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Counting Vacant Property
October 14th, 2009

City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito has introduced a bill that would require the city take a census to count vacant property every year. The measure also calls for the city to publish information, online and in print, identifying owners of vacant property as well as when the property became vacant.

However, the legislation, Intro 1089, stops short of provisions that housing and homeless advocates have been agitating for, namely creating affordable housing apartments in so-called warehoused properties that would be guaranteed to homeless and low-income New Yorkers.

(Check out this Gotham Gazette article on warehoused property for more information on this issue.)

“I see the vacant building census legislation as an important first step to address the myriad problems that result from vacant properties,” Mark-Viverito, who represents East Harlem, Manhattan Valley and parts of Mott Haven in the Bronx, said. “The collection and publication of this data by the city will lay the groundwork for further action on this issue.”
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By on October 14, 2009, 9:30 pm
In category: Gotham City,Housing | 1 Comment »

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District 35 Democratic Candidates Debate
August 27th, 2009

The three Democratic primary candidates for City Council District 35 debated for the first time Tuesday in the Brooklyn Paper’s Metrotech office, about three weeks before the September 15 primary.

Delia Hunley-Adossa made news when she said that Forest City Ratner, the developer behind Atlantic Yards, gave her nonprofit a “little over a couple of hundred-thousand dollars,” through a community benefits agreement, the Brooklyn Paper reported.

Hunley-Adossa, the president of 88th Precinct Community and Youth Council and the head of Brooklyn Endeavor Experience, an nonprofit environmental group, supports the Atlantic Yards project and is looking to unseat incumbent Letitia James, who opposes it.

Hunley-Adossa is the head of a coalition that signed the benefits agreement on Atlantic Yards, in which Forest City Ratner promised benefits to Brooklyn residents. The agreement won over a lot of local groups, like Brooklyn Endeavor Experience. According to Norman Oder, author of the blog Atlantic Yards Report, other groups that signed the agreement have also received funding from Forest City Ratner.

The remark is the first time Hunley-Adossa has revealed how much money Forest City Ratner gave to her organization. In an interview in early August with this reporter, she refused to say how much money the developer gave her group, and criticized James for funding groups that were opposed to Atlantic Yards.

The Democratic primary in this district is shaping up to be, in part, a community referendum on Atlantic Yards, a project that calls for an arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team, as well as skyscrapers for offices and apartments.

Atlantic Yards will create “a lot of economic development, affordable housing, and [James] seems to have not engaged the developer into bringing forth some of these benefits to the community,” Hunley-Adossa told Gotham Gazette.

(Check out Gotham Gazette’s profile of the race here.)
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By on August 27, 2009, 3:06 pm
In category: Gotham City,Governing | 2 Comments »

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Ferrer Endorses Gleason
August 3rd, 2009

Photo of Ferrer and Gleason by Alex Kane

Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, the Democratic mayoral nominee in 2005, endorsed Pete Gleason this morning for the City Council’s district 1 seat.

Gleason is looking to unseat Councilmember Alan Gerson in a district that includes SoHo, Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

Gleason is “the kind of talent, kind of intelligence, integrity, compassion, that we need in the City Council,” said Ferrer. “I’m very happy to not only endorse your candidacy, but to meet with you when you need me in Lower Manhattan, and try to get you elected to the City Council.”

A former New York police officer and now an attorney, Gleason praised Ferrer’s record of public service. “I fully realize there’s a responsibility with this endorsement, to live up to the model he has set.”
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By on August 3, 2009, 2:43 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | 3 Comments »

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Pols and Activists Blast Atlantic Yards Project
July 30th, 2009

Public Advocate Candidate Norman Siegel, Spokesman of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Daniel Goldstein, and Councilmember Letitia James at yesterday’s protest

Opponents of the Atlantic Yards development plan in Brooklyn blasted it as a “sham project” and a “billion-dollar boondoggle” outside an Empire State Development Corporation public hearing on the project yesterday.

Chanting “hey hey, ho ho, Atlantic Yards has got to go,” and holding signs that read “Stop Atlantic Yards,” activists, elected officials and politicians forcefully called for a halt to Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards plan. Ratner, the chief executive for real-estate development company Forest City Ratner, is the current owner of the New Jersey Nets, a basketball team.

The 22-acre development plan calls for an arena for the Nets, as well as skyscrapers, offices and apartment buildings. In the works for six years, a crippled economy, lawsuits and community opposition have delayed the project considerably.

The plan is predicted to cost $4 billion, with $2 billion coming from taxpayers, according to a New York Post analysis.

Ratner’s “secret taxpayer funded back room deal, reliant on an abuse of eminent domain, out of scale development, and massive taxpayer subsidies, is aided and abetted by Gov. [David] Paterson and his puppets on” the Empire State Development Corporation, said Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, the main group fighting the project.

