Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pelham Parkway-Van Nest Library Block Party

   It was The New York Public Library Lion, Spiderman, and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj making a joint appearance at the Barnes Avenue Block Party today. The Block Party was sponsored by the NYPL branch on Barnes Avenue. There were information tables, face painting, balloon figure makers, artists, tenant organizations, the NYFD, and even the NYC Board of Elections on hand as you will see in the photos below.

Above - Chris Pagen a volunteer from the NYPL Barnes Avenue branch and artist illustrated NYPL folders with a personal touch for each child.
Below - Earl the Balloon Man makes a flower out of balloons for a special little girl.  

Above - A young girl gets her face painted.
Below - Some members of the local rent stabilized buildings on Barnes Avenue 'The Barnes Avenue Tenants and Neighbors' complained of a landlord who owns the east side of Barnes Avenue 2146 - 2182 Barnes Avenue who they said was trying to increase the rents of the rent stabilized buildings by not giving the proper services, and harassing many of the tenants, especially those who complained of the said poor building services.   

Above - Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj greets those who came to the Barnes Avenue Block Party.
Below - Spiderman gets ready to climb the wall of the Pelham Parkway Van Nest Library building.

There were representatives from the Board of Elections on hand to register voters for the upcoming September Primary, if there is to be one, and the November General Election this year. Don't forget that next year (2016) is the election for a new president of the United States.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Statement from Senator Rivera on the End of Session

  The following comes from State Senator Gustavo Rivera.


"I am deeply disappointed on the end results of this legislative session. It is appalling that throughout the negotiation process hardworking New Yorkers were used as political pawns to serve special interest. The policies included in this legislation simply fail to adequately address the dire issues facing New Yorkers in the areas of housing, education, and criminal justice reform."


"The failure to make significant changes to the rent-regulation laws ensures that at least 90 thousand apartments will be deregulated during the next four years, further exasperating our housing crisis and leaving thousands of New Yorkers struggling to afford a home. Furthermore, this deal made little effort to fix the 421a tax abatement that is supposed to encourage the development of additional affordable housing.


At a time when our public schools are struggling, this legislation uses public resources to assist private schools and allows charter schools to continue to determine their admissions process without requiring that they serve an adequate portion of high need students in the communities they are in. It also extends Mayoral Control for only one year, leaving New York City's educational system exposed to the political whims of next year's legislative session.


It is truly unbelievable that given the current climate criminal justice reform was not addressed during this legislative session.  This legislation completely omits any measure that would help make our criminal justice system more balanced and just - whether we are talking about the implementation of an independent prosecutor for cases involving a police officer that result in the injury or death of a civilian, decriminalizing syringes or raising the age of criminal responsibility.

Editor's Note:

   It seems very interesting that Senator Rivera has adopted the "Our Public Schools are Struggling", instead of admitting that Mayoral Control has done nothing to end or even slow down the fact that more public schools are failing than before Mayoral Control. That is the reason parents, especially those with students who achieve higher scorers on the state tests are looking for a better education system than the public school system.
   As for the other issues Senator Rivera, admit that Speaker Heastie did little if anything, and was outflanked by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Governor Cuomo.  Until then you can stand on your soap box and yell at the top of your lungs, but no one will listen to you.

   See the statement from Assemblyman Pichardo that I have placed below.
Which one of the two are correct Senator Rivera?

Assemblymember Pichardo: Rent regulations agreement enhances tenant protections

“My neighbors in the Bronx and families across New York State can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the vital rent laws that help them stay in their homes and neighborhoods will not only be extended, but improved. The final agreement includes a four-year extension of rent regulations, ends loopholes that were detrimental to renters and increases the vacancy decontrol threshold while requiring that it be indexed to future increases.

From day one, the Assembly has been an unflinching advocate for tenants’ rights and I’ve long supported efforts to bolster the laws that protect renters and increase access to affordable housing. We refused the extreme proposals that would have shortchanged tenants and worked to find a compromise because the more than 29,000 families who live in rent-regulated units in my district deserve peace of mind knowing that they will not be forced from their homes. Moving forward, I will continue to be a staunch supporter of pro-tenant measures that protect my constituents and renters across the state.”

