Friday, November 21, 2008

Summary of the General Tenants Meeting of Nov. 19, 2008

On November 19, 2008, we gathered in the Community Room which is becoming rather bereft of chairs. If you happen to have taken any upstairs for a family function, kindly bring them downstairs again. Thanks!

BAKE SALE and RAFFLE REPORT: The Bake Sale And Raffle were a great success. We raised money, we had a wonderful time, and we got to talk with neighbors we might not otherwise have known. We raised well over $2300 (after expenses), and that was because of all the tenants who sold and bought raffle tickets, and the 40 or so people who helped out at the bake sale.  Special thanks to Rosa Delgado and Prudence Opperman for running the raffle, and to Prue (again!) and Debbie Gonzalez for overseeing the bake sale.

And speaking of parties . . . start getting ready for our annual
POT LUCK PARTY on Saturday, Dec. 13th from 6 to 9:30 PM.
You’ll soon be getting flyers asking what dish for 8 people you can bring. Last year we had Brazilian beef rissoles, all kinds of pastas, salads (regular, and cranberry and mandarin orange), sweet potatoes and other winter vegetables, roast meats of various types, pesto chicken, turkey chili, black beans and sausages, pakodas, collard greens, Philippine noodles, Jamaican jerked chicken, vegetarian lasagna, tuna kebab, rice and beans, and every delicious dessert you can think of! We’ll be doing dancing, singing, and even (probably) have a few politicians to glad-hand.

MEETING WITH BUILDING MANAGER: Na'ava Ades reported on the executive committee meeting with Building Manager Tobias Sahl. We raised many issues, including
  • Security concerns (heavy front doors remaining wide open, frequent absence of doorman),
  • Elevators (they are now mainly finished, although the floors and walls around them are not),
  • Cleaning the stairwells and the front of the building where the garbage bins are rolled and the laundry dryers – since many of us cannot bend down to clean them ourselves
  • Stair railings (center front steps and east side ramp)
  • Reopening the backyard to tenants
  • Submetering inspections
  • Window blinds
  • Plumbing repairs
  • Community room rules (that we had under Mitchell-Lama, to avoid late-night noise and ensure that things are left clean and neat).
Tobias Sahl’s general response was that he would look into things, but he made no promises.

We now have an Emergency Procedure in place. If there is a fire or someone has had an accident, call 911. For a building emergency such as broken plumbing and flood, please follow this procedure:
1. Call the building office at 212-663-8527. If no answer,
2. Call the doorman’s desk: 212-663-5420. If no answer,
3. Call 212-222-4430 (the local Stellar office at 70 W. 93rd St.) If no answer,
4. and it is a true emergency (like a broken pipe flooding your apartment – but NOT a mouse in your apartment), call Samir Hoti, the assistant building manager, at 646 296 0703.
If you see workmen in the building putting broken beige floor tiles, which are vinyl asbestos, into a bin in the hallway, call 311 and report an immediate asbestos emergency. (Stellar has been notified of this in the past, and was fined $6,000 for a similar violation.) This affects all our health.

Tobias Sahl said there is some way for tenants to sign up for a particular date and time for the Exterminator to come, but he was not sure what it is. In the meantime, sign up in the book at the guard’s desk for the exterminator and for any work you need done in your apartment.

We are entitled to 24-hour Security (since we had it under Mitchell-Lama) and rent stabilized tenants are entitled to window blind repair and replacement. That is because the rent stabilization law requires landlords to maintain at least the same level of service they provided before a building entered rent stabilization. If Stellar does not repair or replace broken window blinds and ensure we have 24-hour doormen actually on duty, we will file a “Diminution of Services” complaint with the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal. If there is no progress between now and then,
come to the lobby on the weekend of Dec. 5th and 6th to help get signatures of all the rent stabilized tenants. And tell Sue whether you’re available to sit in the lobby to help your neighbors. (Non-stabilized tenants should click here to see whether you can get back into rent stabilization.)

