Friday, December 26, 2014

Mayor de Blasio can help win repeal of vacancy decontrol ("deregulation")

Read how Mayor de Blasio can help get the state to repeal vacancy deregulation - and even re-regulate some of the apartments removed. 

Repealing vacancy deregulation is crucial to saving the existing stock of New York City's affordable housing.  That's because roughly 95% of all apartments removed from rent stabilization are de-regulated when they are VACANT. That means that the last tenants' incomes are irrelevant to deregulation.  (Only about 5% of apartments are taken out of rent regulation because of the owner's annual income of $200,000 or more for two consecutive years and a monthly rent of $2500 or more. In fact, the median household income for rent stabilized tenants is $39,000/year.)

For you legal buffs out there, many of the rent laws governing New York City have been retroactive:  the 1947 rent control law put buildings with 6 or more units built before that date into rent control; the Rent Stabilization Law of 1969 stabilized apartments in such buildings built before the law's date; the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 did the same for buildings built before 1974.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tenants facing back on east side will lose light, air, peace and quiet



Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Revised plans show much larger building planned for West 96th Street site
December 19, 2014 12:48PM
By E.B. Solomont                 
Sackman Enterprises is embracing the idea that bigger is better at a development site on the Upper West Side.

The developer, which previously disclosed plans to demolish two townhouses in order to construct a new residential building, filed plans for an expanded, 22-story building at 15 West 96th Street, according to Department of Buildings records.

Previous designs called for a 13-story apartment building at the site, which is between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Holidays!


Our next General Tenants Meeting is Wed., Jan. 21, 2015.
Community Board Members Nick Prigo and Paul Fisher will talk about what's happening in our neighborhood. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Petition Governor Cuomo

Petitioning Governor Andrew Cuomo
This petition will be delivered to:
Andrew Cuomo

Repeal Vacancy Deregulation

Friday, December 5, 2014

Letter from our attorney about the wooden screens

The tenant association's attorney has written to Stellar Management about the screens.
Photo by Sue Susman
 Click here for the letter

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sue Susman and Council Member Helen Rosenthal and another Stellar tenant leader on MNN TV

Talking about affordable housing :

NYC Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, attorney Sue Susman, Tenant activist Khadijah Canns discuss the future of rent regulation.

Repeal vacancy deregulation (also known as vacancy decontrol) and re-regulate apartments deregulated under vacancy deregulation if rents are below a goodly amount.
Close the loopholes that make affordable apartments unaffordable (Major Capital Improvements, Individual Apartment Improvements, preferential rents, illegal fees, and more).
Keep illegal hotels - including AirBnB - from depleting our stock of affordable housing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NYS Dept. of Health has approved JHL construction on W. 97th St.

The NYS Department of Health has issued an Environmental Impact Statement that OKs the construction of a 20-story Jewish Home Lifecare facility on 97th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. See the West Side Rag and DNAinfo articles.

DNAinfo reports, " Jewish Home Lifecare now has all the approvals it needs to begin construction on the tower. . . next to P.S. 163, in early 2015.  Construction is predicted to last through 2018.  

"The state acknowledged that the project will render balconies of two large buildings overlooking the site unusable, as well as cast large shadows on the nearby playground for several hours each morning in the fall, winter and spring." 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Summary of the Nov. 14, 2014 General Tenants Meeting

In the Neighborhood
Community Board 7’s Landmark Planning Committee voted against permitting the church on Central Park West between 97th and 96th Streets to be converted to condos. The whole Community Board must vote next, as will the City’s Landmarks Preservation Committee.  Contact Paul Fisher in Apt. 10E if you have a comment: he’s on the Community BoardCommunity Board 7’s Landmark Planning Committee voted against permitting the church on Central Park West between 97th and 96th Streets to be converted to condos. The whole Community Board must vote next, as will the City’s Landmarks Preservation Committee.  Contact Paul Fisher in Apt. 10E if you have a comment: he’s on the Community Board.

In the Building
The Renovations
The lobby renovations are finished.   