Pelham Parkway-Van Nest Library Block Party

  The Pelham Parkway- Van Nest Library will host its second annual Summer Kick Off Block Party on Saturday, June 27 from 12:00pm - 4:00pm, on Barnes Avenue between Lydig Avenue and Pelham Parkway South. The event is co-sponsored by Health First, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, Senator Jeff Klein and Councilman James Vacca.

The event kicks off the summer season with a family friendly community resource fair and block party featuring music, BBQ, free raffles, Bounce House, youth activities and much more. All are welcome to attend to enjoy as we welcome the summer.


  "I am humbled and honored to be chosen by my colleagues to chair the Subcommittee on Libraries at this historic time in which the #investinlibraries campaign has forced  us to confront how important these facilities are in our neighborhoods. As a member of the Cultural Affairs Committee, since I entered the City Council in 2012, I have been working on how we, in the Council, can effectively fund and promote the important work our city's three library systems do in our communities every day. I am a Bronx native who grew up going to the New York Public Library and it has helped to make me who I am today. I promise I will remain committed to ensuring our libraries remain the beacons of light they have been for over a century," said Council Member Andy King, the third-ever council member to hold the position.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Simone Developers Celebrate Grand Opening of Marriott Residence at Metro Center Atrium Complex

Left - Simone Development Vice-President Joe Kelleher. 
Right - Simone Developers President Joe Simone. As both stand in front of the new Marriott Residence Inn at the Hutchinson Metro Tech Center. 

Both were very energetic about the new Marriott Residence Inn that is owned by Simone Developers as a franchise from Marriott International. The new Marriott Residence Inn is located in the heart of the Hutch Metro Center just off the Hutchinson Parkway, and within 200 feet of the newly proposed Metro North Station for the Morris Park section of the Bronx. The new Metro North Station when completed will allow residents of this Marriott Residence Inn to get to Midtown Manhattan by rail in less than 30 minutes. Mr. Simone added that people who stay at this Marriott Residence will be able to visit the Bronx Zoo, Bronx Botanical Gardens, Yankee Stadium, and the new Donald Trump Golf Course, all world class destinations for anybody among the other finer things the Bronx has to offer.

Above - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., City Councilman Jimmy Vacca, and Father Richard Gorman (who gave the invocation, and blessing for the new Marriott Residence Inn) were among those on hand.
Below - Senator Jeff Klein and Assembly members Mark Gjonaj & Michael Benedetto were still up in Albany, as you see representatives sitting in for them. 

Above - The ribbon is about to be cut by Mr. Joe Simone as BP Diaz and others await the ribbon cutting.
Below - At last the ribbon is cut to officially open the new Marriott Residence Inn at the Hutch Metro Center. A tour of the hotel and a small buffet of delicious appetizers followed. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tentative Albany Deal on Rent Regulations, 421A, Property Tax Cap, and Mayoral Control, but Little Details

   A tentative deal has been agreed upon by the 3 men in the room, Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. This deal however is subject to ratification by the members of the State Assembly and State Senate.

   As for Rent Regulations there could be a 4 year extension with some higher threshold for vacancy decontrol which was not announced. It also includes a higher threshold landlords need for MCI increases, but again no numbers were announced. 

  The 421A deal is a 6 month extender contingent upon the real estate industry and labor unions agreeing on a prevailing wage during the 6 months. If that happens the 421A program will be extended to 4 years and be tied to Rent Regulations. If there is no agreement on a prevailing wage in 6 months the 421A program will end.

    As for the Property Tax Cap no details were announced, just that there was a deal for a $1.3 million dollar property tax rebate for homeowners outside New York City. 

   Mayoral Control will be extended for another year with no details, with $250 million dollars will go to private schools for reimbursement of mandated services, again no details of what services.

