Monday, June 30, 2008

Thursday, July 3 - NO WATER FROM Noon to 6 pm

On THURSDAY, July 3rd, there will be NO WATER AT ALL from Noon to 6 p.m. to permit repair of a main valve.

Please stock up on water that morning or the evening before, and make sure all your faucets are turned OFF - to avoid a flood once the water comes back on.

Hot Water Shut-Down till 2 PM on June 30, 2008

Because plumbing in one apartment line had to be fixed, the main valve had to be shut off downstairs. However, the building staff then learned that the main valve was defective - and that had to be replaced. That means NO HOT WATER until about 2 p.m.

We do have cold water.

There is a second main valve with a similar problem, and that will be replaced later this week. Presumably we will get notified in advance.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sad news

The Central Park Gardens Tenants' Association
mourns the loss of our friend and neighbor

Lillian Marie Raby Smith

who died on June 27, 2008.

We extend heartfelt condolences to her husband Vernon Smith, her daughter Holly Raby, and her mother June West.

The wake will be
  • Wednesday, July 2nd
  • 4:00 - 8:00 p.m.
  • Benta's Funeral Home, 630 St. Nicholas Avenue at 141st Street

The Funeral will be
  • Thursday, July 3rd
  • 10 a.m.
  • St. Charles Borromeo R.C. Church, 211 West 141st Street (between 7th & 8th Avenues)


Monday, June 23, 2008

Talented Tenants Performing . . .

Congratulations to Nasheka Siddell and Dr. Chip Shelton!

(1) This Wednesday, June 25th, Nasheka Siddell (3rd floor, West side
of building) will be performing at the Village Underground:
  • June, 25 2008
  • The Village Underground: West 3rd street between 6th ave and Macdougal, New York, New York
  • Cost : $10.00
Doors open at 6p.m. Show starts at 7p.m. $10.00 cover at the door.
Location: West 3rd sreet between 6th avenue and Macdougal!!

(2) Jazz performer and orthodontist Chip Shelton has just released a new CD, and will be performing this Saturday, June 28, from 8-11 PM :

8th CD, "Imbued With Memories", on Summit Records was released May, 2008.

Upcoming CD-release-performances are:
  • Sat. June 28, 8-11pm, Creole Jazz Restaurant, 3rd Av at E118 St, NYC - $10 admission; call 212-876-8838 for reservations
  • Tues.July 1, 8-10:30pm, Bahai Center, 53 E. 11th St. NYC;
  • Fri. July 4, 8-12pm, Cleopatra's Needle, Broadway @ 93 St. NYC;
  • Sat. July 12 10pm-2am, Mintons Playhouse, W.118St off AC Powell Blvd, NYC.
Details: Tel 212/ 222-1543

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The Rent Guidelines Board voted on June 19, 2008 to grant huge increases to landlords.

Rent stabilized tenants in New York City who renew their leases any time from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009 face
  • For a 2-year lease, you pay an 8.5% increase
  • For a 1-year lease, you pay a 4.5% increase.

Tenants living in rent stabilized apartments for 6 or more years, with a rent of under $1000 get a higher increase: $85 for a 2-year lease, and $45 for a 1-year lease. Since we have not been in rent stabilization for 6 years, we can assert that this does not apply. (We left Mitchell-Lama on January 7, 2005.)

Check the Rent Guidelines Board announcement by clicking here.

We need a change in the RGB! Click here for a flyer explaining the issues and a bill that could help.

The NY Times wrote

Board Backs Rise in Rent Up to 8.5%

Published: June 20, 2008

The board that regulates rents for New York City’s one million rent-stabilized apartments approved its highest rent increases in years at a raucous meeting on Thursday, angering tenants who said high rents were forcing the poor and working class out of the city.

At a meeting punctuated by ear-splitting whistle-blowing and shouting matches between sign-waving tenants and landlords, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board authorized rent increases of up to 4.5 percent on one-year leases and 8.5 percent on two-year leases.

The board also took the unusual and controversial step of authorizing a supplemental rent increase that affected only tenants who have lived in their apartments for six years or more. Owners of buildings with those tenants have the option of charging them the approved increases, or a $45 monthly increase for one-year leases or $85 for two-year leases, whichever is greater.

The last time the board approved a set of increases that were higher was in 1989, when one-year leases saw a 5.5 percent increase and two-year leases a 9 percent increase. In 2003, one-year leases increased 4.5 percent, but two-year leases increased 7.5 percent. Last year, the board approved increases of 3 percent on one-year leases and 5.75 percent on two-year leases.

The meeting in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in the East Village was the epitome of chaos: for much of the proceedings, groups of tenants armed with whistles blew persistently and loudly, drowning out a long statement read by the board’s chairman, Marvin Markus, and the taking of the nine-member board’s 5-to-4 vote.

The noise got so loud at one point that the chairman called at least one 15-minute recess.

Some board members put their fingers in their ears to block out the high-pitched whistling. The circus atmosphere was peppered with a sarcastic and subversive brand of political theater. Tenants stood side by side and face to face with landlords, and they shouted at board members and those next to them, booing and holding brief but heated debates about the city’s affordability for renters and owners. At times, Mr. Markus and the other board members sat on the stage for long stretches just waiting for the din to die down.

“Landlords have loopholes!” shouted Barry Soltz, the legal coordinator for the tenants’ association at a rent-stabilized building in the Bronx. “Tenants have hellholes!”

“Get your own place if you don’t like it!” a Brooklyn landlord named Frank, who did not want to give his last name, screamed in his face.

In 2006, tenant organizers tried to shut down the meeting by blowing whistles and banging on homemade drums. A ban on noisemaking instruments and drums was instituted last year, but tenants came prepared this year: They sneaked about 300 earplugs and 360 plastic whistles past the metal detectors at the Great Hall.

