Gov's Plan Will Offer Protection for anyone who needs it'

Post Corresppondent

ALBANY -- Gov. Pataki jumped into the rent wars yesterday, vowing that every tenant who needs protection will keep it, and saying he will offer his own plan within a week.

"Rent control must be preserved for all New Yorkers who need its protections," Pataki pledged for the first time.

"And it will be.

"No middle-class, hard-working New York City tenant should be held hostage to this debate."

Administration insiders said they expect Pataki to propose decontrolling apartments for those renters making $150,000 a year and paying at least $2,000 a month rent. The current income threshold for luxury decontrol is $250,000.

In addition, insiders said they expect the Pataki plan to call for a sweeping vacancy-decontrol program under which thousands of apartments renting for $1,000 or more would be removed from control when the tenant moves or dies.

Under current law, only apartments priced at $2,000 or more a month are decontrolled once they become vacant.

"It will be a middle course between" state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), a top Pataki aide said of the plan.

Pataki -- who for months has refused to take a stand on the biggest issue in Albany -- said in an eight-paragraph statement he would put forward a detailed plan within days.

Pataki said his rent plan would "move us forward, protecting every New York City tenant who should be protected while strengthening the system."

Pataki has been under fire from Democrats and tenant leaders for ducking the rent issue. Pataki had said he wanted to avoid taking a position because that would help him broker a deal.

Silver on Tuesday said: "What kind of governor, what kind of leader, sits back and says nothing? A real leader articulates his position, a real leader stakes a stand and that's exactly what Mr. Pataki needs to do."

Pataki chided Silver and Bruno for trying to tie negotiations over rent laws to upstate property-tax cuts.

"Majority Leader Bruno's and Speaker Silver's attempt to link rent control and property-tax relief is not the right way," Pataki said.

"It divides New Yorkers by regions and I oppose that. That is a separate issue from the right of each tenant in New York City who needs rent-control protection."

Pataki's statement came just hours after Bruno vowed to let rent laws die next month unless Silver agreed to cut property taxes upstate.

Bruno, who wants to abolish the rent-protection system, was responding to Silver's hint on Tuesday that he would not back property-tax relief unless Bruno and Pataki make a deal to preserve rent laws.

Rent laws protecting over 2 million tenants expire on June 15 if the state Legislature does not act.

Silver spokeswoman Patricia Lynch said, "We eagerly await the governor's rent-control plan. We're interested in seeing how he would protect the middle-class families who are affected."

Bruno spokesman John McArdle said: "The governor is entitled to his own position. We stand by our comments."

Asked if Bruno would back Pataki's plan, McArdle said: "We'll have to wait and see what the governor proposes."

Copyright ©1997, N.Y.P. Holdings Inc.