2015-06-17 / Editorials

Rent Regulation

A copy of this letter, dated June 14, was received at the Queens Gazette.

To Landlords of Rent Regulated Units:

Re: Landlords’ Legal Obligations Irrespective of Rent Regulation Expiration

Few things are more fundamental than having a stable, affordable home. Protecting affordable housing has been my passion for my entire public service career and it is my duty as Governor of New York state.

If New York City’s rent regulations were to expire it would create mayhem and chaos for both tenants and landlords, and would roil the entire real estate industry. That is not a viable outcome, and I will call the legislature back in special session every day until the legislature resolves its differences and a new rent regulation package is passed.

In the meantime, I write today to send a clear message to landlords with units in the rent stabilization system: Although June 15, 2015 is the day that several laws creating our rent stabilization system are set to expire, your legal obligations under existing leases and under the passage of the new rent stabilization program will not expire on that day; and any attempt to circumvent those responsibilities will face the full brunt of the law and all legal consequences.

I. Reauthorized Rent Stabilization Laws Will be Retroactive

Should there be any temporary lapse in the rent laws, I want every landlord to be on notice: new rent laws will be retroactive to June 15. Thus, despite any potential temporary lapse, any action taken by a landlord after June 15 will be fully subject to the new law, and the state will use every tool at our disposal to assure full enforcement of that law. Every landlord is therefore directed to remain in compliance with the current law until they fully understand their responsibilities under the new law that is ultimately passed by the legislature.

II. The Rent Set by Existing Leases is Unaffected

Landlords in the rent-stabilized system will remain bound by their leases, until those leases expire on their own terms. A lease is a private contractual agreement between a landlord and a tenant. The terms of those agreements will continue to exist irrespective of any expiration or modification to the rent stabilization laws. Moreover it is well established that landlords cannot increase rents or evict tenants without proper notice under the terms and conditions of existing leases and state law.

This administration intends to use every tool at its disposal to prevent any improper attempts by landlords to break rent-stabilized leases. Landlords of rent-stabilized units who try to use a temporary lapse in the rent stabilization laws to break existing leases, to raise rents improperly, to intimidate tenants, or to coerce tenants into leaving their homes, will be subject to the full force of law for any such action. Our enforcement efforts will include utilizing the legal authority vested in the New York State Division of Human Rights, and civil and criminal referrals to the Attorney General. Landlords should be on notice that they will be subject to severe penalties including rent freezes, fines, and treble damages, for any violations of the law.

I have also directed the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s Tenant Protection Unit, which has already proven itself an aggressive leader in tenant protection, to form a task force to educate tenants about their rights. This task force will conduct a series of education and outreach actions to inform tenants of their rights and protect them from any possible violation of those rights. DHCR has set up a toll-free hotline, 844-736- 8435, that will be staffed 24 hours a day to encourage tenants to report potentially illegal conduct by landlords during any potential lapse in the rent stabilization law.

I have told the legislature in no uncertain terms that I plan to take drastic action should there be delay in enacting new rent stabilization laws. Landlords of our rent-stabilized units should hear a similar message and act as if the current rules are in force until the new rent stabilization package is authorized. Landlords who improperly attempt to use any brief lapse in the rent stabilization laws to gouge tenants on rents, engage in deceptive business practices, or threaten tenants with eviction due to the lapse, will face enforcement actions to the full extent of the law.

Sincerely,
Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor

DOT Plan Approved

Dear Friends,

When we have the power to save a life it is our collective responsibility as New Yorkers to do so. And last night Queens exercised that power.

I am happy to say that members of Community Board 2 in western Queens voted overwhelmingly to approve the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal to make Queens Boulevard safer. I personally have been involved in this fight.

For nearly 15 years I have joined families who have lost loved ones, transportation advocates, members of clergy, school officials and business owners to call on our city to fix the 7.2 mile stretch. As soon as the de Blasio Administration entered office they immediately heard our concerns and took on this challenge implementing Vision Zero – an aggressive strategy to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries on our city’s streets.