   It is now up to each individual state legislature to vote on the agreements by their respective leaders. It looks like some state legislatures will have to have this deal shoved down their throats to get it passed over objections of said state legislatures, but it should be able to be passed by both houses since there were items specific to one house of the state legislature over the other put in.


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is praising a decision by the City’s Department of Environmental Protection to expand public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir.
“This is incredibly welcome news, and something my office has advocated for over the past few years. Jerome Park Reservoir is a historic gem of the Northwest Bronx, yet for too long access to its paths has been denied to the public for a variety of reasons. The announcement by Emily Lloyd, commissioner of the City’s Department of Environmental Protection, to begin the process of expanding public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir is incredibly welcome, and I look forward to helping plan and implement access for the reservoir in the fall,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Borough President Diaz added, “It is my hope that this announcement is the first step towards greater, permanent access to this incredible amenity.”
At a meeting of the Filtration Monitoring Committee on Monday, June 22, Commissioner Lloyd announced the creation of a task force that will convene this summer. That task force will plan a three part pilot access program for the reservoir this fall, which will include walking tours of the reservoir; a two-hour open session where people can access the reservoir inside the existing security fence and an educational curriculum developed for local schools. 
Access to the Jerome Park Reservoir has been a high priority for Borough President Diaz since he took office in 2009. In May 2011, the borough president hosted a press conference with elected officials and community leaders to call for improved access to the Jerome Park Reservoir, and in June 2011 he hosted a public hearing to solicit greater input from Bronxites on the future of public access to Jerome Park Reservoir. In June 2014, Borough President Diaz joined State Senator Jeff Klein and Assembly Jeffrey Dinowitz to support legislation that would declare Jerome Park Reservoir a public park.
“Improved public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir will not only create new recreation activities in our borough, it will help unite communities across the Northwest Bronx. I congratulate the elected officials, community boards and dedicated activists whose work has helped make this announcement possible, and I look forward to walk around the reservoir this fall,” said Borough President Diaz. 
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) issued the following statement:

“After meeting with DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd last night I am pleased that DEP has announced a pilot program for access to the Jerome Park Reservoir. As a long-time activist for Jerome Park Reservoir this is extremely welcome news and I hope it is the beginning of a long-term access plan so that Bronx residents can enjoy one of the city’s most beautiful resources now and in the future. It is great to see that DEP has listened to the community in agreeing to this pilot project, just as they agreed to the pedestrian bridge project in Van Cortlandt Park recently. I have worked for many years on both of these issues and I'm thrilled to see that the hard work of so many people and elected officials has paid off,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz.

Council Member Andrew Cohen Applauds the Decision to Make the Grounds of the Jerome Park Reservoir Accessible to Members of the Community
 At a meeting of the Filtration Monitoring Committee on Monday, June 22nd, Emily Lloyd, Commissioner of the City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), announced the creation of a task force that will commence this summer. That task force will plan a pilot program for public access to the reservoir this fall. The pilot program will include the use of the perimeter path around the reservoir, an educational tour of the site and its facilities for local schools, as well as a two-hour open session where people can access the reservoir inside the existing security fence. Council Member Andrew Cohen applauded this decision to make the grounds of the Jerome Park Reservoir accessible to members of the community.
“I have been a long-time advocate for Parks and public access to open green space throughout The Bronx. Members of our community have advocated for a public access plan to the Jerome Park Reservoir since 2006, which makes this pilot program a welcomed opportunity. This will increase the amount of recreational space that is available for residents of The Bronx in an open-air landscape without having to leave the City. I look forward to continuing my work with the DEP to implement access to the Reservoir and hope to see this become a permanent amenity for my neighbors,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.
The Jerome Park Reservoir is a 93-acre open air reservoir that was placed in service in 1905. Since September 11, 2001 the entire Jerome Park Reservoir site was off-limits to the public for both security and operational reasons. Understanding that the role of the reservoir would change once the Croton Filtration Plant began operating, Bronx civic leaders asked the DEP to commit to making the reservoir accessible to the public after that time.


