Editorial: Same old, same old at the RGB

On the heels of tenants’ bargaining power getting stripped away in Albany through the renewal of 421a and the de-coupling of the tax break’s expiration date with that of the rent regulations, the Rent Guidelines Board made it clear that it’s not considering the rent rollback tenants have asked for or even another freeze.

Additionally, the city’s stabilized landlords, represented by the group Rent Stabilization Association, feel they need a win after losing a lawsuit in March charging that last year’s rent freeze wasn’t valid.

So despite this being an election year, in which a pro-tenant mayor is hoping to get reelected, there probably won’t be another freeze. The rent increase ranges voted on Tuesday night, 1-3 percent for a one-year lease, 2-4 percent for a two-year lease, are just preliminary, but there’s also no reason to believe there could still be a freeze without bringing new, significant evidence to light that could change the board members’ minds.

Landlords have made the argument that it costs big bucks to run buildings properly, even more so in the past year, and tenants did already get two years of a freeze if they signed a one-year lease. A small business owner (as the RSA insists most landlords are) who can’t make ends meet because the rent is too damn low does sound like a legit argument indeed.

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Tenants, landlords both plead their case

Tim Collins, counsel for ST-PCV Tenants Association

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Each year, prior to the final vote of the Rent Guidelines Board that determines the increases the city’s stabilized renters will have to pay, tenant advocates as well as real estate industry professionals both make impassioned pleas at public hearings.

At one such hearing last Thursday, tenant advocates called for a rent freeze while landlords pushed for increases.

Tim Collins, head counsel for the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association and a former executive director of the board, noted that while last year he had urged the board to roll back rents, this year he was advocating for a rent freeze.

“The price index is significant but when weighted against other economic factors, a rent freeze would be appropriate,” he said.

Collins explained that he wasn’t basing his decision on tenant welfare.

“Although I respect and am concerned about people left out by poverty and one of the barriers to a decent life is housing, but the board shouldn’t focus on making every apartment affordable,” he said. “But the board also shouldn’t focus on making every owner profitable. If you look at what you’ve done, what prior boards have done, all told since 1990 (increases have been) higher than what is needed to keep owners whole.”

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Letters to the Editor, Apr. 27

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Lawns for people, not pooches

To the Editor:

The newly hired management people have made one of their first decisions to eliminate many of the lawn covered green spaces in the back of our buildings and turn them into “dog friendly spaces.” These are now effectively noisy dog runs and puts dogs before tenants. Not a good start.

Formerly, these lawns were used by young children to crawl and play around – sometimes tenants would read, relax or sun bathe on them. These, along with benches, playgrounds and the Oval, were much needed islands of tranquility amid the city and helped make Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village the oasis it was once known for (see the lovely 70th Anniversary Exhibit on the Oval).

In turning these lawns into fly infested dog toilets, we now witness employees having to clean up after those dog owners who are not so thoughtful – a real waste of their time and energy. These lawns will soon turn into brown and dead places as the small “dog friendly” areas set up previously have become. They will also match the lovely stained carpets that greet guests as they step out of elevators on many floors of our buildings. This is getting out of hand. The next logical step is to turn Stuyvesant Oval into a large dog run with all that space and those trees.

A suggestion. Why not put up signs reading “Curb Your Dog,” which, by the way, is the law in New York City. Dog owners could allow their dogs to relieve themselves in handy nearby gutters which are supposed to be cleaned and disinfected by Sanitation vehicles at least once a week. Owners would still need to clean up after their dogs. No poop and flies on the green spaces or sidewalks. No noisy dog runs. More sanitary conditions in ST/PCV. In short, put tenant needs before dog needs.

Name withheld, ST

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