Thursday, January 19, 2023

Summary of the Jan. 18, 2023 Tenant Meeting

We had a good crowd!  (Thanks to Jodi Brockington for the photo.)

I. Announcements 

  • Come to our February 11, 2023 pre-Valentine's Day fundraiser in the lobby!  Probably 11 AM to 6 PM.  Contact the tenant association if you'd like to help, and give individually-wrapped goodies to Rosa Delgado in 2T in advance. 
  • Elevators:  Please email or Tenant Association Vice President Denis Hayward at: Denis [dot] Hayward [at sign] gmail DOT com whenever you're in the elevator and it bounces or has some other problem.  We need hard data to make an effective complaint.  Please include the date and time, which elevator (they're numbered 1,2,3,4, starting from the east end of the building), and what the problem is. 
  • RiteAid is closing at the end of January.  (The company is distressed nationally, not just in NYC.) It will be transferring all prescriptions to the Duane Reade/Walgreen's on 94th Street and Columbus on January 31st. That Duane Reade's pharmacy is closed on weekends and may not honor refills past the first one. If you'd prefer another pharmacy, ask your doctor to send NEW prescriptions to that pharmacy.  
  • The notice from Stellar about submetering says if you have a problem with your electric bill, tell Stellar. It's the same notice we get every year, as required by the state.  You can complain to Stellar about the amount of the bill, request that the bills be "evened up" so you pay roughly the same amount each month, and more. They can't shut your electricity off if you have a medical issue that needs electricity.
  • The NYC Fire Department will present a 1-hour class on CPR (no mouth-to-mouth!) in our Community Room on Thursday, Feb. 23.  All tenants are welcome. 

II.  Tenant Association Election

All the positions were uncontested except for treasurer. Thanks to Zena Gonzalez and her anonymous assistant for counting the votes.   Click here for a full description of the winners.   Briefly:

Executive Committee (also part of the Board)
President: Sue Susman
Vice Presidents: Jodi Brockington, Denis Hayward, Patricia Jordan, Steve Koulish, Ray von Dohren
Treasurer: Joan Browne

Board Members:
Rosa Delgado, Ayana Dixon, Barbara Geller, Debbie Gonzalez
Cynthia Hanratty (provisionally), Alexandra (Alex) Martin, 
Alec Merber, Letty Orellano, John (Bones) Rodriguez, Maxine Soares

III. Tenant issues in Albany

  • One of those issues that the state's highest court may rule on is whether façade and balcony repair - mandated by the city - is actually a "major capital improvement" justifying a 30-year rent increase for stabilized tenants. The tenant association of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village (over 11,000 apartments) sued DHCR and Judge Nervo ruled against DHCR.  Read the decision here. (
    Photo by Tup Wanders, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)
  • The state's housing agency (DHCR) proposed new regulations that, among other things, would require any combined apartment including recently rent-regulated space would be rent stabilized, and the first rent would be limited  That would end the practice of combining ("Frankensteining") a rent stabilized apartment with any other space in order to get a non-stabilized apartment rented at whatever the market will bear.  But landlords oppose the regulation, claiming that it aims to close a gap in the 2019 state housing law.  To deal with that problem, State Senator Brian Kavanagh is proposing a bill.  State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal - the new head of the Assembly's housing committee - is considering a companion bill to effectively end Frankenstening altogether.  That will not end the practice of landlords like Stellarwarehousing vacant rent-stabilized apartments, but it may put a serious dent in it.
IV.  Mark Levine, Manhattan Borough President spoke about several issues and answered a LOT of questions.
  • Right to Counsel:  Mark led the fight in the City Council to get tenants in housing court a right to legal counsel.  NYC is the first city in the country to have it.  It resulted in a dramatic drop in evictions. BUT since the pandemic restrictions on evictions ended, so many people are facing eviction that there are not enough lawyers.  Mark and others want the State's Court of Appeals, which administers the courts, to s-l-o-w down the eviction process to ensure that every tenant who needs a lawyer has one.  Unfortunately, there are not enough lawyers and not enough money and time to train new ones before the onslaught of eviction cases.   This is one reason why the choice of a judge to lead the state's highest court is so important. 
  • Composting: This is a climate change problem because food waste ending up in landfills causes methane gas.  This is a local problem because food ending up in regular trash attracts vermin. The City has made progress: in Queens every household now has compost pick-up.  We have it here as well, collected on Saturdays.  How to do keep your food trash from ending up in landfills: 
    1. Collect your food trash.  Put peels, and other food trash (even meat and dairy) in a plastic container on your kitchen counter; when it's full, put it in a plastic or paper bag in your freezer.  When that's full...
    2. Dump it into a brown compost bin in the compactor rooms on the ground floor.  There's one on each side of the building.  (If your trash is in a plastic bag, empty the bag into the compost bin and dump the bag separately into a regular trash bin next to the compost bin.)
    3. Make sure you CLOSE the latch firmly. If not, the smell will attract vermin
  • Access to Public Bathrooms:  This is a public health and equity problem. The Council just passed a bill requiring 1 public bathroom in every zip code.  Let Mark know where you would like one in our zip code.  Some will be self-contained, others will be inside buildings. 
  • Store closings (like RiteAid) 
    • We need a vacancy tax for stores.
    • The Dept. of Sanitation needs to deal with snow removal and street cleaning where there are gaps in occupied stores. 
    • We need lower commercial rents. 
    • The Metro cinema on Broadway between 99th & 100th Street , long dark, has a deal to become an art house with  art microscreens for movies, meals and drinks. 
  • Scaffolding 
    • Right now it's erected for building inspections under Local Law 11 every 5 years. But it need not be if inspections can be done by drone, as in Europe.  That's a Council bill under consideration. 
    • Other scaffolding? Not clear how to deal with it. 
  • Outdoor dining sheds will be regulated so they are more of the umbrella-shaded, moveable-barrier types.  
    • The current dining sheds are now often abandoned, and are housing vermin. 
  • COVID:  
    • The City reports new data every Thursday. 
    • If you test positive, even in a home rapid test, contact 212- COVID 19 and they'll get you Paxlovid the same day at no cost. 
    • The City also has test-to-treat sites that will test you for COVID or flu or (under 18-years-old) RSV. 
    • Get your bivalent booster!  Only about 20% of seniors (the most vulnerable to COVID) have gotten this booster that can save your life. 
V. COMING SOON (and on our tenant calendar)
  • Pre-Valentine's Day fundraiser on February 11, 2023 in our lobby
  • CPR training from the Fire Department on Thurs., Feb. 23 at 1 PM in the Community Room
  • Meeting for Board members on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023 
  • Next general tenants meeting: March 15, 2023