Stellar has erected 3 wooden screen barriers (in slalom fashion) between the front door and the fire exit doors.  This makes movement more difficult along the front terrace and poses several problems:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nov. 12 at 8 PM: Think June & Beyond when the rent laws come up for renewal

Nov. 12 at 8 PM in the Community Room

Given the recent elections, we have to 
Think June and Beyond: 
How we can get Albany to better protect  tenants. 

Hear Betsy Eichel, tenant organizer for Housing Conservation Coordinators and the West Side Neighborhood Alliance at 8 pm, and then hear Council Member Mark Levine at about 9 pm.  
Then chat with both during our post-meeting coffee & cake gathering.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Capital One bank is legit

Stellar Management  confirmed that it Stellar has put our security deposits in the Capital One bank.  That is the bank that has sent us typed letters asking for our Social Security Numbers.

The law requires the bank that is holding our security deposits to link them to our social security numbers.   The security deposit is equal to one month's rent, as you know from your lease renewals.  

Typically, the bank holding our security deposits is required to pay each of us the appropriate interest earned, less administrative fees.  (That has not been the case where the amount that would be sent to the tenant is under $10 since NYS law doesn't want to burden banks with such piffling amounts.)  Most tenants in this building have not received any interest payments (usually in the single-dollar amounts) since Stellar bought the building in November 2004. 

Since the bank request is genuine, please fill out the form (click here for a new one) and either mail it in to the address below OR WALK IT OVER TO CAPITAL ONE on 97th and Columbus and have them enter the data.  

Capital One
Attn: DMS Information Reporting
PO Box 85177
Richmond VaA 23286-9108.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Landmarking CPW / 97 St. church (being made into condos) ?

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has scheduled a 
public hearing
on Tuesday, November 18, time to be determined, 
for the First Church of Christ Scientist (now known as Crenshaw Church, 361 Central Park West (a.k.a. 1 West 96th Street), an individually landmarked church designed by Carrère & Hastings from 1901 to 1903). 
In addition, the proposal will go before Community Board 7's Preservation Committee on Thursday, November 13 at 6:30pm.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Education & Awareness about Ebola - Meeting uptown Wed., 10/29 at 6 PM

Emergency Community Meeting Concerning Ebola
Wednesday, October 29th at  6:00 PM
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building
163 West 125th Street | 8th Floor Conference Room

JOIN Senator Bill Perkins 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lobby & Front renovations begin Oct. 20 for several weeks

Stellar just announced "lobby upgrades and front entrance renovations" to begin October 20, 2014.  The work is supposed to continue for several weeks.  Stellar will also be upgrading the building's front landscape and trimming the city trees.  

The lobby renovation is supposed to be minimal, but the front entrance work will result in only one side ramp at a time being kept open. 

If your entry to the building is blocked as this goes on, please contact the tenant association. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We're in HEAT Season

Cold Weather Heat Requirements

If you call 311 for lack of heat, send the complaint reference number to sue at janak dot org so the tenant association can keep track. 

What landlords do to oust regulated tenants

If the owner claims you don't actually live in your apartment - but you do, contact the tenant association.  It's a tactic to get you out so Stellar can reap higher profits.  The whole article excerpted below is worth reading.

NY Press

In Columbia Apartment Battle, It’s The Long-Term Renters Who Pay


As for the nine buildings on the CoSo website that are entirely rent stabilized, the spokesperson characterized them as an investment and said the annual turnover rate for rental housing in New York is around 10 percent. However, according to the most recent Housing and Vacancy Survey commissioned three years ago by the Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development, the city’s “vacancy rate for rent stabilized units as a whole was 2.63 in 2011.”