Last night’s vote sets in motion a transformative project that will protect the lives of countless New Yorkers – cyclists, motorists and pedestrians – for generations to come.

Under the leadership of DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, the agency’s Queens team, and with extensive feedback from the community, we have crafted the best plan to immediately begin installing meaningful improvements this summer. Along with the approved plan, the city is investing $100 million into the multiyear redesign project. This commitment will forever beautify the boulevard, expand space for pedestrians, and improve and calm traffic.

Our city has embraced Vision Zero. Last year was one of the safest years for all New Yorkers since 1910. Those are real results, and we are pushing to do even more. And we will.

Last night our community and city came together to say enough is enough. No longer do we have to accept danger as a reality. Today is a new day for everyone in Queens. Today we put an end to the long-used moniker of “The Boulevard of Death” as we rebuild a new boulevard filled with life.

Sincerely,
Jimmy Van Bramer
New York City Council Majority Leader

Flushing Bus Terminal

To The Editor:

Recent announcements and public workshops for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City Transit (NYCT) plans for creation of a Jamaica- Flushing Select Bus Service (SBS) route may not be able to reach full potential benefits, including time savings, without construction of the long-forgotten Flushing Intermodal Bus Terminal. In the early 1960s Flushing Municipal Parking Lot 1 was thought of for construction of an intermodal bus terminal. This facility would take hundreds of buses off the surrounding streets, where they discharge and pick up riders. For over 50 years, generation after generation of Queens County, New York City, New York state and federal public officials, on a bipartisan basis, have failed to secure any funding necessary to support environmental review, design, engineering and construction of this badly needed transportation improvement.

From the 1960s to today, there has been an explosion in the number of commuters riding buses to Flushing and transferring to the subway. This has been complemented by a huge growth of commercial businesses, accompanied by the demolition of homes to support construction of apartment houses and multi-family homes in the surrounding neighborhood. Just walk in any direction from the corner of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue in downtown Flushing and see for yourself. Select Bus Service, Bus Rapid Transit or any other proposed projects to provide additional bus service to tens of thousands of riders from two-fare zones will not work without additional capacity to accommodate more buses in downtown Flushing. Buses traveling to, from and through downtown Flushing move at slow speeds due to excess traffic, not only during rush hour, but also off-peak. This results in a longer commute for riders and periodic bunching of buses on many routes. The proposed Q44 SBS running from Jamaica through Flushing on to the Bronx has to compete with other NYC Transit bus routes: Q12, Q13, Q15, Q16, Q17, Q20A, Q20B, Q26, Q27, Q28, Q48, 57; MTA bus routes Q19, Q25, Q34, Q50, Q65, Q66 and Nassau Inter County Express (NICE) bus routes N20 and N21 for limited space in downtown Flushing especially adjacent to the 7 subway station at Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street.

Construction of a climate-controlled intermodal bus terminal could assist in improving traffic and pedestrian circulation in and around the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue along with the rest of downtown Flushing. Over 60,000 rush hour 7 subway riders and thousands more off-peak would be protected from heat, cold, rain, snow, and winds. There could be a smoother transfer between the bus and subway. Opportunities would still be available for air rights above the bus terminal for parking, joint development of retail, office and/or residential units, including affordable housing.

