Friday, December 18, 2009

December 2009 Newsletter - we keep winning!


We have wonderful victories to celebrate this holiday season:
  • U or P case: The State Supreme Court agreed with us, with the New York State Attorney General, and with the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) and upheld DHCR's regulations that say that just leaving Mitchell-Lama is not a "unique or peculiar circumstance" justifying a rent increase.  So those of us in rent stabilized apartments have one more victory under our belts.  While the owners (Gluck and others) will appeal, the more victories the stronger our case.  Judge Alice Schlesinger wrote a very thorough opinion.

  • Appliance Surcharge Overcharge case: DHCR (the state housing agency) rule that Gluck overcharged tenants who had been paying appliance surcharges under Mitchell-Lama.  The first tenant to receive her letter is due $832.02 AND her rent will be rolled back by $33.  Click here to see two of the pages she received.  If you signed on, just wait for your letter; from DHCR - and then we'll see if Gluck pays up as ordered. (He could also appeal.) If you did not sign on but had an appliance surcharge under Mitchell-Lama that became part of your rent when we entered rent stabilization, you can still do it now. Contact Sue for information.
  • Reduction in Services case:  DHCR dismissed our "diminution in services" overcharge complaint mainly because while it was pending, we achieved virtually all the services Stellar had cut earlier: a railing for the front stairs, seating in the lobby, a re-opened backyard, a working television antenna, actual 24-hour security guard service, a new intercom system (almost finished) and window blind repair or replacement as a regular service. (The only two things we did not get were lighter-weight front doors and enlarged elevator cabs.)
And none of this could have happened without the strong support of tenants standing together - and contributing to our legal fund.

Treasurer Joan Browne and Barbara Geller are putting together a summary of each tenant's contributions for dues ($25/household for new tenants; and $10/year thereafter), and the legal fund.

We know money is tight around now, but any contribution we be welcome as we gird our loins for the next round of the U or P case and any other appeals.

Cold? If your apartment is chilly, have the staff check the radiators. Then keep a heat log: note the temperature in your apartment when the outside temperature is 55 degrees or colder, between 6 AM and 10 PM.  The inside temperature during those hours must be at least 68 degrees. Call Lucio Pedraza, the building manager, 212-222-4430, or e-mail him and then call 311 to report the problem. You are not required to give your name to 311.  Then give the 311 complaint number to Sue.

NEXT General Tenant Meeting:

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, Jan. 20th at 8 PM in the Community Room.Old and new tenants welcome - but please bring a chair. We'll be voting for two new executive committee members (Prudence is retiring and we have one opening from earlier.) Contact Election Committee head Alitha Mobley in 5A if you need more information.

Have a great holiday and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Results of the Reduction in Services Complaint to DHCR

After Stellar took over the building in November 2004, tenants began complaining about several reductions in service.  Within the 4-year deadline of filing a formal complaint, the tenants' association filed a "diminution in services" complaint with DHCR - for a building-wide reduction in services.    And by tenants sticking together -  with that complaint pending,  Stellar finally met with us, so we asked for and got:

  • Seating in the lobby
  • A re-opened backyard
  • A stair railing that we can actually grab for the front steps
  • A working television antenna
  • 24-hour security guards who are actually there
  • repair of most broken window blinds.  (If you filed a written notice of broken window blinds at the guard's desk and Stellar has either not yet inspected them or has inspected and promised to replace - but has not yet done so, please contact the Executive Committee.)
  • A new intercom - although we still need a board showing tenants' names and code numbers (but not apartments) in the front entrance way.

We did not get lighter front doors or the elevator cabs put back to their previously larger dimensions.  (When Stellar renovated the elevator cabs a few times, it lowered the ceilings and hung panels over the existing panels on the walls, making the dimensions smaller.)

DHCR sent an inspector to the building and found that we had received most of our demands, and subsequently terminated the complaint in a letter received by those who signed on.

It ain’t perfect, but we've done pretty well!

Stay tuned.

-The Executive Committee

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tell our Legislators to Pass Our Bills!

Neighbors are sitting in the lobby this weekend collecting signatures.  We need to persuade the state legislature to pass the bills we need passed.  These include:
  • S 3326-A /A. 9230 which will put into rent stabilization all buildings that leave or have left Mitchell-Lama (and project-based Section 8) regardless of the year built, and without "unique or peculiar circumstances" increases.
  •  S.2237 / A.2005  which will repeal vacancy decontrol, so that owners may no longer remove vacant apartments from rent stabilization. The bill would re-stabilize market-rate apartments whose rents were under $5000 as of January 1, 2007 - at whatever the rent was that month.
  • And many more, that you can see at .

So please stop by the lobby between 10 and 5 to sign:
  • a postcard to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver asking him to put A.9230 on the agenda for a vote
  • a postcard to Senate Majority Leader John Sampson asking him to promote S.3326 and S.2237, and  to get them voted on
  • a petition to our Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell - a co-sponsor of A.9230 - urging him to pressure Sheldon Silver, and thanking O'Donnell for his support; and
  • a petition to our State Senator Bill Perkins - a co-sponsor of S.3326 - urging him to persuade his friend John Sampson to promote the bills and put them on the agenda for a vote.
And since we won the first round in court of the "unique or peculiar" case, please contribute so we have enough funds for the inevitable appeals!  Contact your floor captain or treasurer Joan Browne.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More talented tenants: RENÉE & The Derelicts - Jazz

Go hear RENÉE &; The Derelicts - our own Renée Fleming and Sal Carolei - at the

P&G Bar, 380 Columbus Ave. @ 78th St., New York City, this Saturday, Dec. 12th at 10 PM.

(No cover, no minimum, just jazz).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We Won (1st Round of) U or P Court Case!

