Congestion pricing will drive us out
The following is an open letter to Council Member Keith Powers in response to an e-blast from the council member updating District 4 residents on the passing of congestion pricing in the state legislature’s budget on April 1.
Dear Council Member Powers:
Thank you for the community update. I hope you decide to work toward a greater exemption from congestion pricing for residents in the zone who keep their vehicles garaged and who are not in the protected group of residents [Exemptions for residents making less than $60,000 who live inside the zone] who must use the streets to park and double park when streets are cleaned.
I offer the worst of all indignities: Garage parkers at Waterside Plaza, Peter Cooper Village who enter the FDR north or south who never enter into the grid of midtown streets are either hit with the scanners leaving home or coming home – a high price tax to live in those communities, alongside a highway, that never intersects the congested streets of mid-Manhattan. Does that make sense?
Stats show where bikes are a problem
The 13th Precinct has said that they view bike violations seriously but with limited resources, they do targeted enforcement based on data.
While NYC Opendata for Vehicular Accidents shows that 6th Avenue from 14th to 29th is quite a problem, our area has its problems too. Pedestrians were injured in bike incidents in 2019 at 1st Avenue and 15th Street in 2018 at 2nd Ave and 22nd Street and in 2016 at 1st Avenue and 18th and at 1st Avenue and 27th Street.
With an aging population in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and so many bikers breaking laws on 1st and 2nd Avenues, our situation is likely to get worse. In addition to seeing red lights cut constantly from 15th Street to 22nd, from 21st to 23rd, we’ve seen motorized and non-motorized bikes, skateboards and scooters being ridden right on the sidewalks.
Tenants know who’s owned in Albany
On April 6, I attended a rent law town hall hosted by Cooper Square Committee. Our Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, former Assemblyman (now Senator) Brian Kavanagh and other electeds were there. They described the rich possibilities to strengthen the rent laws this year, as the Democrats hold the biggest majority in the State Senate since 1912. It was a veritable love fest of pro-tenant legislative possibilities they put forth.
But the landlord lobby still looms, which Hoylman explained as the reason his Pied-a-Terre Tax was axed out of the budget. I think the Pied-a-Terre Tax is magnificent and have cheered Hoylman on for years. It would have raised almost double for the MTA what its substitute, the congestion pricing plan which did pass, is projected to raise.
That the landlord lobby killed it is potent: there is no single politician in NY today who has gotten more money from real estate interests than Andrew Cuomo. He is the landlord lobby’s #1 favorite politician to fund. I think Senator Hoylman is being charitable in blaming “the landlord lobby.” I say follow the money.
Losing the battle on bikes (cars, too)
To the editor:
T&V has recently featured articles on residents complaining about cyclists’ behavior and the NYPD’s 13th Precinct enforcement activities towards cyclists. None of these articles point out that the real danger to pedestrians and cyclists are automobiles.
Motor vehicle crashes killed 200 people in NYC in 2018 including 114 pedestrians and 10 cyclists and left 60,000 injured. Between July 2012 and January 2019, 887 pedestrians were killed by automobiles. Generally, when the DOT installs protected bike lanes or other infrastructure to make cycling safer and easier, pedestrian safety also increases.
All too frequently whenever there is a serious crash involving a cyclist being hit a motor vehicle, they initiate ticketing activity against cyclists often at intersections and bike lanes in which little dangerous behavior is exhibited by cyclists rather drivers who block and drive in bike lanes, drivers who cut off cyclists at intersections or drivers that block the box causing cyclists to go out into traffic.
Pricing won’t help with congestion
To the editor:
Apparently April Fool’s Day is Judgment Day for congestion fees here in New York City. It is the day, following Mr. de Blasio on WNYC, when wisdom will be brought to bear and traffic congestion will be made a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, while congestion fees may help the cash-strapped MTA, the practice will do nothing for congestion… and we all know it!
The reason: Traffic congestion was not caused by a cash shortage in the MTA. Congestion is an above-ground problem, and no amount of MTA money, and no amount of on-time public service will get at its causes. The first cause was the deliberate increase years ago in the number of yellow cabs. The second cause is the number and sizes of Uber and Lyft vehicles that found their way onto our streets — 100,000 if current figures are correct. And finally, though not causal, the introduction of bike lanes has squeezed cars, cabs, vans, trucks, limos and buses into an already crowded center-of-the-road.