How disappointing that no elected official has ever stepped forward to honor this commitment from decades ago. The New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development recently announced plans to build 260 units of affordable housing which would also reserve 60 units for seniors at the Flushing Municipal Parking Lot No. 3. This facility is located just off of Main Street adjacent to the Flushing Long Island Rail Road station. It is only two short blocks away from the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, along with the Flushing 7 subway station. While there are other locations in and around Flushing for construction of affordable housing, Municipal Lot No. 3 is the last opportunity for construction of any viable intermodal bus terminal that could provide reasonable bus-to-subway transfers. Why not combine this project with plans to improve the existing Flushing LIRR station? Use Municipal Parking Lot No. 3 for building an intermodal bus terminal instead of current plans for construction of affordable and senior housing. Over 60,000 rush hour, plus thousands more off-peak riders, could benefit by a transportation improvement, versus less than one thousand potential housing tenants. Diogenes is still looking for any MTA board member or public official to add this project to the MTA’s proposed 2015 - 2019 Capital Plan.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Green Spaces Needed

To The Editor:

Queens residents love their parks and shared green spaces, but aren’t aware of the individuals and organizations that are working hard to create them, according to a survey released on June 10 by TD Bank.

The Rooted In NYC Survey found that 95 percent of Queens residents agree that forests and other natural areas are important to the health of their community, and 91 percent say it’s important to them personally to see action taken on creating parks and shared green spaces within cities. However, 62 percent of the Queens residents surveyed said they don’t know who is actually taking action on creating these spaces in their communities. Other key data points include:

• One in three Queens residents (33 percent) do not feel that there are enough parks and shared green spaces in their neighborhood.

• Less than half of Queens residents (49 percent) reported living less than a 10-minute walk from a park or shared green space.

• Queens residents cited addressing climate change / global warming as the most important environmental issue facing their community, with 25 percent of respondents choosing it.

The survey was conducted as part of TD Forests: Rooted In NYC, a program spotlighting New Yorkers who are improving their urban environment and their communities. Ben Murray TD Bank

Renew Zadroga Law

To The Editor:

I thoroughly agree about Flag Day and it is a sad state of affairs that in order to be venerated, a day has to be a day off. Old Glory is our nation’s symbol of triumph, democracy, and pride. I used to love to see the color guard march up to the stage in the auditorium at school from grades 4 through 12.

We used to salute the flag with pride and also the national anthem was not only sung at ball games or Super Bowls, but every day, and has been a source of pride since we were being bombed by the British, the flag was still there, and it has been in every war, every hard time, and during 9/11.

Let us pay homage to our flag and have flag day celebrations.

Also I am congratulating District Attorney Richard Brown for 25 years.

I agree with Nolan and Gianaris and do not approve of the Governor snooping into budget proposals made by the attorney general or other given official.

I truly am glad that the health fair went well at Mount Sinai hospital. We all must protect our health and thank those involved in teaching, educating, and screening.

I deeply agree that for the next 25 years the Zadroga Act that helps the 9/11 ill responders must go on. These are our veterans of the war on terror and we must not neglect them in any manner, shape, or form.

Also, rent laws must not be neglected and must be renewed before the expiration date of June 15.

It would be a sad state of affairs if that were to happen. Affordable housing is necessary to keep our city going.

I am glad that the mayor is going to place more police in high crime areas, but what about hiring more police. That is necessary.

The article from 1896 from the Long Island Star Journal was nostalgic. It is great to see how people in our borough lived. Thanks, Gazette for giving us a great issue.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Respect Our Finest

To The Editor:

NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton pointed out while on the John Gambling radio show on AM 970, that there is a breakdown in American family values. He said, “We’re starting to reap what we have sown over the last 40, 50 years, with homes dissolving and homes without parental guidance.” This, in turn, has caused a deterioration of police-community relations. I could not agree with the Commissioner more for he hit it right on the nail. Respect and guidance starts in the home and goes out to the schools and finally onto the streets. Parents need to be more involved and need to take the upper hand and must teach their children a total respect for authority. They need to enact restrictions for their children and to impose times for their children to be home. They need also to know who their children are with and phone numbers where they can be reached at all times. Our Finest, as Commissioner Bratton pointed out, feel demoralized by the lack of respect on the street. They are only doing their duty in trying to protect and serve the community. Our local communities must instill in our youth good moral values. Remember this too: It takes a village to raise a child!

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

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