June 2008 Community Report

Dear Neighbor:

The following is a summary of some of my office's activities since my last community report:

Extending Real Estate Tax Abatements For Co-op And Condo Owners:

In May, I noted the State Senate had unanimously passed Senate Bill 7714 to extend the real property tax abatement program for home owners in New York City cooperatives and condominiums for another four years. I am pleased to report that on June 11, Governor Paterson signed this extension into law, ensuring that co-op and condo owners throughout the five boroughs will not be required to pay hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars more in property taxes than those who own comparatively-valued, non-multiple dwelling homes.

Since I became a New York State Senator in 1999, I have advocated on behalf of and voted for extenders of this tax abatement program each time it has come up in the State Legislature. While I will continue to support such extenders whenever they sunset to ensure that New York City co-op and condo owners get the property tax relief they need and deserve, I will also continue to press for a reevaluation of New York Cityfs real estate tax system that would permanently address this inequity and make future extenders of this tax abatement unnecessary.

Fighting for Safe Schools:

On May 18, I joined Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Borough President Scott Stringer, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, City Councilmember Gale Brewer, parents and students at a press conference calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assume lead responsibility for testing and remediation for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination at P.S. 199 and the Center School, which share a building at 270 West 70 Street. We had jointly sent urging the EPA to act expeditiously, as students at the school continued to be at risk.

On June 2, we received a letter that the Department of Education (DOE) sent to the P.S. 199 Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), outlining a comprehensive plan for testing and remediation that began immediately and will be completed before school resumes in September. I greatly appreciate the departmentfs commitment to eliminating any and all risks of PCB contamination at P.S. 199 and I will continue work with other elected officials and government agencies to ensure the safety of our schools.

Tracking the Threat of Illegal Hotels :

On June 1, I joined Housing Conservation Coordinators, the West Side SRO Law Project, the West Side Neighborhood Alliance, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, New York State Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal, and New York City Council Members Gale Brewer and Dan Garodnick in releasing a report entitled gRoom by Room: Illegal Hotels and the Threat to New Yorkfs Tenants.h The report identified a shocking number of residential apartments throughout Manhattan being used as transient hotel rooms, and thus creating hazardous conditions for residents and visitors alike.

Celebrating Victories in the Quest for Marriage Equality:

On May 15, the California State Supreme Court overturned the statefs same-sex marriage ban, opening the way for same-sex couples to legally marry in California most likely as soon as thirty days. The previous day, Governor Patersonfs counsel sent a directive to New York State agencies asking them to revise their policies and regulations in accordance with recent court decisions to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Please see my letter to Governor Paterson and my statements on both of these historic steps on the path to marriage equality. If you support the Governorfs directive, please take a moment to call him at 518-474-8390 and thank him for his just and principled stance. When you place your call be sure and provide your name and your zip code.

Supporting the Proposed West Chelsea Historic District:

On May 13, I submitted testimony before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in support of the proposed West Chelsea Historic District. This proposal, which would help preserve some magnificent buildings along with the memory of West Chelsea's integral role in the industrial development of our city, is the result of a long, positive, collaborative process between the City and CB4. I urged approval on the merits of the district and expressed my appreciation for the way in which it was derived.

Advocating for a Port Authority Bus Garage:

On May 23, I wrote a letter to NYC Department of City Planning Director Amanda Burden and the new Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey ("Port Authority") Christopher Ward expressing my support for the Port Authority's planned new storage facility ("Bus Garage") for buses using the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority Bus Terminal ("Bus Terminal"). Residents, businesses and tourists in the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen and Midtown neighborhoods are plagued with traffic created by charter, commuter and jitney buses and vans using the Lincoln Tunnel and Bus Terminal. They, along with the drivers of the vehicles, deserve a Bus Garage that will lessen traffic congestion and its negative effects, increase efficiency at the Bus Terminal to promote mass transit, and give bus drivers a place to park and take a break.

Moving Forward with the West Side Rail Yards Development:

On May 19, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("MTA") reached a deal with the joint partnership of Related Companies and Goldman Sachs to develop the West Side Rail Yards. The deal closely mirrors the one which the MTA had initially made with Tishman Speyer. I look forward to working with Related, a company with a long history of developing affordable housing, and which has many projects on the West Side of Manhattan, in the coming months and years to ensure a development that addresses the concerns of the community and CB4, including affordable housing, preservation of the High Line, openness and connection to the surrounding neighborhood, and the promised on-site public school.

Supporting Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice Care:

Please see my letter in support of Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice Carefs request for HEAL NY Phase 7 funding to construct a new 16-bed Hospice Residence at Bellevue Hospital Center. This project will address the increasing demand for hospice care in the area, where barriers to inpatient access may exist as a result of recent hospital closings, and it also conforms to the recently adopted New York City 197-a Plan for the eastern half of Manhattan Community District 6, in which Bellevue is located.

Participating in the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Tenant Association Meeting:

On Saturday, May 31, I along with other local elected officials who represent the community attended the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Tenant Association (ST/PCV TA). I was thrilled to see many residents at the meeting to learn about the ST/PCV TAfs current agenda as well as to voice their concerns to their local elected officials. I spoke briefly about the Rent Board Reform bill, which I introduced in the Senate last month as part of the Real Rent Reform Campaign, both of which you can learn more about from the links on the News and Issues page of this website.

Supporting Rent-Regulated Tenants at the Rent Guidelines Board:

I am outraged that the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) approved on June 20 its highest rent increases for rent stabilized apartments in years. The rent increases of 4.5% for one year leases and 8.5% for two year leases, with supplemental monthly increases of $45 and $85 if higher than the percentage increase for tenants who have lived in their apartments six years or more, will not only further burden the many rent-regulated tenants but could potentially force them out of New York City. As I argued in my testimony that I submitted to the RGB, the current process is fundamentally flawed, and underscores the need for the Rent Board Reform bill that I and Assemblymember George Latimer introduced earlier this year.

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