member photo
Assemblymember
Richard N. Gottfried
June 2014
Assembly District 75
NYS Assembly Seal
Community Update

Letter to Mayor about Illegal Hotels:

Illegal hotels have plagued New York City for over a decade, and this problem has reached a critical new stage. With the arrival of online sites brokering illegal hotel activity, such as Airbnb, we have seen a rise in short-term stays on a larger scale, often bringing unsavory and illegal activities into apartment buildings.

The short-term commercial use of residential units creates a host of problems for our communities, ranging from quality of life issues for tenants to grave fire and safety hazards for tenants and visitors to our city. Residential buildings do not have to comply with the strict safety, security, and fire prevention regulations required of commercial hotels. Tenants run the risk of being evicted for "profiteering" in violation of their leases.

A serious consequence of illegal hotels is the loss of thousands of affordable rent-regulated units, thus exacerbating the NYC housing crisis.

In the New York State Legislature there are two bills that would legalize short-stay rentals in residential buildings. These bills undermine the Illegal Hotels Law that Senator Liz Krueger and I worked to enact - along with other state legislators, councilmembers, tenant groups and the Bloomberg administration - in 2010. They also have the potential to cause confusion among rent-regulated tenants across New York City, creating a conflict between state law and most rent-regulated leases. This may result in an increase of rent-regulated tenants being evicted.

The Illegal Hotels Working Group -- a coalition of elected officials, tenants, and tenant advocates that has worked on this issue since 2005 -- is working to prevent these bills from becoming law. We recently wrote to Mayor de Blasio, urging him to oppose these bills and any legislation that weakens the current laws or threatens the viability of the City's existing enforcement system.

Please stand with us in this important fight to protect the rights of tenants and preserve affordable housing in New York City and write to Mayor de Blasio, too.

Rent Guidelines Bd. Hearing June 16:

Every year the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) decides what the rent increases for Rent Stabilized lease renewals will be. This year, for leases renewing between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015, the RGB is considering an increase of 0% - 3% for a one-year renewal lease, and 0.5% - 4.5% for a two-year renewal lease. This is the first time the RGB has ever proposed an increase of 0%.

The RGB will be having public hearings on the proposals. The Manhattan hearing is June 16th from 2pm to 6pm at 49-51 Chambers Street. I will provide testimony to urge the RGB to decide on the lowest percentage possible for rent increases, and I hope you will be able to join me. If you wish to speak, you must register by calling the RGB at 212-385-2934.

Please note that if you are not able to make this hearing, you can testify at another; see http://www.nycrgb.org/html/about/meetings.html for the schedule.

Bill to Create Utility Ombudsman for New York State:

I am a cosponsor of Assembly bill A.6239, which would create the New York State Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate to serve as an advocate and appear on behalf of New Yorkers in state and federal regulatory proceedings. While there are existing state offices that do some of this work, none advocate purely on behalf of consumers. In our community, we have two major examples from the recent past of how important such an office would be: all the power failures during and after Hurricane Sandy, which dragged on for far too long, and the dramatic spikes in utility bills that Manhattan residents have seen in the last year. My office has heard from constituents who have seen a 50% increase in their electric bills from the winter of 2013 to the winter of 2014. In the states where a comparable office exists, residential consumers have seen savings that far outstrip the cost of running the office.

June is LGBT Pride Month:

It's been 45 years since the Stonewall riot marked the rise of the LGBT rights movement.

It has been three years since New York state enacted marriage equality. It was a victory for all same-sex couples and for those who cherish civil rights.

But there is clearly more that needs to be done. According to a recent report by the New York City Anti-Violence Project, hate crimes against LGBT people rose 26% in 2013.

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 the Senate has so far refused to act on the bill. I urge you to contact Senate Majority Coalition Leaders Dean Skelos at Skelos@nysenate.gov and Jeffrey Klein at jdklein@senate.state.ny.us, and request that they bring this bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

June is LGBT Pride Month, an exciting time for members of the LGBT community and its allies. I will be marching in The Heritage of Pride Parade on Sun., June 29, goes down Fifth Avenue and ends on Christopher St. by the Stonewall Inn. To join me, please call my office at 212-807-7900 or email GottfriedR@nysa.us. To find out more about Pride events, visit www.nycpride.org.

Comptroller Stringer's Sandy Over-sight Hearing:

On June 17, Comptroller Stringer will hold a public hearing on the recovery process from Hurricane Sandy. Residents of community districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 can voice concerns and ask questions about the recovery and relief efforts. This is an initiative of the Comptroller's Hurricane Sandy Oversight Unit, which aims to hold government accountable in the rebuilding of NYC by auditing Sandy spending and programs, identifying areas for improvement, and making recommendations on behalf of communities. I am a co-sponsor of the hearing, and hope you will attend.

The event will take place at 82 Rutgers Slip, in the second floor Goldie Chu Community Room on Tuesday, June 17 from 7:00-9:00 pm, with doors opening at 6:30. If you wish to participate, please RSVP to 212-669-4466 or eventsrsvp@comptroller.nyc.gov. Translation will be provided in Spanish, Mandarin and American Sign Language.

PATH Riders' Council:

As part of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's effort to improve public outreach, the PATH recently announced new programs to garner feedback from riders and improve customer service. PATH's Community Connection includes a PATH Education Series and a PATH Riders' Council (PRC).

Beginning with a one-year pilot program, the PRC is intended to ensure that PATH commuters will be given an opportunity to offer feedback on future PATH initiatives and policies. The PRC will consist of up to 21 volunteer positions with a cross-section of riders from different geographical locations and demographics representing the PATH service area. The first PRC meeting will be held in mid-July of 2014 and PRC members will meet six times a year with the ability to call special meetings and form working groups, as needed. The pilot period will allow time for the council members to provide formal recommendations on the new council's structure and function. You can apply to serve as a PRC member for the pilot year. Either pick up an application at a PATH station and send it in by the deadline or apply online at http://www.panynj.gov/path/prc.html by 8PM on Friday, June 20.

Assembly Passes Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act:

My bill to protect transgender people under the State Human Rights Law was approved by the Assembly on Tuesday. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA, A.4226B/S.195B) will now be referred to the State Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee.

This is a long overdue protection of human rights. Every year my colleagues and I speak for transgender human rights and equal protection under the law - and every year, opponents spin imaginary horror stories, none of which have anything to do with this bill. Local GENDA laws have been on the books in large parts of the state for years, and no one has pointed to any of these hypothetical events actually happening. It's time to protect all New Yorkers' right to fair housing and employment.

For more information, please see my attached press release.

Bill to Create Utility Ombudsman for New York State Senate:

I am a cosponsor of Assembly bill A.6239, which would create the New York State Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate to serve as an advocate and appear on behalf of New Yorkers in state and federal regulatory proceedings. While there are existing state offices that do some of this work, none advocate purely on behalf of consumers. In our community, we have two major examples from the recent past of how important such an office would be: all the power failures during and after Hurricane Sandy, which dragged on for far too long, and the dramatic spikes in utility bills that Manhattan residents have seen in the last year. My office has heard from constituents who have seen a 50% increase in their electric bills from the winter of 2013 to the winter of 2014. In the states where a comparable office exists, residential consumers have seen savings that far outstrip the cost of running the office.

Office Addresses:

District Address:
242 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
212-807-7900
Fax: 212-243-2035
Albany Address:
LOB 822
Albany, NY 12248
518-455-4941
Fax: 518-455-5939