Report to Community Board 6

September 19, 2007

Housing Update: On June 29th, Governor Spitzer signed bill A.8798, a bill that Assemblymember Kavanagh introduced to increase the state Housing Finance Agency’s ability to issue bonds for new housing construction by $1.5 billion. Governor Spitzer also signed bill A.7905, also known as the Shelter Allowance Bill, which ends the state’s longstanding practice of paying less than its share of the cost of housing public assistance recipients living in public housing, increasing state funding by approximately $50 million a year. Assemblymember Kavanagh organized a press conference on August 10th, where he joined NYCHA Chairman Hernandez, and many other legislative colleagues, labor leaders and housing advocates in urging the Governor to sign A.7905.

Kavanagh Introduces Styrofoam Bill: Assemblymember Kavanagh and Senator Liz Krueger have introduced a bill (A.9420/S.6402) in their respective houses of the legislature, that would prohibit the use of food service ware that contains polystyrene foam, commonly known as styrofoam, by food service providers, including state agencies and contractors, as well as restaurants and retail food vendors. The bill would require food service providers to use alternate products that are compostable or recyclable, unless no affordable alternative exists.

Assembly Hearing on Environmental Conservation: On September 18th, Assemblymember Kavanagh joined the Environmental Conservation Committee in Albany to hear testimony from Commissioner Pete Grannis and environmental advocacy groups and experts about the impacts of the 2007-2008 state budget on the programs of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The 2007-2008 state budget is an important improvement over previous years as it includes an additional 109 new staff positions for DEC programs such as the new Climate Change Office as well as increased funding for the Environmental Protection Fund, and more than $15 million in grants to investigate and clean up brownfield projects throughout New York State. Still, the hearing highlighted several issues requiring further attention, including significant problems with the state’s tax credit program for brownfields, a need for greater compliance with state agencies to audit their own environmental impacts, and very substantial funding needs for environmentally critical capital projects around the state, particularly for wastewater treatment.

State Liquor Authority Hiring Additional Field Investigators: As previously reported, during the annual state budget process, Assemblymember Kavanagh worked with his legislative colleagues to include $700,000 in funding to enable the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to recruit nine new Beverage Control Investigators, of whom six would be assigned to New York City. The funding has now been allocated, and the SLA is in the process of recruiting and training investigators. The additional staffing should enhance the SLA’s ability to adequately address the volume of applications for new and renewal liquor licenses, as well as the investigation of complaints and violations.

Legislature Returns to Albany to Vote on Congestion Bill: Assemblymember Kavanagh is a strong advocate for congestion pricing for Manhattan’s central business district and many of the other provisions of the Mayor’s PlaNYC initiative. He is a sponsor of A9362, the bill that establishes a traffic congestion mitigation commission. The commission will provide a forum in which the details of congestion pricing – as well as the alternatives – can be determined. This approach includes formal participation by the City Council and a new proposed capital budget from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to specify how any revenue from the plan will be spent on mass transit. The 17-member commission will propose a plan for enactment by March 2008. In response to the legislature’s creation of the commission, the United States Department of Transportation has agreed to allocate $354 million to help finance the Mayor’s plan to reduce traffic in Manhattan. This added funding is a step in the right direction not only to ensure the successful implementation of the congestion pricing plan, but also to support major improvements of the mass transit system.

Kavanagh Applauds East Side Alliance: On August 2nd, Assemblymember Kavanagh joined Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, housing and police officials, community and business leaders, and methadone programs to witness the signing of the Community Policy Agreement for the Methadone Programs in the East Side Alliance. The Alliance – led by the District Attorney and signed by representatives of the Police Department, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership, the Union Square Partnership, and four major methadone programs – is intended to reduce the community impact of these programs and prevent drug trafficking in much of the East Village, Alphabet City, Union Square, and Gramercy area.

Public Hearing on Former Con Edison Waterside Site: On September 20th, Assemblymember Kavanagh will attend Community Board 6’s hearing to ask questions and voice concerns over the proposal by the East River Realty Company for the former Con Edison Waterside site. Assemblymember Kavanagh looks forward to working with the Community Board, colleagues in government, and community residents to ensure that the development is not overwhelmingly tall or dense, that open space is adequate and accessible, that a significant amount of affordable housing is included, that adequate provision is made for schools and other community facilities, and that the plan does not otherwise unduly impact the quality of life of this community.