Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 09:31:17 -0400
Subject: Court holds-up RGB rent increases


Reports from The Daily News and the Times on the RGB court challenge
====================================================================

Rent Raises Put on Hold 
Million tenants affected
Daily News, By SALVATORE ARENA

Rent hikes for 1 million rent-stabilized apartments were temporarily
shelved yesterday by a state judge.

The increases were set aside because of evidence the chairman of the city's
Rent Guidelines Board illegally suppressed a key rent study that Manhattan
Supreme Court Justice Louis York says should have been available to other
board members.

Tenant advocates, who went to court to get the study made public, said it
was quashed because it shows a significant hike in rents since state
lawmakers passed the 1997 rent reform laws.

"This decision gets us one step closer to getting this suppressed report
out," said Edward Rosenfeld, one of rent board's two tenant
representatives. "We think it shows that rents are going sky-high and out
of control."

York did not order the study made public but indicated he would do so.
"Since the court will most likely decide that it was erroneous to have
promulgated the new guidelines without releasing the report . . . a new
vote [can be] held after [its] release," he said.

The city's lawyers said the ruling has no immediate impact because the
increases approved last week by the board are not scheduled to go into
effect until Oct. 1.

The nine-member panel okayed 2% rent hikes on one-year leases and 4%
increases on two-year leases.

"We have the decision, and we are studying it to determine whether or not
we will appeal," said Assistant Corporation Counsel Gabriel Taussig.

Board Chairman Edward Hochman did not return calls for comment, but he
previously said he did not distribute the report because it was incomplete
and statistically flawed.

He later agreed to put the question of release to a board vote — and voted
for its release despite his public opposition to doing so. York blasted
Hochman for "cynical maneuvering" in voting to release the report after
seeing his vote would not affect the outcome.

But the group representing the owners of rent-stabilized buildings quickly
came to Hochman's defense.

"I think [York] is misinformed on what the report was all about," said
Frank Ricci, director of government affairs for the Rent Stabilization
Association. "There [were] never enough data to complete the report."

He said the rent increases are more than justified. "We think they should
have been higher," he said.

==================================================================

Judge Blocks NYC Rent Increases, Assailing Oversight Board's Chief
New York Times, July 2, 1998
By RANDY KENNEDY

NEW YORK -- Chastising a mayoral appointee for what he called secrecy and
"cynical maneuvering" in withholding a report on the impact of new rent
laws, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge Wednesday blocked rent increases that
were to take effect for a million stabilized apartments and lofts in the
city in the year beginning Oct. 1.

Justice Louis York ruled that the report -- a survey of tenants who have
moved to new apartments since the state Legislature scaled back rent
protections last summer -- should have been taken into consideration when
the city's Rent Guidelines Board voted last week to increase stabilized
rents by 2 percent for one-year leases and 4 percent for two-year leases.

York stopped short of ordering the release of the report, however. Instead,
he gave both sides seven days to prepare for a second hearing on the matter.

The chairman of the rent board, Edward Hochman, has withheld the report,
which was completed by his staff in late May, on the ground that it was
flawed by using numbers from 1996, before the Legislature made its changes,
to gauge the increase in some rents. The 1996 numbers were the most recent
made available by state officials, who record stabilized rents.

The 1997 rent figures were expected last month but have still not been
released.

Hochman has also argued that the report was not necessary to help the
eight-member board make its decision because it simply set increases for
tenants renewing leases, not for those moving into new apartments.

In the last several weeks, the two tenant representatives on the Rent
Guidelines Board have accused Hochman, who was appointed by Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani, of more political motives.

The tenant representatives, Kenneth Rosenfeld and David Pagan, say Hochman
has suppressed the report because it could show sharp rent increases in
many parts of the city and prove politically damaging to Giuliani's fellow
Republican, Gov. George Pataki, who is running for re-election this year.

During the fight in Albany over the future of rent regulations, Pataki
advocated eliminating protections on all apartments once they became vacant.

The proposal was not accepted, but landlords won a compromise that allows
them to increase rents by about 20 percent when apartments change hands.

In his decision Wednesday, York cited a section of the city's
Administrative Code that mandates that the rent board consider data -- such
as landlords' expenses -- that it is required by law to collect and all
"other data as may be made available to it."

"The report in question," he wrote, "is precisely the kind of report that
the board should consider under this provision."

In an apparent reference to the Giuliani administration's reputation for
exercising strict control over public information, York noted that "at a
time when the legislative trend is to open the deliberations of public
agencies to public scrutiny by enacting open-meetings laws, sunshine laws
and freedom-of-information laws, the trend in governmental agencies is
toward further secrecy."

He also made it clear that he did not condone a maneuver by Hochman in
which, after declining to release the report at a recent board meeting, he
voted for its release after determining that his vote would not affect the
outcome.

The move was an apparent slap at the two vocal tenant representatives, who
later took Hochman to court to force the release of the report.

Jerry Goldfeder, the lawyer for Rosenfeld and Pagan, called Wednesday's
decision "a victory for open government."

Gabriel Taussig, a lawyer for the city's corporation counsel, said the city
had not decided whether to appeal.

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Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 13:24:55 -0400
Subject: Oppose Donald Trump using Federal Financing for Luxury Housing

from: blewton@erols.com
Dear Friend:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Coalition for a Livable West Side in
New York City (www.livablenewyork.org).

We have been battling Donald Trump, New York City and New York State and
HUD and need help from other parts of the country in the form of letters to
Hon. Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, 451 7th St.
SW, Washington, D.C. 20410.

I have been unsuccessful at finding a correct e-mail address for Secretary
Cuomo!

Briefly: Donald Trump wants to build a luxury "city-within-a-city" on
Manhattan's West Side - 5,700 luxury apartments in 16 towers and 3,500
parking spaces with taxpayers help!

Trump has applied for Federal Housing Administration Mortgage Insurance
Guarantees for 2 of his luxury towers. His application for $180 million
dollars is inflated by $111 million dollars and was filed under the slum
clearance section - the section where government support is needed to get
construction underway. But ...the designated area which includes Lincoln
Center is WEALTHY! 

Our Congressman, Jerrold Nadler, has met with Secretary Cuomo and presented
the evidence of the inflated application. We understand that Secretary
Cuomo has recused himself because of prior association with Trump. We
believe that recusal is not permissible in this case. We believe he cannot
pass the buck to a lower official. 

Our members continue to write and they get brush-off letters from the
H.U.D. press person. We need pressure applied to Mr. Cuomo. Would it be at
all possible for you and your friends to write to him asking that he reject
the Trump application. Perhaps if he saw mail from different parts of the
country, he might rethink his position.

---------------Sample letter to Secretary Cuomo--------------

As a taxpayer and a registered voter, I am OPPOSED to the use of  federal
mortgage insurance guarantees or federal funding, for the development of
housing in Donald Trump's Riverside South in New York City.

Given the limited resources available to fund affordable housing, and the
tremendous need for such housing, the EXCESSIVE borrowing for this project
only serves to reduce the total number of affordable housing units which
can be developed to meet demand. 

This would be a misuse of scarce resources intended to encourage
development of affordable housing in projects THAT WOULD NOT OTHERWISE BE
BUILT or in neighborhoods that are in need of economic redevelopment. We
ask that you reject the application (HUD#012-32269) for 2 buldings (E and
F) in Riverside South! 

NO PUBLIC BENEFIT would result from approval of the developer's application
for HUD mortgage insurance because it WILL NOT INCREASE the number of
affordable housing units in Riverside South beyond the mandated 12% that
the developer must provide. That is DOUBLE DIPPING! AND the application is
INFLATED by more than $111 million dollars! Reject the application.

Affordable housing units PRIVATELY FINANCED by the developer under the
terms of the Restrictive Declaration, will remain affordable for the LIFE
of the project. Affordable housing units built with public subsidies could
revert to market rate housing at the end of twenty years. 

Approval of the HUD mortgage insurance, together with the NYC 421-a
Program, would provide the developer with tax credits and abatements and
exemptions from New York City real estate taxes for a period of twenty
years, costing the City tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue and
providing a PUBLIC SUBSIDY of LUXURY HOUSING.  

Please reject all applications for mortgage financing, tax credits from HUD
and from all other relevant federal agencies for the development of housing
in Riverside South.

---------------end of letter to Secretary Cuomo--------------

We thank you for your help in this important matter that affects every
taxpayer and citizen.

Sincerely,
Madeleine Polayes, President

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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Date: Mon, 06 Jul 1998 00:06:52 -0400
Subject: Charter Revision Hearing in Manhattan on Tuesday


Tell the Charter Revision Commission: 

    NO CHANGES IN LAND USE PROCEDURES, 
    COMMUNITY REVIEW AND COMMUNITY BOARDS

MANHATTAN CHARTER REVISION HEARING

Tuesday, July 7, 1998 at 6:30 p.m. (sign-up to testify at 6:00 pm)

Murray Bergtraum High School, 411 Pearl St.
  Downtown, one block west of Water Street
  North of the Brooklyn Bridge

YOU SHOULD BE TERRIFIED

The Mayor and his hand-picked Charter Revision Commission are
holding "public" hearings sandwiched around the July 4th holiday
when many people are out of town. Although he's on record as 
stating the purpose of this exercise is to knock the Yankee Stadium
referendum off the ballot, many of the suggested changes are
very dangerous -- including the lessening of powers of the
Community Boards and their power (the little they have) to
have some say in local development.

WHAT WILL GIULIANI's CHARTER BE LIKE?

The Theater Subdistrict Zoning Proposal is an example of
how New York City would operate if Giuliani's Charter
Revisions are accepted.

* No consultation with the community prior to ULURP
* No Environmental Impact Statements
* No ULURP in some cases -- "as-of-right" building anywhere
* No Special Permit -- people like Joe Rose make decisions
* Land Use decisions are based on campaign contributions
* Certain industries could walk all over communities
* Unrestrained inappropriate development could cause
  havoc in all five boroughs

With dangers like this, no wonder many tenants will be the
first ones to feel the pinch. On Eighth Avenue, there are
8,000 SRO tenants who could be displaced under Giuliani's
grand schemes. Many more rent stabilized and rent controlled
tenants will experience increased landlord harassment and
pressure for them to move.

Moreover, the Charter Revision Commission is also proposing
to eliminate the Independent Budget Office and the Office of
the Public Advocate. These offices act as a counterweight to
the Mayor. Without them, it will be easier for the Mayor to
eliminate programs that benefit tenants, housing inspectors,
and (what we just saw) the elimination of the City-Wide Task
Force on Housing Court.

It's about how this City will be governed. And you are needed
to tell Giuliani's henchmen (and the press in attendance) that
Rudy has gone off the deep end.

===========================================================

In this Digest...