“The point we’re making is that this is a charade,” said Michael McKee, the treasurer of Tenants Political Action Committee, part of the Real Rent Reform Campaign, which is seeking to drastically restructure the board. “This was a done deal from the beginning.”

Tenant leaders had said they would try to shut down the meeting if the supplemental rent increase was debated or discussed.

The supplemental increase was not part of the tentative range of increases approved by the board in May. Adriene L. Holder, a board member who represents tenants, said that a memorandum prepared by the board’s staff at the request of the chairman describing a supplemental increase was distributed to board members shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday. She added that for the board to vote in haste on a 22-page memo whose analysis she found questionable was “a procedural outrage.”

The board’s vote had a mixed reaction among property owners. They said that on the one hand the increases were not enough, but that on the other hand they were pleased with the supplemental increase, which they felt would ease the burden on small-property owners who have longtime rent-stabilized tenants paying $500 or $600 a month.

“We are satisfied that for the first time, there’s a recognition by this board that percentages do not work, and that you need to drive more cash to these small-property owners,” said Joseph Strasburg, the president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents thousands of landlords.

According to the landlords’ group, operating costs of rent-stabilized units have grown by more than 40 percent in the past six years, while the board’s rent increases in that time for one-year leases have risen by only 20 percent. Mr. Strasburg and the group had called on the board to pass rent increases of 10 percent to 15 percent this year.

The increases approved on Thursday apply to leases renewed between Oct. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009. Tenants who pay for their own heat are subject to lower increases.

Mr. Markus said the minimum dollar amounts in supplemental increases had been authorized by the board numerous times, though not recently. He defended carrying on with the meeting despite the disruptions.

“I’d love not to have chaos, but unfortunately I’ve got a job to do,” he said, adding that he was not sure what the security procedures would be for next year. “We’re going to have plastic detectors,” he said.

The board’s nine members are appointed by the mayor. Two represent tenants, two represent owners, and five represent the public. Since the board was established in 1969, it has never approved a rent decrease or a rent freeze.

Rent Guidelines Bd Meeting TONIGHT

The Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) is having its final vote this evening, Thursday, June 19th.

Where: The Great Hall - Cooper Union, 7 East 7th St. (at 3rd Avenue in Manhattan)
When: 4:30 - Tenant Press conference
5:30 - 9:30 Final hearing and vote

Landlords are proposing an increase of $50 to $60 dollars on top of a large percentage increase with any lease renewed between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009.

While the RGB considers landlord expenses, it does not consider landlords' actual profits. This year, while fuel costs have gone up, so have landlord profits.

We need changes in the RGB and changes in the rent laws -- all proposed by the Real Rent Reform Campaign.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Money to Move?

Stellar Management has offered some rent stabilized tenants money to move out of the building.

What Stellar would gain:
  • At $3,300 per month rent, Stellar would get $36,900 in one year. In 3 years, that would come to $ 112,700. In 10 years, that would be $369,000.
What tenants would lose:
  • The amount any tenant would get is subject to about 20% tax. So if you're offered $100,000, you would actually end up with $80,000.
  • Where could you live in NYC for $80,000, and for how long ?
  • Our building loses more of its diversity and those who have made this a community.
  • Once the apartment is vacant and Stellar "improves" it out of rent regulation, the city and state permanently lose another affordable unit.
If Stellar offers you money to move, please contact a LAWYER to help you. You can also contact Sue , Na'ava Ades, Joan Browne, Steve Koulish or Prudence Opperman.

East Side Elevators

Building manager Hezi Mizrahi says that both East Side elevators should be in service by June 22nd and that fans will be installed on June 16th.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Beat the Heat

In very hot weather, please check on family members and neighbors who lack air conditioning. The lobby of our building is air conditioned, so if your apartment is not, go to the lobby. In addition, the City has set up cooling centers. The ones in our neighborhood are at:

Goddard-Riverside Senior Center
593 Columbus Ave.
Phone: (212) 873-6600
Contact: Erika Teutsch
Hours: 8:00 to 5:00
Wheelchair accessible : Yes

Manhattan Valley Senior Center
135 W. 106th St.
Phone: (212) 749-7015
Contact: Ana Nery Cox-Ramos
Hours: 8:00 to 4:00
Extended Hours: Hours may be extended during a heat emergency.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Association of Black Social Workers Senior Center
221 W. 107th St.
Phone: (212) 749-8400
Contact: Stephen Adeyinka
Hours: 9:00 to 4:00
Extended Hours: Hours may be extended during a heat emergency.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes

Cathedral Towers Senior Center
125 W. 109th St.
Phone: (212) 749-1100
Contact: Janet Brannigan
Hours: 11:00 to 2:00
Extended Hours: Hours may be extended during a heat emergency.
NOT Wheelchair accessible

Stay Cool. Check your neighbors. Stay indoors. Drink lots of water.

The City suggests those of us with air conditioners use them - but to avoid power blackouts, we should set them at 78 degrees.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We Won the Garage Case!

On June 2, 2008, the Appellate Division, First Department ruled unanimously that DHCR was reasonable when it ruled that garage spaces that tenants had under Mitchell-Lama should remain rent stabilized.

DHCR had held (in two separate decisions) that Mitchell-Lama law required the landlord to provide garage spaces for tenants, and the fact that Goodstein - and then Stellar Management - let another company run the space could not be an exception to the rule.

Hurrah for the late Jacques Rose, our attorney! Hurrah for DHCR! Hurrah for all the garage tenants who supported the case!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Crane at 808 Columbus shut down

Following the most recent crane disaster and deaths on the Upper East Side (91st St. and 1st Ave.), the city's Department of Buildings has shut down the 4 similar cranes, including the one at 808 Columbus Avenue.

See the NY Times article.