The Tenants Association held its annual meeting to announce the election of board directors and present a financial report. Following that we were joined by elected representatives and attorney Tim Collins, who updated us on issues of importance.
Elected to the board were incumbents Anne Greenberg, Lynn Janovsky, and Jeanette Sheehan-Snow, and new directors Rebecca Carroll, Julia Gaber, Steve Mullen, and Steve Nowicki.
The city’s Rent Guidelines Board has begun meeting to decide on adjustments to rent-stabilized rents (that’s all of us) on lease renewals as of October 1. The final vote will be taken in June.
What’s different this year? We have a new mayor, who has just appointed two new members to the nine-member RGB, one an owner member and one a public member, Arpit Gupta.
An important vacancy: the second tenant member to speak for and defend the interests of all NYC rent-stabilized tenants.
Big question mark: how friendly Mayor Adams is to tenants, and how friendly the new public member will be. He's been quoted as saying he's a "little skeptical of rent control." The five public members generally vote as a bloc.
What we already know: landlords are crying poverty, despite keeping off the market an estimated 20,000 apartments (one industry estimate is as high as 70,000). They say they're willing to release the apartments if they can just charge a vacancy bonus (a percentage added to the rent when an apartment turns over)—exactly what was abolished by the 2019 housing law.
What we have to do: Tenants need to speak up, tell their stories, and fight for a fair adjustment to their rent—an adjustment does not have to mean an increase. It can be a freeze or a rollback.
The RGB schedule of meetings, including video of the March 31 meeting, and reports prepared by RGB staff are available. The Income and Expense Study has been published.
Thursday, April 14, at 9:45 a.m. the RGB will discuss the Price Index of Operating Costs and the Mortgage Survey Report.
Wednesday, April 20, at 9:45 a.m.: Income and Affordability Study
Tuesday, April 26, 9:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m.: invited testimony from owner groups
Tuesday, April 26, 1:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.: invited testimony from tenant groups
Dates and deadlines for giving in-person or written testimony are still to be announced.
We encourage our neighbors to read the RGB reports: they’re not hard to understand, and important details appear in sidebars.
On March 26, 2022, various electeds, representatives of the mayor, and TA president Susan Steinberg did a walkthrough of the 14th Street and First Avenue corridor. For more than a year, tenants and local business owners have complained about conditions, but despite all efforts, the sidewalk is blocked, the bus stop is obstructed, and conditions are unsanitary, among other issues. Many do not feel safe and are concerned for the safety of the schoolchildren in the area. Following the walkthrough, this letter was sent to Mayor Eric Adams and was signed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, and City Council Members Keith Powers and Carlina Rivera. Note: the south side of 14th Street is in Carlina Rivera's district and within the bounds of the NYPD's 9th Precinct.
UPDATE: Blackstone Withdraws Permits for Natural Gas CHP Plants in ST; Makes End Run Around State Pollution Regulations
Blackstone has withdrawn its permit requests for the fossil fuel power plants in Stuyvesant Town, according to Basil Seggos, the state’s commissioner of Environmental Conservation. Instead, Blackstone is planning to submit new permit requests for lower emissions just below the DEC threshold. As a result, the plants would not need state permits and would avoid the DEC permitting process.
Seggos’s comments were made during an exchange with State Senator Brad Hoylman at a legislative budget hearing on February 1, 2022. Blackstone pulled its application at the end of November 2021.
Instead of a full state review, the power plants would be subject to the CEQR (“seeker”) process, or City Environmental Quality Review. CEQR disclosure would still need to be in compliance with state standards for an environmental review and would provide for public participation.
Seggos indicated to Hoylman that he would send a letter explaining the change in Blackstone’s strategy, but as of this date, the letter has not been received.
STATUS OF THE TWO PLANTS
CHP 1: Avenue C
Due to the efforts of the Tenants Association, tenants, and our elected representatives, the plant, although built, is not operational. It needs the necessary permits, environmental studies, and community review and input.
CHP 2: 20th Street, under Garage 1
Blackstone’s plan was to use this much larger plant to generate electricity to export to Con Ed for the remainder of ST and for PCV. But PCV is on a different city lot from ST, and the electricity and steam cannot be allocated across lots. We don’t know whether Blackstone (1) intends to build a plant with the same capacity as originally planned and generate excess electricity to export to Con Ed (“peaker plant”), (2) scale down the plant, (3) construct a separate plant in PCV, or (4) something else.
CITY AND STATE POLLUTION REDUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS
Both the city and state have announced ambitious goals for reducing pollution.
Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA): this state law sets a “goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. The state remains focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities.” The Stuyvesant Town plants would add pollution to that from the massive 14th Street Con Ed plant and affect NYCHA developments south of 14th Street and north of 23rd Street.
OneNYC 2050 is the city’s strategy “to confront our climate crisis, achieve equity, and strengthen our democracy.”
NOTICE TO ALL RESIDENTS
The Board of Directors of the STPCV Tenants Association endorses seven candidates for positions on the board as recommended by the Nominating Committee. The election date is May 24, 2022.
Candidates endorsed by the Board include:
Rebecca Carroll: A 25-year veteran in marketing, communications, and project management, Rebecca is active in the community, including creating fundraising programs for her children’s school.
Julia Gaber: Julia’s background is in business administration and project management. She spent several months assisting STPCV elderly with filling out paperwork for pandemic assistance.
Anne Greenberg (incumbent): On the board since 2014, Anne is currently TA vice president and chair of the Communications Committee, responsible for the TA’s print, digital, and social media output.
