Thursday, March 22, 2018

Summary of the General Tenants Meeting on March 20, 2018

I. Sharing our enthusiasm - activities in the building.

We have a community within our own building with many different interests and talents.  At the General Tenants Meeting on March 20th,  some tenants offered to share their skills and interests for free with other tenants. Check the sign-up sheets coming soon in the mailroom on the ground floor. 
    © Susan Susman 2009

  • Barbara Geller has volunteered at the Conservatory Garden for 10 years.  She has offered to lead a tour of the garden - starting from our building - in the Spring.  The date will depend on the peak of the Spring season, but it will be a weekday, starting at around 5 pm.  
©Susan Susman 2009
  • Frank Leonardo will be showing films one Thursday evening a month in the Community Room at 8 PM. Check the date-preference sheet in the mailroom.  The first film will be Sita Sings the Blues  (an animated film mixing part of the Indian Ramayana tale with a modern woman's story). The second will be Beasts of the Southern Wild, a modern day allegory set in a Louisiana bayou. The 9-year-old star was nominated for an Academy Award. The third film will (probably) be Whale Rider, about a 12-year-old girl whose ambition is to become chief of her Maori tribe.
©SusanSusman 2013
  • Jodi Brockington is a volunteer instructor for ShapeUp NYC, and she leads free exercise sessions on Mondays at 6 PM in our Community Room.  Tenants and their friends and neighbors are welcome.   If you've got any weights to lend or donate, that would be appreciated!
  • Manny Vega is a painter, illustrator, printmaker, muralist, mosaicist, and set and costume designer. His work portrays the history and traditions of the African Diaspora that exist in the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America.  He has taught art workshops and will teach kids or adults - for the cost of materials.   He would be happy to work on a large mural (on paper) for a group of people to work on. 
  • Mark Price's hobby is painting and racing radio-controlled cars (1/10th the size of the actual vehicle) that run on a petroleum-based fuel called nitro.  The people involved practice in vacant parking lots in New Jersey and travel all over the US for meets.  He will schedule a demonstration for young and old in Central Park for a Saturday in the Spring. 
  • Our POT LUCK PARTY will be on May 19th!  Volunteer on a sheet to be posted in April in the mailroom.
Do you have an interest or skill to share (for free) with your neighbors? What about jam sessions?  Cooking together? A book club? a softball team?  Please contact our volunteer coordinator Barbara Garson,  b a garson  [at   ]  yahoo (d ot) com.   She and Joan Browne will figure out what can be done and whether facilities are available. 

MTA changes:  Community Board 7 is having an information session with the MTA on Monday, March 26, 2018 from 6:30 to 8 PM at the American Museum of Natural History, Linder Theatre (enter at 77th Street).  Some subway stops are to be upgraded - but not made wheelchair or stroller accessible. 

Scaffolding:  The workers are chipping away at loose cement now, and when the weather is better they will be repairing the balconies and cement-work required.  The tenant association has asked Stellar to notify tenants by apartment line (rather than everyone at once) about clearing or putting things back on their balconies.  

Rent Laws: Our building is covered by both NYC and NYS rent laws.  The New York City rent laws and a City Council declaration of a state of housing emergency (fewer than 5% of the City's apartments are available for rent) are necessary for some of the State protections to come into play.  The bills are before the City Council the week of March 20th - although there's a snow delay in getting them passed.  By the time you see this, the bills should all be passed.  

At the State level, all the various tenant groups (including Met Council on Housing and Tenants and Neighbors of which we are members) are urging the passage of 3 bills:

1. Repeal vacancy deregulation.  Landlords' ability to de-regulate apartments inspires many landlords to try to get rent stabilized tenants out.

2. Repeal the vacancy bonus.  Landlords get an "allowance" of up to 20% every time a rent stabilized apartment becomes vacant.  So by getting tenants in and pushing them out 5 or 6 times means the rent could be doubled in not many years - and pushed to the level at which a vacant apartment can legally be taken out of rent stabilization. (Right now that amount is about $2773. So the rent can be raised without the landlord investing a penny in improvements.

3. Make the preferential rent the legal regulated rent.  One way landlords push tenants out is a bait-and-switch technique.  The tenant is originally charged LESS than the legal regulated rent  (that "less than" rent is called the "preferential rent.")  Then when the tenant wants to renew the lease, the landlord charges the full legal regulated rent PLUS whatever increases are allowed.  Since the tenant could only afford the lower rent,  the tenant leaves . . . and the landlord gets a vacancy bonus.  This bill could get rid of that bait-and-switch tactic by making the preferential rent the "legal regulated rent" for that particular tenant.

Since the basic state rent laws governing rent stabilization and rent control expire in 2019, it is unlikely that the State Legislature will act on any of these this year . . . but at least the second two bills are possible.

Finally, tenant Paul Fisher asked for our support in getting a street renamed:  101st at Central Park West - for Corinne Petty, who was a wonderful educator and community activist.