Landlords in Chelsea & Hell's Kitchen Fined for Illegal Hotel Law Violations
In January, the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement took action against two building owners operating illegal hotels in residential buildings in the 75th Assembly District.
Mayor de Blasio's Office of Special Enforcement secured the largest ever settlement in an illegal hotel nuisance abatement case. Salim Assa, the owner of four residential buildings in midtown and Hell's Kitchen, will be required to pay the City $1.2 million and to hire a professional property manager for three years to ensure lawful and safe operation of the buildings.
Dr. Philip Baldeo was sued in Manhattan Supreme Court for allegedly turning the rent-stabilized apartment building he owns at 156 W. 15th St. into an illegal Airbnb hotel, with transients using six of the nine units in the four-story walkup as recently as September. The City had already imposed $11,000 in fines on Baldeo after 13 illegal hotel complaints and more than two dozen building and fire code violations.
Landlords who run illegal hotels are a menace to our communities, with no respect for people or the law.
I was the co-author of the 2010 Illegal Hotel Law (with Senator Liz Krueger).
The Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement has being doing a great job on illegal hotels, investing resources and working with real dedication. These actions are victories for building residents and for affordable housing.
Marijuana: Allowing Adult Use
On January 11, I co-chaired a NYS Assembly hearing on allowing and regulating adult use of mari-juana in New York State with the Assembly Committees on Codes, Health, and Alcoholism & Drug Abuse (chaired by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal).
A bill to allow, regulate and tax production, sale and adult use of marijuana, on much the same basis as alcohol, has been introduced by Assembly Member Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger; I am a cosponsor.
People hear the term "recreational use" and think the bill is just about another way to have fun. The hearing testimony stressed that this issue is really about changing a system that destroys tens of thousands of lives a year. Support is growing around the country. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 58% of Americans support it.
The health care professionals and nonprofit groups testifying supported the plan. Dr. Julia Holland, from Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, said that research has shown that crime rates and teen marijuana use have declined in states like Colorado and Washington that have fully legalized adult use of marijuana.
Dr. Julia Arnsten, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, testified that opioid and pre-scription drug overdoses had declined in states after they had legalized adult use, with overdose deaths down about 25 percent.
L Train Suspension MTA & NYC DOT Open House, Wed 2/14
On Wednesday, February 14 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) are holding an open house on the 15-month suspension of service on the L Train starting in April 2019. It will be at Our Lady of Guadalupe at 328 W. 14th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.
Measures being considered by the agencies include select bus service and dedicated bus lanes on 14th Street, the construction of a two-way separated bicycle lane on 13th Street, and closing 14th Street between 3rd and 8th Avenues to private vehicular traffic on weekday mornings and evenings.
To learn more, please see: web.mta.info/sandy/rebuildingCanarsieTunnel.html.
Sen. Hoylman Forum on "Finding Solutions to Our Transportation Crisis"
State Senator Brad Hoylman is hosting a forum I am co-sponsoring entitled "Finding Solutions to Our Transportation Crisis."
Panelists will include Polly Trottenberg, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation; Alex Mathiessen of Move NY; Veronica Vanterpool, MTA Board Member; Nicole Gelinas of the Man-hattan Institute; and Nick Sifuentes of the Bus Turnaround Coalition.
It will be Thursday, March 1, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the CUNY Graduate Center, Proshansky Au-ditorium, 365 Fifth Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets. Please RSVP at https://tinyurl.com/transportation-crisis.
2018-19 Pre-K Enrollment Period
From February 5th through March 30th, all New York City families with children born in 2014 are eligible to apply to pre-Kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year. This includes children with dis-abilities and children whose native language is not English.
A list of programs is available in the Pre-K Directory, at schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/Resources/default.htm.
Printed copies will be available at district schools, NYCDOE Pre-K Centers, NYCEECs, Family Wel-come Centers, and other locations (e.g. libraries, city agencies, community centers, etc.).
Families can apply online at www.nyc.gov/prek, over the phone by calling 718-935-2067, or in person at a Family Welcome Center. The Family Welcome Center for District 2 is located at 333 Sev-enth Avenue, 12th Floor, Room 1211, New York, NY 10001. The Family Welcome Center for District 3 is located at 388 West 125th Street, 7th Floor, Room 713, New York, NY 10027. They are open 8am to 5pm, Monday through Thursday, and 8am-3pm on Friday except Friday, February 16, Monday, February 19 and Friday, February 23.
Free Tax Preparation Assistance
IRS-trained volunteers are available to provide free tax preparation assistance throughout New York City.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is sponsoring a number of locations in New York City. There are no age or income restrictions to receive this assistance. Sites include:
- Muhlenberg Public Library, 209 W. 23rd St. between 7th & 8th Aves., 212-924-1585, Tuesdays & Fridays 10:15 am-2:30 pm
- Penn South Senior Center, 290 9th Ave. @ 27th St., 212-243-3670, call first for hours of availa-bility
- Community Church of New York, 40 E. 35th St. between Park & Madison Aves., 212-683-4988, Thursdays 9:30am-1:00pm
- Science, Industry & Business Library (SIBL), 188 Madison Ave. @ 34th St., 917-275-6975, Mondays & Wednesdays 1:00pm-6:00pm, Fridays & Saturdays 1:00pm-5:00pm.