The subject of the hearing yesterday was a “modified project plan” concerning “the plan to pursue eminent domain in two stages rather than one and Forest City Ratner’s revised deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Vanderbilt Yard,” according to Norman Oder, a blogger at Atlantic Yards Report.

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By on July 30, 2009, 11:13 am
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Gerson Remains Off Ballot
July 28th, 2009

The New York City Board of Elections ruled this afternoon that City Councilmember Councilman Alan Gerson of District 1 is still off the ballot for the Sept. 15 Democratic primary. According to City Hall News, Gerson was bumped off because of a “technical error” resulting from the printing of petitions that incorrectly listed his address.

At a regularly scheduled meeting today, the board considered Gerson’s case as well as that of Councilmember Robert Jackson, who was restored to the ballot, according to the Daily Politics.

Valerie Vazquez-Rivera, the Board of Elections spokeswoman, said that the commissioners cover sheet review committee, which consists of Gregory Soumas and Frederic Umane, ruled that Gerson will remain off the ballot.

“We believe that the mistakes involved were trivial,” and that Gerson will be back on the ballot, said George Arzt, a spokesman for the Gerson campaign. Arzt said that the campaign collected 7,000 signatures, far in excess of the 900 required.

To learn more about New York City ballot access, click here. To play Gotham Gazette’s “ballot bump” game, click here.

Arzt believes Gerson will be “restored, and if not, we’ll go to court.” The Gerson campaign has an appeal hearing scheduled for Aug, 3.

City Hall News reporter Chris Bragg wrote that Gerson’s address was incorrectly listed as 1505 LaGuardia Place, instead of 505 LaGuardia Place. Bragg said Gerson tried to “cure the error this weekend, but tried to do so without the assistance of an attorney. He tried to cross the extra ‘1’ in the address off the petitions, but the board was not satisfied.”

Gerson, who would have been out of office had it not been for the extension of term limits that he voted for, is locked in a tight five-way race. He is trailing candidates Margaret Chin and PJ Kim in fundraising.

By on July 28, 2009, 6:18 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | 4 Comments »

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Pols Stand With "Tent City Ten"
July 24th, 2009

Picture the Homeless and the so-called “Tent City Ten” kept beating the drum on warehoused property and affordable housing this afternoon outside a vacant lot in Harlem.

The event came just 14 hours after 10 housing activists were released from Harlem’s 28th Police Precinct after being arrested for occupying a vacant lot for over 6 hours yesterday. (To read more about that action, see “Homeless Advocates Arrested.”)

Officials and candidates on hand were Councilmember Melissa Mark Viverito, who represents Council District 8 and is seeking re-election; Norman Siegel, the long-time civil rights attorney and current candidate for public advocate; and the Rev. Billy Talen, the Green Party’s mayoral candidate.

If there was a theme for the press conference, it was “take back the land” and “power to the people” — lines that almost every speaker closed with.
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By on July 24, 2009, 5:12 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Gotham City,Housing | 7 Comments »

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Homeless Advocates Arrested (Update)
July 23rd, 2009

Photo by Jaisal Noor

Nine people were arrested this afternoon by the New York Police Department after occupying a vacant lot for over six hours to press their demand that the city use vacant property to house the homeless.

The protestors want the city to help turn so-called warehoused property into livable homes for low-income and homeless New Yorkers. A survey conducted in 2006 by the advocacy group Picture the Homeless found that 24,000 potential apartments could come out of warehoused property, enough to house the city’s homeless population.

This morning, blue tents were erected on a vacant lot at 115th St. between Madison and Fifth Avenues to create makeshift dwellings for the homeless, as dozens of housing advocates created an festive atmosphere with food, music, art and defiant chants.

“They say gentrify, we say occupy,” the crowd shouted.
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By on July 23, 2009, 5:02 pm
In category: Gotham City,Housing | 7 Comments »

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Domestic Workers Push for Bill of Rights
June 12th, 2009

Taking care of children and the elderly: Check.

A bill of rights: left blank.

Early this morning, dozens of domestic workers and their allies set up shop outside City Hall, participating in a 24-hour vigil to lobby for a bill that would provide basic labor protections for domestic workers in New York.

Domestic laborers said that the 24-hour vigil is symbolic of their working situation. “We work in the employers’ house around the clock, 24 hours,” said Joycelynn Gill-Campbell, a former nanny from Barbados who is now a full-time organizer with Domestic Workers United, a grassroots group.

If passed, the domestic workers’ bill of rights would be the first bill to address their exclusion from federal and state labor laws. Though its prospects, according to some legislators, looked good at one point, it too could become a casualty of the Senate stalemate.

“I know what it is to be treated less than a human being and to be exploited and abused,” Gill-Campbell said. “We have to create history. The bill of rights is about correcting all the injustices that have been done.”
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By on June 12, 2009, 5:23 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Demographics,Eye on Albany,Gotham City,Governing,Immigrants,nextNY | 1 Comment »

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