* Schedule of Hearings in each borough
* Letter from the Charter Revision Commission (they make it sound so benign)
* Six Reasons to Oppose the Giuliani Charter Commission
* Charter Rush Seen As Watchdog Muzzle (Daily News)

===========================================================

Under New York State law, the Mayor has the power to appoint a commission
to recommend changes to the New York City Charter. The Commission's changes
then automatically go before the voters at the November election. Mayor
Giuliani has appointed a Charter Revision Commission that will make
recommendations by September 1st. The Commission's agenda includes the
abolition of the Public Advocate and the Independent Budget Office, and
major undermining of Community Boards and the Land Use Process.

PLEASE COME AND TESTIFY
(in order to testify, you can sign up starting one-half hour before the
hearing)

PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULE

Staten Island (already happened)

Queens: Monday, July 6, 1998 at 6:30 p.m.
Queens Borough Hall, Room 213, 120-55 Queens Blvd.

Manhattan: Tuesday, July 7, 1998 at 6:30 p.m.
Murray Bergtraum High School, 411 Pearl St.

Bronx: Wednesday, July 8, 1998 at 6:30 p.m.
Manhattan College Auditorium, 4513 Manhattan College Parkway.

Brooklyn: Monday, July 13, 1998 at 6:30 p.m.
New York City Fire Department Auditorium, 9 Metrotech Center, 1st Floor.

If you can't attend the hearing but wish to submit testimony by mail or
telephone, 
you can send or call it in to the New York City Charter Revision Commission
at 
75 Park Place 7th Floor, New York, New York 10007, 212-788-2310.

===========================================================

(The following letter was supplied by the Charter Revision Commission)

NEW YORK CITY CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION
75 Park Place, New York, NY 10007
(212) 788-2310 Fax: (212) 788-2313

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani recently appointed a New York City Charter
Revision Commission with the mandate to review the City Charter and make
recommendations for change. The City Charter is the basic document that
describes the way New York City government operates and provides services
to its citizens. The Charter outlines the powers and duties of all elected
City officials, as well as those of City agencies and administrative offices.

The Commission will consider changes to the Charter in several key areas,
including: the provisions governing land use and economic development, with
an eye toward streamlining and refining these provisions while maintaining
appropriate community input; the rules governing procurement of goods and
services to make the Charter more business friendly and to help the City
maintain and expand its job base; the City budget process with the aim of
making the process more efficient; the existing Charter provisions
concerning campaign finance to determine where improvements can be made;
whether the Charter should authorize nonpartisan elections for Mayor and
other City offices; and a review of functions of City offices including the
Public Advocate.

In addition to these critical issues, the Commission will consider other
important areas for change, based on its own research and study, as well as
on input it receives from the public, civic organizations, elected
officials, academics and other interested groups. The Commission plans to
put its proposed Charter revisions before the voters during the general
election this November. As the Commission begins its work, we want to
solicit input at the earliest possible stage, before we have developed
formal proposals. To insure that this input is as broad-based as possible,
the Commission will hold a series of public hearings (see schedule above).

These hearings are open to the public, and anyone may register to speak.
The Commission will accept testimony on any aspect of the Charter, but is
particularly interested in testimony on the areas outlined above. Each
presenter will have the opportunity to speak for three minutes. The
Commission also encourages the submission of written testimony at any time.
Sign-language interpretation will be available, and all sites are
accessible to disabled individuals.

Registration to speak will begin at 6:00 p.m. the night of each hearing.
Written testimony can be submitted at the hearings, or to the Commission's
office at 75 Park Place, 7th floor, New York, NY 10007. Once again, the
goal of this Commission is to improve the way our City government operates
and provides services. As the Commission embarks on this important work, we
urge all interested individuals and groups to participate in these hearings.

===========================================================

Six Reasons to Oppose the Giuliani Charter Commission (from Office of Mark
Green)

1. The Commission is not independent of the Mayor and is not representative
of New York City's diverse population. The Commission is controlled by the
Mayor. Its Chair is Peter Powers, the Mayor's life-long friend and his
former Deputy Mayor. The Vice-Chair is Paul Crotty, the former Corporation
Counsel in the Giuliani Administration.

Commission members include Benito Romano, former Assistant U.S. Attorney
under Rudy Giuliani in the Southern District and the Mayor's appointee to
the Conflict of Interest Board; Vincent Marchiselli, the Mayor's appointee
to the Civil Service Commission; Howard WilSon, the former Giuliani
Investigations Commissioner and the Mayor's appointee to the School
Construction Authority; and Mary Sansone, a prominent Giuliani supporter
and fundraiser. Only three of the members are African American or Latino
and only two are women. The Commission staff is composed of employees
borrowed from City agencies under the Mayor's control.

2. The Commission's process is undemocratic -- providing only minimal
opportunity for public input. The Commission is required by law to review
the entire City Charter. They intend to do so during the summer months when
many are on vacation and boards of directors of interested organizations
are not scheduled to meet.

The Commission will hold only five public hearings before proposing changes
to our "constitution," -- one in each borough, all held in the evening
only, and scheduled just before and after the July 4th holiday. The 1989
Charter Commission, by contrast, worked for 2-1/2 years, held 29 public
meetings and 25 public hearings, hundreds of informal meetings with groups
and individuals and operated a vast public education campaign.

3. The Commission has held private meetings to pre-judge its final agenda,
and has targeted two independent oversight agencies for elimination -- the
Public Advocate and the Independent Budget Office. Mayor Giuliani has never
taken kindly to criticism. His Charter Commission is now poised to try to
destroy two official monitors of City Hall. Chairman Powers stated on TV on
June 17th that "[A] lot of people have suggested that we don't need a
Public Advocate anymore." He also labelled the IBO, which provides
independent alternatives to the Mayor's budget analyses, as "not
independent" and "a waste of taxpayers' money."

The 1989 Charter Commission voted 2-1 to keep the Public Advocate's office
because of the importance of maintaining an independent counterweight to
the powerful mayoralty. Under Green, the Office has handled 80,000 citizen
complaints, exposed problems in government and issued over 100
investigative reports and information guides. And it only costs 30 cents
per year per citizen. The Commission apparently set this agenda in private
meetings (which are not permitted under State law). Additional plans
include a review of the Council's role in land use and the budget, and a
move to nonpartisan elections.

4. The Commission's formation, and its agenda, may violate the Voting
Rights Act. The 1989 Charter was designed to increase minority
participation in the electoral process in New York City. Five of the six
minority members of the 1989 Commission voted to keep the Public Advocate's
office, in part to increase the chances of an African American or Latino
being elected to citywide office. And the Council was expanded and given
more budget and land use powers partly to increase minority access to
political decision-making.

The Commission's agenda focuses on areas where the Mayor must share power
with representatives of minority communities. And there is nothing to stop
the Commission from considering other radical changes, like abolishing (or
weakening) the Civilian Complaint Review Board or local community boards.

5. The Commission is a cynical ploy to stop the Yankee Stadium referendum
and reduce voter turnout this November. The Mayor has bluntly stated his
original reason for creating the Commission is to block Speaker Peter
Vallone's efforts to put a referendum on the ballot that would let the
voters decide whether to build a new Yankee Stadium on the West Side.
Political experts have predicted that a Yankee Stadium referendum would
generate high voter turn-out, especially in The Bronx.

Mayor Giuliani announced earlier this year that a Charter revision
commission wasn't really necessary, but after Speaker Vallone announced his
Yankee Stadium referendum, the Mayor said: "I thought it would make sense
to revive the city Charter Commission which puts us in a position to make
certain the City Council can't put referenda on the ballot this year."

6. New York City deserves better. Rewriting a constitution is serious
business. This Charter Commission is an insult to New York City's tradition
of lively and unfettered political debate. The Mayor's attempt to increase
his own power at the expense of other officials flies in the face of New
York's history, which, for nearly 100 years, has been designed to insure
that power does not accumulate in any one official. That's why the City
Council President/Public Advocate has been retained in every Charter since
the five boroughs joined together in 1898. Giuliani will only be Mayor for
3-1/2 more years, but the changes lie is proposing will do long-lasting
damage to the City's system of governance. 

=====================

Charter Rush Seen As Watchdog Muzzle
Daily News, June 23, 1998, By MICHAEL FINNEGAN

Civic groups yesterday accused Mayor Giuliani of trying to railroad through
a major overhaul of city government that could wipe out watchdog agencies.
The groups said they fear Giuliani's Charter Revision Commission is rushing
to finish a plan for sweeping reforms that could produce a dramatic shift
in power to the mayor.

Rachel Leon, the executive director of Common Cause/NY, said Giuliani was
"ramming this down the public's throat." "We're horrified," she said.

"It's being handled very badly," said Conn Nugent, executive director of
Citizens Union, a group that endorsed Giuliani last year for reelection.

Commission officials and Giuliani aides denied they were rushing through
City Charter revisions. "Nobody's trying to railroad anything through,"
said Elizabeth St. Clair, the commission's executive director. "They are
pre-judging my commission with their statements," added panel Chairman
Peter Powers, who was in Vienna yesterday.

Giuliani created the commission June 5 to propose revisions to the Charter,
the city's constitution. The proposal must be finished by Sept. 4. It would
go before voters in November. The panel touched off an outcry yesterday
when it scheduled five public hearings in the first two weeks of July.

Critics also balked after city officials said the panel will consider
abolishing two watchdog agencies, the public advocate and the Independent
Budget Office, and change the system for community review of land-use plans.

"For a commission to be formed on the fifth of June, to conduct hearings
sandwiched around the Fourth of July for a report that's due before Labor
Day is beneath the dignity of the City Charter," Nugent said. Giuliani
spokesman Jack Deacy said the proposed reforms were "well-traveled issues
that have been already discussed in public forums in New York City."

Giuliani has said one of his motives for proposing a Charter revision was
to block a referendum on whether to spend taxpayer money on a Manhattan
stadium for the Yankees. The City Council is expected to approve the
Yankees referendum tomorrow. Council aides said it could take a court fight
to determine whether the Charter vote could keep the referendum off the
ballot.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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Date: Fri, 10 Jul 1998 09:08:33 -0400
Subject: ALERT: City Council Hearing on Air Rights/8th Ave Zoning


>From our Sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online http://hellskitchen.net
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Hell's Kitchen Alert                                       7/9/98
                 "All the News the Times Won't Print"
-----------------------------------------------------------------

THIS IS THE BIG ONE. If you've sat back for the last seven months,
occasionally reading the zoning alerts, then now is the time to
get off your duff and get down to City Hall. If you've been
involved all along, then don't stop now! This is our last chance to 
stop the Skycrapers. Your Presence Really Matters!

Stop Rents from Rising and small business from being
driven out. Stop the increased traffic, sidewalk congestion,
loss of sun and air, and loss of neighborhood character.

CITY COUNCIL ZONING SUBCOMMITTEE will hold a public hearing on 
the Theater Subdistrict/8th Avenue Zoning Proposal on July 14.