On November 25, 2009, Justice Alice Schlesinger of New York State Supreme Court (the lowest state court of general jurisdiction)
  • ruled that DHCR's November 2007 regulations on "unique or peculiar circumstances" are valid, and
  • sent the case back to DHCR to determine within 150 days the thousands of "unique or peculiar" applications pending regarding 24 buildings state-wide.

Click here for a copy of the decision.
Read below for a SUMMARY.

THANKS to our lawyer, DAVID RATNER of Hartman, Ule, Rose & Ratner, for doing a terrific job!


Justice Alice Schlesinger of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled on November 25, 2009 in favor of the tenants in the Columbus 95 and Highbridge House cases.

Her decision states that:

(1) the KSLM (Westgate) decision only gave landlords the right to APPLY for "unique or peculiar circumstances" rent adjustments, not an automatic right to GET such increases.

(2) DHCR's Nov. 2007 regulation is valid. That regulation states that just leaving Mitchell-Lama is not by itself a "unique or peculiar circumstance" but landlords may apply to DHCR for increases based on individual apartment issues (or building-wide based on "hardship").  (The regulation can be found at - and scroll down the page. )   The court said:

  • The DHCR regulation is consistent with the KSLM decision by the State's highest court, the Court of Appeals.

  • The "aside" by the Appellate Division (the mid-level court) about whether leaving Mitchell-Lama is a "unique or peculiar circumstance" is not binding, in part because it is based on three letters from DHCR responding to a speculative (hypothetical) question in a different matter. (Similarly an "aside" - legally called "dicta" - by Judge Stone earlier in this case is not binding because it was superfluous to what he was actually ruling on.) It is also not valid because the Court of Appeals did not reference that point in modifying the decision.

  • The DHCR regulation is within that agency's legal mandate, filling in the blanks left by a statute.

  • The DHCR regulation is consistent with the history of how DHCR has applied laws with the phrase "unique or peculiar circumstances" historically. The judge went back to the 1951 Rent Control Plan, a state report, where the phrase was first used, and followed it up historically, showing that it was used only for individual apartments and NOT across the board. Most tellingly, a DHCR Bulletin of that year said U or P increases would not apply "where the maximum rents had been reduced by Federal authorities . . .during a period of Federal regulation before the building became subject to the New York State regulations jurisdiction. The Commissioner opined that, since the rents had been set pursuant to Federal laws then in effect, the circumstances cannot be considered 'unique or peculiar' so as to warrant a rent increase upon the building's entry into the State regulatory system." (page 20 of the decision.)
(3) Where a law (including a regulation) changes while an application is pending, generally the NEW law applies. In this case, there is no difference between the new regulation and DHCR policy before that regulation.

(4) The DHCR regulation is constitutional (the regulation was within DHCR's authority), so the court dismissed the owners' claims of unconstitutionality.

Justice Schlesinger's orders -  as concerns us:

(A) She lifted the stay (hold) a former judge had imposed on DHCR, and ordered DHCR to DECIDE THE U or P APPLICATIONS WITHIN 150 DAYS for all 24 buildings whose applications are pending - including ours.

(B) She did NOT order DHCR to apply its "old" (pre-regulation) policy, in part because that is not legally required, and in part because the old policy and the new regulation apply the same policy.


  • Central Park Gardens (West 97th St. Realty Corp.)
  • Columbus 95 (Columbus House)
  • Axton Owner LLC (New Amsterdam)
  • Columbus Manor LLC
  • Town House West, LLC
  • Westview (765 Amsterdam Ave LLC)
  • Westwood House, LLC

  • Highbridge House Ogden, LLC (formerly Highbridge House) - Bronx
  • Noble Mansion Associates LLC (Bronx)
  • Stellar 2020 LLC (Boulevard Towers I) (Bronx)
  • Stellar Bruckner, LLC (Bruckner Towers) (Bronx)
  • Janel Towers LLC (Janel Towers) (Bronx)
  • Stellar Morrison LLC (Bronx)
  • Stellar Sedgwick LLC (1889 Sedgwick) (Bronx)
  • Stellar Undercliff, LLC (Undercliff) (Bronx)
  • Stellar 341 LLC (Prospect Towers) (Brooklyn)

  • Stellar Hempstead (Hempstead, NY)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

And as you digest, you can review the summary of our last meeting:

I.  Appliance surcharge overcharge complaints
Our lawyer filed these Monday, November 30, 2009,  along with the brief that he wrote.
  • Thanks to the more than 100 tenants who provided the requested "additional information" for DHCR, and letters to our attorney.
  • Thanks to Barbara Geller, Ana Soto, Gregory Murray, Luciane de Andrade, and Rosa Delgado, without whom we could not have completed this monumental task.

II.  Elections: At our January 20, 2010 meeting we will elect two new Executive Committee members. One will replace the irreplaceable Prudence Opperman, who has been serving for several years, but is retiring for reasons of health.  The other will fill the space left a few years back when the wonderful Zena Gonzalez resigned (also for health reasons).

Candidates so far are:
  • Richard Jordan, a floor captain and board member
  • Greg Murray, a floor captain and indispensable tenant helper for the overcharge complaint responses.
You will be able to read their short bios and see their photos on the mailroom bulletin board.

III. Pot Luck Party:  We're moving it to the spring, and hope to have it outdoors in the backyard.  If you are interested in participating, contact Sue.

