RGB gets new chair, owner rep

Mar31 Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio

By Sabina Mollot

Mayor de Blasio has appointed two new members to the nine-member Rent Guidelines Board, a new chair and a new owner’s representative.

The two appointments – new chair Kathleen Roberts, a former United States Magistrate Judge, and owner rep Mary Serafy – “have years of experience in both the public and private sectors,” the mayor said in a press release on Tuesday.

The Rent Guidelines Board is responsible for determining rent increases for around one million apartments in the city each year, last year issuing its first ever rent freeze for tenants signing one-year leases.

In an official statement, the mayor said, “Judge Kathleen Roberts has years of experience serving New Yorkers as a United States Magistrate Judge and Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal and Civil Divisions. Likewise, Ms. Serafy is well-versed in the field of housing, planning and development in both the public and private sectors.

“I’m confident that their addition to the Rent Guidelines Board will serve New Yorkers well – tenants and landlords alike – in establishing rent adjustments that are fair and grounded in real-life conditions in our neighborhoods.”

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Letters to the Editor, Mar. 31

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Suggestion for keeping STPCV paths clear

About the dogs, I would just like to put the following out for consideration.

NYC Health code 161.03 specifies: “A person who owns, possesses or controls a dog, cat or other animal shall not permit the animal to commit a nuisance on a sidewalk of any public place, on a floor, wall, stairway or roof of any public or private premises used in common by the public, or on a fence, wall or stairway of a building abutting on a public place.”

Whether or not the sidewalks of STPCV are deemed public or private, the reason this law is relevant is that we have very dense populations here of both people and dogs (perhaps the most dense in the city), and we have a lot of toddlers here who play and fall on these sidewalks all the time. These small children are the most important factor of all.

Even if dog owners clean up the messes, does that really matter so far as children’s health is concerned? There is residual fecal matter in all cases and in some cases, effective “picking up” is impossible especially if the dog is sick.

Just as in the rest of the city, dogs should not be allowed to defecate on our sidewalks. There’s actually more reason for this law to apply here than in the rest of the city.

In lieu of phasing out dogs here entirely, I’ll offer the following possible solution.

Today as I walked from the Oval toward 18th Street, I saw a couple with its dog doing its business off the sidewalk in a small, open mulched area. The dog finished, they picked up.  Fine.  Not on the sidewalk, totally within the law.

There is a small mulched area near the flagpole at 22nd Street where I’ve seen a man bring his dog. He stays on the mulch, stays off the grass, picks up afterward. Seems totally within the law.  Again, nothing done on the sidewalk.

Seems to me given appropriate limitations, a little intelligent planning and intelligent application of effort, small mulched areas could be set up around the buildings and used for the dogs to relieve themselves, and that would help. I’m not talking about dog runs. Just talking about small mulched areas where dogs could do their thing, owners pick up and then go on with their walks.

Of course, there would also have to be a cap on the number of dogs allowed here.  Past a certain point under any circumstances, the problem becomes totally unhealthy and unmanageable.

Any fines management decides to impose would also need to be enforced with respect to dog owners who refuse to cooperate. Accidents happen so fines would be limited to those who don’t clean up afterward (in accordance with NYS Heath Code 1310).

Barry Shapiro, PCV

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