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LES Residents Call For City to Intervene On ‘Nightmarish’ Mega Towers

(Two Bridges resident Trever Holland speaking at the rally in front of the Department of City Planning)

In another installment of “the rent is too damn high,” Two Bridges residents are demanding that the city increase its oversight of the mega-towers coming to the Lower East Side waterfront, which are set to add thousands of luxury units to the lower-income and working-class community.

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City Council Passes Sweeping Tenant Protections

Credit: Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center.

Yesterday the City Council passed a sweeping package of pro-tenant legislation long advocated by tenants’ rights groups, activists, and sympathetic city officials. One of the key organizations that lobbied for the legislation, the “Stand for Tenant Safety” coalition, held a support rally outside City Hall.

The main target of the new legislation is the widespread practice of “construction as harassment,” whereby landlords use invasive, unsafe, and sometimes illegal construction to drive out tenants. Typically the landlords are trying to get rent-regulated tenants out so they can charge market rents.

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East Broadway Subway Station Is F-ing Disgusting, Pols Say

City DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg speaks with press.

A group of city officials and local residents gathered today at the East Broadway subway station as part of a publicity tour calling attention to New York City’s deteriorating public transit system.

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Bowery Tenants Hit the Streets Again to Protest Dr. Jay’s Owner Joseph Betesh

(Wah Lee before she threw the poster on the ground and stomped on it. Photo: Shannon Barbour)

Tenants of 83 and 85 Bowery poured into the streets of Chinatown yesterday afternoon to protest their landlord Joseph Betesh, again, who they say is a “slumlord” who has been harassing and trying to evict his tenants.

Betesh, owner of Dr. Jay’s, bought 83 and 85 Bowery along with other buildings in 2013 for $62 million; according to a press release, tenants believe he has maintained that the building isn’t rent stabilized. Both parties have gone back and forth in court. In May of last year, Betesh’s lawyers agreed to work toward a settlement wherein Betesh would make repairs, relocate residents, and return them to their refurbished apartments with 99-year leases. However, tenants ultimately rejected the deal because Betesh would not agree that the units were rent-stabilized, according to one of the residents.

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LES Residents at De Blasio Town Hall: Don’t Let High-Rises Push Us Out

Mayor de Blasio and council member Chin at the well-attended town hall meeting in the Lower East Side © Kasper van Laarhoven

Over 300 residents of the Lower East Side and Chinatown gathered in a Bowery gym for Mayor de Blasio’s 27th town hall Wednesday, and we probably don’t have to tell you what the theme of the evening was. You guessed it: gentrification, particularly with regard to the 60-plus-story towers rising over Two Bridges.

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Newly Signed Law Will Help Keep OId Folks Homes From Becoming Rich Folks Homes

(Photo: Kavitha Surana)

(Photo: Kavitha Surana)

It’s too late to save Rivington House, the former HIV treatment facility that a non-profit nursing home operator unexpectedly flipped to a luxury developer after the city quietly lifted a deed restriction. But a bill signed into law today should do something to prevent buildings designated for community use from becoming luxury condos.

The new law requires the city to maintain a searchable online database of properties with deed restrictions, and forces developers who want to have them lifted to inform their local City Council member, community board, and borough president. The law requires the mayor, a specially formed committee, and the Department of City Planning to review any such requests, and approve them with the mayor’s personal sign-off only if they’re deemed to be in the city’s best interest. While there had been talk of requiring the city’s stringent Uniform Land Use Review Procedure in such scenarios, the new law stops short of that.

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Protesters Urge Council Member to Curb Luxury Housing in Chinatown and LES

De Blasio as Monopoly man. (Photo: Nicole Disser)

De Blasio as Monopoly man. (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Perhaps you thought that the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side sounded angry earlier this year when about 60 activists associated with the group gathered outside Gracie Mansion in the bitter February cold to protest the mayor’s “big scam” of a housing plan. But that demonstration was nothing compared to the one staged Thursday, when the Coalition led a large, supremely loud protest against the loss of affordable housing.

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Budding Olympians Will Soon Be Able to Play Volleyball at Two Revamped LES Parks

(Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

(Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

If the Olympics put you in the mood for serving and spiking, here’s some good news: The Henry M. Jackson Playground is getting a volleyball area. It’s just one of many perks coming to two Lower East Side playgrounds as part of a city initiative to modernize ailing parks.

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Downtown Leaders Flocked to Trump Building, Gave GOP Candidate the Bird

(Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

Protestors outside of The Trump Building on Tuesday (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

Most New Yorkers don’t like to be reminded that the current orange-hued Republican presidential nominee is technically one of us. Yes, it’s true. Say it with us: Donald J. Trump is a New Yorker. (Ugh– we know, we hate to admit it too). Considering that Trump’s name can be found all over the city, usually in huge gold letters, you’d think that our tiny-handed GOP candidate has something to prove. Whatever the motive, Trump’s habit of branding his structures with his own name serves as a constant, nauseating reminder of his inextricable ties to the city.

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Hundreds Rally for the Right to Refuse Stop and Frisk

In 2013 Mayor Bill De Blasio was voted into office with pledges to reign in police violence and stop-and-frisk policing targeted at blacks and latinos. (Remember that emotional video about needing to have stop-and-frisk conversations with his son, Dante?) And since he took office, street-stops have continued on a downward trend–there were about 24,000 stops last year, a far cry from the peak of 685,000 in 2011 under Bloomberg.

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Why EV, LES Council Members Ended Up Backing Mayor’s Affordable Housing Plan

(Photo by Kavitha Surana)

(Photo by Kavitha Surana)

Last night council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez visited Community Board 3 to face the music and explain their votes on the mayor’s affordable housing and rezoning plan, which was approved by the City Council in March. The plan will allow developers to build higher in rezoned neighborhoods, but require them to include at least 25 percent affordable housing in all new buildings.

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Alice Cancel Picks Up Endorsements for Sheldon Silver’s Assembly Seat

Alice Cancel with supporters (Photo by Kavitha Surana

Alice Cancel with supporters (Photo by Kavitha Surana

Democratic District Leader Alice Cancel picked up two more endorsements today in the run up to a special election on April 19 to replace Sheldon Silver’s seat in the New York State Assembly. Both Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, downtown councilmembers, said Cancel was the right choice for the job.

“Alice knows the community, she knows our schools, she knows our small businesses, she knows about public housing and she’s worked with the tenants,” said Chin in her endorsement. “She’s a district leader that works with the elected officials. When there’s a problem in the community, she calls them.”

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