance has fallen far below every other major city (only Mexico City is even close).

What’s the number one cause of subway delays? Signal failures (even the MTA says so).

What’s the most important long-term fix for the subways? Modernizing the signal system. The Regional Plan Association says so. The MTA says so. The New York Times says so. And New Yorkers say so.

Unfortunately: Governor Cuomo and the MTA have not gotten the message.

The subway “rescue plan” developed by MTA Chairman Joe Lhota does not include any additional funding for signal modernization. Even worse, as the Times revealed this weekend, the MTA has cut half-a-billion dollars from signal projects under Governor Cuomo. The subway crisis is Governor Cuomo’s signal failure.

That’s why we are launching SignalFail.com. I hope you’ll check it out today, see how signal failures are harming New Yorkers, learn what we can do to modernize our signal system, and sign the petition calling on Governor Cuomo and the MTA to fix the signals.

SignalFail.com is a new online tool that my office developed to call attention to the need to fix the signals. We are launching it today, together with New York State Senators Liz Krueger and Kevin Parker, and Assembly Members Robert Carroll, Richard Gottfried, Jo Anne Simon, Assemblymember and Senator-Elect Brian Kavanagh   -- and hopefully you! -- to demand that the governor and the MTA to make modernizing the subway’s signal system their top long-term priority. Read more »

ELECTED OFFICIALS LAUNCH SIGNALFAIL.COM CALL ON GOV. CUOMO & MTA TO FIX THE SIGNALS

New Yorkers agree: Modernizing the signal system must be a top MTA priority. But the MTA actually cut $500 million from signal projects, and Chair Lhota’s subway rescue has not added $1 to signal modernization. At the current pace, a modern signal system will take 50 years. SignalFail.com will reveal how signal failures affect New Yorkers daily commutes and build support to fix the signals.
November 21, 2017

NEW YORK -- A group of New York elected officials today launched SignalFail.com, calling on Governor Cuomo and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota to fix-the-signals. According to the MTA's own, 20-year needs assessment, signal failure is the leading cause of subway delays. Read more »

Meet & greet with your new State Senator!

 A few months ago, State Senator Daniel Squadron announced he was resigning from his post in the New York State Senate. Read more »

“Certification of No Harassment” Policy Will Protect Tenants from Harassment

Unfortunately, for unscrupulous landlords in NYC – especially in neighborhoods where rents are rising – harassing tenants is part of the business plan. Once a tenant is driven out, the landlord can make significant renovations, or demolish and rebuild, enabling them to dramatically raise rents. While we have taken significant steps to prevent harassment through legislation, proactive enforcement, and providing legal counsel, harassment of rent-regulated tenants remains a significant problem. 

The “Certification of No Harassment” (CONH) legislation will better protect tenants from the cycle of harassment. Under the law, covered building owners will be required to prove they have not engaged in harassment before they can get the permits they need from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to demolish or make significant alterations to their buildings. If the landlord is found to have harassed tenants, they would not be able to pull those permits – unless they submit to a significant "cure" requirement (making a substantial portion of their building permanently affordable, with no public subsidy). Read more »

Hope in the Dark, Las Mareas edition

Jacqueline Vazquez Suarez – known in the coastal town of Las Mareas as Jacqui – started cooking on a fogon (a traditional Puerto Rican stove) in the days after Hurricane Maria, and an extraordinary community of recovery has grown around her. Read more »

Five years after Sandy: Let’s remember. And recommit.

Five years after Sandy: Let’s remember. And recommit.

Five years later, what I remember most is what we were able to do together.

More than the destroyed homes, the burned-out electrical panels in all of NYCHA’s Red Hook Houses, or the tree that fell on our home. Read more »

Elected Officials and Community Leaders Welcome City Planning's Release of Working Group Recommendations for Gowanus

Areas of consensus include infrastructure and resiliency investments, expanded public access, a strong mix of uses including industry, arts, and affordable housing. Community members will continue to push for stronger commitments to invest in public housing & manufacturing jobs.
October 18, 2017

From January through July of 2017 -- as part of the larger NYC Department of City Planning’s Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study -- community residents took part in a series of working groups, to drill down on the complex issues that will shape the future of Gowanus. Today, the cumulative results of this effort were published on www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/plans/gowanus/gowanus-updates.page. Read more »

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