Assembly's Vote
Backs Rent Control

By KIMBERLY SCHAYE
Daily News Albany Bureau

ALBANY
The state Assembly yesterday lodged a symbolic vote to strengthen rent protections for 1.1 million city apartments even as the state Senate threatens to allow those laws to lapse.

The vote was symbolic because the rent regulations will expire automatically June 15 unless the Senate, Assembly and Gov. Pataki agree on a proposal to extend them.

Assembly members said they believe their vote will force others to back the protections.

"Up to now we've heard a lot of rhetoric," said Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn), who chairs the Assembly Housing Committee. "What we're trying to do is establish our positions, come up with something substantive and set a framework for negotiation."

He added: "I think the governor has to step in and mediate and obtain a rent-regulated system in order for him to maintain his political credibility in New York City."

But critics called the vote a gimmick.

"By passing a one-house bill, the Assembly is perpetuating a fraud on the public instead of negotiating with the Senate in good faith," said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer) who has vowed to "end rent regulation as we know it" said the Assembly bill is unacceptable.

"I don't think much of it at all," Bruno said. "I think it makes a bad situation worse and they ought to act more responsibly."

Assembly Democrats and tenant advocates said Pataki and city and suburban Senate Republicans who represent rent-regulated tenants will be forced by political pressure to persuade Bruno not to gut the laws.

"We're looking to them to stand up to Joe Bruno," Billy Easton of the New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition said of Assembly members.

Pataki spokesman Michael McKeon said Pataki "will be involved throughout the process" and not be influenced by politics.

Original Story Date: 031897
Original Story Section: Beyond the City