PUBLIC HEARING
Theater Subdistrict-8th Ave. Zoning Proposal
City Council Zoning Subcommittee

   WHEN:  Tuesday, July 14, 9:30 am
   WHERE: City Council Chambers, City Hall

In March and April, with a large community turnout, Community 
Boards 4, 5 and the Manhattan Borough Board opposed the Theater 
Subdistrict Zoning Proposal. The rejected plan would 1) expand 
the Theater Subdistrict over portions of the Special Clinton 
District, 2) upzone 8th Avenue by up to 44%, 3) allow transfer 
of air rights from landmarked Broadway theaters to sites throughout 
the expanded Theater Subdistrict (more than a 50 block area) without 
public or environmental review. A city-wide coalition of civic, 
neighborhood and housing organizations also opposes the plan.

But the City Planning Commission approved the plan with minor 
changes on June 3. The proposal is now in front of the NY City 
Council, where a Public Hearing will be held July 14th by the 
Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. Full Council action could happen
at any time.

Protect Your Neighborhood. Your Presence Really Matters!

Join Community Boards 4 & 5, the Clinton Special District Coalition, 
local Block and Tenant Associations and Small Businesses in opposing 
this Neighborhood Threat.

A large turnout is needed at the Public Hearing. Come early and sign 
up to testify. The Subcommittee may vote later in the day, so stay 
as long as you can. Tell City Council why this plan should be rejected!

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone’s position is crucial to the life 
of our neighborhood. Call him. Tell him to save Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen.

Peter F. Vallone  (BETTER TO CALL AT THIS TIME)
Speaker, NY City Council
22-45 31st St.
Astoria, NY 11105
District (718) 274-4500  fax (718) 726-0357
City Hall (212) 788-7210  fax (212) 788-7207 

Walter L. McCaffrey  (BETTER TO CALL AT THIS TIME)
Chair, Zoning Subcommittee
NY City Council
62-07 Woodside Ave.
Woodside, NY 11377
District (718) 639-1400  
fax (718) 899-1294

June Eisland  (BETTER TO CALL AT THIS TIME)
Chair, Land Use Committee
NY City Council
3636 Waldo Avenue
Bronx, NY 10463
District (718) 549-0158  
fax (718) 549-6983

Don’t destroy the neighborhood that Nurtures the Performing Arts!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 12:08:47 -0400
Subject: Zoning/Tenant Update 7/12


>From our Sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online http://hellskitchen.net
Yes, this affects tenants, probably first.
------------------------------------------------------------------
Hell's Kitchen Alert                                       7/12/98
                 "All the News the Times Won't Print"
------------------------------------------------------------------
In this issue...

* Reminder City Council on Tuesday
* Fields Twists the Knife on Clinton. Give Her a Bronx Cheer on Tuesday.
* And where is Peter Vallone?
* Fun Facts on Zoning and Broadway
* Math on the Broadway Initiative (Jack Goldstein says it's "Sound Planning")
* Joe Rose and Broadway Initiative Abuse City Planning Hearing
* Hopes for a "Fairer" City Council Public Hearing

-----------------------------------------------------------------

THIS IS THE BIG ONE. 

CITY COUNCIL ZONING SUBCOMMITTEE will hold a public hearing on 
the Theater Subdistrict/8th Avenue Zoning Proposal on July 14.

PUBLIC HEARING
Theater Subdistrict-8th Ave. Zoning Proposal
City Council Zoning Subcommittee

   WHEN:  Tuesday, July 14, 9:30 am
   WHERE: City Council Chambers, City Hall

==============================================================

FIELDS TWISTS THE KNIFE ON CLINTON. GIVE HER A BRONX CHEER ON TUESDAY.

We've learned from City Council sources that Manhattan Borough President C.
Virginia Fields is now advocating for the complete approval of the
controversial Theater Subdistrict/8th Avenue Zoning Proposal set to be
reviewed this week at City Council. Sources say she is "lobbying heavily"
for the plan's approval by City Council.

This would mean Fields would be going against her own position released in
April, which in itself was seen by many as a stab in the back to the
Clinton/Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. As one person put it, "First she stabs
us in the back, now she twists the knife." If the original plan is adopted,
as she is now advocating, the entire west side of Eighth Avenue would be
open for skyscraper development through transfer of air rights and there
would be no Special Permit allowing community Board and City Council review.

Last summer when she was campaigning for the Borough President office, then
City Council member Fields issued a statement she would protect
Clinton/Hell's Kitchen from overdevelopment. Once she took office, she
quickly backed away from this campaign promise.

In March, as part of the "Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP),"
Fields held a public hearing and stated she would "listen to the community"
and something about "enhancing the process." Despite being downtown at an
inconvenient hour, the Clinton community turned out in droves on March 25.
But Fields couldn't be bothered with listening to her constituents. She
left the hearing early, and as she was leaving, was seen in the lobby
grabbing for free tickets and dinner from Broadway Theater producer Liz
McCann.

In early April, when it was apparent that the Manhattan Borough Board was
about to follow Board 4 and Board 5's complete rejection of the proposal,
Fields engineered a backroom meeting with some, but not all, members of the
Borough Board. In particular, the two affected Community Boards were left
out of the meeting. We found out that City Planning Commissioner Joe Rose,
Fields, and Fields Real Estate advisor, Barbara Baere, had been out that
day lobbying on behalf of the Broadway Initiative. 

This makes perfect sense as Fields had accepted substantial campaign
contributions from Broadway Initiative spokesperson Ethan Geto and Joe
Rose's father.

The result was that the Manhattan Borough Board's resolution was watered
down considerably. Even so, it "rejected" the plan and called for
substantial modifications, voting 11-0 (with one abstention). At that
meeting, right after the vote, Fields said her (the Borough President's)
recommendation would "follow" the vote of the Borough Board and "improve
upon it." She said "you may not always get what you want, but the process
is enhanced."

Politically, with the strong rejection by the Community Boards, it was
necessary for Fields to engineer the "Fields Two-Step," where the Borough
Board watered down the resolution and she took the next step.

In April, just before she released the Borough President Recommendation,
her staff was reaffirming she would "protect the neighborhood." We obtained
her initial draft on the morning of April 22, and it somewhat conformed to
the Borough Board. But by that evening, at the urging of Barbara Baere,
Fields called for putting skyscrapers back on the west side on 8th Avenue
up to 45th Street (the Borough Board recommended their complete removal
from the west side of Eighth Avenue).

On May 6th, in her speech to the City Planning Commission, she talked about
"protecting the theater," but in the hallway of City Hall, Fields said
everyone had "misunderstood" her campaign promise and that associates of
the McManus Democratic Club was urging her to approve the proposal.
(McManus had supported her for Borough President)
 
So it now appears Fields lied to the Clinton community, she misrepresented
her position to the Borough Board and is abandoning her stated position in
favor of developers and campaign contributors. Who in their right minds
would have voted for her?

==============================================================

And Where is Peter Vallone?

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone's position on the Theater Subdistrict
Zoning Proposal is crucial. On one hand, he is running for Governor and
having a running fued with the Mayor over the budget, the City Charter and
Yankee Stadium. On the other hand, Vallone is a notorious friend of
developers and real estate interests.

Vallone has refused to meet with the Clinton neighborhood in opposition to
the plan. This is very infortunate as he has met with the Broadway
Initiative and its supporters. Vallone did have a short meeting with some
of the civic groups in opposition, but the neighborhood was not included
(yes, we asked).

Also, Vallone has taken campaign contributions from Broadway theater owner
Nederlander and Broadway Initiative spokesperson Ethan Geto. (see above on
how Virginia Fields sucks up money and screws the community).

So it's even more important to call Vallone at City Hall AND at his
campaign office and let him know your support for his gubernatorial bid is
directly related to the outcome of the zoning proposal.

Vallone City Hall office: (212) 788-7210  fax (212) 788-7207 
Vallone Campaign office:  (718) 433-1998  fax (718) 443-1999

==============================================================

Facts on Zoning and Broadway

* The Shuberts (theater owners) are worth $168 million
* Nederlander bought the parcel on Eighth Avenue, east side, and 
  47/48th St. in anticipation of the zoning change
* Nederlander is part owner of the Yankees
* Joe Rose's family owns a parcel on Eighth Avenue
* Joe Rose himself owns buildings in the affected district
* Nederlander gave about $40,000 to Mayor Giuliani's reelection campaign
* Giuliani was fined for accepting this (and other) illegal donations
* Times Square BID said it had not taken a position on the 8th Ave Zoning 
  and that it wouldn't do so until April (Gretchen Dykstra in January)
* Times Square BID said it didn't known about the Zoning announcement
* Times Square BID is listed as a member of the Broadway Initiative
  (its name was quietly added in March)
* Broadway Initiatives said it hadn't taken a position on the zoning 
  (January 22, Manhattan Spirit)
* Jack Goldstein said the Zoning was a "signal moment of the Americal Theater"
* Ron Silver (president, Actors' Equity) said the complete Bain Report 
  was "much larger" than the released six pages of text
* Alan Eisenberg (Ex. Dir., Actors Equity) said the unreleased part of the 
  Bain Report contined "derogatory information" about the theater.
* Clinton Planning Council President Jim Condeelis stated "We made 
  our deal... See you at the groundbreaking..." referring to the 
  deal with Giuliani.
* City Planning's Richard Barth would not state who in the Clinton 
  Community City Planning had met with.
* Joe Rose was a featured speaker at the "Friends of the Clinton Special 
  District" (a shell organization put together by Clinton Planning Council)
* "Friends of the Clinton Special District" has conducted no known 
  other activities other than the fundraiser.
* No theater owner has filed a hardship application
* Five theaters have used air rights
* The Bain Report only went to 1993
* Theaters using air rights are now required to maintain a theater use 
  for the "life of the development" that used the air rights
* City Planning says twenty-two skyscrapers will have no impact on Clinton.
* Richard Barth said the plan would only increase the height from 
  29 to 33 stories
* Joe Rose said that 56 stories are now allowed
* The plan allows an increase of bulk of up to 44%
* Joe Rose said the plan would help Clinton and not a precedent.
* Broadway Initiative accused Senator Franz Leichter of playing 
  "politics of fear."

Who get Shubert Money? (partial list)

Public Theater $210,000
Manhattan Theatre Club $180,000
Playwrights Horizons $110,000
Roundabout Theatre Company $90,000
Theatre Development Fund $30,000

Who supports the Broadway Initiative?

Public Theater
Manhattan Theatre Club
Playwrights Horizons
Roundabout Theatre Company
Theatre Development Fund

==============================================================

MATH ON THE BROADWAY INITIATIVE (and Jack Goldstein calls this "sound
planning")

There is a finite $24.32 million potential from landmarked theater air
rights (2.432 million square feet at $10 each).[1] No one will write a
check the first day. Air rights sales will occur over time, perhaps taking
up to 20 years and will happen in chunks. If one were to take a
$1,216,452.50 per year annuity in equal installments and invest it for 20
years at 6%, there would be a $44.7 million fund (the future value in
today’s dollars).[2] But that represents only $13.9 million in today’s
dollars (present value of tomorrow’s dollars).[3] The proposal calls for
20% to be reserved for theater preservation and use provisions, so
$11,162,091.47 real present value will be available for general theater
enhancement, and that’s after 20 years. 