  New York Elected Officials Instrumental in Litigation Forcing LG Retreat on Proposed Tower

 State Senator Jeff Klein, Congressman Eliot Engel, Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, and Council Member Andrew Cohen praised the agreement announced today between LG Electronics USA, Inc. and a coalition of conservation and environmental groups from both sides of the Hudson River that will preserve views of the Hudson Palisades from a proposed corporate headquarters that would have towered over the natural and historic landmarks protected by the Palisades Interstate Compact.

"I spearheaded the fight to protect the beautiful vista of the Palisades, and today's agreement with LG Electronics to reduce the height of its building is a victory in preserving this national treasure that would have towered over the treetops,” said Senator Jeff Klein.  “I led the way by filing an amicus brief in support of an appeal in New Jersey Appellate Court, fought side-by-side with environmental advocates and won the battle against LG’s plan to forever ruin the verdant bluffs that we enjoy so much. My years-long battle paid off for the residents of The Bronx, and especially for our environment.”

The agreement resolves litigation that has been pending for over a year in New Jersey, with a coalition of individuals and advocacy groups seeking to void LG’s approval to build a 143-foot-high corporate headquarters Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.  Under the agreement, which is subject to court and local approval, the building will be approximately 69-feet, and will not pierce the treeline.

“I am pleased that LG, Scenic Hudson, NRDC and others were able to reach an agreement that benefits the economic and environmental interests of the people of the Bronx, Westchester, and all of New York and New Jersey,”  said Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the United States House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee.  “We filed our amicus brief to protect the otherwise undisturbed Palisades tree line on the Hudson River, which has gone untouched for centuries.  Today’s agreement preserves that historic vista while simultaneously allowing LG to bring more high-quality jobs to our region.” 

Klein joined Congressman Eliot Engel; New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat; New York Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz; and New York City Councilman Andrew Cohen, in filing amici curiae briefs on April 7, 2014, urged New Jersey’s Superior Court, Appellate Division to invalidate LG’s variance to exceed the traditional 35-foot height limit in towns surrounding the Park by more than fourfold.  In their brief, elected officials argued that the variance allowed “one municipal board to defeat over a century of collaborative work and investment by New York and New Jersey citizens, legislators, and courts, as well as by the federal government, to preserve the historic Hudson River Palisades north of the George Washington Bridge.”

"The view of the Palisades from upper Manhattan is an awe inspiring sight and has remained largely unspoiled since Henry Hudson's voyage more than 400 years ago. A determined coalition of local environmental groups and elected officials were able to protect that view for what I hope will be the next 400 years," said State Senator Adriano Espaillat.

“The incredible natural beauty of the Palisades is an amazing resource that must not be spoiled. It took eons and eons to form and we have a responsibility to protect it,” said Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz. “That is why this victory is so important. The elected officials, environmentalists, and other worked hard to protect the Palisades, so this decision by LG is very welcome to us.”

“The Palisades is a natural beauty, the view of which has been preserved and conserved for the benefit of New York and New Jersey. I am pleased that today’s agreement removes the immediate threat of the Palisades viewshed so that residents in both states can continue to enjoy the historic landscape,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “I plan on continuing to work vigilantly with my colleagues and advocates to fight for permanent protection of the Palisades from similar proposals in the future.”

All five elected officials were represented in the litigation against LG and in shaping the settlement agreement announced today by Bradley M. Campbell, a nationally known environmental leader and the President-designate of the Conservation Law Foundation.


“The proposed LG Tower had the potential to stain a national treasure—the Palisades—which look virtually the same as they did when man first laid eyes on them. This compromise is a tremendous victory not only for The Bronx, but for New York, New Jersey and nature lovers everywhere. A smaller LG Tower, one shorter than 70 feet, will preserve these views and protect the Palisades from blight. I congratulate those elected officials, activists and community organizations on both sides of the river who fought so hard for this change, and I commend LG for listening to our concerns and agreeing to a reasonable compromise,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


Transportation Committee set to hear legislation next week  

   Today NYC Council Transportation Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez and Council Member Stephen Levin announced two pieces of legislation that will allow the city to better respond to the rapidly growing For-Hire sector. 