It’s time to pay the pied-a-piper
I Googled Peter Wunsch of Gramercy (author of letter, “Forget the tax, just cut spending,” T&V, Mar. 14), written in response to “Council pushing pied a terre tax,” T&V, Feb. 28.
It appears his family is a dynasty of “old money” wealth and has had quite a privileged life. I guess he doesn’t want to pay the tax on his continuing good fortune. He is also not informed of the facts – pied-a-terre taxes are not financing city workers retirement. Does he think that these folks should have free Police Department, Fire Department, ambulance, etc. services?
Be advised that city employees cannot retire at age 50; the minimum age is 57+ and the pension amount is based on number of qualified years worked. He should check the NYCERS website for details of the pension plan for city workers. City workers are required to contribute to their pension plan. The average city employee doesn’t get wealthy from their city salary (no annual bonuses, either) but civil servants do earn benefits in retirement (not financed by taxpayers).
Forget the tax, just cut spending
Re: “Council pushes pied-à-terre tax,” T&V, Feb. 28
After reading the piece on pied-à-terre taxes, I couldn’t help but wonder when I might read a story about State Senators, City Council members, or the mayor suggesting we actually cut back on certain types of expenses to help pay the bills that come due.
Rather we live in an era where spending more, increasing benefits paid for and entitlements is the annual plan and the solution is always another, or an increased, tax.
Slowly read the story about this proposed tax. It is a tax on people who “are not subject to city or state income taxes” because they are not permanent residents. They pay real estate taxes, maintenance of their homes, employ people and pay our generous sales taxes when they spend money here. But we want to tax them so we can have enough capital to offer early retirement at 50 percent of the final year’s wages to city employees.
Maloney vs. Ocasio-Cortez on Amazon
I quote Mr. Sanders’s column, “Down the Amazon,” T&V, February 21: “…bowing to political pressure from politicians and communities in Queens, Mr. Bezos pulled the plug and backed out of his deal…to build a massive back office complex in Long Island City just a stone’s throw across the East River.”
For his statement to be factual, however, Mr. Sanders should have explained that Amazon’s Long Island City project in is fully within our, read: Hon. Carolyn Maloney’s, Congressional District. Ms. Maloney embraced the project as an opportunity despite its flaws and was distraught while appearing on TV and radio offering her take. She was articulate in explaining that there were no discretionary funds to re-purpose for schools or subways as was somehow suggested.
Instead, a newly elected Congress Member, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, one who spent thousands of dollars on Amazon last year alone, one who is not even in the Congressional District of the project, took credit for its demise:
“Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers and their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”
So this was my evening
To the Town & Village Editor:
A few weeks ago I got off the LIRR at Penn Station near 11 p.m. I took the 1 downtown, knowing I could walk underground to 6th Avenue should the L have already been shut down. At 6th Avenue the platform was full, 60 to 100 people.
An automated announcement repeated itself: “The next L to Canarsie will be at 11:20 p.m.”
I then saw three people spot a sign taped to a poll that I hadn’t seen. They walked away as if to leave. I heard the announcement again, looked at the time and saw it was 11:40 p.m. That was when the MTA guys closing the station, cordoning off the platforms with yellow tape, first came around to alert us directly. But indeed that sign clearly said, last train 10:30 p.m.
The time-honored tradition of greed
The average rent in Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village is now higher than the average rent in the rest of Manhattan. This is pretty worrisome trend. Far from being a middle-class bastion, it is now a high-rent complex.
Greedy landlords contributed. Metropolitan Life had enormous help from city to clear 80 acres in the Gas House District and evict over 13,000 working class people and their families from their homes. They said it was a slum clearance project — but there were three churches, three schools and countless mom and pop stores all there. The landlord was given enormous tax breaks.
When Mike Bloomberg was asked to intervene when Met Life said they wanted to cash in their chips in a $5.4 billion payday, Bloomberg adapted a laissez-faire attitude and said it was a “private transaction.” He deliberately turned a blind eye.
