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City Council Grills Mayor’s Affordable Housing Plan, Fearing Williamsburg-Style Gentrification

(photo by Kavitha Surana)

(photo by Kavitha Surana)

City Council members pushed Mayor de Blasio’s new rezoning plan to prioritize deeper affordability during a hearing yesterday on a key pillar of his effort to add 200,000 new affordable units over 10 years. If passed, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing would require new constructions in certain neighborhoods to set aside 25-30 percent of the units as permanently affordable.

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Tenants Marched to City Hall to Boost Bills Aimed at Fighting Harassment

Tenants rally in Chinatown to protest construction harassment with Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (Photo by Nicole Disser)

Tenants rally in Chinatown to protest construction harassment with Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (Photo by Nicole Disser)

Tenants and activists who are part of the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (STS) rallied outside of 90 Elizabeth Street this morning before marching to City Hall to show their support for a package of bills that would address construction-related harassment. Today marks an important landmark for the coalition’s fight against landlords who are taking advantage of a lack of oversight and toothless fines.

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This Anti-Garbage Meeting in Bushwick Got Pretty Steamy

(Flyer Via Cleanup North Brooklyn)

(Flyer Via Cleanup North Brooklyn)

“You really have to be quick crossing the street, or they’ll totally run you down,” a friend of mine laughed. “I’m actually really scared that someday they’ll catch me not paying attention.” He was right– even after dark last night, garbage trucks were still rumbling down Thames Street periodically, past his apartment and toward the Brooklyn Waste Transfer Facility, which neighbors are saying is a particularly devious garbage deposit. I was on my way to a community meeting that brought together activists, workers, residents, and local business owners– all of them concerned about waste inequity– inside La Luz, a storefront and pop-up venue space.

To get to the meeting, I had to cross directly in front of the garbage processing warehouse where, per usual, the massive doors were wide open (which activists and residents say is the case several times an hour), revealing voluminous mounds of stinky refuse. I picked up the pace, realizing suddenly that I was in the crosshairs of an enormous white trash truck and a frantic bulldozer– I felt the distinct possibility that I could be mistaken for a passing ant. Had it been summer, my friend assured me, this experience would have been a more nauseating one.

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Spice Is Vice: Mayor Passes New Laws Aimed at Ending ‘Plague of K2′

(Screenshot via YouTube)

(Screenshot via YouTube)

The Mayor signed a series of laws today criminalizing K2, part of the City’s continuing effort to crack down on the use and sale of synthetic marijuana. The drug, which Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton both referred to as “poison,” is a liquid substance manufacturers spray on herbs. It has been marketed as incense, spice and, perhaps the most hilarious departure from its actual use, bath salts.

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Bushwick Task Force Aims to ‘Clean Up’ (Literally) Area Plagued By K2

The intersection at Myrtle-Broadway is K2 central (Photo: Nicole Disser)

The intersection at Myrtle-Broadway in Bushwick is K2 central (Photo: Nicole Disser)

“I have a really high tolerance for people doing stuff on the street,” said G Lucas Crane, a member of the Silent Barn collective. “I’m from Brooklyn, I just wanna see people do their thing, I don’t want to call anybody out– but when it gets to this level of saturation, the community needs to do something about it.”

The Silent Barn sits just a block from the intersection of Myrtle-Broadway, a hotbed for K2 and other synthetic cannabinoids that have been targeted by city officials. Now, a coalition led by Council Member Antonio Reynoso is bringing a new kind of attention and care to this bustling but problematic corner.

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Anti-Construction Harassment Coalition Rallies at City Hall For Tenant Safety

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

A group by the name of Stand for Tenant Safety, consisting of tenant groups and eleven City Council Members (including Rosie Mendez from the Lower East Side, Stephen Levin from Williamsburg, and Antonio Reynoso of Bushwick) rallied on the steps of City Hall this morning. Never mind the rain. The coalition is named for a new report, released today by the Urban Justice Center, that coincides with the introduction of a legislation package that would protect tenants from landlords and developers who carry out neglectful and malicious construction projects. “My tenants have rain coming down in their apartments, so this is nothing,” said CM Rosie Mendez of the Lower East Side.

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Two Big Chances to Tell Local Pols How to Spend Your Tax Ducats

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 4.54.49 PMSure, your first priority this weekend probably involves lying in the grass with a margarita blender, but don’t let the lurvley weather keep you from doing your civic duty. Between an epic town hall on the Lower East Side and the launch of Participatory Budgeting in North Brooklyn, in the next days you’ll have some choice opportunities to bend the ears — and pull at the pursestrings — of the city and state’s power players.

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Council Member Stages a Sit-In to Try to Save North Brooklyn Community Centers

The Borinquen Plaza Senior Center, which isn't in danger. (Photo: Natalie Rinn)

The Borinquen Plaza Senior Center, which isn’t in danger. (Photo: Natalie Rinn)

This evening, Council Member Antonio Reynoso is planning to sit with seven others in the middle of Ainslie Street with the intention of getting arrested. “This is not something we would have wanted to have done at all,” says Jennifer Gutierrez, a spokesperson for Reynoso’s office. “We’re just frustrated.”

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Broadway Triangle Developer Says Allegations of Housing Discrimination Are Anti-Semitic

Diana Reyna addresses the crowd at a City Hall rally protesting the development of the Broadway Triangle in Williamsburg. (Photo: Jaime Cone)

Diana Reyna addresses the crowd at a City Hall rally protesting the development of the Broadway Triangle in Williamsburg. (Photo: Jaime Cone)

Protesters rallied against the development of Broadway Triangle in Williamsburg, saying the proposed housing heavily favors the Hasidic Jewish population over blacks and Latinos. But the property’s developer says it’s all the opposite: opponents of the affordable units are being anti-Semitic.
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City Council Passes Bill to Make Public Transit a Less Taxing Experience

(Photo: Ilyse Liffreing)

(Photo: Ilyse Liffreing)

The City Council passed a bill yesterday that would allow New Yorkers to set aside pre-tax pay for public transportation, potentially saving the average commuter hundreds of dollars a year. Just imagine how many Uber rides you could take with that, so as to avoid the miserable G train.
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In Parody Video, 'Share Better' Coalition Throws Roaches and Bedbugs in Airbnb's Face

With its fight against the New York Attorney General simmering, a new campaign has been launched to fight Airbnb. is a group of community activists, organizations, elected officials, and others who went public today with an assault on the apartment-sharing service, which they believe is more of a disservice to the community.
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