E. 20th St. already looks different due to new bike lanes, bus islands

The construction east of First Avenue is part of the traffic safety enhancement plan. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

This week, numerous readers reached out to Town & Village, asking about all the work currently going on at East 20th Street, east of First Avenue.

As we reported last month, the Department of Transportation was in the early stages of a traffic safety enhancement project on East 20th Street along the route to the ferry. The project also unfortunately included the removal of 12 parking spots.

Work, however, began in earnest last weekend, with bike lanes being built on the north side of the street adjacent to bus boarding islands.

Council Member Keith Powers said his office has also received many calls, including some complaints, from residents, mainly over the loss of parking at a time when East 14th Street has also lost dozens of spaces due to the L train related construction work. In response, Powers said he’s asked DOT officials to walk along the street with him.

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What a Democratic State Senate means for tenants

Nov20 Mike McKee color

Mike McKee of TenantsPAC (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For years, Democrats in Albany have been pledging to strengthen rent regulations in New York City, but whenever legislation aimed at doing so dies on the chamber floor, fingers get pointed at their Republican colleagues, who, up until November 6, held a majority in the State Senate.

Now, with the chamber having turned unquestionably blue, tenants might just have a chance at seeing some of the legislation, most notably the repeal of vacancy decontrol, get signed into law. Following the election, the Democrat to Republican ratio is 40 Democrats to 23 Republicans. While this figure includes Simcha Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with Republicans, the Democrats still have a clear majority.

But even still, it won’t be easy, Michael McKee, the treasurer and spokesperson of Tenants Political Action Committee, is warning.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” McKee said. “We are going to have to work very hard to make sure our friends in both houses do the right thing and hold them accountable. Just because the Senate is now under Democratic control, it doesn’t mean stronger rent protections are automatically going to happen.”

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Community Board 6 mulling restrictions on new newsstands

Concerns were raised about newsstands that would compete with businesses they’re across from or block historic properties. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Newsstands are as much a part of street life in New York as bodegas and corner delis but after a recent influx of applications for new locations in the area, members of Community Board 6 have decided to revise the criteria for approving them in the district.

Protecting those existing delis and other small businesses is one of the reasons for the proposed changes to the criteria, said Andrew Gross, a member of the transportation committee who combed through the requirements that other boards in the city use to come up with changes for CB6.

“When there were applicants who wanted to put up newsstands in front of small businesses in the district, like bodegas and delis, it seemed like a competitive issue that could harm the pre-existing small businesses,” Gross said. “We’re not here to punish people for opening newsstands but this is a bit of an archaic system that hasn’t been updated in a while.”

Newsstands are ultimately approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs but potential operators are required to submit materials to the appropriate community board to give members an opportunity to comment on the application.

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