Success: Coop/Condo Tax Abatement Extended 2 Years

We are pleased to announce that the coop/condo property tax abatement has been extended for two years.
Last weekend we reported that the city – with only three days left in the legislative session – had still not introduced legislation in Albany to extend the abatement.  We asked you to write your local state electeds and enjoin them to do something fast.
On Monday, our state senator, Brian Kavanagh, sponsored legislation to extend the abatement for two years, co-sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman. It passed Wednesday and the governor is expected to sign it.
Apparently there is a move afoot to fund NYCHA housing repairs by eliminating property tax exemptions for coops and condos.  One bill introduced in the state assembly this winter called for drastic, across the board, cuts in the abatements.  However, it was so broad-based and extreme that de Blasio and other legislators opposed it.
The coop/condo tax abatements were originally established to bring equity in the property tax system, with the logic that if owners of 1- to 3-family homes were getting abatements, so justly should condo/coop homeowners.
Incidentally, the STAR tax exemption and the property tax exemption for seniors remains untouched.
The mayor has set up a commission to recommend reforms in the property tax system. So we expect this issue to rear its head again. We shall keep you informed.  

*****************Another bill that concerned us was a proposal to set time limits for a coop to decide on a new buyer’s application, and to put the reasons in writing for rejecting an applicant. The bill was laid aside until next year.  
By the way, we got much of this information from an excellent new, independent, non-profit news outlet THE CITY.  You can read it here.
*****************Finally, this news article relates the tale of an unethical developer who has submitted spurious data (as well as union-busting) to get a Special Permit from the city for 11,066 sq. ft. of retail on the ground and basement of a new office building on Lafayette Street.  
The SoHo Alliance spoke out against this application at a recent community board meeting. We have enough retail as it is, but we definitely cannot countenance awarding a permit to someone who abuses the process.

Sincerely, 

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

Troubling New Zoning Development

We need you to comment on a sudden troubling development in the zoning initiative for SoHo/NoHo.  Today, Thursday, June 20, is the deadline for public comment.  So comment here now.
At yesterday’s Advisory Group final meeting, it became clear that the city and the facilitator are following the demands of the SoHo Broadway BID and the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and will recommend a change to our zoning that will permit retail uses on the second floor (and possibly upper floors) along Broadway.  Current zoning only allows retail on the ground floor and basement.  
The resident groups on the Advisory Group realize this as an attempt to allow mega-retail on Broadway.  Since the current retail limit is 10,000 sq. ft. per floor, that means 30,000 sq. ft. department stores, with 10,000 sq. ft. each on the basement, ground and second floors.
The commercial interests on the Advisory Group say this only affects Broadway.  But doubling retail usage from the ground to the second floor means double the number of shoppers than we have now, double the congestion on our sidewalks, double the amount of vehicular traffic, more crowded subway platforms, and much more trash left behind by shoppers.
Despite what the commercial interests claim, this doubling of retail use will affect ALL of SoHo/NoHo, since these shoppers are not confined to Broadway.  The spillover will affect all of us.
Preserve your quality-of-life.  Click here and write a brief comment that we do not want retail on the upper floors: don’t turn our community further into a shopping mall.  
Do it now as today is the final day for comment before a report is released later this summer.
Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo Alliance PO Box 429 New York, NY 10012 212-353-8466

info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

Coop/Condo Tax Abatement at Risk – Hostile Proposal Advances

Your action is needed = End of Albany session draws near Please Contact Your Assembly & Senate Representatives NOW on these Issues 
Forward this to friends and neighbors.
– LOOMING INCREASE TO PROPERTY TAXES: DeBLASIO ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT INTRODUCED LEGISLATION TO EXTEND COOP/CONDO ABATEMENTS 

