City Council

Transportation

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Advocacy group Move NY has suggested that the city impose a congestion charge on motorists driving on Manhattan’s most crowded streets. Similar proposals haven’t fared well in the state legislature–but the group cites a 1957 state law that says cities with a population of over a million can toll their own roadways and bridges. The Wall Street Journal reports that Move NY will offer the City Council’s transportation committee a new proposal today under which the city would impose a $2.75 charge on automobiles entering Manhattan’s central business district below 60th Street. The fee for trucks would be higher; for-hire vehicles including taxis would pay a congestion surcharge based on trips within the zone.

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Policy

Whether you want to know or not, NYC landlords may soon be required to tell you of any past or current bedbug infestations in your building when you sign or renew a lease. As reported by the NY Post, a new city council bill would force landlords to file infestation histories with the Department of Housing and Preservation Development and to either publicly post them in the buildings or distribute them to tenants. The agency would also require all histories to be posted on their website.

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Midtown West, Policy

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The de Blasio administration pulled the plug Monday on proposed legislation that would give the city a 20 percent cut of any air rights sales in midtown Manhattan’s Theater District, according to Crain’s. The reversal followed disputes with City Council members over a key element–a floor price for the sales. The proposal had been part of a long effort to get theater owners to up the amount they contribute to a fund used for venue maintenance and support for smaller theaters. There is now speculation as to whether the move could cast a shadow on the administration’s Midtown East rezoning plan, which is a similar policy initiative.

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Celebrities, Midtown

President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to remain in his Manhattan HQ is causing concern among businesses in the area. Business leaders and local officials spoke out Tuesday at a City Council hearing on the threat that blocked sidewalks and traffic snarls are posing to jobs, tax revenues, tourist appeal and “global reputation,” reports Crain’s. Local merchants claim they’ve taken a significant hit, and that many are considering not renewing their leases or moving elsewhere. Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District president Tom Cusack estimated that local businesses have lost $40 million in revenue since Election Day due to the security maze that the area surrounding Trump Tower has become.

Business leaders call for ‘extraordinary action’

Midtown West, Policy

The City Planning Commission has voted to up the cost of air rights transfers in the special Midtown Manhattan district that includes Broadway’s theaters, The Real Deal reports. Currently, when developers purchase air rights from theaters between West 40th and West 57th Streets from Sixth to Eighth Avenues, they pay $17.60 per square foot to the Theater Subdistrict Fund. Transferable development rights can usually only be used for adjacent properties, but the city created the special district in 1998 to help the theater industry thrive amid sharply rising real estate prices; within the district, air rights can be moved more freely in a larger area outside the usual “arms length” restrictions.

What does this mean for Broadway theaters?

affordable housing, Bronx, New Developments, Policy, Rentals

La Central, Bronx, Affordable Housing, mandatory inclusionary housing, Mayor de Blasio, MIH, YMCA, Melrose, city council, Rafael Salamanca, Melissa Mark-Viverito

On Wednesday the New York City Council voted to approve the La Central development project in the Melrose section of the Bronx, the Daily News reports. The project, which will be designed by FXFOWLE architects, is slated to bring 992 apartments to the borough, all of them designated as affordable housing under Mayor de Blasio’s mandatory inclusionary housing (MIH) legislation. It is the biggest project to be approved to date under the MIH rules, which require some income restricted apartments in projects that need the city’s approval.

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affordable housing, Policy

rent stabilization NYC

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City councilman Mark Levine announced Wednesday the creation of the Affordable Housing Preservation Taskforce, which will track existing affordable units across the city on the brink of becoming market rate. The task force is the latest in an effort to address the monumental task of preserving the city’s affordable housing.

According to Crain’s NY, the 14-member task force, which will be led by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, will work with residents, landlords and nonprofits to identify buildings headed toward market rate rent status. Rent regulation, for example, stipulates that rent can only be raised by a certain percentage each year as set by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board.

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Policy, Technology

Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council

Melissa Mark-Viverito via Wiki Commons

Last week it was announced that the New York City Council was introducing new legislation to alter the landmarks law in favor of historic preservation. But just four days later, after facing scrutiny for proposing already-existing stipulations to the law, the council spoke out that they were in fact not proposing any legislation. Now, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has revealed with perfect timing Council 2.0, “a new tech program aimed at familiarizing and engaging residents with the city council,” reports Next City. The goals of the program include making the council’s website more accessible, using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to generate feedback on hearings, programs, and proposals and creating a new website called Council Labs to help New Yorkers visualize the budget process.

More details here

Major Developments, Manhattan, Midtown

clock at Grand Central Station

The impetus behind the rezoning plan allowing taller towers in the blocks surrounding Grand Central Terminal – specifically the five blocks of Vanderbilt Avenue from East 42nd Street to East 47th Street – is to keep New York competitive with office development in other major cities like London and Shanghai.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the hotel-workers union, which had a key role in the demise of a similar proposal under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has flexed its muscles once again, seeking a concession that would require any new hotels to receive a special permit from the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

More details on the rezoning here