By Sabina Mollot
The latest phone scam to irritate New Yorkers struck this past week, with numerous residents of Stuyvesant Town reporting they were called by someone claiming to be from Apple.
Susan Steinberg, president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, said she received at least six of those calls on Sunday, and while she wasn’t fooled, “It’s enough to make you want to pull the phone out of the wall,” she said.
A bunch of neighbors also reported receiving the same on the association’s Facebook page over the weekend.
Like with similar scams in which the caller pretends to be from the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Treasury and Microsoft, recipients receive a call from an automated voice, instructing them to call back.
In this case, callers are informed that their iCloud account has been hacked and their data is in jeopardy. Steinberg first got called in the morning, getting a barrage of followup calls throughout the day.
ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg, pictured at the podium, discusses MCIs at a Tenants Association meeting held in November, alongside local elected officials. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Fed up with the consistent approvals of major capital improvement (MCI) rent increases by the state’s housing agency, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg called on local elected officials last November to get the agency to stop what seemed to be a rubber stamping process. Or at least, Steinberg said, while hosting a meeting for neighbors, to explain the reasons for the approvals of every MCI ever applied for by the landlord, when the Tenants Association has challenged each and every one of them. She noted at the time that the agency, by its own regulations, was supposed to provide explanations for its decisions.
The two state elected officials sitting on the stage of the auditorium of MS 104, State Senator Brad Hoylman and then-Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, said they’d follow up.
Five months later, Hoylman, as well as new City Council Member Keith Powers, have penned a lengthy, legalese-filled letter to RuthAnne Visnauskas, the commissioner of the state housing agency, Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) that reiterates the TA’s arguments against the permanent rent increases.
Drivers parked in the loop roads have been slapped with tickets. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Stuy Town drivers, beware.
A recent and ongoing ticketing blitz in the loop roads around the Oval has local motorists on edge for a couple of reasons. First, generally, parking tickets are the domain of Stuyvesant Town’s own public safety department, whose officers are deputized to issue them for infractions. Additionally, they offer a 15-minute grace period to drivers loading and unloading at times when parking isn’t permitted. This grace period was arranged by then-Assembly Member Steven Sanders and the city in 2002.
But all that has changed within the past couple of months. Residents have been complaining on the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s Facebook page, as well as to the office of Council Member Keith Powers, about an NYPD crackdown on illegal parking, that came without warning.
The infractions were for idling as well as for parking in spots where “No Parking” signs were posted. A rep for Powers noted that public safety typically lets drivers know when they can re-park after street sweeping is concluded but that tends to be before the “No Parking” signs indicate.
The ST-PCV Tenants Association’s John Sheehy (pictured) and Blackstone’s AJ Argarwal have neighboring properties in the Hamptons.
By Sabina Mollot
John Sheehy, treasurer of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, recalls exactly the moment when he learned of The Blackstone Group’s interest in Stuyvesant Town.
Sheehy, who has a summer home in East Hampton, has a neighbor in Blackstone’s AJ Argarwal, a senior managing director in real estate. Though they didn’t know each other particularly well, one day they happened to see each other as Argarwal was pulling into his driveway with his wife and Sheehy asked Argarwal if he had any interest in Stuyvesant Town.
His response: “Of course,” recalled Sheehy. It wouldn’t be until a year later, though, when the two men actually met again on the subject of Stuyvesant Town.
This was when he’d arranged for Agarwal, whom he called “a pleasant fellow,” to meet with then-Council Member Dan Garodnick at his midtown office. This was in October 2014, and the Tenants Association still had hopes of going condo.
But CWCapital hadn’t yet shown any interest in that plan.
“CW was saying, ‘We’re not ready to sell, and what’s all this talk about selling?’”
The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association is asking neighbors to share their stories about why rent stabilization is needed at an upcoming hearing.