IV. Albany & Politics
With Pedro Espada, one of the "Gang of Four" as head of the State Senate's Housing Committee, it is not clear what tenant bills can get passed.  But tenants and our advocates are working hard to get these bills through in January:
  • Stabilization for All (S 3326-A /A. 9230 (same as 4359-A) - Makes rent stabilized any building leaving Mitchell-Lama or Sect. 8 project.  Sponsored by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and State Senate Andrea Stewart-Cousins, this would put into rent stabilization any building leaving or that has left Mitchell-Lama or a Section 8 project without regard to the year built, and without "unique or peculiar circumstances" increases.  That would end our law suit!
  • Repeal vacancy decontrol (A 2005 / S 2237 / S 5111 (Rules Committee) – Repeal Vacancy Decontrol ), also sponsored by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. The bill would bar landlords from taking vacant apartments out of rent stabilization even if they are renovated.  And importantly for market rate tenants, this bill would put their apartments back into rent stabilization apartments at the rents as of  January 1, 2007. 
We will be meeting with Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell and with State Senator Bill Perkins in December
  • to thank O'Donnell for passing a bill in the Assembly that would roll back any "Major Capital Improvement" increases once they are paid for.  (Right now, those increases become a permanent part of rent stabilized rents)
  • to thank O'Donnell and Perkins for signing onto the Stabilization for All (Stewart-Cousins) bill
  • to urge them to persuade their leaders (John Sampson in the Senate and Sheldon Silver in the Assembly) to put our bills on the agenda.
If you would like to participate in these meetings, contact Sue.

Have a great holiday, and save the date for our next General Tenants Meeting on January 20th.

The Executive Committee
   Sue Susman
   Na'ava Ades
  Joan Browne
  Steve Koulish
  Prudence Opperman

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Come to the General Tenants Meeting - Wed., Nov. 18 at 8 PM


8 PM


We'll be discussing the Appliance Surcharge Overcharge Complaint, elections for two Executive Committee positions, building issues, and how we can change the law - again.*
* Come to the kick-off for  "LOBBYING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD"  
by the Mitchell-Lama P.I.E. Campaign and the Mitchell-Lama Residents Coalition

Thursday, November 19th, 2009
6 PM - refreshments
6:45 PM - meeting
at the Community Service Society, 105 E. 22nd St, New York, 10010 at Park Ave. 

with Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, chair of the Assembly's Mitchell-Lama Subcommittee, and sponsor of
  • the bill to repeal vacancy decontrol AND
  • the bill to put all developments leaving or that have left Mitchell-Lama into rent stabilization without "unique or peculiar" increases.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Submetering Overcharge Complaint: How to Answer DHCR

DHCR is sending those who filed complaints copies of their "Resident Ledgers" and leases or lease renewals from Stellar.  Use those to fill out your forms (Answer, Rent Payment Information, and Other Charges/ Fees), which you can download by clicking here.  (You can type directly into the forms.)

If you need help:

Tenants Luciane DeAndrade , Ana Soto , Barbara Geller, Rosa Delgado , Greg Murray and,  Sue Susman  are available to help if you contact them by e-mail to arrange a time.

Once you have the forms filled out 
(1) sign and date pages 1 and 3 in BLUE ink.
(2) attach Stellar's Resident Ledger (or see below if you have not received it)
(3) attach copies of your lease and lease renewals covering the period from Dec. 2004 to the present.

If you have not gotten Stellar's Resident Ledger from DHCR yet:

Look at a model of the pages of charts: Click here.

For a template of the forms into which you can TYPE IN your information, click here.

Download and then fill in DHCR pages 2 and 3.  Start from December 2004 (at the bottom of the column with all the xxxx) and then go to January 2005, and on from there.

If you never got a DHCR request for additional information, make sure to fill in the Answer page (page 1)   After you have filled out the rest, check off on the ANSWER sheet what you have attached, and date and sign this paper in BLUE INK.

Page 2:  In the "Lease" section, fill in your lease amounts and lease renewal dates in chronological order.  The lease that covers December 2004 should say in the comments section "Mitchell-Lama lease".

Page 2: In the "Rents" section, fill in the rent that you paid MINUS ANY APPLIANCE SURCHARGE.
  •  While we were in Mitchell-Lama, that would be either your "base rent" or your base rent plus any "modified lease" addition - otherwise known as an income surcharge.
  • Once we entered rent stabilization (for most people the first rent stabilized bill was March 2005), enter only the "base rent."
  •  Beginning March 2008, we paid our own electricity. Do NOT include the electricity bill. Just include the base rent.

Page 3: In the "Other Charges / Fees" section, only enter  the APPLIANCE SURCHARGES you paid. Unless you got a new refrigerator or stove from Stellar after January 7, 2005, you had no appliance surcharges after March 2005 - so just enter them for December 2004, January and February 2005.  In the left-hand-column, state "appliance surcharge.  If you're not sure of the amount see this chart:

Appliance Surcharges in effect at the time we left Mitchell-Lama

Air Conditioner

  • up to 7,500 BTU: $17.70
  • 7,500 to 10,000 BTU: $22.91
  • over 10,000 BTU: $31.25
Dishwasher: $6.40

Frost-free refrigerator: $12.25 (based on agreement between Stellar
and DHCR as a condition of buyout).


Date, print your name, and sign the bottom of page 3 IN BLUE INK.


(1) LEASE & LEASE RENEWALS:  A copy of the FIRST PAGE (just the part showing your name and apartment number and the dates) of your original lease for that apartment, and copies of the renewal leases for that apartment.   We need documents from December 2004 to the present.
  • If you don't have your leases, you can substitute your Apartment Rent Registration Form for that year.
(2)  IF you have not received DHCR's mailing containing Stellar's Resident Ledger,  you can submit rent stubs from December 2004 to the present.  Tape them in chronological order (as many as you can fit on a page) on sheets of paper that have your name, your docket number (WE 410____R - and fill in the blank) and your apartment number.  Make photocopies (or bring them to us to be photocopied).