With less than four days left in the state legislative session, the City has still not introduced legislation to extend the tax abatement program for qualifying home owners in New York City cooperatives and condominiums.  The abatement is to provide condo/coop owners the same tax break that owners of single-family homes receive.
The legislative session is scheduled to conclude on June 19.  The loss of this program will result in steep increases this year, ranging from 17.5% for higher-end buildings to 28.3% for those least able to afford such a tax increase.  A four year extender of the present abatement program is urgently needed.   
Please ask your Albany lawmakers to support A FOUR YEAR EXTENDER OF THE CURRENT COOP/CONDO ABATEMENT PROGRAM and to push for its immediate enactment. 
Senator Michael Gianaris, Deputy Majority Leader; gianaris@nysenate.govSenator Brian Kavanagh: kavanagh@nysenate.govSenator Brad Hoylman: hoylman@nysenate.govAssemblymember Deborah Glick: glickd@assembly.state.ny.usAssemblymember Yuh-line Niou: niouy@nyassembly.gov
****************************************************************************LEGISLATION SEEKS TO IMPOSE MANDATORY TIME FRAMES AND WRITTEN REASONS IN THE CO-OP ADMISSIONS PROCESS 
A bill introduced by SoHo’s state senator, Brian Kavanagh, would impose a one-size-fits-all time frame on admissions in housing cooperatives and would require that reasons be provided in writing when applicants are rejected.   
It is astonishing that the senator did this without first discussing this issue with any coops/condo boards here in SoHo.  After all, condos and coops are the prime housing stock in our community.
Decades of case history enforce the rights of cooperatives to decide upon prospective purchasers and ample recourse already exists to protect purchasers against discrimination. 
We know of no other business entity in the nation that is required to give written reasons for rejecting a prospective business partner– and a set time frame in which to do it.
This legislation is cumbersome, unnecessary and, if enacted, will discourage volunteers from board service.  
Please ask your Albany lawmakers TO STRONGLY OPPOSE THIS ADMISSIONS LEGISLATION.  Be sure to insert A.1267-A (Perry)/S.6408 /(Kavanagh) in the subject line to help identify the bill.
Specifically request Senator Kavanagh to reconsider this ill-advised bill and speak to his constituents first.
Senator Brian Kavanagh: kavanagh@nysenate.govSenator Brad Hoylman: hoylman@nysenate.govAssemblymember Deborah Glick: glickd@assembly.state.ny.usAssemblymember Yuh-line Niou: niouy@nyassembly.gov

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

SoHo News Update

On Thursday the City presented preliminary recommendations for changes to SoHo/NoHo land use and zoning.  About two hundred people attended the presentation at the Scholastic Building, with residents and artist-residents predominating.  
Download the presentation here.  We want YOUR FEEDBACK on it.
The Judd Foundation has offered use of its museum space on Monday afternoon June 17 … this is for local folks to drop in, ask us questions, make suggestions, express concerns, and submit feedback and input.  It will be an informal gathering – no presentations.  This meeting at the Judd is for YOU to submit your feedback and thoughts. 
This allows us, as your neighborhood representatives on the SoHo/NoHo Advisory Group, to collect a record of your input and then deliver your thoughts to the project facilitator and its sponsors, Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmember Margaret Chin and City Planning Director Marisa Lago.  
Where: Judd Foundation, 101 Spring (entry at 108 Mercer)
When: Monday June 17,  2:00 – 5:00
If you absolutely cannot make the Drop-In meeting on June 17, you can send comments to City Planning until June 20 at this link and send a copy to us at info@sohoalliance.org, for our records.
Please forward this email to friends and neighbors.
Sincerely,SoHo AllianceBroadway Residents CoalitionNoHo Neighborhood Association

Rezoning = Prelliminary Recommendations Summary

After five months of pubic meetings and input from diverse stakeholders, the sponsors of a zoning study will finally present their preliminary recommendations to the public this Thursday evening.  
The sponsor will take feedback from this meeting and present a final report later this summer.
Then the report will go to the community board in October where we will have an opportunity to comment on the final report and the board will also provide its own recommendations.  We fully expect this process to result in a significant change to our current zoning.
So please attend this week’s meeting to provide your voice in shaping the final report on our neighborhood’s future.
Where: Scholastic Building Auditorium, 130 Mercer StreetWhen: 6:00 – 8:15, Thursday, June 13
Please forward this to friends and neighbors who may not be on our list.
To learn more or to comment, visit https://www.envisionsohonoho.nyc

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

VICTORY!!! Verrazano Bridge 2-Way Tolls to be Restored; W Bdwy to Remain Open

Two-way Verrazano Toll to be Restored, Finally; Traffic Volume/Accidents in SoHo to Shrink Dramatically
Jersey City Retailer Withdraws Application to Close W. Bdwy for Loud Rock Band and Promo
****************        

Verrazano Bridge Tolls to be Restored
                    Decades of Activism Pays Off