After the endowment is fully funded, interest will be drawn for operating
expenses (Broadway Initiative states it will be $1 million per year). As
the air rights are finite, the endowment won’t have new contributions and
it will either grow at a much smaller pace or most likely it will decline
in real terms.

But Broadway Initiative operating expenses will grow over time to meet
increased costs of program activities. So even after 20 years, the interest
from the endowment will meet only 5-10% of the necessary operating
expenses.[4]

The remaining money is claimed to be coming from a combination of
contributions from Broadway Initiative members and state/city government
funding. None of the government money is either asked for or committed at
this time. It’s hard enough for the not-for-profit theater to get yearly
funding from the state/city, and not-for-profits could be hurt if
government starts to designate limited arts budgets for commercial theater. 

Perhaps the largest member of the Broadway Initiative, Actors’ Equity
Association, has a surplus that may vanish within two years [5]. Smaller
members (such as SSDC) would also be expected to contribute. Can the
various unions’ members collectively make up the $9 million yearly
shortfall (or even half the shortfall if government funding comes through)?
The theater owners are only contributing once through the $10 air rights
sale, but will other unions have to make yearly contributions? How will
unions pay for this obligation? What happens if one or more unions back out?

1. If the air rights are released into a buyer’s market, the projected
$50/sq. ft. value would likely decrease and the $10 to the Broadway
Initiative could also decrease.

2. The calculations are based on 20 years at 6%. But even with different
numbers, the idea is the same. The calculations do not take into account
real estate cycles, i.e., length, depth, or frequency.  

3. What you can buy today for $13 million will cost $44 million in 20 years
at 6%

4. If Air Rights represent only 5-10% of the operating needs of the
Broadway Initiative, are they (and the devastating impact to the Clinton
community) necessary?

5. Equity News, January 1998

==============================================================

JOE ROSE AND BROADWAY INITIATIVE ABUSE CITY PLANNING HEARING

Those who attended saw a flagrant and arrogant abuse of office by City
Planning Commissioner Joe Rose at the May 6th City Planning Commission
Public Hearing. In short, he colluded with the Broadway theater owners to
"stack the meeting."

How so?

While members of the Clinton community were sitting on the hard pews of the
old Board of Estimate Room at City Hall, waiting for Rose to show up (he
was about an hour late), his staff allowed theater bigs-wigs to sit in a
private area, drink coffee and make telephone calls. The public was refused
entrance to this area.

While the process called for rotating half-hour time periods (30 minutes
for those in favor and 30 minutes for those opposed) and for individuals to
have three minutes each, throughout the day we saw Rose give many of those
in favor up to fifteen minutes and collectively he gave the theater
executives about 40 minuites to the Clinton community's 20 minutes.

Many in the community showed up promptly at 10 a.m. and signed up to speak,
but many were kept up to six hours. Some of the theater executives and
"stars" showed up in mid-afternoon and were allowed to speak almost at
once. Specifically, this special treatment was given to Stephen Sondheim,
Arthur Laurents and various industry executives. The community had to cool
its heals while Sondheim spoke.

One Hell's Kitchen reader wrote:

   "Joe Rose was down the throat of almost every "anti" speaker 
   the minute the 3 minute bell went off, asking them to wrap up, 
   but he let the "pro" people drone on and on. I signed up at 
   11 am as an "anti" speaker. I was assigned #48. By 4 pm I was 
   hungry, exhausted, bored and I had to leave. I sat and sat and 
   sat. I used up one of my vacation days at work just to attend 
   and speak. I was mildly pissed when Stephen Sondheim waltzed in 
   around 3 o'clock and got to speak within ten minutes (he was "pro") 
   although I'm sure other "important" people got to do that too.

The community isn't dumb, and a setup could be seen immediately. Rose
lieutenant Richard Barth, smiling said, "Funny, most of the people today
are testifying for the proposal." Indeed, Rose cut off many from the
community. He was also seen giving hand signals to Broadway Initiative
coordinator Anne Zimmerman and Shubert's Real Estate Director Rebecca
Robertson. And while he was acting in his official capacity to "review" the
plan and listen to public comments, Rose went out in the hallway and gave
an interview supporting the zoning change. 

==============================================================

HOPES FOR A "FAIRER" CITY COUNCIL PUBLIC HEARING

Our understand is that the City Council Zoning Subcommittee Public Hearing
on Tuesday, July 14 will be a bit more even than the Joe Rose farce of May
6. Even so, the order of speaking and time limits will be determined by
Chair Walter McCaffrey of Queens.

Given the abuse of Joe Rose, we had asked the City Council Land Use
Committee a few weeks ago for the ability to "pre-register" speakers, to
accommodate those who could come early and would then need to leave for
work. They said no, but that should be a "no" for both sides. Lately we've
heard that the Broadway Initiative will be bringing in their window
dressing, Broadway stars to speak in favor of the proposal (whether or not
they know anything about it) in order to "wow" City Council members. [some
do get taken in by this and that is the theater owners' modus operandi].

So if community residents must "cool their heels" and wait their turns,
then so should any Broadway star or executive that makes an appearance.
Even though the committee has told us there won't be pre-registration, we
urge our readers to be on the lookout for any such abuse.

Having said that, there is a "pecking order" that we will see Tuesday
morning. First up will be City Planning honcho Richard Barth giving "the
presentation" of the plan. Then any City Commissioners will be able to
speak--most likely Joe Rose. Then elected politicians will have the
opportunity to speak--most likely Virginia Fields (see above) and state
elected officials. Elected officials will also be taken out of turn if they
show up later. City Council members can sit with the committee and ask
questions, but not testify, so you won't see Tom Duane testifying. After
that, the Community Boards are expected to be heard and then the
subcommittee will turn to panels -- three or four individuals that may be
related thematically, i.e., three Broadway producers, three housing
advocates, three civic organizations, etc. The Chair is expected to rotate
pros and cons, and it's up to the chair as to the order. The public should
have the right to speak, but again, it's up to the chair.

We hope and expect the process to be fairer, but we will be watching.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
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Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 20:16:58 -0400
Subject: See You at City Hall tomorrow! Keep up the Work!


>From our Sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online http://hellskitchen.net
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Hell's Kitchen Alert                                      7/13/98
                 "All the News the Times Won't Print"
-----------------------------------------------------------------
REMINDER -- CITY HALL ZONING SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING 9:30 AM
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Just a Reminder. See you all tomorrow at City Hall.
The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. Some people may have been
called and told it started at 10 a.m. That's incorrect.

The first part of the hearing may be taken up by City Planning
and elected officials giving their testimony, but the gavel
comes down at 9:30. If you can't make it until later, that's
OK as well. We'll have fliers and Hell's Kitchen caps for you
to wear. Show your colors.

There will be a Press Conference on the steps of City Hall
at 9:00 a.m. Some of us hope to arrive 10-15 minutes before that.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

We hear Vallone and McCaffrey are getting lots of phone calls
and faxes. They are being told (incorrectly) that Clinton will 
be satisfied with just part of the west side of Eighth Avenue 
out of the proposal. And Vallone (who took money from Nederlander 
and who refused to meet with Clinton residents opposed to the
plan) was believing that until we told him, in no uncertain
terms, that he has an opportunity to be a savior, or
to be the one that nails the coffin on Clinton/Hell's Kitchen.

Who is telling him that? Well, it's Ethan Geto of Broadway
Initiative, Gerald Schoenfeld of the Shubert Theaters and
good old Virginia Fields.

That's why it's so important for you to show up tomorrow
at City Hall, to let Vallone and other City Council members
know what Clinton really wants.

Call and Fax Peter Vallone!

Vallone City Hall office: (212) 788-7210  fax (212) 788-7207 
Vallone Campaign office:  (718) 433-1998  fax (718) 443-1999

-----------------------------------------------

Hon. Walter L. McCaffrey
Chair, Zoning Subcommittee
NY City Council
62-07 Woodside Ave.
Woodside, NY 11377
District Office  (718) 639-1400  fax (718) 899-1294
City Hall Office (212) 788-6957  fax 

-----------------------------------------------

Hon. June M. Eisland
Chair, Land Use Committee
NY City Council
3636 Waldo Avenue
Bronx, NY 10463
District Office  (718) 549-0158  fax (718) 549-6983
City Hall Office (212) 788-7084  fax 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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  email:                  
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 04:23:46 -0400
Subject: Urgent Alert; Call Vallone's Campaign HQ; No to Air Rights


>From our Sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online http://hellskitchen.net
-------------------------------------------------------------------
URGENT ALERT

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone 
must hear from Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen residents today.
Not tomorrow, but TODAY!

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone is hearing from the wrong people, and
they are telling him what Clinton/Hell's Kitchen wants. Theater owner
Gerald Schoenfeld (Shuberts), Ethan Geto (Broadway Initiative) and Borough
President Virginia Fields are telling Vallone that Clinton will be
satisfied with just the west side of 8th Avenue taken out of the proposal.
But no one asked Clinton! Vallone would not meet with Clinton residents
opposed to the plan. More than that, he’s taking campaign contributions
money from Broadway theater owner Nederlander right before this crucial vote!

Please get on the phone and call 718-433-1998 (Vallone campaign
headquarters) and demand to speak with someone about the Theater
Subdistrict Zoning Proposal. If you have time and access to a fax machine,
write a short letter and fax it to them at 718-433-1999.

Don’t be dissuaded if they tell you the campaign headquarters is the wrong
place to call. It’s exactly the right place.
Tell them that both sides of 8th Avenue are important, and that if left
unchecked, the east side could end up looking like Lexington Avenue and
that that will impact on Clinton. Without a Special Permit, there will be
uncontrolled development on the east side of 8th Avenue.

Tell Vallone’s people the Speaker must give wider room to the Council
members to forge a better solution than what’s on the table. Vallone needs
to know the depth of opposition to the complete plan, that the Broadway
Initiative is bogus and that his stand will determine your vote for
Governor. The “deal” may be made by later today, so get your message to
Vallone as soon as possible.

Clinton Special District Coalition 
http://www.hellskitchen.net, email: csdc@ hellskitchen.net

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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  TenantNet:              http://tenant.net
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  NYTenants Express:      http://members.aol.com/nytenant
  email:                  
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 08:23:46 -0400
Subject: Urgent Alert; Call Vallone's Campaign HQ; No to Air Rights


>From our Sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online http://hellskitchen.net
-------------------------------------------------------------------
URGENT ALERT

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone 
must hear from Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen residents today.
Not tomorrow, but TODAY!

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone is hearing from the wrong people, and
they are telling him what Clinton/Hell's Kitchen wants. Theater owner
Gerald Schoenfeld (Shuberts), Ethan Geto (Broadway Initiative) and Borough
President Virginia Fields are telling Vallone that Clinton will be
satisfied with just the west side of 8th Avenue taken out of the proposal.
But no one asked Clinton! Vallone would not meet with Clinton residents
opposed to the plan. More than that, he’s taking campaign contributions
money from Broadway theater owner Nederlander right before this crucial vote!