Give the final copy to the person helping you to fill out the papers or bring them to 15T.   You will get a pdf file of the scanned-in document and all attachments for your files.

Monday, October 5, 2009


DHCR and Stellar Management have responded to our complaint about submetering.  That complaint says that when the building became submetered, Stellar should have rolled back the appliance surcharge amounts that became part of our base stabilized rents.

DHCR requests more information from each of the 115 or so tenants who signed a complaint. 

BUT even if you haven't received your DHCR packet yet,  we need you to SIGN TWO LETTERS  (asking for an extension of time and authorizing our lawyer to represent you)

and get them to the Executive Committee members as soon as possible.  Click on the words "SIGN TWO LETTERS" for a copy of each letter.

THEN, get together as much as you can of the following:

  1. copies of all leases and lease renewals from December 2004 to now
  2. rent stubs from December 2004 to now
  3. your checkbook records
  4. cancelled rent checks or money orders from December 2004 to now.
You will need as many of those documents as you can find to fill in the sheets that DHCR has sent.  To fill them out:

  1. On the back of the "Answer" sheet ("Page:02"), in the top section about leases, write in the dates of each lease renewal between December 2004 and the present.

    Here are some important dates to remember as you fill in the charts:
    January 7, 2005 - we left Mitchell-Lama and entered rent stabilization. So the rent bills for December 2004 and January 2005 list any appliance surcharges SEPARATELY. Just put down the rent (with any income surcharge), but do NOT list the appliance surcharge on this page for those two months.

    January 1, 2008- Submetering began, so Stellar rolled back our rents according to DHCR per-room requirements as of March 1, 2008. So unless your new lease began that January, February or March 2008, your rent would have gone down in March.

  2. On the bottom of that same page, fill in the rents you paid from December 2004 to the present - going month by month. Start with the very lower right-hand corner (December 2004).

  3. On the next page, entitled "OTHER CHARGES/FEES" (it is "Page:03"), look at the spaces for December 2004 (all the way at the bottom right) and January 2005 (top right). In those spaces, fill in the APPLIANCE SURCHARGES you paid under Mitchell-Lama. Those are the same surcharges that became part of your stabilized rent the next month.
  4. After you have found all the documents you can, you can fill in the FRONT of the "ANSWER" sheet. Print: "Attached please find the following documentation in support of my rent overcharge complaint:" and then list the items that you have found, one by one. For example, "Attached please find the following documentation in support of my rent overcharge complaint:

    • rent stubs for January, February, April, December 2006;
    • rent stubs for March, April and November, 2007;
    • Cancelled rent payment checks for December 2004, February 2008, and January through June 2009"
We will be responding TOGETHER through our lawyer rather than individually - but our lawyer cannot help unless he has the information from each of us. We will have tables in the lobby (NOT Oct. 10-11) to collect the documents.  If you can sit at a table the weekend of Oct. 17-18, please contact Sue and stay posted for the schedule of table sitting.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Summary of Sept. 16th General Tenants Meeting


Background Our building an tens of thousands of others in New York City, Westchester, Nassau and Rockland counties are under rent stabilization. The law that puts us under rent stabilization must be renewed in 2011. The fight to renew it - in the 2010 legislature - is the background for current struggles to expand the coverage of rent stabilization and to prevent landlords from removing tens of thousands of apartments from rent regulation.
Click on for a terrific article in Met Council on Housing's newsletter, Tenant/Inquilino, on the Albany situation.

There are 3 bills very important to tenants in this building - including market-rate tenants.
1. Promoted by the Real Rent Reform Campaign (of which we are a member) and Housing Here & Now (R3/HHN), the bill would repeal vacancy decontrol - a landlord's right to take a vacant apartment out of rent stabilization by raising the rent to $2000. Importantly for market-rate tenants, the bill would re-stabilize your apartment at the January 2007 rent (with one exception for apartments de-regulated before that date whose rent was $5000 or more). This bill would reduce landlord motive for ousting stabilized tenants from their apartments. The bill has passed the State Assembly but not the State Senate.

2. This bill would put into rent stabilization all buildings that
leave or have left Mitchell-Lama without regard to when they were built and without the "unique or peculiar circumstances" loophole that we've been fighting in court. (So far the trial court has not ruled in the case.) The bill has not passed either house of the state legislature, but we have a new sponsor in the Assembly and the hope of more action in the Senate - if not this year, then in the January term. This bill is second on the R3/HHN agenda.

3. This bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell, would
roll back rent increases for "Major Capital Improvements" once they are paid for. The bill passed the Assembly but not the Senate.

No important tenant bills were on the agenda when the State Senate reconvened on Sept. 10th (having been hijacked earlier in the summer) - although a big tenant presence made the senate leaders sit up and take notice. The State Senate and Assembly may reconvene at the end of September and take up the big tenant bills. If that is likely, we will need an even bigger tenant presence in Albany. So we may call on you to go up, or to sit at a table in the lobby and sign your neighbors up to go.


Jewish Home & Lifecare (JHL) on 106th Street asked the City Council for an exemption from new zoning rules that would limit building heights. The exemption was granted so that this community facility could built tall luxury housing to support its mission as a nursing home. However, JH is now planning to swap its 106th Street site with Chetrit and Gluck for the parking lot between Park West Village and the library on 100th Street. So there are three concerns:
  1. Whether the City Council will remove the zoning exemption and limit the building height on 106th Street since the beneficiary is a private developer, and
  2. Whether JHL, should be allowed to build a 22-story facility reducing open space
  3. Whether any latitude should be given to JHL which awarded a "much below average" rating (June 2009), unless it fulfills its mission to patients.
Our elected officials are working on the first issue; so far only a coalition of neighborhood groups including the Park West Village Tenants Association and Westsiders for Public Participation are working on the second and third. See for more information.