Friday, October 3, 2014

NY Press on Bill for Harassed Tenants

Bill Highlights Issues For Harassed  


Lawmakers hope increased penalties for tenant harassment will deter unscrupulous landlords
A recently passed measure in the city council that toughens penalties for landlords found guilty of tenant harassment is receiving mixed reviews from affordable housing advocates, who say increasing penalties against unscrupulous landlords is a worthy cause, but more must be done.
The legislation, sponsored by council members Margaret Chin and Jumaane Williams, actually amends a pre-existing bill that levied a $5,000 fine to landlords found guilty of harassment. The amendment doubles that fine to $10,000 and will also result in the guilty landlord’s name being posted to a public list on the city’s Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development’s website.
Sue Susman, president of the Central Park Gardens Tenants’ Association, who also runs a popular mailing list on affordable housing issues and is considered a communication hub in the affordable housing community, said the amendment is an important step in the right direction but that the definition of what constitutes harassment must be broadened.
“Right now, landlords have their agents call rent regulated tenants offering money to move, with an implied or spoken ‘or else we’ll see you in court,’ and that’s perfectly legal,” said Susman, who has a law degree from NYU and is currently involved with the Real Rent Reform Campaign.
There’s also the matter of landlords taking tenants to court in frivolous lawsuits that are eventually tossed out but nonetheless cause financial and emotional damage, she said, which is a currently legal and effective form of harassment.
Susman praised the amendment but said she’d like the public shaming aspect to have deeper consequences for landlords.
“I like that HPD will post information about violations,” she said. “But who would be affected by those postings? I’d be thrilled if there were a consequence that protected tenants directly, such as the requirement that all apartments in the affected building must remain rent regulated for the duration of their current occupants’ tenancies.”

Council Member Mark Levine's Community Updates


One in every four women will be the victim of domestic violence.  One in five women will be the victim of sexual assault. One in six women will be the victim of a stalker. The actual numbers may be even higher as these crimes are notoriously underreported and even more difficult to prosecute.

Last week such an horrific act hit our own community when an assailant followed a woman home to her apartment on 105th Street, forced his way inside, and brutally sexually assaulted her.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summary of the Sept. 17, 2014 General Tenants Meeting

Click here for a printable summary.

The meeting opened with remembrances of 

Michael Gaye, who died on Sept. 11, 2014 after a swimming accident while on a cruise;

Roberta Fisch, who passed away at home after a long illness – during which she was assisted by her goddaughter Dorienne Tsukuda;

Bobby Timmons, who died of a heart attack at 47.  The son of Delia and Robert Timmons, Bobby grew up in this building.

With the primary elections over, we turned our attention to November and who will be elected to the State Legislature to determine the rent laws when they expire in June 2015.   Speaker Chuck Delaney, a board member of the Tenants Political Action Committee, got us involved –

Thursday, September 11, 2014

General Tenants Meeting: Hear how Who's Elected in Albany Affects YOU

At our General Tenants Meeting on 

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 17, 2014 at 8 PM
in the Community Room,

Hear Tenants PAC board member Chuck DeLaney talk about how we tenants are affected by who's elected in Albany.

Tenants election Politicians who enact Laws that affect Tenants . . . 

We'll also talk about building issues and how to protect yourself as a tenant. 

All tenants welcome!
Visitors, please RSVP

Bring a chair & a neighbor, and enjoy the refreshments.

Sad news: the Timmonses lost their son, Michael Gaye passed away, and Roberta Fisch has died

Bobby Timmons
This has been a terrible week for our community.

Our condolences to Delia and Robert Timmons who just lost their son Bobby Timmons to a heart attack.  Bobby grew up in this building and has many good friends here.  Our sympathy goes to Bobby's brother Curtis and other family members. 

Bobby's funeral will be  
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Viewing 2-5pm, Funeral 5-9pm
Rivera Funeral Home
Bronx, NY

Our neighbor, Michael Gaye, passed away while on a cruise in the Greek Islands a few days ago.  He became ill while swimming and there was no medical assistance available.

Once his body is brought back back to the United States, funeral arrangements will be made.  Thanks to Josclynne Grier for the photo montage below by Dedra Tate.  

Finally, Roberta Fisch passed away after a very long struggle with cancer. During those many years, she worked as much as she could and kept up a positive attitude.  Condolences go to her family and to her goddaughter Dorienne.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Film screening - one tenant's film about her father

Displaying ALBA's-poster.jpg
Flyer provided by Na'ava Ades, whose father this film is about.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Voting makes a difference.  The NY Primary elections for Democrat candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor among other candidates are this coming TUESDAY, SEPT. 9 at P.S. 163 on 97th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.  

