Albany, NY - “The State Senate governing coalition must allow a vote on Mayor de Blasio’s plan for a reliable and adequate funding stream to provide Universal Pre-K in New York City. The Mayor won election on this proposal with the largest margin for a newly-elected mayor since the Consolidation of New York City in 1898. It would be an affront to the voters of New York City if the Senate does not bring the Mayor’s proposal to the floor.”
I recently sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah urging them to repeal a state regulation banning Medicaid coverage of transgender-related health services. The regulation, which dates from the late 1990s, effectively denies low-income transgender New Yorkers access to vital transition-related health care. California has permitted Medicaid coverage for transgender health care and services since 2001 and five states, including Connecticut, now require health insurance providers to cover treatments related to gender transition. Transgender people receiving Medicaid deserve the same access to essential care as all other eligible New Yorkers. It’s long past time New York lifted this damaging, discriminatory regulation.
On Tuesday, February 25, I am hosting a Pedestrian and Traffic Safety town hall at which a representative of the de Blasio administration will report on implementation of “Vision Zero,” the Mayor’s plan to eliminate traffic fatalities within a decade. Last month the Mayor charged an interagency working group, including the Department of Transportation, NYPD, Taxi and Limousine Commission and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with developing a comprehensive roadmap for safer streets by February 15. My forum will give Manhattan residents an opportunity to hear the latest news on the plan as well as information on how pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can co-exist more safely on our streets today.
Yesterday, I joined Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the statewide Raise Up Coalition in advocating for legislation to allow municipalities to set their own local minimum wage rates above the current state floor of $8 an hour. At a time when the number of low-wage jobs in our state is increasing, allowing municipalities to enact higher minimum wages to better align with local living costs could greatly improve the lives of millions of low income workers. Giving local governments direct control over their minimum wages is a great first step toward reducing income inequality in our state.
I am pleased to report that CW Capital has heeded the request Council Member Garodnick, Assembly Member Kavanagh and I made, and submitted applications for SCRIE and DRIE tax abatement credit adjustments for each of the recent MCI orders issued to Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village (“ST-PCV”) residents. I have confirmed with the NYC Department of Finance that the applications have been received and are being processed. As a result, ST-PCV tenants who receive SCRIE or DRIE may continue to pay their frozen rent amounts and will not be responsible for the new MCI charges whether or not they filed individual adjustment applications.
Today I joined Councilmember Corey Johnson, Congress Member Jerry Nadler, and Assembly Member Dick Gottfried in writing to the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey (PANY) to open a discussion about securing a viable location for Stile’s Farmers Market in Hell’s Kitchen. We would like to explore the possibility of space for this affordable grocery store on PANY property at 551 Ninth Avenue near 42nd Street to ensure the health and well-being of residents along Manhattan’s West Side. Please see our letter to the Port Authority and a recent article on the market in DNA Info below.
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.
On January 17, the first perspective buyers of 550 West 20th Street, the former site of the Bayview Correctional Facility, took advantage of the city’s invite for a walkthrough of the site. By mid-February, all proposals must be filed for the newest incarnation of the beloved institution. One thing is already certain: the facility will keep its historical façade and the community amenities for which it has long been known.
At the January 27, 2014 Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Local Government, Senator Hoylman asked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his position on extending a 30% of income rent cap to participants in the state's HIV/AIDS rental assistance program. Mayor de Blasio expressed "unequivocal support."