Please get on the phone and call 718-433-1998 (Vallone campaign
headquarters) and demand to speak with someone about the Theater
Subdistrict Zoning Proposal. If you have time and access to a fax machine,
write a short letter and fax it to them at 718-433-1999.

Don’t be dissuaded if they tell you the campaign headquarters is the wrong
place to call. It’s exactly the right place.
Tell them that both sides of 8th Avenue are important, and that if left
unchecked, the east side could end up looking like Lexington Avenue and
that that will impact on Clinton. Without a Special Permit, there will be
uncontrolled development on the east side of 8th Avenue.

Tell Vallone’s people the Speaker must give wider room to the Council
members to forge a better solution than what’s on the table. Vallone needs
to know the depth of opposition to the complete plan, that the Broadway
Initiative is bogus and that his stand will determine your vote for
Governor. The “deal” may be made by later today, so get your message to
Vallone as soon as possible.

Clinton Special District Coalition 
http://www.hellskitchen.net, email: csdc@ hellskitchen.net

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  TenantNet:              http://tenant.net
  NYTenants Interactive:  http://nytenant.net
  NYTenants Express:      http://members.aol.com/nytenant
  email:                  
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 11:33:21 -0400
Subject: Zoning Update


>From our Sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online http://hellskitchen.net
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Hell's Kitchen Alert                                      7/20/98
                 "All the News the Times Won't Print"
-----------------------------------------------------------------
In this issue...

* Zoning Update
-----------------------------------------------------------------

First, sorry for the delay in reporting the news... a few computer
glitches and some R&R got in the way.

So what happened? The Clinton neighborhood got creamed.

No matter how many times you see it, or how much you expect to
see the backroom deal, it's disgusting every time it happens.

If you had attended the Public Hearing at City Hall on Tuesday 
(and about 200 HK residents were there, many wearing HK white 
painters caps), you would think the zoning proposal was a dead duck.

Even with distinguished performers like Tony Randall, Eli
Wallach, Betty Comden and others, the Broadway Initiative was
properly reduced to joke status. Councilmembers repeatedly 
challenged theater union reps and others in the industry as 
to how they intended to pay for the Broadway Initiative. 
No one had answers.

Gerald Schoenfeld of the Shubert Organization admitted the
entire boondoggle was only about his getting his 2,000
seat theater. He was even heard complaining about the city
giving Disney financial assistence, but not the theater owners.

Councilmembers from our area, Tom Duane and Ronnie Eldridge,
as well a the Lower East Side's Margarita Lopez, Queen's
Sheldon Leffler and Brooklyn's Steve DiBrienza tore the
plan apart, from all angles.

They reminded everyone that this was a land use zoning
deal, and that there were other ways to help the theater.

Civic groups and concerned citizens from all five boroughs
appeared calling the plan the first step in the loss of
community review and dangerous to all NYC neighborhoods.

But it was all for show.

In the end, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, who has 
refused to speak to anyone from the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen
neighborhood who are opposed to the plan, made a backroom 
deal with Mayor Giuliani. When the negotiations got into 
full swing the following morning, City Planning Commissioner 
Joe Rose was reduced to the status of errand boy, shuffling
between the Mayor and Council sides of City Hall.

We'll save you blow-by-blow, but here are the provisions of 
the deal (or the changes to the plan as it had come from 
City Planning)

MODIFICATIONS TO THE THEATER SUBDISTRICT TEXT

1. Deleting the west side of 8th Avenue north of 45th Street.

2. Theatre Subdistrict Council shall be comprised of 8 members. 4 of 
which shall be appointed by the mayor, 1 of which shall be the director 
of DCP, the mayor himself, the Speaker and his designee and the Manhattan
Borough President.

3. The Theatre Subdistrict Council shall adopt a plan every 3 years 
for the sale, distribution and marketing of reduced price tickets to new
undeveloped audience groups.

4. The plan shall include a mechanism to evaluate on an annual basis 
its effectiveness, which shall include; the number of tickets sold; 
the penetration of the new identified markets which shall be reported 
to the chairperson of the city planning commission and filed with The 
Council of the City of New York

5. The first 20% of transfers of development rights shall be 
permitted on the east side of 8th Avenue by certification by the 
city planning commission.

6. Transfer of an additional 20% of development rights shall be by 
city planning authorization with the following findings: (1) that such
development rights relates harmoniously to all structures and open 
space in its vicinity in terms of scale, location and access to light 
and air in the area (2) That such development servies to enhance or 
reinforce the general purposes of the theatre subdistrict.

7. An additional transfer shall be accomplished by special permit of 
the City Planning Commission. An additional finding has been added 
relating to pedestrian and vehicular circulation.

ACTION BY CITY COUNCIL

On Wednesday afternood, the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee voted
4-1 to approve the plan with the above modifications. Sheldon Leffler
was the only NO vote. A few minutes later, the larger Land Use 
Committee voted 15-2 to accept the plan with the above modifications.
(we had earlier thought it was 14-2, but it appears all members were there).
The only NO votes were Leffler and our councilmember Tom Duane. Ronnie
Eldridge was also there in oppositiion, but not being a committee 
member, had no vote.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

The plan must go back to City Planning for a "scoping session" to see
if it's within the parameters of the original plan It will be, and they
have fifteen days to do this, during this time the ULURP clock is
stopped, so the original August 11th date will be extended.

It will then come back to City Council for a vote by the full council.
We hear that might happen either August 5th or 6th, but it could
happen as early as July 28th.

ANALYSIS

Remember that Vollone had been hearing from Scheonfeld, the lobbyist
employed by the Broadway Initiative Ethan Geto and Manhattan Borough
President Virginia Fields that Clinton would be satisfied with this
arrangement. Vallone got bad advice.

Leaving three blocks, from 42nd to 45th Streets of the west side of
Eighth Avenue in the new zoning, is unacceptable. It still carves
up the neighborhood and for the first time pierces the Special
Clinton District.

As we all know, the riches of this neighborhood are not its glitz
or amenities; it's a sense of place and community. With one fell
swoop, Peter Vallone started the destruction of Clinton. (Yes, we
know the neighborhood had been carved up in the 30's and 40's, but
the Special District had held the line since 1973).

The makup of the Theater Subdistrict Council (TSC) essentially ceded
control over part of the Broadway theater industry to the Mayor. As
the mayor who cuts arts funding, who arrests street artists, and
who invents scams like the Broadway Initiative, having Giulinai
in complete control of the TSC does not bode well.

Even though the Broadway Initiative's credibility was destroyed, the
Mayor can still put it in charge of the Theater Subdistrict Fund.
And the Shuberts still need this public lie in front of its real
estate shenanigans.

But next time a controversial play like McNally's Corpus Christi 
comes along, and if the Mayor doesn't like it, he can easily pull
its funding on a dime. Moreover, playwrights like Wendy Wasserstein
(who bought into supporting the plan) will themselves be reduced 
to screenwriters, writing by committee, or writing in anticipation 
of funding or moral guidelines of the Broadway Initiative. 
Scary.

And Virginia Louloudis of the Alliance of Resident Theaters,
could soon discover that support from the Broadway Initiative
may be restricted to theaters actually inside the Theater
Subdistrict itself. When the Broadway Initiative discovers that
theatrical unions will not (and can not) pay the $9 million
yearly shortfall, it will turn to the funding community,
thereby knocking smaller not-for-profits out of the ballpark.

We know what Joe Rose was thinking when he put this nonsense
together, but what was Jack Goldstein thinking?

Items # and 4 refer to Zoning Subcommittee Chair Walter
McCaffrey's contention that theater has lost touch with
the average New Yorker, instead becoming entertainment
for tourists only. He has a point, and this is a trend
that's been developing for many years and for a whole 
host of reasons. One reason is the cost of plays, and
our course the Broadway Initiative did not even attempt
to deal with the issue of theatrical costs.

But McCaffrey got what he wanted: what little money will
trickle into the Broadway Initiative was grabbed by
politicians so there could be a TKTS booth in Queens.

Perhaps Queens and the other boroughs should have
TKTS booths (Brooklyn used to have one), but they should
also have theaters and theatrical companies. And the entire 
city should pay for it, not just one neighborhood.

But McCaffrey's tinkering did nothing for the Special
Clinton District, overdevelopment issues east of
Eighth Avenue, inappropriate use of air rights
throughout the city, and loss of community review by
community boards. One of the reasons so many civic
groups and community boards joined in opposition was
that they saw this plan would be the first (and we're
starting to hear of others) down the slipperly slope
of dismantling the community boards. Local control
of development is a precious commodity, and Vallone
threw it out the window.

Almost everyone said this would be a precedent for
wide receiving areas for air rights transfers, for lack
of community and environmental review, and for supporting
specific industries through zoning. McCaffrey and June 
Eisland (chair of the larger Land Use committee) simply
ignored this argument. They dismissed it completely,
saying "who knows?" That's the only thing they could
do, just dismiss it; if one were to give any part of that
argument credence, then they would have to deal with 
the implications.

McCaffrey also did not deal with the issue of "Special 
Permit" which triggers full ULURP review. The
Times Square/Bowtie area from the east side of Eighth 
Avenue to Sixth Avenue was upzoned. New buildings will
be much much larger, perhaps up to 70 stories. A
Special Permit may not stop the building, but it can
at least require some rational review.

What's even more appaling is that Vallone threw away 
City Council review. ULURP also requires City Council to
review large developments. With this, developers can
do what they wish. Vallone gave that power to the Mayor.

And it must be remembered that development that happens on
the east side of Eighth Avenue will affect us in the
Clinton Neighborhood.

So what we got was a dirty deal between Peter Vallone and
Rudy Giuliani. It wasn't based on help to the theaters,
it wasn't based on sound land use principles, it wasn't
based on the integrity of neighborhoods.

It was about money -- money to their campaign coffers.
Both the Nederlanders (theater owners) and lobbyist 
Ethan Geto (of Geto & DeMilly) have made substantial 
contributions to both Giuliani and Vallone.

What next? See the next newsletter.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  TenantNet:              http://tenant.net
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  email:                  
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 09:36:38 -0400
Subject: Alert: CALL AND FAX PETER VALLONE!


>From our Sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online http://hellskitchen.net
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Hell's Kitchen Alert                                      7/21/98
-----------------------------------------------------------------

CALL AND FAX PETER VALLONE!

Yesterday, we told you about the backroom deal between Council Speaker
Vallone and Mayor Giuliani that left a number of skyscraper development
sites in the Clinton neighborhood, pierced the Special Clinton District for
the first time since 1973 and removed community board, environmental and
City Council 'Special Permit' review from the process.

The deal was voted out of the committee last Wednesday and it went back to
City Planning for a "scope session." It will come back for a full City
Council vote shortly, as early as July 28, but more likely
on either August 5th and 6th. It's a long shot, but Vallone has been known
to back off when faced with a large public outcry.