The Central Park tennis court concession owner has received permission to install a bubble cover (held up by blown air) for winter games. Now he's looking for money with which to do it.


What we've won so far . . . Our complaint of reduced services to the State's Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR) has pressured Stellar to
  • reopen the backyard
and provide
  • seating in the lobby
  • an updated TV antenna, and
  • a new intercom that should be finished at the end of September.
Since the CPGTA's Executive Committee has been meeting with Stellar monthly, we've also gotten
  • an updated mail directory,
  • second bins in the compactor rooms,
  • laundry room window screens, and
  • anti-pigeon spikes on the roof.
We're still working on window blinds and repaired hallways.

Bathroom vent filters on the roof are supposed to be cleaned more regularly. The vents suck air out (the fans are supposed to work intermittently, not full time), so you may see dirt on the room side of the grille, which you can wipe off. If you see dirt blowing
into your apartment, contact Carlos. Please do not cover the vent: if you do, you will create a loud noise and tremendous suction in the vents of other people in your apartment line. (It's also a good idea, healthwise, to always have air pulled through the apartment - especially in months when you keep the windows closed.)

If you have soapy water coming from your kitchen sink drain, tell Carlos.
Please put all repair requests in the book at the guard's desk.

Financial Report
: Treasurer Joan Browne reported on our finances and will be issuing updated statements to tenants who have recently contributed. We're asking for annual dues of $25/household for new tenants and $10 thereafter, and $100 in legal fund contributions.
Fundraising: We're hoping for a raffle again this year with Prudence Opperman and Rosa Delgado leading the way. We've had successful raffles of restaurant meals and Broadway shows in the past, so stay tuned.

Pot Luck Party:

It will be December 12th in the Community Room - and we need volunteers. Please contact Sue.

The Executive Committee
Sue Susman, president, sue [at]
Na'ava Ades, vice president, naavaa [at]
Joan Browne, vice president & treasurer, jbbrownefaison [at]
Steve Koulish, vice president, eskoolman [at]
Prudence Opperman, vice president, prueward [at]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tenants Meeting - Wed., Sept. 16th, 2009

Come to the


WED. , SEPT. 16th

8 PM


Partial agenda:

  • ALBANY REPORT - and how it affects rent stabilized and market-rate tenants.
  • NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT - new development planned, less open space
  • BUILDING REPORT - what we've won so far . . .
  • Fundraising

Bring a chair and a neighbor!

Old and new tenants welcome.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In the neighborhood . . . Gluck & Chetrit fire unions

and plan on a 22-story (or more!) nursing home in what is now the parking lot behind Park West Village on 100th Street. See last article below.

West Side Spirit, August 6, 2009

Columbus Sq. Labor Fracas

Cost-saving switch to ‘open shop’ draws fire from unions, Board 7

By Matt Joseloff

August 5, 2009

Rats and pigs are the newest tenants of the Columbus Square rental complex, along Columbus Avenue in the upper West 90s. The giant inflatable rodent, which at press time had been replaced with a cigar-smoking pig, are both the handiwork of local labor unions protesting the switch to non-union workers at the construction site. Co-developers the Chetrit Group and Stellar Management made the change at the beginning of July.
. . . .

With additional reporting by Charlotte Eichna.



LOCAL No. 46

New York and Vicinity
NEW YORK, N.Y. 10021
Telephone: REgent 7 - 0500-0501-0502


We want to advise the public that certain facets of the work being performed at this site are not being performed by skilled building tradesmen. This work is being performed by persons who are receiving far less than the prevailing area wage rate and who also are not receiving the fringe benefits generally received by individuals performing this kind of work in the Greater New York City area.

This is a matter of great concern to our union. Employees on this job are performing work and are not receiving the wages and fringe benefits paid to skilled craftsmen in the Greater New York City area for the performance of such work. The contractors on this job are attempting to reduce our area standards by underpaying employees for construction work.

We urge you to withhold your support and patronage of this establishment. We urge the general public to support us in our effort to maintain our wages and fringe benefits. We urge you to communicate with the owners of this establishment and express to them your opposition to their attempt to reduce our area standards.

We thank you for your support.

West Side Spirit

Jewish Home Land Swap

Nursing home move to W. 100th St., with Chetrit getting W. 106th parcel

By Dan Rivoli

August 13, 2009

Representatives from Jewish Home Lifecare, an organization that provides health care for seniors, met with community groups on Aug. 12 to unveil a proposal to redevelop its West 106th Street nursing home in Park West Village, on West 100th Street.

Update on latest meeting with Stellar Management

Members of the tenants' association's executive committee met with Stellar representative on August 12th about building issues. Here are a few of the items:


On August 11, 2009, at our request, Stellar put a new SECOND bin for recyclables in each compactor room. Unfortunately, people on

2 East, 3 East, 5 East and 5 West, 8 West, and 9 West

took the second bin between their installation and the next morning. Those tenants may not have known that the bin was there for all tenants and thought it was being thrown out. If you happen to have taken one, please put it back so we'll all have more capacity for recyclables.
Clean cans go in the smaller bin. Clean plastics, glass and aluminum go in the other can, and paper goes on the top shelf. Please do not leave anything with food on it in the compactor room, since that attracts roaches. (Crush pizza boxes and put them inside bags and put the bag down the chute.)

If the bathroom vent is spewing dirt in rather than sucking it out, please notify Carlos. There are dirt-trappers around each suction fan on the roof, and Stellar promises they will be cleaned.

(which hasn't been showing Channels 2, 4, 5, and 9) should be fixed within 2 weeks. Cable customers are unaffected.

SIDE DOOR SECURITY. Those who have difficulty walking will be getting new keys that cannot be copied for the side doors. That means the locks will be changed.

