Report to Community Board 6

February 11, 2009

Kavanagh Introduces Bill to Protect Tenants from Unwarranted Submetering MCIs: Tishman Speyer has proposed to implement submetering and other energy efficiency improvements for all of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and to take advantage of substantial public subsidies for the project offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Multifamily Performance Program. In response, Assemblymember Kavanagh and Senator Duane have introduced bill A4877/S1794, which would prevent landlords from seeking Major Capital Improvement rent increases for capital work that is part of their justification for receiving such NYSERDA funds. This practice of double-dipping, by taking advantage of two different incentives for the same work, violates the intent of the incentive provisions and, if permitted, results in a windfall to landlords. This bill would clarify that such double-dipping is not permitted. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Housing Committee.

Kavanagh and the Assembly Move on Housing Laws: With a change of leadership in the State Senate, the Assembly is moving quickly this year on significant housing legislation. On January 16th, Assemblymember Kavanagh and his colleagues on the Assembly’s Housing Committee held a public hearing to examine what actions can be taken to preserve the existing supply of rent regulated housing in New York and to encourage the development of new units. This hearing was followed by the Assembly’s ten-bill rent regulation package that passed the Assembly on February 2nd. The package includes bills to eliminate vacancy decontrol, increase penalties for tenant harassment, and limits the length of time over which a landlord can recoup the costs of major capital improvements (MCIs). Kavanagh is a prime sponsor of each of these bills and is fighting to ensure that they pass both houses of the legislature this year. The legislative package will now be referred to the Senate. In addition, as reported last month, one of Kavanagh’s bills (A514), which would prohibit landlords from employing key-card systems that track personal information without tenants’ consent, passed the Assembly’s Cities Committee and is expected to be voted on soon by the full Assembly.

The 10-bill package includes measures to:

  • Give New York City and other municipalities the power to provide tenant protections greater than those offered by State law, by repealing the “Urstadt law” (A1688).
  • Repeal “vacancy decontrol” provisions that allow landlords to take vacant units out of the rent-regulated system (A2005).
  • Increase the thresholds above which landlords can take apartments out of the system under “high income decontrol,” raising the household income threshold from $175,000 to $240,000 and the monthly rent threshold from $2,000 to $2,700 (A860).
  • Limit the length of time over which landlords may charge tenants for major capital improvement (MCI) expenses, requiring the rent surcharges for MCIs cease when the cost of the improvement has been recovered (A1928).
  • Increase civil penalties the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) can impose on landlords who harass tenants or who violate DHCR orders related to rent-regulated housing (A2002).
  • Reduce the allowable rent increase after a vacancy from 20 percent to 10 percent and limit the number of increases per year (A1686).
  • Limit a landlord’s ability to evict tenants to accommodate the landlord’s personal use of the apartment (A1685).
  • Ensure that tenants in housing stabilized by a federal Section 8 project-based assistance contract receive the benefits of rent stabilization when the federal subsidy runs out (A1687).
  • Require landlords who charge a rent lower than the maximum amount to offer that same base rent as long as the same tenant resides in the apartment (A465).
  • Protect tenants in Mitchell-Lama developments by prohibiting an owner from applying for a rent increase based on unique and peculiar circumstance when a project withdraws from the program (A857).

Kavanagh Participates in ST/PCV Submetering Forum: On February 8th, Assemblymember Kavanagh participated in the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association’s submetering forum alongside Manhattan Borough President Stringer, Senator Duane, Councilmember Garodnick, and a representative of NYSERDA. The forum, held at JHS 104, was aimed at providing more information on Tishman Speyer’s project and plans as well as discussing comments and concerns with the community.

Kavanagh Reviews Mayoral Control of Schools: On February 6th, Assemblymember Kavanagh participated in a public hearing on school governance hosted by the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education. At the Manhattan hearing, Chancellor Joel Klein appeared on behalf of the Department of Education and set forth the case for renewing mayoral control in New York City. Others who testified included Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, Steven Sanders, the former chair of the Assembly Committee on Education which wrote mayoral control into state law (and, of course, our own former Assemblymember!), as well as education advocacy groups such as Class Size Matters. Assemblymember Kavanagh questioned various witnesses and looks forward to participating in the ongoing discussion about school governance, ensuring any law that passes is in the best interest of our public school families. These hearings will be held in each of the boroughs over the next several weeks in order to review the impact of governance changes which granted mayoral control of the New York City school system. If you would like more information about upcoming hearings, please contact Caitlin Hannon at the district office.

Kavanagh Fights To Protect Public Transportation: In response to their own fiscal crisis, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently approved a budget which includes severe service cuts and across-the-board fare increases. If implemented, the service cuts will affect several bus and subway lines in our community. Assemblymember Kavanagh strongly opposes cuts to public transportation at a time of economic and environmental crisis. While he is working with a grassroots coalition of community advocates and elected officials to protest the cuts locally, he continues to work in Albany to find the funding the MTA desperately needs to balance its operating and capital budgets. Kavanagh attended the Manhattan hearing on January 14th and encourages anyone interested in testifying to mail testimony to Douglas Sussman, the MTA’s Director of Community Affairs, at 347 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017 by the February 24th deadline.

Kavanagh Welcomes Senator Squadron: On January 25th, Assemblymember Kavanagh had the pleasure of being the Master of Ceremonies for newly elected State Senator Squadron’s swearing in ceremony. The event was held at the Saint Francis College in Brooklyn and was followed by a reception at the National Museum of the American Indian in downtown Manhattan. Kavanagh looks forward to working with Senator Squadron to address local and statewide issues.

Baruch College Students Available to Help File Tax Returns: Tax time is once again looming on the horizons and Baruch College students are marshalling to help New York residents. More than 320 Baruch students have been tested and certified by the IRS as tax preparers, ready and able to help you file your federal and New York State tax returns. The service is free and open to the public. Through Wednesday, April 15, 2009, students will be available Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays 10am to 8pm and Fridays 12pm to 7pm on the first floor of 151 East 25th Street, home of Baruch’s Library and Technology Building. No appointment is necessary. Tax preparers work on a first come, first served basis. All volunteers are qualified to complete federal forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ and New York City and State forms IT 150 and IT 201 as well as all accompanying schedules. Reach the VITA Tax Help Line at (646) 312-4600. Please check the VITA web site at for answers about documents to bring with you and other pertinent information.