   WHAT: Phone & Fax City Council Speaker Peter Vallone
   WHEN: Now, and Tomorrow, and Continuing
   WHY:  to convince him to remove all skyscrapers from the 
         west side of Eighth Avenue and to ensure rational 
         development through a 'Special Permit' process.

THREE PLACES TO CALL, FAX AND WRITE PETER VALLONE
(try to do all three, but if not, do it in this order)

Friends of Vallone (Gubernatorial Campaign office)
31-19 37th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
tel: (718) 433-1998   fax (718) 433-1999

Hon. Peter F. Vallone (City Hall Office)
Speaker, NY City Council
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
tel: (718) 274-4500   fax (718) 726-0357

Hon. Peter F. Vallone (District Office)
Speaker, NY City Council
22-45 31st St.
Astoria, NY 11105
tel (212) 788-7210   fax (212) 788-7207 

WHAT TO DO WHEN CALLING

Ask to speak to someone about the Theater Subdistrict Zoning Plan. If you
are calling the Campaign Headquarters, they might tell you to call City
Hall. Don't fall for that one and tell them this is a campaign issue as
your vote depends on his action. Demand to speak to someone. They might try
to just take your name and phone number. Again, don't let them. You want to
speak to someone to explain your case. Who can you speak to? 

Kevin McCabe (Campaign Director)
Karen Perischelli
Mark Benoit
Jennifer St. Johns (Volunteer Coordinator)
Tom Flutt

Remember, don't harass them, but engage them and force them to think and
talk about the issue for several minutes. Be firm and convincing that
Vallone just lost (at least) 5,000 votes and he must move on this issue to
get them back. Remind them that Vallone made a campaign theme of saving
NY's Middle Class. When he allows development to run rampant over NYC
neighborhoods, he's doing just the opposite. Remember, the receptionist is
not the target -- the receptionist's boss is. Be courteous to the person
who answers the phone, even as you tie up the line.

Remember, Peter Vallone is running for Governor and needs your vote. Remind
him your vote will depend directly on his actions on this issue.

WHAT TO TELL THEM

Tell them you are aware that Vallone refused to meet with Clinton/Hell's
Kitchen neighborhood residents opposed to the plan (CSDC asked several
times) while he met with the Broadway Initiative proponents. 

Also tell them you are aware that Vallone took money from theater owners
(Nederlander) and the Broadway Initiative high-priced lobbyist Ethan Geto
shortly before the vote. Tell them taking money for a vote is not putting
"New York First" (the Vallone campaign slogan)

Tell them that his decision will lead to pressures for tenants, will drive
out small business and devastate Clinton. Tell them you will continue to be
vocal on this issue throughout the campaign (even if he wins the primary).

WHAT TO ASK FOR

We want two things:

1. Removal of all skyscraper development sites (zoning increase to
Floor-Area-Ratio of 14.4) on the west side of Eighth Avenue. The deal left
the blocks from 42nd to 45th Streets still in the plan. This is part of
Clinton, not part of the Theater District or Midtown.

2. We want a real 'Special Permit' to cover the area affected by the plan.
Buildings that go up on the east side of Eighth Avenue will impact this
neighborhood, and there must be community, environmental and council
oversight.

Vallone has the power to take this issue back to City Council before the
vote. Don't buy into the notion (if anyone says) that it is a done deal.
It's a long shot, but not a done deal.

IS IT BEING EFFECTIVE?

Yes, Since last Wednesday, when the deal happened, inside reports indicate
they have been "inundated" with calls and faxes. Although they aren't
acting on the issue yet, they are starting to understand the depth of the
opposition.

SO YOU'RE NOT FROM CLINTON/HELL'S KITCHEN

That's OK, we need support from all NYC neighborhoods. This is not just a
local development issue and creates a precedent for bad development in all
NYC neighborhoods. This is why many community boards, neighborhood, housing
and civic groups from all over town are supporting Clinton in this battle.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?

Call Betsy McCaughey Ross and Charles Hynes (both are running against
Vallone is the primary) and encourage them to take public stands on this
issue. It's in their interest to do so and can smoke out Vallone.

Betsy McCaughey Ross Campaign (212) 772-9516
Charles Hynes Campaign (212) 766-1762

Volunteer for CSDC's Phone Bank and Tables (call either 245-5268, 245-7432
or 362-9784)
and Flyer Distribution network (call 977-4684)

IS THAT ALL

Good, grief, NO!!! Join us in paying a visit to Vallone's District office
this Thursday from 4-6 p.m. to protest his actions devastating NYC
neighborhoods (see address above, and take the "N" line to Ditmars
Boulevard). More info coming in the next newsletter to follow.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  TenantNet:              http://tenant.net
  NYTenants Interactive:  http://nytenant.net
  NYTenants Express:      http://members.aol.com/nytenant
  email:                  
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 16:03:31 -0400
Subject: Alert: RALLY & PICKET SPEAKER VALLONE


>From our Sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online http://hellskitchen.net
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Tell Vallone 'NO' to 8th Ave Zoning
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Protest Vallone's Backroom Deal with Rudy

   RALLY & PICKET SPEAKER VALLONE
   
   WHEN:   Thursday, July 23, 1998
           4:00 pm - 6:30 pm

   WHERE:  Vallone District Office
           22-45 31st Street
           Astoria, Queens
 
   Directions:	
   Take the N train to the last stop in Queens - Ditmars Blvd.
   (really not far, about 15 minutes travel time from Manhattan)
   Vallone's District Office is on the east side of 31st Street,
   right as you get off the subway (north exit)
   
Last week, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone

1. Left huge skyscraper sites on the west side of 8th Avenue.

2. Removed the "Special Permit" requiring community board review 
   and environmental review of large development.

3. Gave City Council Land Use Review power away to the Mayor.

4. Gave control of part of the Broadway theater industry to the Mayor.

     IS VALLONE SO DESPERATE IN HIS RACE FOR GOVERNOR
       THAT HE WILL SELL OUT NYC NEIGHBORHOODS FOR
              CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS?

Vallone refused to meet with Clinton residents opposed to the plan while he
wined and dined with Theater owners, the Broadway Initiative lobbyist and
took campaign contributions from Nederlander and Geto right before the City
Council vote that could devastate this neighborhood!

Under Vallone's direction, the plan was voted out of the Land Use committee
last week, but the full City Council has
yet to vote on the measure. Vallone could fix the 'fix' by removing the
remaining development sites on the west side
of Eighth Avenue and requiring a 'Special permit' for community and
environmental review.

COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE IS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR. He will decide if
this plan passes with last week's modifications or if he takes steps to
protect the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

Clinton residents must tell him that if he (and the council members he
controls) vote with the developers and theater
owners, we will not vote for him. Vallone cannot beat Pataki without NYC
neighborhood support. What he is in the process of doing to Clinton is what
the Mayor is planning for many NYC neighborhoods.

JOIN US IN PAYING VALLONE A VISIT IN HIS NEIGHBORHOOD 
this Thursday, July 23 from 4 - 6:30 pm (see directions above)

ALSO -- CALL SPEAKER VALLONE
THREE PLACES TO CALL, FAX AND WRITE PETER VALLONE

   Friends of Vallone (Gubernatorial Campaign office)
   31-19 37th Avenue
   Long Island City, NY 11101
   tel: (718) 433-1998   fax (718) 433-1999

   Hon. Peter F. Vallone (City Hall Office)
   Speaker, NY City Council
   City Hall
   New York, NY 10007
   tel: (212) 788-7210   fax (212) 788-7207

   Hon. Peter F. Vallone (District Office)
   Speaker, NY City Council
   22-45 31st St.
   Astoria, NY 11105
   tel  (718) 274-4500   fax (718) 726-0357

Let him know if he expects Clinton support in his run for
governor, he needs to support neighborhoods, not kill them.

WHAT TO ASK FOR

1. Removal of all skyscraper development sites (zoning increase to
Floor-Area-Ratio of 14.4) on the west side of Eighth Avenue. The deal left
the blocks from 42nd to 45th Streets still in the plan. This is part of
Clinton, not part of the Theater District or Midtown.

2. We want a real 'Special Permit' to cover the area affected by the plan.
Buildings that go up on the east side of Eighth Avenue will impact this
neighborhood, and there must be community, environmental and council
oversight.


THE FOLLOWING GROUPS HAD VOICED OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSAL (it has been
modified since last week).

Manhattan Comm. Boards 2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11 • Manhattan Borough Board •
Queens Community Boards 4, 6, 8, 9 and 11 • Brooklyn Community Boards 2, 6
and 13 • Municipal Art Society • Historic Districts Council • Landmarks
Conservancy • Civitas • American Institute of Architects • Women’s City
Club of New York • New York Women’s Agenda • Queens Civic Congress •
Manhattan Neighborhood Council • Coalition for a Livable West Side • West
Side Tenants Coalition • West Side SRO-Law Project • Metropolitan Council
on Housing • East Side Tenants Coalition • East Side Rezoning Alliance •
Over 60 Clinton small businesses • Gowanus Expressway Community Coalition
(Brooklyn) • Boerum Hill Association (Brooklyn) • Tribeca Community
Association • Citizens Housing and Planning Council • Housing Conservation
Coordinators • West Village Committee, Inc. • Committee For Environmentally
Sound Development, Inc. • Union Square Community Coalition • Turtle Bay
Association • Concerned Residents of Bay Ridge (Brooklyn) • Historic
Neighborhoods Enhancement Alliance, Inc. • Friends of Spuyten Duyval
(Bronx) • Tottenville LDC (Staten Island) • Riverdale Community Association
(Bronx) • Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts • Queens League
of United Tenants • Roberta Brandes Gratz, author “The Living City” • Many
Clinton block and tenant associations • City Council members: Duane,
Eldridge, Lopez, Reed, Freed, Miller, Linares, Michels, Perkins, Harrison •
Other elected officials: Gottfried, Stringer, Abate, Leichter

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  TenantNet:              http://tenant.net
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  email:                  
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 09:54:40 -0400
Subject: Alert: RALLY & PICKET SPEAKER VALLONE


>From our Sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online http://hellskitchen.net
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Reminder: Vallone Demonstration TODAY 4-6:30 p.m. 
in easy-to-get-to Astoria, Queens
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Protest Vallone's Backroom Deal with Rudy

   RALLY & PICKET SPEAKER VALLONE
   
   WHEN:   Thursday, July 23, 1998
           4:00 pm - 6:30 pm

   WHERE:  Vallone District Office
           22-45 31st Street
           Astoria, Queens
 
   Directions:	
   Take the N train to the last stop in Queens - Ditmars Blvd.
   (really not far, about 15 minutes travel time from Manhattan)
   Vallone's District Office is on the east side of 31st Street,
   right as you get off the subway (north exit)
   

COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE IS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR. He will decide if
this plan passes with last week's modifications or if he takes steps to
protect the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

ALSO -- CALL SPEAKER VALLONE
THREE PLACES TO CALL, FAX AND WRITE PETER VALLONE

   Friends of Vallone (Gubernatorial Campaign office)
   31-19 37th Avenue
   Long Island City, NY 11101
   tel: (718) 433-1998   fax (718) 433-1999

   Hon. Peter F. Vallone (City Hall Office)
   Speaker, NY City Council
   City Hall
   New York, NY 10007
   tel: (212) 788-7210   fax (212) 788-7207

   Hon. Peter F. Vallone (District Office)
   Speaker, NY City Council
   22-45 31st St.
   Astoria, NY 11105
   tel  (718) 274-4500   fax (718) 726-0357

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  TenantNet:              http://tenant.net
  NYTenants Interactive:  http://nytenant.net
  NYTenants Express:      http://members.aol.com/nytenant
  email:                  
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 09:26:03 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online 7/29/98


Tenants Online                                           7/29/98
-----------------------------------------------------------------
In this issue...