The first piece of legislation (introduced by NYC Council Transportation Committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez) will require the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to work jointly with other city agencies to determine the impact of the growth of the for hire and black car industries in the following areas: traffic, air quality, noise, and public health). The study will further consider the impact of the increase in the number of drivers, vehicles, and bases. Agencies to work closely with the TLC on this study include but are not limited to the Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection. This study is due to the Council by August 31st 2016. 

The second piece of legislation (introduced by Council Members Levin and Rodriguez will temporarily limit new vehicle licenses to a rate of growth within historic norms to allow for the study described above provides data still relevant to the Council in 2016. According to the legislation bases can add new licenses at a rate based on their size as of June 15th, 2015:
Bases with 2-19 vehicles can increase by a maximum of 15% of cars previously affiliated (maximum increase of 3 cars to a base with 19 vehicles)
Bases with 20-499 vehicles can increase by a maximum of 5% of cars previously affiliated (maximum increase of 25 cars to a base with 499 vehicles)
Bases larger than 500 vehicles can increase by a maximum of 1% of cars previously affiliated. (maximum increase of 260 cars to a base with 26,000 vehicles)

According to data collected by the Taxi and Limousine Commission as well as the Department of Transportation, congestion in Manhattan is rapidly increasing with a 9% decline in traffic speeds in Manhattans Business District saw a 9% decline in traffic speeds over the last year-from 9.35 mph in 2014 to 8.51 mph in 2015. This decrease has had negative impacts on bus speeds and ridership and has lead to a fresh frustrations for commuters. Since 2011, 25,000 new FHV licenses have been issued a 63% jump. These new licenses are issued at a rate of 2,000 per day. In order for the study to produce valuable outcomes, the rate of issuance must be returned to a reasonable rate of growth seen prior to 2011. 

The legislation will be heard by the Transportation Committee next Monday, June 29th at 10am in the Council Chambers. Bills can be made available upon request.

"Acknowledging the existing problems of congestion parking and negative environmental impacts like poor air quality, we must ensure our city moves forward with the best plan that mitigates these negative impacts. In order to achieve just that we need to make sure our city is armed with the information necessary to make lasting change that benefits every New Yorker, driver, pedestrian and resident alike" said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez "This package of legislation will allow us to act from a place of knowledge and I am proud to sponsor these important measures with Council Member Steve Levin." 

"The For-Hire sector has experienced explosive growth over the past few years, putting many more vehicles on the road and raising questions about potential negative impacts. The city needs time  to examine the effects of this unprecedented expansion in depth and determine how it impacts congestion, public transportation, public health and quality of life for New Yorkers. This package will  temporarily limit new licenses to allow the city to conduct an accurate analysis and ensure that we can approach the challenge of curbing potential negative impacts in the most informed and responsible way. I thank Council Member Rodriguez for his partnership in sponsoring this package of legislation and look forward to working with him on this important issue," said Council member Stephen Levin.

Senator Diaz Criticizes Mayor Bill de Blasio

What You Should Know
By Senator Rev Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District

You should know that this past Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to go to Upper Manhattan in the midst of the Dominican community to ask for a tourism boycott against the Dominican Republic based on immigration laws that are in effect in Santo Domingo. 

While we all agree that immigration laws are complicated and that that the situation is very sensitive, I have to say that I have never seen Mayor Bill de Blasio go in front of the White House to criticize the President of this nation for the thousands and thousands of monthly deportations from the United States that leave children orphans, and wives and their spouses unprotected.

As we know, never in this nation have there been so many deportations as now under President Barack Obama. However, if we agree that President Obama has the right to deport people based upon the immigration laws of this nation, then we must also respect - even if we don’t like - the immigration laws in Santo Domingo.

It is nothing less than a double standard to criticize the President Danilo Medina and call for a boycott of the Dominican Republic while keeping quiet about what is done in this nation under this Presidential Administration.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask Mayor Bill de Blasio: The same way that you went to the Upper Manhattan to criticize President Medina, will you also go in front of the White House and criticize President Obama?