BACKYARD CLEANUP - The backyard is supposed to be cleaned up - and the bins on the east side will be put in the sheds. (The west side shed has machinery in it that Stellar says it will try to move.)

STAIRWELL DOORS TO BE CHECKED FOR FIRE SAFETY - Stellar will check to ensure that all stairwell doors open and close at the required legal pressure.

A few other items were discussed and we'll be presenting the whole thing at the General Tenants Meeting on September 16th.

See you then.

Gluck says take the money even if not necessary

NY Post



Last updated: 11:39 am
August 13, 2009

First it was the banks and automakers that got a helping hand from Uncle Sam -- and soon some New York City apartment complexes could get one, too.

A bill winding its way through Congress proposes to prop up deteriorating apartment complexes by injecting $2 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program into an effort to stabilize multifamily properties in default or foreclosure.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lease Renewal Information

The Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR) requires landlords to provide a lease renewal form to rent stabilized tenants between 150 and 90 days before the current lease expires.
DHCR has a wonderful page explaining that if you get your lease renewal late, you can choose when you want it to start: the original date or 3 months from the date you actually received it. There is other useful information there as well:

If you have NOT gotten your lease renewal form a week before that 90 days expires, first e-mail or call Cheryl Casas and Francine Schiff at Stellar Management: and If you do not get the form on time, file DHCR form RA 90 with DHCR - by certified mail, return receipt requested and make sure to keep a copy.

Please send a copy of your e-mail to Stellar to the executive committee of the CPG Tenants' Association . We need to know how often these delays are happening.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

June rent bills - Computer glitch affects some tenants

From Stellar Management's Basil Chapman, assistant building manager:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Basil Chapman <>
Date: Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 9:46 AM
Subject: Rent receipts

Good Morning Ms. Susman

I just wanted to inform you that there was a computer clitch in our
system and tenants are receiving their rent statements stating that
last months rent was not received in their account. I just want you to
know that this information is not correct. I am informing all tenants
that call about this situation and I am letting them know when last
month rent was posted to their account. Just wanted to keep you
informed of what is going on.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Can you go to Albany this coming week?

Espada back in Democratic fold; State Senate functions again

Renegade State Senator Pedro Espada of the Bronx decided to rejoin the Democrats - giving them once again a 32-30 majority in the Senate. As part of the deal, he becomes Senate Majority Leader, while Malcolm Smith becomes Senate President and John Sampson is Democratic Conference chairman.

Hiram Monserrate (who had gone over to support the Republicans and then flipped back) is the new head of the Housing Committee - replacing Pedro Espada. Monserrate has been a strong tenant advocate, if otherwise erratic.

MARKET RATE TENANTS: The bill to Repeal Vacancy Decontrol will be voted on. It will put back into rent stabilization all apartments that have left stabilization through vacancy and the resulting increases. The rents would be rolled back to the January 1, 2007 rent.

RENT STABILIZED TENANTS: The Stewart-Cousins bill, S.3326, is expected to be voted on next week. (It has not yet passed either house of the legislature.) This bill would get rid of the "unique or peculiar circumstances" increase once and for all.

So tenants need a big presence in Albany.

There will be vans going up every day - with a big push for Wednesday, July 15th. If you can spare the day, please contact Maggie Russell-Ciardi of Tenants & Neighbors at .

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy July 4th !


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Albany circus continues; tenant issues ignored

One view of what's happening from Tom Robbins of the Village Voice :

Senate Coup Plotters' Hidden Agenda

Tabloids call it a circus, but the lobbyists' goal is to squelch reforms

By Tom Robbins

Tuesday, June 30th 2009 at 1:13pm

The tabloid version of the Great Senate Stalemate of 2009 goes something like this: Those bozos in the State Senate—who can't be trusted even on a good day to get their lunch orders straight—brought the people's business to a screeching halt over a petty internal dispute about who got to wield the gavel at meetings.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Send a NEW e-mail to Gov. Paterson NOW.

The only chance for the only retroactive Mitchell-Lama bill is if Governor Paterson calls an extraordinary session of both houses to consider S.3326-A/ A.4359-A.

Please e-mail the letter below to the 4 addressees in the Governor's office:

June 25, 2009

Governor David A. Paterson
Executive Chamber
Albany, New York 12224

Dear Governor Paterson:

I urge you to call both the State Senate and the State Assembly into extraordinary session to take up S3326 (Stewart-Cousins, et al.)/A4359-A (Pretlow et al.) This bill puts into rent stabilization all buildings that will leave or that have already left the Mitchell-Lama or project-based Section 8 program, regardless of when constructed, and closes the “unique or peculiar circumstances” loophole. It would set the rent for post-1973 buildings at the lawful rent for January 2007 (as does the vacancy decontrol bill).

This is the ONLY bill that would protect tenants in buildings already out of Mitchell-Lama, and would

  • Make affordable some 10,900 apartments in post-1973 buildings many of whose tenants are being evicted and displaced, with thousands more fighting for their homes, and

  • Keep affordable 7,215 apartments in pre-1974 buildings whose tenants are facing “unique or peculiar” increases as the landlords drag yet another case against DHCR through the courts.

These tenants cannot wait.

You know us; you know the issue. We count on you to save our homes.

Thank you.

Very truly yours,

[Your Name]

50 West 97th St.

New York, NY 10025

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rent Guidelines Board votes increases

For lease renewals whose starting date is any time from Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010, the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) has ordered an increase of
  • 3% for a 1-year lease renewal, and
  • 6% for a 2-year lease renewal.
The RGB provided higher "alternative" increases for those who have lived in their rent stabilized apartment for 6 years or more - but our building has not been rent stabilized for 6 years yet, so the "alternative" does not apply to anyone in this building.