On Monday, March 19 at 1 p.m. the City Council Housing and Buildings Committee has scheduled a public hearing on two measures introduced by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. One is to renew the city rent control law (which doesn’t apply to ST/PCV), and the other (Intro 600-A) is to renew the NYC Rent Stabilization Law of 1969 (which does), for three more years.
In an email to residents on Friday, the TA stated, “As long as the city vacancy rate is below 5 percent the city can renew a declaration of housing emergency. The vacancy rate is currently 3.63 percent, according to the Census Bureau.”
Tenants will have the opportunity to give testimony or simply attend the hearing to support neighbors.
Real Rent Reform (R3), a coalition of tenant advocacy groups, is organizing a lobbying day in Albany on Thursday, March 22 to tell the State Senate to close the loopholes that are making housing in this city unaffordable. Even in rent-regulated apartments, the rent is too high and stability is at risk. Nearly 266,000 tenants live with a preferential rent which means their rent can jump hundreds of dollars when their lease is up.
Transportation will be provided free of cost by R3 as well as a light breakfast and lunch.
The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association will have representatives there and is asking neighbors to attend.
Rick Hayduk (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
With the election coming in November, candidates for City Council as well as those canvassing for them should take note: Stuy Town is off limits.
Stuyvesant Town’s general manager Rick Hayduk said at a meeting this week held by the 13th Precinct Community Council that while door-knocking isn’t illegal in the city, it is against the “house rules” on the property.
His comment was in response to a complaint from a resident at the meeting who said door-knockers were roaming the complex before the primary election in September.
Hayduk agreed that “It was pretty rampant (during the primary).”
The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, who’ll be holding a meet-and-greet with candidates from the City Council District 4 race on September 9, have also quizzed the aforementioned candidates on a number of locally important issues.
Reaching out via a questionnaire, candidates were asked their thoughts on the needs of students amidst a current baby boom, the planned sanitation garage near Waterside and concerns specific to Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village as well as other issues.
The Tenants Association has published the results of their questionnaire online. Some of the candidates’ comments are below.
Peter Cooper Village
By Sabina Mollot
This week, the city issued stop work orders on four apartments in Peter Cooper Village that had been undergoing renovations, due to a lack of permits. The four units were among the 115 apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that are being reconfigured to add an additional bedroom in each, and management is currently in the process of applying for the permits for the work.
The Department of Buildings issued the stop work orders after inspecting the apartments on Friday morning, the ST-PCV Tenants Association said. In five apartments, they found three violations in each, all related to work without a permit. Stop work orders were issued on only four, though, since management was able to immediately get a permit for one of the units.
Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg said it was the TA who tipped off the city to the problem as well as alerting management, who had been unaware of the lack of permits. The TA was initially only looking into the situation after hearing from several tenants in neighboring apartments to the ones being renovated, who were complaining about noise, vibrations and even walls cracking. While management has been responsive to requests for repairs that Steinberg’s aware of, a few eagle-eyed residents also noticed that permits weren’t posted in buildings.
FBI agent shares tips at ST-PCV TA meeting
On July 18, The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association hosted an active shooter preparation presentation, held at Podell Auditorium of Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center.
The presentation was made by Special FBI Agent Jin Kim.
Here’s a rundown of the 75-minute discussion, courtesy of ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg:
This tenant doesn’t want to be ‘public’
To the Editor:
The Tenants Association is up to its old tricks again – forcing residents to list their name publicly (even if they don’t pay dues), or the TA will not act on their behalf, as a tenants’ representative.
I received an official looking letter from the TA, even though I have never paid dues to them. The letter said I must choose between two unappealing choices:
Choice A: I must list my name as a “Public Member” of the TA. The letter says that the TA will only speak for those who are willing to be listed publicly as Public Members.
Choice B: If I do not list my name, the TA states that I waive all rights to any benefit that a Court may award to residents of Stuyvesant Town. Choice B states:
“I do not wish to become a Public Member and hereby grant to the STPCV TA, its President or Secretary, and any legal counsel chosen by the Board of Directors standing permission to enter into settlements of legal claims with benefits which may accrue solely to those who sign the Public Member Pledges, and we waive any claim to such benefits.