This is Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.

Monday, June 22, 2015


Standing in front of 1135 Pelham Parkway North joined by Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and many local community activists and residents State Senator Jeff Klein speaks on the issue of tenant harassment by unscrupulous landlords in the Bronx.

As rent law negotiations loom large, Klein calls for crooked landlords to be stripped of vacancy bonus
Hundreds of Bronx tenants forced out of rent-stabilized apartments while greedy landlords pad their pockets
Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), together with Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj (D-Bronx), Director of Housing and Community Development at the Neighborhood Initiatives Development Corporation Hazel Miura, community activists and nearly 100 Bronx tenants, today called on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force and the New York State Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) to investigate Bronx slumlords Martin Scharf and Phillip Goldfarb for the flagrant harassment and unlawful eviction of residents at 3555 Bruckner Boulevard and the Goldfarb Properties in The Bronx.
As rent law negotiations continue in Albany, Klein also called on the New York State legislature to enact sweeping reforms that strip bad actors of vacancy bonuses.
Senator Klein said, “No tenant should be the target of illegal discrimination or systematic harassment by dishonest, scamming landlords while trying to make a home for themselves and their families. New York State law currently provides landlords with numerous incentives to evict tenants and raise rents. Let me be clear: this type of profit motive has no place in state law. That’s why I’m calling on the New York State Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force to investigate and address all tenant harassment complaints at these properties. My proposal also seeks to strip abusive landlords of vacancy bonuses and any allowable rent increases. I look forward to working together with my colleagues in state government to strengthen and protect the rights of all tenants across New York.”
Assemblyman Gjonaj said, "The tenants in these buildings have endured months of harassment, reduction of services and disruptions that have negatively impacted their lives. The property owners have shown absolutely no respect or consideration for the families that live in these buildings.  I hold the property owners responsible for their actions and fight for the tenants that seek to live in a safe, comfortable and  peaceful home."
Klein’s call echoes the cry of hundreds of Bronx tenants who have been forced out of their homes by Goldfarb and Scharf. For more than a year, residents at the Goldfarb Properties have been the victim of persistent threats by management, dragged to court under false filings, received non-rent regulated lease renewals and had their rents both unfairly and substantially increased. Mr. Goldfarb has repeatedly endangered the health and welfare of tenants – cutting off all elevator access for elderly and disabled residents, removing security systems and pulling out gas lines in his buildings.  
Similar transgressions have occurred at 3555 Bruckner Blvd., where Mr. Scharf and Abro Management have intimidated tenants, refused to make repairs to units, failed to properly credit rent reductions and served residents with false eviction notices. Several tenants received threats from management after reporting the lack of building maintenance to 311.  
Currently, tenant harassment is prohibited under the Administrative Code of the City of New York and enforced by DHCR. With a clear lack of action exhibited by the oversight agency in recent months, coupled with the arrest of crooked Brooklyn landlord Daniel Melamed last week, Senator Klein is calling on the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force to investigate and review all Goldfarb Properties and 3555 Bruckner Blvd. harassment claims filed within the last year.
Senator Klein is also urging the state legislature to strip predatory landlords of any incentives to evict rent-stabilized tenants, including:
  • Eliminating the statutory vacancy bonus – an additional 20% rental increase landlords can levy on tenants every time an apartment turns over. Abusive landlords found guilty of tenant harassment in the previous calendar year would be prohibited from increasing rents on any apartment unit in the building where the incident of harassment took place.
In 2009, Senator Klein passed landmark legislation that provided New York State with the toughest tenant protection laws in the nation. Penalties for landlords found in violation of DHCR rules and regulations increased from $250 to $1,000 for the first offense, and $1,000 to $2,000 for the second offense. Fines were also strengthened for landlords found guilty of any form of tenant harassment – regardless of whether their actions were intended to drive tenants from their homes – from $1,000 to $2,000 for the first offense, and $5,000 to $10,000 for subsequent offenses.