Useful info about Gillibrand
I was pleased to read Steve Sanders’ column in last week’s T&V regarding Kirsten Gillibrand (“Who is Kirsten Gillibrand?”). It was a useful look at and recap of her CV and made several points that may not be common knowledge if one is not a politics wonk. I count myself a wonk, but not yet a pundit.
It is a service to our general voting population to point out that her current Liberal affiliation is second only to Saint Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. It was nearly instantaneous when she found herself downstate after a term as a Representative from upstate complete with the A rating from the NRA.
I would like to make one other point that Sanders did not make mention of in this article. That is the immediate hue and cry she unleashed calling for Al Franken’s resignation from the Senate after allegations of sexual misconduct were discovered. Make no mistake, I found his behavior reprehensible and unacceptable. However, not every crime warrants the death penalty and her reaction to the story was extremely swift as well as loud. It is my opinion that Kirsten Gillibrand tends to stay fit by jumping onto bandwagons.
Another view of the new 20th Street
To the Editor:
I was surprised to read the letter describing chaos and danger on 20th Street due to the street redesign (“You don’t have to drive to hate 20th Street,” T&V, Jan. 17). I’ve never witnessed any of this. But if you are interested in street chaos, I recommend the intersection of 14th St and 1st Ave. There you can witness hundreds, perhaps thousands of pedestrians an hour, in crosswalks, dodging aggressive drivers. Personally I’ve witnessed two people get hit (one pedestrian, one bicyclist, fortunately no serious injuries).
On 20th Street, I see a street redesign, which citywide, will prioritize public space for pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit riders. I support bike lanes, bus lanes, expanded pedestrian space and light rail in this city.
Try this: dare to look at our streets with fresh eyes. Look at the cars passing on First Ave. See how many TLC license plates pass by. Stunning. Second, count how many cars, including the “For Hire” vehicles, which have only one person, the driver, in the car. Think about the public space, our streets, filled with this inefficient and dangerous form of transportation for so many individuals in individual cars. Then, look around and see how much space is devoted to parked cars.
This price hike won’t wash
On January 16, 2019, a “Dear Valued Resident of PCVST” note was taped to the laundry room in my building explaining that CSC Service Works was raising the price to use their washers and dryers.
CSC Service Works did not say we were valued customer of theirs. Supporting that blunder, however, CSC’s letter was dated November 15. Despite the price increase scheduled to be “finalized” on or about January 17, I got hit with the hike.
Every expense CSC offers as rationale to increase the price to use their machines pales in comparison to how much they make because one can’t round off the amount on their cards to fit the price of a wash and dry. The average balance that people carry around may be three dollars.
You don’t have to drive to hate 20th St.
Well, I’ve just about seen it all in my six decades here living in ST/PCV… mostly good, some great, some questionable, but now I have seen it all! The asinine idea by some “brainiac” in NYC government that decided to totally screw up East 20th Street between First Avenue and Avenue C!
No, I’m not a car owner that lost one of the few precious parking spaces; just a good ol’ fashioned resident that cares about his neighbors and most importantly, our safety. Over the last few years we went from the normal two east and westbound lanes, to one more narrow lane to appease all the Bloomberg/Big Bird bike riders.
And now we have the narrowest east/westbound lanes for traffic so that a two-way bike lane could be constructed on the north or Peter Cooper side… not to mention that those bike lanes must be crossed to get to a parked car, the two new bus stop islands or to simply cross the street to go to Lenz’s Deli, Mount Sinai or Oval Fitness. Bozos!
A royal screw-up on East 20th Street
I am deeply disturbed by the current state of our city. It appears from all indications that our dear mayor and his erstwhile Department of Transportation have absolute “Royal Authority” to change whatever they feel like without any community review or input.
Case in point is their recent removal of parking spaces along 20th Street between First Avenue and the FDR. To make matters worse they (without any notice or review) changed the traffic pattern on 20th Street. One can no longer access the FDR North by turning left at 20th Street. There is absolutely no explanation for this. There is no traffic coming from the opposite direction. What is the problem?
Now if you are uninformed you must turn right going south rather than being able to turn left to go north. There is absolutely no logic whatsoever that would explain this.