With the economic downturn, some tenants have asked about getting roommates.
Rent stabilized tenants are allowed to have roommates and only need to notify Stellar within 30 days of the roommate moving in. If there is one adult on the lease (the “prime tenant”), there may be one adult roommate and that person’s children. If there are two adults on the lease who are not married to each other, there may be two adult roommates and their children. (A married couple on the lease count as a single adult for purposes of adding a roommate.) The prime tenant cannot make a profit from the roommate’s rent. If there is one roommate and one prime tenant, the roommate can only be charged half the rent. Contrary to the CPG Tenants Handbook you received earlier, rent stabilized tenants do not need to ask permission to have a roommate. But you do have to inform Stellar Management of the presence of a roommate after 30 days.  (Click here for the updated handbook.)

Non-stabilized tenants must check their lease to see whether they may have roommates.
No one needs to ask permission or notify Stellar if someone is staying with you for under 30 days.

SAD NEWS: We have lost Steve Helfand, the generous and kind tenant in 12U, to a long illness. He died on November 21, 2008. We will miss him, and give our condolences to his parents Saleck and Sarah, his brother Bert, Helfand sister-in-law Rochelle Minkoff, nephew Raphael, and close friend Allen Wolf. Steve loved computers, world music, and art. Donations can be made to the Clinton Housing Development Corporation at 403 West 40th St., New York, NY 10018, which developed low- and middle-income housing. Steve served on its board as treasurer. The funeral was Sunday, Nov. 23rd t the Riverside Memorial Chapel.


“Unique or peculiar” case: This case concerns whether the state can enforce its regulations - barring the landlord from raising the first rent stabilized rent to market rate just because he’s taken the building out of Mitchell-Lama. Justice Alice Schlesinger of the State Supreme Court (the lowest level trial court) has set a schedule for the landlords’ papers and our responses, culminating in a hearing on April 22, 2009. So our lawyers will be very busy between now and then, and that means $$$. If you have not contributed $100 toward the legal fund this year, please do! Make the check out to the “Central Park Gardens Tenants’ Assoc.” and earmark it for the “legal fund.”

Garage case: This case concerns whether tenants who had garage spaces at the time we entered rent stabilization will have only rent stabilized increases in their garage rates. We won twice at the state’s Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR), and twice in court. The landlord has been trying to appeal, but that requires permission which has so far been denied.

We’re having a meeting of garage tenants and those who had applied before we left Mitchell-Lama on Wednesday, Dec. 3rd at 7:30 PM in the Community Room.


Democrats have the majority in the State Senate, which means that it might now be possible (but by no means sure) to get pro-tenant legislation passed. (While the Republicans have had power, they did not permit the Senate’s housing committee to consider pro-tenant bills.) BUT: 3 conservative Democrats (the “Gang of 3”) have said they would not support the Democratic majority leader – and that means the tenant agenda would be dead in the water. That agenda includes a statute proposed by State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins that would put all buildings leaving Mitchell-Lama or Section 8 into rent stabilization, regardless of when they were built, and with no “unique or peculiar” increases.

So please volunteer for Tenants PAC’s phone bank to reach out to residents of the districts that elected Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada, and Ruben Diaz. Let’s urge them to support the Democratic majority leader and the tenant agenda. Contact Michael McKee The phone bank will run
  • Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
  • 5:30 to 8:30 pm,
until the “Gang of Three” agree to join their 29 colleagues in supporting Senator Smith
  • at the Tenants PAC office, at 11 Park Place, Suite 814 in lower Manhattan (between Broadway and Church Street, ½ block west of City Hall Park).

Call Michael McKee at (212) 577-7001 or email to volunteer.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is apparently interested in coming to a tenants’ gathering, so the meeting voted to extend an invitation for the Pot Luck Supper to him, to our City Council Member, Melissa Mark Viverito, to our Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, and to our State Senator Bill Perkins. All have been strong supporters of tenant rights.

  • GARAGE: Meeting for tenants with garage spaces under Mitchell-Lama and those who applied but never got one - WED. DEC. 3rd at 7:30 PM in the COMMUNITY ROOM.

  • DIMINUTION OF SERVICES: If there are no window blind repairs or better security with doormen in attendance 24 hours a day, rent stabilized tenants should come sign onto our Diminution of Services Complaint, SATURDAY, DEC. 6 and SUNDAY, DEC. 7 in the LOBBY. Contact Sue to volunteer to table-sit.

  • POT LUCK SUPPER: Saturday, Dec. 13th, from 6 - 9:30 PM

From the Executive Committee