Lynn Janovsky (incumbent): A director since 2018, Lynn applies her professional strategic marketing expertise to ensuring that the TA’s resources are executed as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Steve Mullen: Steve’s domestic and marketing career for major global companies is complemented by 2,500 hours of volunteer work at SCORE (aﬃliated with the SBA) and other organizations.
Steve Nowicki: A TA building leader and head of the software engineering team for CNN Politics, Steve was heavily involved in other community associations before moving here. Politics is his passion.
Jeanette Sheehan (incumbent): Jeanette, a building leader since 2015, specializes in customer relationships and systems development, applying those skills to the TA’s database and social media.
The petitioning period to be a candidate for the board is now beginning for those who did not apply during the interview period. Interested candidates who are current members of the TA may seek a place on the ballot by submitting a petition signed by a minimum of thirty (30) members of the TA who are current in their dues. No more than one candidate’s name may be included on any one petition.
Candidates should be prepared to:
- spend at least 20 hours each month on TA business;
- commit to a monthly board meeting and other phone, remote video, or in-person TA meetings as needed
- serve on one or more TA committees.
Petitions must include signature, printed name, address, apartment number, and email address or phone number. The Nominating Committee will judge the validity of all petitions. Petitioning ends on March 18, 2022.
Petition forms are available for download on the Tenants Association website. In addition to the petition, candidates must submit a document that includes:
- their name, address (including apartment number), telephone, and email;
- a statement that they are 18 years of age or older; and
- a summary of their qualifications in 100 words or less.
On Saturday, March 19, 2022, TA representatives will be available at the Community Center 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. to verify the membership status of petition signers.
Petitions and accompanying documentation should either be—
- mailed to Nominating Committee, ST/PCV Tenants Association, P.O. Box 1202, New York, NY 10009 and received at the post office no later than March 18, 2022;
- sent in PDF form via email to [email protected] no later than 5:00 p.m., March 18, 2022.
Outraged at the higher costs allowed for MCIs in DHCR's updated Operational Bulletin 2021-1, TA President Susan Steinberg submitted a response. TA Vice President Anne Greenberg also submitted a response.
The Nominating Committee of the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association (the “TA”) is soliciting candidates for election to the TA’s Board of Directors. Four director positions are available. The election will take place in May 2022.
This is an excellent opportunity for the community-minded to participate in a meaningful leadership role and help make decisions that have a positive impact on their neighbors and themselves.
Deadline for submission of applications for Director is February 7, 2022.
Requirements for Director
- A resident of Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village
- 18 years of age or older
- Member of the TA current in dues
In addition, candidates should be prepared to:
- spend at least 20 hours each month on TA business
- commit to a monthly board meeting and other phone, remote video, or in-person TA meetings as needed
- serve on one or more TA committees
Candidates must submit documentation to the Nominating Committee by February 7, 2022, consisting of:
- A résumé or biography, maximum of two pages, stating relevant qualifications, including past community activities, professional or work experience
- A brief statement of why you are interested in serving on the Board
- Best contact phone number and email address
Applications should be submitted in PDF format via email to [email protected]. Once a candidate is deemed qualified, an interview will follow. Residents will be notified of the approved slate and informed of an alternate process for running if not on the slate.
On Sept. 27, 2021, Council Member Keith Powers sent a letter about the situation on 14th Street to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Justice Andrew Borrock has recused himself from our lawsuit to keep all STPCV apartments rent regulated due to interactions he has had with certain members of Blackstone. The first judge assigned to the case, Barry Ostrager, recused himself due to his prior partnership in a law firm that did extensive work for Blackstone. A new judge, Robert R. Reed, has been assigned. We do not know yet when the case will be heard.
The STPCV Tenants Association has filed a lawsuit against the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). The lawsuit seeks a judgment to nullify DHCR’s recently promulgated Reasonable Cost Schedule (RCS) for major capital improvements (MCIs) as violating the provisions of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA).
MCIs are costs that housing owners may pass on to tenants and which become part of the base rent. They are a useful tool for owners to increase rents even during the term of a lease.
The TA contends that the MCI costs determined by the agency are not in fact reasonable, and that they include items not eligible for MCIs and which do not appear in the schedule, among other defects.
The suit, known as an Article 78, was filed on May 27, 2021, in New York State Supreme Court by attorney Seth Miller of Collins, Dobkin & Miller on behalf of the STPCV TA. The suit affects all current and future rent-regulated tenants in the state. All apartments in STPCV are rent regulated.
Keeping rents affordable is a paramount concern of the TA. Over decades, our community’s rents have been increased permanently by the cost of items that do not fit the requirements of an MCI. Nevertheless, DHCR has seen fit to approve them and thus undermine the available affordable housing stock in the community and elsewhere in the city and several counties.
Prior to a public hearing in September 2020, the TA engaged an expert to review all the costs. We were not surprised when he found almost all of them too high. He testified at the hearing as did several TA board members and our state and local elected representatives. Ours was the only district all of whose electeds testified at the hearing.
“For too long, rent-regulated tenants everywhere have been taken advantage of—and even defrauded—by owners and a state agency given to rubber-stamping any costs submitted to it, knowing full well tenants would be bearing the costs forever. DHCR must create a new Reasonable Cost Schedule that is in line with the letter and intention of the HSTPA,” said Susan Steinberg, President of the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.
Read the full press release for supporting statements from elected representatives and Tenants PAC.
Court filing, Index No. 155184/2021: https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/fbem/DocumentDisplayServlet?documentId=TKZPrwZsPawJV4NIBIQzMA==&system=prod