This can make a difference to tenants:  Will the governor listen to us or prefer big real estate donors?


NY Daily News article on Stellar Management

A New York Daily News concerned Stellar Management: 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Expanding rent regulation to more tenants

è Albany's rent regulation laws expire in June 2015.

è New York City's rent regulation laws expire in March 2015. *

When they're renewed, let's get more for our tenants and all tenants in New York. 

A pending Albany bill could put market-rate tenants in our building back into rent stabilization!   

That bill would give all tenants in this building the same right 
  • to a renewal lease at a rate determined by NYC's Rent Guidelines Board
  • to a rent reduction if services are reduced
  • to permit family members living with them to get the apartment if the original tenant leaves.
Let's work together and make it happen!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Hear our neighbors Renee Fleming and Sal Carolei this Saturday night

Photo provided by Renee Fleming
Renée Fleming and Sal Carolei are playing with their band, Renée and the Derelicts, at 9 PM this Saturday, July 12, 2014, at Lura Restaurant, 949 Columbus Ave. (between 106th and 107th Streets).  No cover!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Call the Mayor & Deputy Mayor: Demand a Rent Freeze

With a mayor who campaigned for a rent freeze, and with fair-minded appointees now on the RGB, we can make 2014 the year of the Rent Freeze!  There has never been a rent freeze before. For decades, the Rent Guidelines Board has ignored rising rents and housing instability in NYC without consequence. 


Call the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and
212-788-3000 (Mayor’s Office)
212-788-8510 (Deputy Mayor’s Office)

Join us at the June 16 Rent Guidelines Board hearing (2-6 PM)
Emigrant Savings Bank Building
49-51 Chambers Street  
Contact Steve Koulish
and come to the FINAL VOTE on June 23 at Cooper Union.

Summary of General Tenants Meeting – May 14, 2014

Prudence Opperman is in rehab at Mt. Sinai after a very bad fall and resulting brain surgery.  Her daughter Roie thanks those who have expressed concern or visited. Prue welcomes visits.

Intercoms: Please give up to 2 phone numbers to Stellar at 212-222-4430 to link to your intercom, and give the intercom number to all visitors and delivery people. It’s the number next to your name on the chart in the entry foyer. If you get a phone call from the intercom, press 9 to let the person in.

Electricity: Ignore phone calls urging you to reduce your electric bill by changing providers. We have no control over that; Stellar does. 

Fire Department’s Lieutenant Frank Minetta

Lt. Minetta, a Fire Department veteran of 35 years,  left four different flyers and gave us several important pieces of information, among them:

·        In our non-combustible building, stay in your apartment if there is a fire elsewhere in the building.  (You’ll probably hear the fire truck sirens.)  So do not knock on your neighbors doors to get them to leave:  Hallways and stairwells can become smoky quickly, and the Fire Dept. takes control over the elevators.  If the fire is in your apartment, get out, close your door to stop the fire from spreading, and call 911.   (You can check for a tenant association email about it if there is a fire.)

·    Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and change the batteries when we change our clocks forward and back.  The smoke detector should emit 3 beeps; the carbon monoxide detector 4 quick beeps.  Test it monthly.  If you’re cooking something smoky, press the “silence” button, which will mute the detector for a few minutes – enough time to open a window (but don’t disable the detector)! A fire produces both smoke and carbon monoxide so both alarms could go off.  It’s a good idea to have a combined detector in your bedroom to wake you in case of emergency.  If your detector is broken, ask Stellar to replace it (for $25 or $35) for one whose battery will last 10 years. 

·     Fire extinguishers, if you have them, should be used to escape from fires, rather than to put them out. Let the fire department do that.  If something catches fire on your stove, turn off the stove and cover the pan that’s on fire.  If you spray the top of your stove, for example, that could push the fire back and up the wall.  Extinguishers last 12 years; shake them gently every few months to keep the baking soda inside from caking up.  Get only the “ABC” or “multi-purpose” extinguishers if you get any.

