June is LGBT Pride Month
It's been 44 years since the Stonewall riot marked the rise of the LGBT rights movement.
It has been two years since New York state enacted marriage equality. It was a victory for all same-sex couples and for those who advocate for civil rights.
But there is clearly more that needs to be done. Hate crimes against LGBT people continue, and in the past month, we have witnessed first hand that hatred and violence still pose threats to LGBT people, even in neighborhoods commonly thought of as safe. GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (the transgender rights bill sponsored by State Senator Daniel Squadron and me) has repeatedly passed the Assembly but has yet to pass the Senate. This month, the Supreme Court will rule on marriage equality cases.
June is LGBT Pride Month, an exciting time for members of the LGBT community and its allies. The Heritage of Pride Parade down Fifth Avenue is Sunday, June30, ending on Christopher Street by the Stonewall Inn. I will be marching. To join me, please call my office , 212-807-7900 or email GottfriedR@nysa.us. To find out more about Pride events, visit the NYC Pride Web site or the Gay Center Web site.
Bill Protects Us Against Radon Exposure
I am a co-sponsor of Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal's bill to restrict the distribution of natural gas that includes dangerous levels of radon, a radioactive cancer-causing gas. Radon and the radioactive elements that result when it "decays" are a major cause of lung cancer, and there is no safe exposure level for public health.
New York has benefited from low levels of radon in natural gas delivered to consumers, because our gas has mainly from the sources with low levels (e.g., Texas and Louisiana).But now there are plans to bring in gas from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania - and possibly upstate New York. Marcellus Shale gas has dangerously high levels of radon.
Our bill would mandate strict around-the-clock monitoring of radon levels in all natural gas distributed within New York and set very low allowable limits for radon in that gas.
Bike Share Program
The City's new bike share program, "CitiBike," includes 6,000 bikes spread throughout lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn at over 300 stations. Those wishing to use the bikes can buy an annual membership for $103 or a day pass for $10. Bikes can be used for 30-45 minute segments before the rider is charged an extra fee.
As with all new programs, there are things that need to be fixed. The docking stations are much larger and more intrusive than most people expected. As a result, locations that might have seemed acceptable can be a problem. Stronger enforcement of cyclists by the NYPD will be critical as the streets see an increase in the number of bike riders.
I am writing to the Landmarks Preservation Commission about its approval of docking station on blocks in historic districts. I am also writing to Police Commissioner Kelly asking for increased enforcement of laws about cyclists.
Ninth Avenue Parking Regulations
Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen has long had metered parking and commercial loading and unloading zones. Recently, the Department of Transportation changed the time of metered parking to run through 11:00 PM. It used to end at 7:00 PM.
This change has had a negative effect on the large number of theater, musical, and production staff who often travel with large, bulky equipment and use the parking on Ninth Avenue as a way to park in the theater district's backyard. I and the other area elected officials sent a letter to DOT urging it to re-instate the previous regulations. That letter is attached.
NYCHA & ULURP Reform Legislation
The New York City Housing Authority has been looking for ways to increase its revenue to fill budget gaps. Recently, NYCHA has said it will issue 16 Request for Proposals for the lease and development of land on NYCHA-owned sites in the city.
I and many of my colleagues at the city and state level believe that NYCHA is moving forward too quickly, and with too little community input, on this. I am a co-sponsor of the bill Assembly Member Keith Wright has introduced that would require any disposition of land or buildings by NYCHA go through New York City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
This bill would help make sure that public housing residents and the broader community can help shape the future of their neighborhoods through a fair and transparent process - just like for other major land use actions.
Physicians for a National Health Program Honors Gottfried
Physicians for a National Health Program is an organization of over 18,000 physicians, medical students, and health professionals campaigning for universal single-payer health coverage.
In New York, I am the author of New York Health, the bill which would provide health care for all New Yorkers through a single-payer health plan. It is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Bill Perkins.
This year, PNHP's NY Metro chapter will honor me at its annual Gala on June 6. I am deeply appreciative of this honor and thankful for the work PNHP does here in New York and across the country. For more information on PNHP, visit: http://www.pnhpnymetro.org/
Illegal Hotels Update and Information
Illegal hotels are units that are supposed to be apartments but are illegally used as transient hotel rooms. They take available apartments from an already tight housing market, and disrupt the lives of residents.
State Senator Liz Krueger and I won an important victory for tenants in 2011 when we passed the Illegal Hotel Law, which clarified that residential units are for residential use, not transient use (defined as less than 30 days without the legal tenant present). Since the law went into effect, the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement has been cracking down on illegal operators.
Recently, a city judge ruled against an individual, Nigel Warren, challenged a $2,400 fine he received from the city for renting out his apartment for less than 30 days, while he was not present, on Airbnb's website.
Many of the media stories paint Mr. Warren as the "unintended victim" of an "overly broad" law. It is true that the worst offenders are businesses that illegally rent out large numbers of apartments, and enforcement against individuals like Mr. Warren is less common. But illegal hotel activity and the revolving door of transient strangers create problems of noise, security, fire safety, cleanliness, and building maintenance, whether the illegal operator is large or small. I also believe it is morally wrong to use a residential apartment as an illegal hotel-especially if it is subsidized, rent stabilized, or rent controlled-when others desperately need housing.
Media stories have suggested that there should be exceptions for individual tenants who want to rent out their units on Airbnb and other websites. I would be open to exploring how to accommodate tenants (whose leases permit subletting) who on a rare occasion want to rent out their home while they are away for a short time. However, an exception must not be worded in a way that puts an almost impossible on the city to prove that the transient rental is not rare. I do not support general exemptions for individual tenants or any other amendment that would erode the intent of the law.
Tenants who consider renting out the apartment should be mindful about rules in their lease or co-op/condo agreement.
Recently, my office was contacted by an elderly Chelsea tenant who was being evicted after she rented out a room in her two-bedroom apartment through an internet-based company. This woman did not violate the illegal hotels law (because she was present in the apartment during the short stays of her paying guests), but she did violate the terms and conditions of her coop lease.
Short-stay companies like FlipKey and Airbnb solicit tenants to use their commercial services to rent out their apartments.
I believe more needs to be done to protect tenants from being drawn into illegal ventures that could result in fines and even eviction. If you have been solicited by such a company, I'd like to hear about it.
If there is an illegal hotel problem in your building, contact Brianna Paolicelli in my community office at 212-807-7900, or GottfriedR@nysa.us.
Toni Carlina: Celebrating Three Decades of Service
On behalf of my office, I wish Toni Carlina a very warm congratulations on the occasion of her retirement. After nearly thirty years of service to New York City, Toni will be greatly missed by the district, elected officials, and City residents alike. As the District Manager of Manhattan Community Board Six for 12 years, Toni is renowned for her incredible breadth of knowledge on City issues and processes, as well as an impressive network of community leaders and residents who are her friends and colleagues.
As an Assembly Member representing a portion of Community Board Six, I am honored to join in thanking Toni for her many years of service, and in congratulating her on her retirement. Her dedication and attentiveness to the district's needs has been much appreciated and will be greatly missed.
New York, NY 10001
Albany, NY 12248