On February 4, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Council Member Corey Johnson and I submitted testimony to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in opposition to the application submitted by the Church of St. Luke in the Fields (“St. Luke’s”) to construct a new building at 100 Barrow Street. While St. Luke’s has been an important part of the Village community for many years, we share Community Board 2’s belief that the proposed tower is not contextually appropriate for construction within the Greenwich Village Historic District. Specifically, the heavy use of glass covering the midsection of the structure represents an architectural design which is incongruous with the rest of the neighborhood, and its height is imposing relative to the rest of the district.
At the February 4th Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Housing, I asked New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner Darryl Towns about the need for increased funding for the Office of Rent Administration to prevent its backlog from continuing to harm tenants. I cited recent experiences at Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village (ST/PCV), where applications for rent reductions for reduced services languished for nearly a year before the tenants association announced last month that a settlement had been reached. Last fall, ST/PCV tenants were hit with five MCI orders in a matter of weeks, even though the landlord had applied for some of them years before they were processed by the rent administration office.
“The $81.5 million from the J.P. Morgan Chase settlement available to Governor Cuomo for housing-related purposes is an opportunity to close a loophole in state law that discriminates against low income New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS. Currently the state’s HIV/AIDS Rental Assistance Program is excluded from the 30%-of-income rent contribution cap that applies to every other federal and New York State low-income housing program.
Congratulations to Assembly Member Deborah Glick for spearheading passage in the Assembly of A6073, which requires the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to make information pertaining to any conditions it imposes on an on-premises liquor license available on its website. I sponsor the legislation in the Senate (S3077) and know all too well from the communities I represent that residents, community boards and even local police precincts now have no way of knowing the specifics of on-premises liquor licenses.
I would like to extend my congratulations to Assembly Member Deborah Glick for spearheading passage in the Assembly of A6073, which requires the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to make information pertaining to any conditions it imposes on an on-premises liquor license available on its website. I sponsor the legislation in the Senate (S3077) and know all too well from the communities I represent that residents, community boards and even local police precincts now have no way of knowing the specifics of on-premises liquor licenses.
I recently submitted testimony to the New York City Planning Commission regarding TF Cornerstone’s effort to create a new, mixed use residential and commercial development at 606 W. 57 Street. Much like CB4, I applauded the applicant’s provision of permanent affordable housing through the inclusionary housing bonus, while expressing concerns regarding the developer’s history of bad labor practices. In my testimony I echoed CB4’s call for the entire floor area – both residential and commercial – to be included when calculating the Floor Area Ratio for the affordable housing bonus, as well as a reduction in parking spaces. Please see my testimony below.
I was disturbed to learn that the Equinox gym on Greenwich Avenue in the Village erected a large billboard on the façade of its building which violates the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s regulations governing historic districts. This violation is especially disturbing because this very same Equinox location was forced to remove a similar illegal advertisement four years ago for nearly identical reasons. On January 10, I sent a letter to Equinox CEO Harvey Spevak requesting that the billboard be removed as soon as possible, and asking that the company take more care in respecting its neighbors in the future. On Friday, January 31, I spoke to Mr. Spevak, who said the sign would be coming down the next week.
Earlier this month, I wrote to Governor Cuomo to support Manhattan Community Board 4’s request for the allocation of $2 million for an advanced feasibility study of the extension of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s No. 7 Train. The extension of the line to Frank R. Lautenberg Station in Secaucus would give hundreds of thousands of commuters an alternative to driving or taking a bus through the Lincoln Tunnel, reducing congestion and queuing on both sides of the river – as well as improving air quality and quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods. Please see my letter below.
On January 28, I wrote to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in support of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s proposal that it begin formally recognizing sites of significance to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement within previously designated New York City Historic Districts. While the LPC has begun acknowledging LGBT history in its more recent designation reports, there are numerous sites in existing historic districts that have not received such recognition.
“My heart goes out to Randy Gener, an award-winning, openly-gay, Filipino journalist, who was brutally attacked ten days ago at the edge of my Senate District and is still in intensive care recovering from a massive head injury. There is no place in our city for such abhorrent, senseless violence. I am grateful to the NYPD for its efforts to identify and apprehend the assailant in this attack and to the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force for conducting an investigation to determine if bias was a motive.