If you recently renewed your lease and it will not expire before Oct. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2010, this does not concern you.

E-mail or Fax Gov. Paterson: Put Tenant Bills on Special Session Agenda!

If you have not yet done so, please email Governor David A. Paterson at once to urge that he include tenant bills on the agenda of the SECOND extraordinary session (often referred to as a special session) that the Governor plans to convene TOMORROW, Wednesday, June 24. At the moment none of our bills are on the agenda, although many legislators are pressing the Governor to include them.

The Governor has convened an extraordinary session for today at 3:00 pm, and reportedly plans to call another extraordinary session tomorrow. It very well may be that the only way we can get our bills to the floor of the Senate is on the agenda of a special session, when the agenda is set by the Governor.

The three email addresses below are for Larry Schwartz, secretary to the Governor (in effect, the chief of staff); Peter Kiernan, counsel; and Haley Plourde-Cole, assistant to Larry Schwartz.

If you have trouble getting your emails to go through, you can

  • fax a letter to the Governor at (518) 473-7619, ATTN Larry Schwartz and Peter Kiernan, or
  • phone the Governor at (518) 474-4246.

Use the letter below as a guide, but use your own words if possible.

In the subject line of your email, say something like: Special session must include tenant bills.

DON’T DELAY. No time for snail mail – so use email.


June 21, 2009

Governor David A. Paterson
Executive Chamber
Albany, New York 12224

Dear Governor Paterson:

The downstate region and our building cannot wait until 2010 or later while we lose tens of thousands of additional affordable homes for lack of legislative action. New York City and suburban counties have already lost 200,000 to 300,000 affordable apartments and we cannot afford to lose more.

In my building, tenants are fighting "unique or peculiar" increases sought by our landlords - the same landlords now in court challenging helpful DHCR regulations. We are spending thousands of dollars in legal bills to save our homes.

So I urge that in any extraordinary session that you call, you include the following essential bills on the agenda:

► S2237-A (Stewart-Cousins, et al.)/A2005 (Rosenthal et al.) This bill repeals vacancy decontrol and re-regulates most apartments that have been deregulated due to high rent vacancy decontrol during the last 15 years. (Passed Assembly)

► S3326 (Stewart-Cousins, et al.)/A4359-A (Pretlow et al.) This bill puts into rent stabilization all buildings that will leave or that have already left the Mitchell-Lama or project-based Section 8 program, regardless of when constructed, and closes the “unique or peculiar circumstances” loophole.

► S745-A (Krueger et al/A1928 (O’Donnell et al.) This bill makes rent increases for Major Capital Improvement rent increases temporary surcharges. (Passed Assembly)

Failure to enact these bills this year would make the already severe housing crisis in downstate New York far worse. There are many other important bills, but these three will stop the bleeding.

Please take this necessary step to reverse the phaseout of our rent and eviction protection laws, preserve the remaining affordable rental housing we have, and protect tenants from eviction.


50 West 97th St.

New York, NY 10025

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Summary of June 10 General Tenants Meeting


A Republican coup in the State Senate may kill or delay the laws that we need.
  • The Stewart-Cousins / Pretlow bill, S.3326 / A.4359, would put current & former Mitchell-Lamas into rent stabilization without "unique or peculiar" increases and without regard to the year they were built.
  • The bill to repeal vacancy decontrol would put back into rent stabilization all apartments de-regulated in this building (and elsewhere in NYC) from Jan. 1, 2007 on when the rents on those vacant apartments was raised to $2000 or more.
At this writing, a court has refused to step in to stop State Senator Pedro Espada from assuming the presidency of the Senate while the two side negotiate. Senators Espada and Monserrate, both nominally Democrats, switched their support to the Republicans after the Democrats refused give Espada the $2 million he demanded for his political club. Billionaire Tom Golisano is reportedly behind this switch. Monserrate, responding to constituent pressure, has now switched back, leaving the Senate in a 31-31 tie. The Republicans have rejected a 50-50 power-sharing proposal, and it is not clear what, if any, work will actually get done.

LAWSUIT in the Highbridge House /Columbus 95 "unique or peculiar" case

Given the chaos in the state legislature, this suit is more important than ever. At the June 3rd hearing, Justice Alice Schlesinger first heard the landlords argue that the DHCR regulation (that just leaving Mitchell-Lama is not a "unique or peculiar" circumstance justifying a rent increase.)

The judge noted that the state's highest court decision in the Westgate case (KSLM-Columbus Apts. v. DHCR) gave landlords the right to apply for a "U or P" increase, but not the right to get one. That is up to DHCR .

At the hearing, DHCR argued that it had the authority to either decide each individual application or to issue a policy regulation, and it chose to do the latter, as permitted by the Court of Appeals. For more details, click here, or check out a chart of the case to date.

We do not know when the judge will issue her decision.


We need ZERO increases this year, given the economy and the reduced price of heating oil (Even City Council Speaker Christine Quinn urged that in the NY Daily News. ) Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, among others, have testified calling for a rent freeze.

Tenants have to show up to make a difference. You don't have to speak, but if you want to, please check out the talking points.

Tenants were hijacked by the coup d'état in Albany. We need to stand up in New York City.

The hearings are:

Monday, June 15 - PUBLIC TESTIMONY
4-10 PM
Main Theatre of Hostos Community College / CUNY
450 Grand Concourse, Bronx

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - PUBLIC TESTIMONY 10 AM - 6 PM (There is some talk about extending the Wednesday hearing into the evening, so that members of the public can testify after work)
The Great Hall at Cooper Union (basement)
7 East 7th Street at corner of 3rd Ave.

FINAL VOTE - No testimony Tuesday, June 23, 2009 5:30 - 9:30 PM
The Great Hall at Cooper Union (basement)
7 East 7th Street at corner of 3rd Ave.


