Opinion: Priorities for the year ahead

By Council Member Keith Powers

Starting on January 1, I have the privilege to represent the community that I have called home throughout my life. Our district has been lucky to have been represented by Council Member Dan Garodnick for 12 years that were exciting, turbulent, and important to our future. As I take office, I look forward to building on Dan’s legacy and focusing on a few priority areas:

Creating and Preserving Affordable Housing
As I promised during my campaign, I’ll work to make housing laws fair and to provide residents an opportunity to stay in their homes for the long haul, especially right here in ST/PCV. The next few years will need to include addressing the long-term future of “Roberts” tenants in ST/PCV and assisting overburdened settling tenants in Waterside Plaza. The city and state also need to address the rising cost of housing through MCI reform, expanding SCRIE benefits, and continuing the push for zero or low rent increases for rent-regulated tenants.

Building Sustainable Transportation Alternatives During the L Train Shutdown
As we prepare for the 15-month L-train shutdown, I am working to make the process as seamless as possible. I will fight to make sure the city’s plan adequately addresses the need to get across 14th Street, and presents new options for travel. We need to invest in Select Bus Service, as well as more space for pedestrians along 14th Street. With the noise, construction and shift in people traffic and vehicles to come, I also want to make sure quality of life remains sustainable for those in the surrounding area.

Helping Small Businesses Thrive
The city needs to act swiftly to address retail vacancies and present a lifeline to struggling small businesses. Building on Council Member Garodnick’s repeal of the Commercial Rent Tax (CRT) for Manhattan’s smallest businesses, I will help lead the charge in the City Council on creative solutions to keep our neighborhood businesses alive including new incentives, tax reforms, and zoning solutions. As the son of a small business owner, I know how important these businesses are to our day-to-day lives.

Keeping New York Protected from Changes in Washington, D.C.
It’s incumbent on the Council to protect New Yorkers – and that goes for anything from addressing homelessness to guaranteeing quality education. Recently, we have added taking on the growing challenges from the Trump Administration to that list. Regardless of what comes out of Washington, I am ready to fight for New Yorkers on taxes, health care, climate change and more.

I look forward to keeping in close touch with my neighbors and constituents to ensure their needs are met. Please call us anytime to express your priorities at (212) 818-0580.

Keith Powers is Council Member for New York City’s District 4, covering Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, Waterside Plaza, Tudor City, East Midtown, Midtown West, and the Upper East Side.

4 thoughts on “Opinion: Priorities for the year ahead

  1. You forgot making sure that Constantinople & Vallone makes out well. And of course bending over for DeBlasio

  2. 3 issues only with respect to rental affordability in STPCV. MCIs, RGB increases and constant renewal of rent stabilization laws. Otherwise, not much is possible throughout our council district.

    Above 34th St most of the housing is co-op or condo. Many conversions took place in just the last 10-15 years.

    Below 34th to 14th, only 2 large rental complexes: us and Waterside. Waterside left the Mitchell-Lama program in 2001 and is essentially market-rate now. Because it completed in 1974, a court ruled Waterside doesn’t have to go onto rent stabilization. As such, there is little anyone can do for the settlement tenants. They don’t even qualify for SCRIE and DRIE. Would be nice if Ravitch volunteered to accept some programs like these.

    In STPCV 50% of us are already protected and paying affordable rents.

    An agreement has already been made about Roberts tenants. What more can be done for them?

    As to the rest paying preferential rents, many of these are students or internationals working at the UN or who have been moved here temporarily by their companies. So those affected who have standing are not so many. Several of these folks have told me they’re resigned to being forced to move eventually.

    There is an affordability issue city wide and we’ll eventually see more and more of it in the growing ranks of the homeless. We’ll likely see this in surrounding council districts. Not in ours.

    Rental affordability has been turned into a phantom issue for our district. Nice to talk about or write about, not enough affected to raise a strong voice and unfortunately for those affected, little that can actually be done.

    I support Mike McKee’s goals…ending vacancy decontrol and vacancy allowing increases…both passed under Democratic Speaker Pete Vallone. But I’m not giving odds on either of these ever changing.

  3. Ahhh, another REBNY lackey who thinks the commercial rent tax repeal is the answer to the thousands of shuttered storefronts in this city. He should be embarrassed to say his dad is a small business owner and in the same sentence only bring up the commercial tax reform, and not SBJSA.

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