Andrew Goebel, Tenant Leader at 1135 Pelham Parkway North said, “I decided to form a tenant association for the purpose of keeping myself and my tenants free from harassment by Goldfarb Properties. Unfortunately, Goldfarb prefers to run their property management company using intimidation, harassment and frivolous lawsuits filed against tenants with the hopes of evicting us from of our rent-controlled apartments. When I met Senator Klein last year, and he listened to our complaints, a suggestion he made which we all pray for is the dismantling of Goldfarb Properties.”

According to Mr. Goebel 1135 had as many as 294 violations after the building was bought last year. currently he said there are 33 open violations at 1135 Pelham Parkway North, as he holds the stack of open violations.

A photo of what is being done to tenants. Terraces are being stripped to the foundation by workers who are wearing protective face gear from possible lead paint or other contaminants that the tenants are not being given.

Here you can see what the terrace looked like before being completely taken apart by workers. There were also complaints of lack of water and heat during winter months, and lack of elevator service all in the name of getting rent controlled tenants to move out so the rent could be increased by the 20% vacancy rule instead of the single digit yearly increases by the rent guidelines board.

STATEMENT FROM BP DIAZ RE: South Carolina’s Confederate Flag

The above is for illustration only, and is not in any part related to the statement from Bronx Borough president Ruben Diaz Jr.

“The Confederate flag represents a period of time where the American people were shattered and violently divided over how humans should be treated based on the color of their skin, representing a culture that promotes division and discrimination.
“I am happy to see the Republican leadership in the state of South Carolina coming around on this issue in light of last week’s tragic act of hatred and violence, joining the national chorus united against this long-standing symbol of hate, and calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from their statehouse,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Update on East Ramapo

This came in from State Senator David Carlucci

David Carlucci for NY

I wanted to share with you an editorial published in the Journal News, and also provide you with an update on recent developments involving the East Ramapo School District oversight legislation. 
Last week, the Senate Republican leadership made it clear to me that the East Ramapo oversight bill I had worked on with Assemblyman Zebrowski and Assemblywoman Jaffee would not be brought to the Senate floor for a vote. After months of lobbying and countless meetings with teachers, advocates, and legislative colleagues, many in the Senate Republican leadership still expressed concerns about the legislation. I was left with two options; attempt to negotiate a compromise, or leave session with nothing passed and allow for yet another year with no help for the children of East Ramapo. Because the 2015 legislative session was originally scheduled to end Wednesday, June 17th, last Sunday was the deadline for submitting new legislation for consideration before session ended, leaving us very little time to work on a new bill. After negotiating with Senate Leadership and working in consultation with East Ramapo advocates, I introduced a new bill based on what Senate Republican leadership informed me they would accept. Working with Assemblymembers Jaffee and Zebrowski, I drafted amendments to get the language of the new bill as close to our original bill as possible. The amended bill provides oversight and real time monitoring. There are strict timelines and deadlines for appeals, and the New York State Education Department will work closely with the monitor to evaluate the measurable progress within academic programs. Additionally, the $5 million in education grants is a lock box that is to be allocated by the Commissioner of Education. It is not in anyway a blank check. I understand and share the frustration that many throughout our community have expressed over the past several days, and I want to make it clear that I have always supported our original bill. My intent was, and always will be, to help the students, parents, and teachers who I have worked with since my first day in office. I will not stop advocating for their needs, and I will do everything within my power to find a solution. I'm in full agreement that this bill is not as strong as my original bill, however, it is a start to get East Ramapo moving in the right direction. Some of us may disagree on the process of how that is done, but we all agree that every child in East Ramapo deserves action as soon as possible.

For all the latest news and updates, please continue to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.     
David Carlucci
New York State Senator

38th Senate District

Saturday, June 20, 2015

No to de Blasio "Zoning for Quality and Affordability Plan” from the BROADWAY COMMUNITY ALLIANCE


Community Board 8 Land Use Meeting Thursday Night June 25th at MS/HS 368   -   7:30 PM
2975 Tibbett Avenue off West 230th Street.