* PRESS CONFERENCE THURSDAY 10 AM at 43rd St/7th Ave
* Pataki, Giuliani Try to Kill Housing-Court Group
* Judge Blocks RGB Guidelines
* Letters to Speaker Peter Vallone (use these as samples)
* Queens Board #9 Responds to Virginia Fields
* Bay Ridge (Brooklyn) Chimes in on Air Rights
* Bit 'o' Rent Gouging?

=================================================================

PRESS CONFERENCE 
WHEN: THURSDAY, JULY 30 at 10 AM
WHERE: Traffic Island, 43rd St. & 7th Ave. 
       (by the Army Recruiting Center in the
       shadows of the Conde Nast building)

Please join Clinton/Hell's Kitchen residents, City Council
members Tom Duane, Ronnie Eldridge, Margarita Lopez, other
elected officials, CSDC, Community Boards, neighborhood, 
housing, civic and preservation groups in voicing opposition 
and concern to out-of-control development, overbuilding, 
and lack of rational planning that threatens NYC neighborhoods.

In the wake of the elevator scaffolding accident at the 
Conde Nast building at 43rd Street and Broadway causing the entire
area to be shut down, many are expressing concern that the general 
climate of development in Midtown/Times Square is out of control. 
Other projects are already on the drawing boards, and this is 
before a single square foot of air rights is sold. Midtown is 
already congested and the Mayor and others are treating the area 
as if it's an empty lot. When this much construction occurs, and 
when it happens all at once, such accidents are more likely to occur.

Speaker Peter Vallone is making rampant and dangerous development 
easier with his recent agreement to give up Community Board and 
City Council review (ULURP Special Permit) to the Mayor and
City Planning Chair Joe Rose.

=================================================================

PATAKI, GIULIANI TRY TO KILL HOUSING-COURT GROUP
By Chiara Montalto (Met Council Tenant/Inquilino July 1998)

City and state budget cuts may force the City-Wide Task Force on Housing
Court to close down after 17 years of service to the citizens of New York.
The Task Force staffs information tables at Housing Court in all five
boroughs, which are often the only resource for New Yorkers who cannot
afford lawyers in Housing Court.

With an annual budget of $263,000, the Task Force is a highly
cost-effective, nonpartisan organization, helping both unrepresented
landlords and tenants. With a wide base of volunteers from various
community-based organizations, it is also a comprehensive provider of
eviction-prevention services.

In May, Governor George Pataki vetoed the Task Force’s $263,000
appropriation. The City Council then passed the appropriation for the
information tables, and overrode a veto by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The
Mayor is adamant about withholding the funds. Without these monies, the
Task Force information tables, which used to be open every weekday, are now
on a reduced schedule and may disappear altogether unless the funding is
provided.

“As of now, we’ll try to use private grants to keep the tables open on a
limited basis,” says executive director Angelita Anderson.

On June 26, the Fund for Modern Courts released its first of four borough
reports on Housing Court. Focusing on Queens, monitors observed Housing
Court procedures for nine months. They were very concerned that the Task
Force’s five borough Housing Court information tables may be forced to
close, and strongly urged the Mayor to allow the Task Force to receive its
funding.

Numerous city and state organizations, including the Mayor’s Action
Committee, send people directly to the Task Force as well. When the city
Department of Housing Preservation and Development sends complaint-
acknowledgement forms to tenants who complain about conditions in their
apartments, the forms have two phone numbers on the back. One is a
non-working number; the other is the number of the Task Force. 

“So many angry, upset people call us, complaining that repairs in their
apartments have not been made. I’d say about sixty percent of the countless
phone calls we get are from people who mistakenly think we’re HPD,” says
Stephanie Townsend-Bakare, the Task Force’s Brooklyn coordinator. “We can
explain Housing Part actions, tenant-initiated court actions about repairs,
or we can give the phone numbers for HPD Code Enforcement, but beyond that,
there’s nothing that we can really do. With landlord self-certification,
it’s only going to get worse.”

The City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court is now on the following schedule:
Tables are open in Manhattan, Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn Housing Courts
Monday-Thursday, 9-12. The Staten Island table will be open Wednesday and
Thursday, 9-12. 

To help save the Task Force, write Mayor Giuliani and ask him to allow HPD
to spend funds allocated by the City Council on the Task Force. Write him
at City Hall, New York, NY 10007.

=================================================================

JUDGE BLOCKS RGB GUIDELINES 
Court Condemns Refusal to Release Rent-Increase Study
By Steven Wishnia (Met Council Tenant/Inquilino July 1998)

State Supreme Court Judge Louis York has temporarily barred the Rent 
Guidelines Board’s 1998-99 rent-increase guidelines from going into 
effect, on the grounds that board chair Edward Hochman unfairly 
suppressed a report on how much rents have gone up under the 1997 rent law.

In a ruling handed down July 1, Judge York upheld a suit by tenant
representatives Kenneth Rosenfeld and David Pagan. The two claimed that the
RGB members would not be informed enough to vote on the guidelines unless
they had access to the “Recent Movers Report,” an April survey of 2,200
tenants who had rented apartments after the 20% vacancy surcharge allowed
by the 1997 law went into effect.

The decision suspends the RGB’s June 22 vote on the 1998-99 guidelines,
which affect about 1 million rent-stabilized apartments. The board voted
5-3 to allow lease-renewal increases of 2% for one year and 4% for two
years for rent-stabilized apartments, and extended the $15-a-month “poor
tax” to apartments renting for less than $450 a month. The expanded poor
tax — for the last four years, it only covered apartments renting for $400
or less — will affect about 75,000 tenants, according to tenant
representative Kenneth Rosenfeld.

Hochman claimed that the report was incomplete and based on outdated data.
Tenant supporters suspect he suppressed it to hide how much rents have
risen under the new law. “Giuliani doesn’t want this information to get
out,” notes Met Council’s Gloria Sukenick. “He wants to protect Pataki.”
In the ruling, Judge York criticized Hochman for “cynical maneuvering” and
said the study was “precisely the kind of report the Board should
consider.” He ordered both sides to submit final papers within seven days.
“I don’t think the facts are in dispute,” said Rosenfeld, who described the
judge as “really pissed.” Hochman told Newsday that the suit was
“frivolous, strictly to advance a political agenda.”

If Judge York issues a permanent injunction, the city will probably appeal it.
The decision came after a typically tumultuous RGB final-guidelines
meeting, held at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. About 100 tenants showed up — and
they were angry, shouting “POOR TAX!” every time a board member said
“low-rent supplement.” Washington Heights activist Jeanie Dubnau was
perhaps the loudest; Hochman tried to have her ejected several times, but
she refused to leave.

Three of the four Giuliani-appointed public members voted in a bloc with
the two landlord representatives. Public member Agustin Rivera and tenant
representatives Rosenfeld and David Pagan dissented. The board’s newest
member, Justin Macedonia, a corporate lawyer appointed only a few days
earlier, abstained.

The RGB voted for the rent increases despite its own studies showing that
landlords’ costs had only increased 0.1% last year. As landlord member
Harold Lubell was explaining that most tenants could afford to pay more
rent and that landlords deserved more money because there’d been 35 inches
of brickwork-eroding rain since January, he was almost drowned out by
shouts of “Open your books.” “I have a right to speak,” he said. “We have
no voice,” a tenant shouted back.

Rosenfeld and Pagan argued against the poor-tax increase as regressive,
with Rosenfeld citing a 1993 Housing and Vacancy Survey figure that tenants
in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx were already spending an
average of 47% of their income on rent. Lubell claimed that there is “no
evidence the people in low-rent apartments are the poorest people.” After
shouts of “Yes they are,” he got to the bottom line: “It is not the owners’
responsibility to subsidize.” Public member Edward Weinstein voted against
setting the poor-tax threshold at $400, saying it should go to $500.
“You’ve just done damage to a million people,” Legal Services lawyer Olive
Karen Stamm fumed at Lubell after the vote. “I’m going to wake up tomorrow
morning with a clear conscience,” he replied.

At the end of the meeting, the board voted 7-2 — Rosenfeld and Pagan
dissenting — to send a letter to the Police Department criticizing its
failure to eject tenant hecklers. The only person thrown out was a landlord
who tried to punch Arlen Reynoldson, a video cameraman for the New York
State Tenants and Neighbors Coalition.

Rosenfeld and Pagan filed their suit on June 18. The “Recent Movers Report”
was finished in May, but Hochman withheld it. On June 2, the board voted
5-3 not to release it; Hochman waited until there were five votes against
releasing it and then voted for it.

“I believe that report we haven’t been given will tell us rents are rising
exorbitantly,” Rosenfeld told the June 22 meeting.

Hochman — the only board member to see the study — has adamantly refused to
release it, despite demands from tenant advocates and the media. He says it
would give a distorted picture, because the new tenants’ rents are compared
to 1996 rents for the same apartments, as the state Division of Housing and
Community Renewal hasn’t yet issued the 1997 figures. “I will be damned if
I do another report like this so fools can make unfounded accusations,” he
told Tenant.

Those “fools” are Rosenfeld and the tenant movement, and the “unfounded
accusations” are suspicions that the report was suppressed because it would
document that rents in New York City have gone up dramatically since
Governor Pataki signed the weakened rent laws — a suspicion easily raised
by the slightest glance at any real-estate listings.

Hochman told the June 22 meeting that the information in the report was
“absolutely unimportant and unnecessary.” Tenants in the audience responded
with chants of “Release the report” and “No vote tonight.”

On June 19, Judge York ordered the board not to vote until the report was
released, but Hochman and the Giuliani administration appealed. A few hours
before the June 22 meeting, Appellate Division Judge Betty Ellerin reversed
York, allowing the vote. Hochman agreed to release the raw data from the
survey, and to hold a second meeting June 24 to reconsider the guidelines
after board members had had a chance to see it.

The raw data turned out to be hundreds of forms packed in boxes, with no
information on how much the previous tenants had been paying. “It gave
practically no information whatsoever,” Rosenfeld said at the June 24
meeting; the forms only contained the date of the move, the new rent, and a
DHCR computer code. While more than half the forms he saw listed rents over
$1,800, he said, RGB staff told him Hochman had ordered them not to give
out any of the DHCR data.