In 1986, at the behest of Staten Islanders who complained of long lines of cars queuing to pay the tolls on the Verrazano Bridge, Republican congressman Guy Molinari enabled Federal legislation that eliminated the eastbound bridge toll but doubled the toll for westbound traffic
To avoid the double toll, vehicles to New Jersey began using the Holland Tunnel, which is free westbound.  
Within weeks, traffic intended for interstate highways doubled and traffic speeds were cut in half on Broome and Canal Streets. Gridlock and horn-honking became endemic.
Traffic deaths and injuries rose dramatically along Broome, Kenmare and Canal Streets. Millions of dollars in lost MTA tolls were forfeited annually and close to a billion dollars in revenue lost since the one-way toll began. Auto emissions and asthma rates on Canal soon ranked among the worse in the city.  
Immediately the SoHo Alliance sued in State Supreme Court to restore two-way tolls until an environmental impact statement could be formulated.
We did not prevail legally, so we turned to political agitation. We lobbied our Congressman Jerry Nadler for help. We got Senator Schumer involved, to no avail.
We asked Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at the height of his influence for assistance. The all-powerful Silver told us we had no chance of restoring the tolls.
We reached out to Transportation Alternatives whose stated goal is to “reclaim city streets from the automobile” and the organization told us the two-way toll would never be restored. 
As long as Republican politicians ruled in Staten Island, we were held hostage to Staten Island NIMBYs.  
None of this stopped us. For decades, the SoHo Alliance made its point never to prevent this inequity from being forgotten.
We demonstrated on Broome Street with Comptroller Scott Stringer.  We badgered the Transportation Department for traffic agents. We buttonholed Nadler and Schumer at every opportunity.
But It took the 2018 elections for a Democrat, Max Rose, to be elected the new Staten Island congressman. 
Nadler recently got his fellow Democrat to agree to a provision in this year’s Appropriations bill to restore the two-way toll. There will no longer be a financial incentive for truckers and motorists to use the Holland Tunnel.
The bill is widely expected to pass but it will take about a year to receive the money and to reconfigure the toll plazas. 
SoHo has finally prevailed after four decades of persistent lobbying and action.  Thanks to all of you who have worked with us on this issue and special thanks to Congressman Nadler for never giving up. 

Jersey City Retailer Withdraws Application to Close West Broadway for Loud Rock Band and Store Promo
Three weeks ago we alerted you to a request by a Jersey City multinational retailer to close down both West Broadway street and sidewalk from 9am to 11:30 pm to promote their SoHo store, along with a live, amplified rock band. Scores of you responded with emails to the community board to nix this silly and intrusive marketing scheme.
The retailer got the message and withdrew the request for closing the street to traffic, withdrew the request for the rock band, and will be satisfied with stanchions to permit pedestrian passage on the sidewalk.
Thanks to all of you who responded.
Sincerely,

Sean Sweeney Director

SoHo Alliance PO Box 429 New York, NY 10012 212-353-8466 info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org
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Jersey City Fashionistas Want to Close Down SoHo

A Jersey City retailer has applied to the City for a permit to:
– fully close the West Broadway street and sidewalk between Broome and Grand Streets on Tuesday, June 11 for an entire day – from 9:00 am until 11:30 pm – invite between “200 to 499” attendees to their “fashion launch”- solicit “celebrities, VIP, media and influencers” (their words, not ours)  to “advertise” and “brand” this start-up business on our public sidewalk and street    – usurp our sidewalks with a “red carpet, rope and/or stanchions” – with a dozen hired security guards to control the expected mob scene – blast out amplified music from a live rock band- construct a “10-foot high speaker tower” to spread the racket all over SoHo- construct “a stage, press platform and scaffolding” to accommodate the band and the publicity event- sell or distribute food and beverages (who cleans up the mess?)
They admit in writing the event will be “LARGE”.  
When asked by the City to summarize their application, the promoters had the chutzpah to declare, in bold: “No conflicts detected.” 
Well let’s change that.
Not only will this publicity stunt be an incredible inconvenience to West Broadway residents and businesses, the effect on Downtown traffic is incalculable.  West Broadway receives not only TriBeCa and Holland Tunnel traffic, but also Greenwich Village traffic back and forth.  Think daylong gridlock.
Closing West Broadway for an entire day will force cars and trucks onto the side streets.  Spring and Prince, Thompson and Sullivan, as well as Wooster, Greene and Mercer all will be part of the congested mess.
What can you do?
The applicant will appear tonight in front of the Quality-of-Life Committee of Community Board 2 at 6:30 at NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, just east of Washington Square Park.   
Please attend to ward off this and any similar future fiascos.  Demand the City reject completely this outrageous proposal.  Bodies count.  (Our apologies for the late notice.  We had an internet outage.)
If you cannot attend, please email your objection to the SoHo Alliance at info@sohoalliance.org and we shall forward your opposition to the City agencies that decide on this application.  
Your statement need not be lengthy.  The more objections the City receives, the more likely it will be to deny this shameless request. Please forward this to your friends and neighbors.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

The Elizabeth Street Garden needs you!

