The State Senate Standing Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development voted on Wednesday, May 4, to move to the Senate floor a piece of legislation that would eradicate the New York Court of Appeals landmark ruling in the Roberts case, which rolled back rents on apartments that had been illegally deregulated. Although the vote by the Republican-dominated committee was virtually a certainty, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Committee and Council Member Dan Garodnick each delivered strongly written pieces of testimony in opposition to the proposal. (See in-line links below.)
The Tenants Association testimony asserts that the bill, introduced by a State Senator from Western New York, would instantly deprive more than 10,000 residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village of their day in court to seek justice and damages from the unlawful conduct of Met Life and Tishman Speyer. Both owners deregulated apartments while flouting the clear language of the J-51 law by simultaneously accepting real property tax abatements under that New York City program, created to foster affordable housing.
The Tenants Association testimony and testimony from Council Member Dan Garodnick were delivered to Senator Catharine M. Young, who is Chair of the Senate Committee.Development. In characterizing the proposed bill, S.4117A, TA President Al Doyle says “It is innocuously titled ‘An act to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, the emergency tenant protection act of nineteen seventy-four and the real property tax law, in relation to rent regulated housing accommodations.’ Its intentions are to override the considered decision of the highest court in New York State.”
In the words of John Sheehy, a former market rate tenant and member of the TA Board of Directors, “The bill would constitute an extraordinary act of Legislative Clemency, allowing landlords all over the City who participated in the J-51 tax abatement program to continue deregulating apartments and avoiding the consequences of the Roberts ruling. As such, the bill is an example of special interest and favored treatment for a most undeserving group of landlords who acted unlawfully.”
Although the May 4 vote moves the legislation to the floor of the Senate for debate, to date it has no support, even by Republicans, in the Democratic-controlled State Assembly.
A video transcript of the testimony is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5BHjyI41IM.
A “Q and A” with Dan about the legislation published today in the Village Voice is availble here: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/05/dan_garodnick_q.php