·     The doors to the stairwells are fire doors and must remain shut when not in use.  If you pass by one and it’s not completely closed, please close it and write a note at the guard’s desk that it did not “self-close” so it can be fixed.  Stellar building manager Niti Jakupaj said he would check them all and fix the exit doors from the stairwells  onto the front terrace so they can be easily pushed open. 

·        Gas:  Probably in the autumn, when permits come through, Stellar will be converting from using oil to heat the water in the building’s basement boilers to using gas.   The gas will not go directly into our apartments and will not affect the gas that already comes in to our stoves.  Gas will not be stored in our building: it will come from Con Edison pipes.  We will also have the 20,000 gallons of oil that we usually keep in the basement in case the weather drops below 16⁰F (when it’s too cold for Con Ed to push enough gas through its system).  If you smell gas coming from your stove, check to ensure the stove is off, open a window to air the place out if you want, and get out. Then call 911. Carbon monoxide is naturally odorless and tasteless and invisible – but by law a smell is added to it, and the carbon monoxide Stellar provides should detect any leak.

·        Surge protectors are safer than power strips, which are safer than extension cords.

·     Get obstacles out of the hallway.  Don’t keep wet boots & umbrellas, bicycles or other items in the hallway. If the hallway fills with smoke, fire fighters will not see them and you will make it harder for them to get through (and yourself or your neighbors, if the fire is in in one of your apartments).

·        Don’t leave flammable items in the compactor room.  Bring them downstairs to the large garbage room on each side of the building.  Keep papers high up on the shelf.

·        Questions? Call the Fire Department at 718-999-2541 and leave a message.

Executive Committee
Greg Murray has become an “emeritus” member as he recovers from a stroke.  We welcomed two new members to the executive committee:  Denis Hayward, who has lived here for over 30 years, and Ray Von Dohren, who has lived here for four years. Both expressed our intent to represent all tenants – rent stabilized and market. 

Meeting with Building Manager
Executive Committee members met with Niti Jakupaj, who promised to
·    Check the stairwell doors so they close by themselves and the door exiting to the front terrace has a push-bar
·        Have a staff member adjust the push bars on the building’s side doors twice a week
·        Check the elevator doors and noises
·       Ask all guests and deliverymen to use the intercom or have the doorman phone tenants to say who is coming up
·        Put “please close door” signs on the front glass doors
·      Fix the cracks in the front terrace.
If you have a crack in your terrace, please write out a requisition slip at the guard’s desk.

Politics affecting us. Tenants should write to
State Senator Bill Perkins, Suite 912, 163 W. 125th St., NY 10027,
State Assembly Member Daniel  O’Donnell,  245 W. 104th St., NY, NY 10025,

to urge them to actively support 

·      protection for market-rate tenants such as a guaranteed lease renewal and reasonable limits on rent increases,
·      repeal of the Urstadt Law, which took control over rents and evictions away from NY City and gave it to NY State, and
·      repeal of vacancy decontrol, which motivates landlords to get apartments vacant and de-regulate them.

The next Rent Guidelines Board hearings in Manhattan are June 16 (taking public testimony) from 2-6 PM downtown, and June 23 (the final vote).  Landlords know that this is the first time in years there could be a rent freeze, and they’re turning out in droves. Tenants have to support RGB members who could vote for us.  If  you plan to testify, please register first at 212-385-2934. Got to the June 16 meeting with Joan Browne & Steve Koulish.

Got questions? Ask us and join us! Just $10/year per apartment.

The Executive Committee

-          Sue Susman, president,  sue  a t
-          Na’ava Ades, secretary, naavaa [at] gmail [dot] c o m
-          Joan Browne, treasurer,  [new email coming]
-          Denis Hayward, vice president, haydenis   @ nyc DOT
-          Rich Jordan, vice president,  richj214@ A O L .  c  o   m
-          Steve Koulish, vice president,  eskoolman  [AT] yahoo  dot  com
-          Ray Von Dohren, vice president,  vondohren  a  t    comcast [d  o  t] net