Ten Reasons to Say NO to the Mayor's "Zoning for Quality and Affordability Plan”

1. Up Zoning Plan. This citywide proposal is intended to promote a positive goal: new affordable housing for seniors, families, and special needs populations. However, it will undo years of community planning that Community Board 8 fought for in its 197(a) Plan and approved by the City Planning Commission and the City Council in 2003.

2. Overdevelopment. Under the current zoning, developers already have the right to build more densely. This plan allows developers to build taller buildings even in contextual zones, which were designed to restrict building height.

3. Parking Requirements Eliminated or Reduced. Under present zoning, developers of senior and affordable housing are already permitted to provide fewer parking spaces. This plan Eliminates All parking requirements for new affordable housing located within 10 blocks of a subway. The change severely impacts residents of North Riverdale, Kingsbridge, and Marble Hill who live in the Broadway area near the #1 train, as well as Van Cortlandt Village residents near the #4 train. Additionally, Developers will be able to reduce parking for projects more than 10 blocks from a subway to the detriment of Every Neighborhood!

4. Unprecedented Retroactive Zoning. The plan permits developers to build affordable housing on parking lots of current senior housing and nursing homes, which retroactively changes our zoning protections. Among other issues, where will residents, visitors, and staff park?

5. Grass is Past. The plan will eliminate or reduce setbacks, rear and side yards, open space requirements, and more. The result will be a tsunami of new development that will block air, light, and views, and eliminate landscaped area. 

6. Decrease Homeownership. We will witness many smaller buildings and private homes being bought, razed, and rebuilt as behemoths. 

7. Hidden Costs. Will taxpayers get soaked? According to the NYC Independent Budget Office (IBO), the city plans to commit more than 1.6 billion dollars in capital spending to finance the increased infrastructure needs (like sewer and water lines) caused by the additional buildings. "The city has created a $75 million Acquisition Fund it will use to purchase private land, which it will then convey to developers at little or no cost. In exchange, the developers will be required to build affordable housing, "(IBO report, May 2015). Funds for new schools to accommodate increased density are not included.

8. Questionable net increase in Affordable Housing Units. Ironically, the mayor's "Zoning for Quality and Affordability Plan" will not appreciably increase the number of affordable units, as many developers will enjoy many new benefits while building a small percentage of affordable units. Many housing advocates oppose the plan because they believe the mayor's affordable housing goals will not be reached.

9. Where are the Facts? The plan states that it will change our current zoning definitions. It does not say which definitions and what those changes will be. It does not define affordable housing criteria or explain which groups fall under the umbrella of affordable housing. The currently available plan is hundreds of pages long, but short on specifics. 

10. Rush Job. City planning wants a Community Board 8 vote on this rezoning plan this Fall followed by votes taken by the Borough Board, Borough President, and City Council. Where is the time to study and understand the impacts of the rezoning on our community?

A rezoning of this magnitude will definitely have 

For these reasons the "Zoning for Quality and Affordability Plan”

permanent consequences for our community!

Must Be Voted Down!

New Farmers Market Comes to Morrison Avenue

Above - Some of the vegetables available now at the Morrison Avenue Farmers Market.
Below - Some of the Blueberries, Strawberries, and Cherries.

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and City Councilwoman Annabelle Palma welcomed the new Morrison Avenue 'Harvest Home Farmers Market with a ribbon cutting (or vine cutting as you see below) for this first day of selling farm fresh fruits and vegetables to the neighborhood. 

Above - Assemblyman Crespo speaks with Harvest Home CEO Maritza Owens and one of the farmers who is selling his fruits and vegetables.
Below - Assemblyman Crespo speaks with one of the Harvest Home volunteers standing in front of the tomato display.  

Above - There were many varieties of apples on display for sale at very reasonable prices.
Below - Other products that were farm made included Honey, Apple Butter, and several baked goods.

Maritza Owens CEO of Harvest Home thanks Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Councilwoman Annabelle Palma, and the many others who made the Morrison Avenue Farmers Market a reality.