Tenants play limbo at the vote. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The city’s rent-stabilized renters will be seeing increases of 1.25 percent for one-year leases and 2 percent for two-year leases.
The increases were voted on by the Rent Guidelines Board on Tuesday evening, after two years of rent freezes for one-year leases, frustrating tenants as well as landlords.
Tenant advocates and community groups were pushing for at least another freeze and in many cases a rollback, but owner representatives felt that the increases didn’t go far enough.
Tenant member Harvey Epstein said in his remarks prior to introducing the proposal that ultimately passed that he and Sheila Garcia, the second tenant member on the board, knew tenants needed a rollback or at least a freeze, but he said that neither were possible at this year’s vote.
“It’s our job to do the best we can and live with the political realities,” Epstein said. “We take this job seriously and today is the first day to move to a better system.”
ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
At a Manhattan hearing of the Rent Guidelines Board, where both landlords and tenants were invited each year to give testimony on their respective suffering, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg took umbrage at one owner representative’s argument that MCIs are not sufficient rent increases.
She spoke up after Rent Stabilization Association president Jack Freund, whose organization represents landlords throughout the city, said at the hearing that Major Capital Improvements (MCIs) and preferential rent increases don’t offer enough income to sustain landlords.
“You cannot substitute MCI increases for maintenance and operating rent increases,” he said. “MCIs have nothing to do with this issue and the suggestion that preferential rents somehow should play into this, that you can eliminate the need for rent increases because owners can increase rent (with MCIs and preferential rent increases), is a ludicrous notion. Both of those suggestions, that MCIs and preferential rent increases, can somehow substitute for a necessary, across-the-board rent increase, are just laughable.”
Later, Steinberg, who said she’d originally planned to read pre-written testimony, changed her mind in order to respond to Freund.
“Perhaps he forgot that MCIs get onto a tenant’s rent in perpetuity,” she said during her testimony. “It goes way beyond recouping the landlord’s costs and if you’re a tenant living in a building and have received several MCIs that get added permanently on top of the RGB increases, that adds up really fast. Maybe it’s laughable for the landlord but it sure isn’t for tenants.”
TA worried about apartments being churned
By Sabina Mollot
Blackstone has recently embarked upon an “experiment” with 115 vacant apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that involves adding a new bedroom in most of them by reducing dining or living room space. The plan also will create some new studio apartments.
News of the project was announced on Tuesday by the ST-PCV Tenants Association, which is staunchly opposed to it over concerns it will just add to the “churning” of apartments rented by transients.
Susan Steinberg, president of the Tenants Association, said StuyTown Property Services first shared the plan with the TA about three weeks ago but at that time it had yet to get the greenlight of the Department of Buildings. At this point, however, the city has signed off on the project because the TA has learned construction has already begun.
Details of the apartment conversions were shared in an email that was sent to neighbors along with the TA’s reasons for asking the landlord to scrap the whole project. In particular, Steinberg said, the Tenants Association is opposed to the Stuy Town subdivisions because in Peter Cooper, living rooms are spacious enough where losing some space wouldn’t be as drastic as the conversions in Stuy Town, which, the TA said, effectively turns living rooms into foyers.
Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
With the future of Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket once again up in the air, following Morton Williams’ decision not to sign a lease for the space, the ST-PCV Tenants Association has asked Blackstone to let the Associated stay.
The request was made over the Tenants Association’s concern that with a Trader Joe’s store as well as a Target eventually moving across the street from Stuyvesant Town, Blackstone would no longer feel obligated to keep an affordable supermarket in the complex, as the owner had committed to previously. But, the TA is arguing, Trader Joe’s, with its unusual and somewhat curated range of products, doesn’t offer a “complete grocery experience.”
The plea was made via a letter from Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg to Stuyvesant Town’s General Manager Rick Hayduk on Monday.