I urge anyone with information regarding the attack to come forward and call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. The NYPD has released a sketch of the suspected perpetrator. Please see sketch below.
Earlier this month I worked with the Mayor's Office and other elected officials to organize a briefing for affected community boards on the many events going on in our neighborhoods in the lead up to the Super Bowl this Sunday, February 2. While the Mayor’s Office was able to allay many concerns surrounding these events, there may still be issues that arise. If you encounter any problems or noise issues, 311 will have a special Super Bowl Team directly connected to the organizers. Please share any concerns or complaints -- including the 311 case number -- with my office so that my team can follow up.
I am gratified that earlier this month State Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills affirmed what we in the community have said for years: the public park strips on Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place cannot be given to NYU without approval by the State Legislature. The gardens and playground on the city-owned land NYU would co-opt were developed and have long been maintained by local residents on behalf of our open-space-starved neighborhood. I was proud to help lead Manhattan Community Board 2 when it passed its resounding resolution in opposition to the NYU 2031 plan. With this decision, NYU must go back to square one and develop a plan that protects our public open space and respects the character of the neighborhood.
This week I sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio applauding his opposition to the renovation plan for the New York Public Library’s Central Library as New York City Public Advocate. I expressed my deep concern about several of the proposed changes presented in the plan, namely the displacement of the historic stacks and consolidation of the Mid-Manhattan and Science, Industry and Business Libraries into a space less than one-third their current size. Numerous community groups are also opposed to the plan, and I joined their call to halt the process and for an independent, evaluative review of the financial risks of and possible alternatives to the current plan. Please see my letter below.
This Martin Luther King, Jr. day I was pleased to join Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Member Ben Kallos, and local teens to kick off the the NYC Coalition Against Hunger’s thirteenth annual MLK Servathon. Volunteers at this year’s servathon honored Dr. King’s legacy by preparing and serving food at soup kitchen’s and engaging in outreach efforts across the city to ensure everyone who is eligible for nutritional assistance programs has access to them. While federal funding to fight hunger continues to decline, there are currently 1.4 million low-income New Yorkers who can’t afford enough food for their families.
On January 14, the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute released long-awaited clinical guidelines for the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection among those at high risk. PrEP is a relatively new intervention to prevent HIV transmission, in which people who do not have HIV take a daily pill (Truvada, manufactured by Gilead) to reduce their risk of becoming infected. A lack of awareness and understanding of PrEP among both providers and prospective patients has suppressed its use.
Next Thursday, I am co-sponsoring a screening hosted by Assembly Member Glick of Gasland 2. Other co-sponsors include Community Board 3, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and State Senator Daniel Squadron. Gasland 2 is a documentary that details the harmful effects of hydraulic fracturing. The screening is free and open to the public, and will take place on Thursday, January 23 between 6:30-9:00 PM at Teatro Circulo, 64 E 4th Street (between the Bowery and 2nd Ave).
This week I reintroduced legislation that would bar licensed mental health providers from engaging patients under 18 in sexual orientation change efforts, which are sometimes known as conversion “therapy.” Since the legislature gaveled out last spring, New Jersey and California passed groundbreaking legislation banning this so-called “therapy” and now is the time for New York to do the same. This practice has been thoroughly discredited by experts, including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics and poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
I am deeply concerned about the emphasis on high-stakes testing as a measure of student learning, teacher effectiveness and school performance. We need to broaden our understanding of education, move away from “teaching to the test,” and relieve the pressure on our students. Toward that end, I am a co-sponsor of legislation (S.4764-A) prohibiting high-stakes, standardized testing for schoolchildren in pre-K through second grade and support other measures to reduce excessive testing. This year, the terms of 4 of the 17 members of the State Board of Regents will expire.
This past week, I joined Congresswoman Maloney, Assembly Member Dan Quart and brave Manhattan rape survivor Natasha Alexenko to call on the federal government to reduce the dangerous national rape-kit backlog and reauthorize the Justice for All Act. Natasha was forced to wait 15 years for the evidence she needed to convict her attacker due to the rape-kit processing backlog, currently estimated at 400,000. This act will increase funding for DNA evidence processing to ensure that medical examiners across the country have the tools to process evidence for criminal cases quickly and accurately.