Only six RGB members showed up for that meeting. The board voted 4-2 not to
reopen debate on the guidelines, with Rosenfeld and Pagan in the minority.
In other guidelines, the board voted 5-3 to impose a 5% surcharge on
tenants subletting their apartments. It set renewal increases for lofts at
1.5% for one year and 3% for two years, and skyrocketed the “fair-market
rent guideline” for vacated rent-controlled apartments (used to determine
whether the first new tenant in those apartments can challenge the rent
increase as excessive) to $650 or 80% over the old maximum base rent,
whichever is greater.

The board voted 5-3 for a 2% increase on rooming houses and no increase for
hotels, lodging houses and SROs. Olive Karen Stamm, who represents SRO
tenants, criticized the increase. “People have this misguided idea about
mom-and-pop rooming houses,” she says, noting that many are owned by big
landlords like the Goldman estate and Barry Levites of the Bronx.
This sector is one of the few areas where Hochman is sympathetic to
tenants, but it is rapidly shrinking, especially in gentrifying areas. For
most of the people affected, says Stamm, “the only issue for the landlords
is whether they can get rid of them.”

Considering the public members’ general lockstep behavior in voting rent
increases, giving them the report might not have made any difference even
if it did show that rents had skyrocketed. Rosenfeld disagrees. “I believe
that the new members would have gotten a better understanding of what’s
going on in the rental market,” he says. “At least we would have had a
better chance of convincing them.”

Report or no report, tenants in the real world still have to deal with a
limited housing supply, an overheated real-estate market, and the
consequences of weakened rent regulations. As the 4 train rolled under
Lower Manhattan after the June 22 meeting, a formerly homeless man was
expounding on the subject: “A studio’s going for $475,” he declaimed. “How
the fuck you gonna make that if you don’t make but $180 a week?”

=================================================================

LETTERS TO PETER VALLONE

July 21, 1998
Hon. Peter F. Vallone
Speaker, New York City Council

Dear Peter Vallone:

Re: Clinton/Hell's Kitchen

I am writing to urge you to protect a mixed-income neighborhood called Hell's
Kitchen. I recently moved to Chelsea after having lived in Hell's
Kitchen/Clinton for many years.

You are backing the Theater Sub District Zoning Plan which will allow very
high rise buildings in Hell's Kitchen. By doing this you are violating the
Clinton Special Preservation District, which was put in place to protect a
low-rise neighborhood consisting of working people and small businesses. 

This zoning plan is wrong for the neighborhood of Clinton. High rise
buildings from 42nd to 45th Streets on the west side of 8th Avenue will cause
secondary displacement of low and moderate income residents and push out small
businesses. 

How can you support this zoning plan when you are running for governor on a
platform that calls for protecting the middle class? This zoning plan will
destroy the middle class in Clinton.

I understand that you have NOT met with Clinton residents who oppose this new
zoning, but that you have met with supporters of the Broadway Initiative. Why
is that? I believe that you  were elected to represent all of the people not
just some of them.

You may argue that you are "saving the theater" with this zoning plan. I
would counter that you should be working on more creative and positive ways to
save the theater. (Wall Street is booming. How about bringing back the penny
tax on stock transactions?) There is something terribly wrong in the equation
of exploiting and then destroying the Clinton neighborhood to save the
Broadway theater. 

Mr. Vallone, I urge you to go back to the drawing board on this one. Respect
the Clinton Special Preservation District and remove the high rise development
sites on the west side of 8th Avenue in Clinton from the zoning plan.

Sincerely yours,
Jane Buchanan

=================================================================

West 46th Street Block Association, Inc.
413 West 46th Street, NYC 10036
15 July 1998

Mr. Speaker,

I am writing on behalf of the West Forty-Sixth Street Block
Association, which includes West Forty-Sixth Street from Eighth
Avenue to Eleventh Avenue and Ninth and Tenth Avenues from Forty-
fifth to Forty-Seventh Streets. As residents of Clinton, and
voters, we want you know of our opposition to the proposed rezoning
of Eighth Avenue.

The proposed plan gives no benefit directly to the theater
industry, but to the theater owners and the real estate developers.
Theater owners then pay a fraction of the profits realized under
this scheme to a fund which supports only their theaters. This
one-time contribution would only cover a small portion of the
proposed operating budget for Broadway Initiatives, while theater
workers are expected to contribute the balance year after year -- to
support the owners' theaters!

By the way, I attended the Zoning subcommittee hearing yesterday,
chaired by Councilmember Walter McCaffrey. It turns out that none
of the unions have pledged a dime to this plan, so who knows what
would happen with the Broadway initiative even if the proposed
zoning changes were made?

The Clinton community receives no benefits from this plan and no
public review was done before the proposal was made; no one from
our neighborhood was given the opportunity to provide input. The
idea that no environmental impact would be made by the presence of
two dozen sixty-story towers in our neighborhood is absurd; yet
this is what the proponents of the plan would have everyone
believe! This plan would indeed have an impact in terms of increased
population density, increased traffic, increased noise and sewage,
and a blockage of sunlight onto our streets.

On a personal note, I am a registered Democrat and I vote
in primary and general elections. I thought I would vote for you to
receive the Democratic nomination for governor and again in the
general election. Quite frankly, I don't see how I could support
someone who did not support my neighborhood's quality of life.

Selling the people of this City short in favor of real
estate overdevelopment is no way to support the Broadway industry.
Mr. Vallone, I urge you to reject this proposal.

Tom M. Lisa,
President

=================================================================

QUEENS BOARD #9 RESPONDS TO VIRGINIA FIELDS

City of New York
Community Board 9 (Queens)

July 24, 1998

C. Virginia Fields, President
Borough of Manhattan
Executive Division
Municipal Building 19th Fl. So.
New York, 10007

Dear Borough President Fields:

Thank you for the prompt response to our letter regarding the
Department of City Planning's Theater Subdistrict rezoning
application. While we understand your position, we cannot agree
with your final decision, because we are concerned that approval of
this application sets a dangerous precedent for the entire city. In
the 1980's a developer attempted to transfer cemetery air-rights in
Kew Gardens. This Board successfully opposed the transfer. In
place of a high-rise apartment building we have conforming-use
three family private dwellings.

Due to the defeat of the latter, we rescued a site directly across
the street and successfully obtained it as an annex to Public
School 99. In both instances, our actions resulted in a more
livable community and surcease for a school operating at over 170%
of capacity in which children literally had classes in storage
areas.

When developers succeed in obtaining major zoning changes, it
alters the character of the entire community. While you have pressed
for a public review, it will not be as of right here and elsewhere,
as the Charter now calls for. Except in war, democracy does not
disappear overnight. But with constant erosion of participation by
citizens, and the growing disdain of this administration for that
participation, we will find ourselves one day having to do battle
with fewer weapons. The result will be even more litigation in an
already litigious society. If you wish to discuss the matter with
me, I can be contacted at the above telephone number.

Sincerely,

Sylvia Hack
Chair

=================================================================

CONCERNED RESIDENTS OF BAY RIDGE
Postal Annex Box 242, 7304 5th Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11209

July 7, 1998

Peter F. Vallone, Speaker
District Office
22-45 31st Street
Astoria, New York 11105

Dear Councilmember Vallone:

The recent, well publicized proposal to permit as-of-right transfer
of development air rights within a fifty-block area in the Theatre
District of Manhattan troubles us and prompts our writing. There
seems to be no distinction being made between theatre owners, the
theatre industry and performing arts groups and artists. Many of
these groups and artists, which make up the City's vital theatre
industry, are located in areas outside the proposed fifty-block
area. The proposal seems to be confusing who's really going to
benefit, the real estate industry, presently thriving, or the
theatre owners, currently enjoying boom times as "Broadway" comes
off one of its most profitable years. One wonders, why should one
neighborhood (Chelsea/Clinton) single handedly support theatre
owners and real estate developers, when the entire arts community
of this city needs a more supportive environment. But this proposal
also mirrors a disturbing trend.

Contextual planning and the concept of orderly
growth, both conspicuously absent in New York City, have been
supplanted by a complete reliance on a chaotic, "free" real estate
market. Land use decisions are not, but should be, made with the
aim of strengthening our existing neighborhoods and improving our
communal quality of life. But the ever increasing density of our
environment has become a major concern for many of our communities.
Why do we keep adding more people to neighborhoods whose
infrastructure and city services are less able to cope with
population levels as they presently exist. Why should every part of
our city resemble every other. Whatever happened to the aesthetic
diversity and moderate scale of neighborhoods, which contributes so
mightily to our collective quality of life. These factors seem to
have become diminished, because "planning" as it exists now occurs
generically by zoning amendment, with no regard for the special
needs, and the individual context, of our neighborhoods.  So, it
should not come as a surprise that this proposal has generated so
much opposition in boroughs seemingly unaffected by this plan,
especially among those of us residing in Special Districts
throughout the city. We must ask, is this proposal merely a guise
for diluting the jurisdictional requirements of the Special Clinton
District which has effectively, balanced residential needs,
preserved a "human" neighborhood scale, and permitted new
development.

The issues raised by the plan to permit as-of-right
transfer of development air-rights in the Theatre District are
gravely important to all neighborhoods, civic organizations, and
community boards throughout the city. Currently air-rights
transfers are permitted in some instances to adjoining lots subject
to community and government review. While allowing this type of
transfer within a confined geographic area might be a worthy
development incentive tool for areas blighted by neglect, the
Chelsea/Clinton community is not an area in need of such stimulus.
Moreover, we feel that under no circumstances should transfer of
air rights ever occur as-of-right. Orderly growth and contextual
planning must include in put from the affected communities. Each of
our individual and unique neighborhoods must have the right to
determine their future and the capability to protect their
collective quality of life.

Sincerely,
Neil Cohen, RA
Vice Pres. Operations

=================================================================

>From a 46th Street resident
Subject: Bit 'o' Rent Gouging?

Saw a sign posted "for rent" of "half basement" to right of St. Clement's
(as you face the buildings) at 417 West 46 St.; it's the one w/the fenced
in patio, where the old man used to sit outside and visit w/people (guess
he must have died).  Anyway, friend of mine who has been looking for a
place, called about it and was told the rent will be $4200/month.  (It's
large, but I can't imagine they could do enough work to claim bringing it
up to the $2000 mark to decontrol (they didn't replace the floors, just
sanded them). The old man (and his wife while she was alive) must have
been there for a zillion years.  Stroll by and take a look in the day
time; you can see right through the windows to the back. I doubt it's more
than a one-bedroom.

When my friend said the price was a little out of his league, the broker
said, well, how much were you looking to spend.  So some fishing is going
on.

By way of rental price comparison, my friend (at present living on East 82
St.), said his LL recently posted pix and floor plan for a three-bedroom
duplex in that neighborhood renting for $3200.  

Something in the kingdom seems a tad askew.


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