- Epiphany Library, 228 E. 23rd St. between 2nd & 3rd Aves., 212-679-2645, Thursdays 10:00am-2:00pm
- Project Find, Hamilton Senior Center, 141 W. 73rd St. between Columbus & Amsterdam Aves., 212-787-7710, Tuesdays 10:00am-2:00pm
- Grand Central Library, 135 E. 46th St. between Lexington & 3rd Aves., 212-621-0670, Saturdays 10:00am-2:00pm
New York City also offers free tax preparation either in person or online for individuals making $64,000 or less.
You can file in-person at a NYC Free Tax Prep site. Filing is completely free and includes e-filing and direct deposit of your refund. Some sites have income limits. For most NYC Free Tax Prep sites, you must have earned $54,000 or less in 2016 to use In Person service to qualify for help. Some NYC Free Tax Prep sites have special services if you are self-employed, are applying for an Individual Tax-payer Identification Number, or if you are a senior over age 60 with pension or retirement-related question or you need to file or change your return from a previous tax year. At these sites, you will drop off your documents and pick up the completed return later. You can also complete your tax return online at certain NYC Free Tax Prep sites with help from an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer. You must have earned $64,000 or less in 2016 and have a valid email address to use the Assisted Self-Preparation service.
You can access a map of tax preparation sites at each site and find out which required tax documents you need at nyc.gov/taxprep. To learn more about the AARP's free tax preparation assistance programs, or to find another AARP tax prep center, please call 888-227-7669 toll-free, or check its online Tax Aide Site Locator at https://secure.aarp.org/applications/VMISLocator/searchTaxAideLocations.action.
Affordable Housing on the West Side
515 West 36th Street Apartments is now accepting applications for 63 affordable studio, 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments newly constructed at 515 W. 36th St. in Manhattan. Rents for these apartments range from $613 to $2,733 depending on income and unit size. To be eligible, applicants must have incomes between $22,903 and $124,020 depending on unit and family size. Asset limits also apply. Preference will be given to Community Board 4 residents for 50% of units, mobility-impaired persons for 5% of units, visual- and/or hearing-impaired persons for 2% of units, and City of New York municipal employees for 5% of units. A full description of the building and application process is available at https://a806-housingconnect.nyc.gov/nyclottery/AdvertisementPdf/440.pdf.
Households may elect to submit an application by one of two methods: EITHER online OR by mail. To submit your application online, please visit NYC Housing Connect at www.nyc.gov/housingconnect and select "Apply for Housing." To request an application by mail, mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Affordable Housing Dept. 515, 1357 Broadway, Box 309, New York, NY 10018.
Applications must be submitted online or postmarked by April 3, 2018. Applicants who submit more than one application may be disqualified.
R.I.P., Lincoln Plaza Cinemas - For Now?
Like many New Yorkers, my family and I have been going to the movies at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas at Broadway and 63rd Street since it first opened in 1981. One of the great classic "art house" cinemas of New York City, it showed independent and foreign movies that were often unavailable or difficult to find elsewhere. It was a much-beloved cultural institution on the Upper West Side.
But Lincoln Plaza Cinemas lost its lease and closed its doors in January. The owners of 30 Lincoln Plaza (1886 Broadway), Milstein Properties, said the space needs extensive renovations and structural work is needed to repair and waterproof the plaza around the building, which could not be done while the theater remained open.
I have joined with City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and State Senator Brad Hoylman in writing to Milstein Properties asking to meet and urging them to renew Lincoln Plaza Cinemas' lease once the renovation work is completed.
Protect Yourself from the Flu
This year's influenza virus has reached epidemic levels. In New York State, there have been more than 11,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,000 hospitalizations - the worst numbers of any flu season in New York since statistics were first recorded in 2004.
The New York State Department of Health advises that all persons 6 months and older receive an influenza vaccination each year. Certain people are at "high risk" of serious complications from sea-sonal influenza. These include people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, preg-nant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions.
Governor Cuomo has signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to children between the ages of two and eighteen. To find out where to obtain vaccinations to protect yourself or family members from the flu or from other serious communicable diseases, please go online to: https://vaccinefinder.org/.
District 3 Community Education Council Legislative Breakfast
On January 26, I spoke at P.S. 191 to parents and educators at the annual Legislative Breakfast of the Community Education Council for District 3, which includes public elementary and middle schools on the Upper West Side. It's always gratifying to see so many principals, teachers and parents together talking about their successes and discussing the challenges that lie ahead.
I was educated in NYC public schools and my mother was a NYC high school math teacher. I believe strongly in the importance of strengthening a truly public education system that is available to all students.
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