We have a new building manager, Lu Pedraza, 212-4430, assisted by Basil Chapman. Their boss, Smajlje (pronounced "Smiley") Srdanovic, has taken an interest in the building (after the threat of a rent strike in another Stellar building). Lu and Smajlje are meeting with the tenants' association executive committee regularly. Smajlje is pictured at right:

Two issues that we are raising with them are:

(1) Lease Renewal Delays
- The law is that for rent stabilized apartments, the owner must give written notice of renewal by mail or personal delivery not more than 150 days and not less than 90 days before the existing lease expires, using a DHCR Renewal Lease form.

After the renewal offer is made, the tenant has 60 days to choose a lease term (one or two years), sign the lease, and return it to the owner. If the tenant does not accept the renewal lease offer within this 60-day period, the owner may refuse to renew the lease and may proceed in court after the expiration of the current lease to evict the tenant.

When a tenant signs the Renewal Lease Form and returns it to the owner, the owner must return the fully signed and dated copy to the tenant within 30 days. If Stellar does not return your lease to you within that period, call or e-mail Lu Pedraza and Jasmine Ferrer at Stellar's main office, 212-406-0030. If they still do not return your signed lease, contact the Executive Committee of the tenants' association, and then file DHCR Form RA-90, available here or if you call DHCR at 212-480-6238.

(2) Rent bill errors
Payments made after the 17th of the month will not be reflected in the next month's bill because of lag-time required for preparation of the bill.

If you have another type of error and get no satisfaction from writing to Stellar by certified mail, return receipt requested, with copies of your payment (such as checks) and your rent bills, please contact the Executive Committee of the tenants' association.

If the problem has to do with submetering, please contact Board members Maria Acevedo (5P, 212-866-6847) or Richard Jordan (4R, 212-866-1070). Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4


are now installed on the sides of the front steps. The east ramp railing will be supported by stronger bracers.

The concrete has been repaired on the west ramp.Stellar will provide benches for the lobby.

Smajlje says that the elevator ceilings cannot be raised to enable tenants to move out furniture that we moved in. Since that diminishes the service that we had before we entered rent stabilization, that fight may continue.

A wheelchair ramp will be installed inside the garage providing access to the east side elevators.

Stellar will replace the intercom system within 4 months. Because it is expensive and difficult to tear out and replace existing wiring, they will install a system that will ring on whatever local phone number you give Stellar. You may require call-waiting if you expect people to buzz the intercom while you are on the telephone (or using the phone for your computer). Smajlje agreed that Stellar would pay what he called "2 or 3 dollars" for call waiting for seniors and the disabled (those on SCRIE & DRIE and some others) by reducing their rent bills by that amount - but Prudence Opperman learned that it would cost roughly $7 to add call waiting under her plan. So we will raise this with Smajlje again.

For repairs, list what you need in the book at the guard's desk or call Stellar's local office, 212-222-4430, as you prefer. For major jobs like painting, call Stellar's office.

Stellar will install rooftop pigeon spikes over sections of the building where balconies stick out. Tenants report that tying plastic bags to the balcony railings has been unsuccessful in deterring pigeons. More seriously, tenants report pigeons roosting in or on air conditioners. If you observe that, please ask the building staff to install wire mesh or some other protection around your air conditioner.

Stellar will paint the Community Room. The tenants association will pay for 3 large ceiling fans, which Stellar will install. This should make the room cooler during warm moths, without the very loud noise of the one large exhaust fan already there.

The backyard is re-opened between 9 AM and dusk, and the benches will be repaired. The backyard is accessible through the Community Room. (You can always get out of the backyard through the side gates - but please don't let anyone in that way.) The backyard is also available to those renting the Community Room for a function until 11 PM - but never with amplified music since noise carries to all the apartments facing the back. We hope it will be a quiet spot for all tenants.

If you're interested in joining the gardening committee for the backyard, please contact Barbara Geller, 11T, 212-864-4085.

Stellar will provide a second blue recycling bin for each garbage room, and post a flyer (prepared by the "Security & Etiquette Committee" - now searching for a better name) reminding neighbors to rinse plastic, glass, aluminum & o ther metal before recycling, and to break down pizza boxes - all to minimize roach infestation.

Stellar will also provide the doormen an instruction sheet that will include keeping doors closed and locked - especially when they leave their post for even a minute - and to actively query those coming in behind tenants. Please remember to close doors behind you, and prop them open only for active deliveries or moving big objects in or out.


Since the committee was formed, some vandalism has lessened - including the dangerous, lit cigarettes floating from one balcony to the next. The committee will ccontinue to work on issues important to keeping this a respectful and pleasant community. Contact Prudence at 212-866-9436 if you have suggestions, or want to join the committee.

The meeting unanimously elected Sharon Davis to the board after Jesse Poppick resigned for lack of time. (Sharon had left the Board a while back.)

GARAGE: Would-be garage tenants who were here at the time we left Mitchell-Lama should contact Steve Koulish, 212-866-8280, about pursuing the lawsuit.

FINANCES: Treasurer Joan Browne explained that due to glitch in updating the contribution spreadsheet, some contributions for 2008 were deleted. Amended contribution sheets are being distributed to affected tenants. If you have a problem with the contributions statement you received, please contact Joan in Apt. 12F, 212-864-3612.

We're asking for
  • Dues for first-time members: $25 / apartment
  • Dues for all others: $10 / apartment
  • Legal Fund contributions for 2009: $100.
All contributions are gratefully accepted, and please get a receipt from Joan or from your floor captain.

Thank you!

The Executive Committee

Sue Susman, Joan Browne, Na'ava Ades, Steve Koulish, Prudence Opperman