The Elizabeth Street Garden needs you! Attend the City Council hearing on Thursday and speak in OPPOSITION to the Haven Green application that will decimate our garden. 
If you cannot stay for the full hearing, hand in your written statement before you leave. Speaker cards are counted for and against. The number of people who speak on either side of an issue can shift City Council’s position by appealing to members of the committee.

  1. Arrive at 12:30 p.m. to allow time go through security.
  2. Wear green and bring a sign no larger than 8.5 x 11 inches.
  3. Prepare comments up to two minutes long and sign up to speak in opposition.
  4. Bring written testimony (no limit on length) to submit and email a copy to friends@elizabethstreetgarden.org

New York City Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses
Thursday, May 2, 1 p.m. sign-up to testify
New York City Hall, Council Chambers
City Hall Park, New York, NY 10007
Enter at Broadway and Murray Street
By Subway: W/R to City Hall, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall
Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

Two Important Meetings this Week

This Wednesday evening the Land Use Committee of Community Board 2 is hosting an important presentation by the sponsors of the SoHo/NoHo Planning Study.
The idea is to give us an overview of the process, its deliberations, and how the final report and its recommendations will be created. 
Then the community board will issue a resolution outlining the unique features of SoHo and NoHo, summarizing the community board’s current positions on relevant land-use matters, as well as other recommendations.
This is an important meeting to attend.  The community board serves as our voice and carries weight. The land use committee has heard countless applications for SoHo/NoHo Special Permits & Variances and is experienced in the nuances of our zoning.  Let them hear your voice.
Please Forward to Friends & Neighbors
Where: PS 130, 143 Baxter Street, between Grand and Hester, east of Centre StreetWhen: Wednesday, April 10, 6:30
**************************The fourth public meeting of this zoning study takes place the following day, Thursday, April 11 from 6:00 to 8:00.  It will be a bit different than the prior three.
This time the sponsors will actually present ideas and suggestions that have emerged from the previous workshops.  A group discussion will seek to elicit our preferences and priorities, and hear proposals for further recommendations. 
Where: 1 Centre Street at Reade Street, the north wing of the Municipal Building. 
Finally, mark your calendar now. The fifth public meeting will be on May 2 and the topic will be Making Mixed Use Work (tools & strategies)
Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

3rd Zoning Meeting Wed, 3/20

The third public meeting on the proposed rezoning of SoHo/NoHo will take place at 6:00 this Wednesday, March 20 in the north wing of the Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street across from Reade Street.  The subsequent four meetings are also scheduled to be held there: April 11, May 2, June 6. 
Please Forward to Friends & Neighbors.
Wednesday’s meeting will focus on: Living in the Neighborhood; Challenges of Renting/Owning; Future of Housing & Live/Work.  
6:00 – 6:15  Meet & Greet6:15 – 6:40  Presentation by Sponsors6:40 – 7:40  Facilitated Group Discussion7:40 – 8:10  Report Back and Q&A
According to the sponsors, you will be asked to:

  • Share your experiences of living (renting & owning) in SoHo/NoHo
  • Discuss the sponsors’ presentation on SoHo/NoHo’s residential and live/work landscape
  • Consider opportunities for housing affordability and live/work
  • Identify goals for housing and live/work

Below are some bullet points to advocate:

  • Preserve the existing rights and protections for residents, especially those in Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists, JLWQA, (aka A.I.R.) 
  • Maintain the existing FAR (Floor Area Ratio = a measure of density and height limit, based on the floor area)  This will ensure continued low-rise buildings.
  • Retain the Public Review requirement for developments or uses not currently permitted. Developers want this removed.
  • Limit university uses to those allowed under existing zoning.
  • Retain the current 5,000 square-feet maximum for bars and restaurants. (Balthazar is 4,900 square feet, e.g.)
  • Keep the current 1,200 square-feet minimum for residential/JLWQA space.  SoHo/NoHo is renowned for its lofts, not its pieds-a-terre or studio apartments.
  • Keep the existing limits on the maximum allowable size of retail spaces, 10,000 square feet.
  • Maintain the creative character of SoHo and NoHo.

Please do your best to attend. It is important our voices are heard.
Finally, an editorial in last week’s Villager echoed our position on this zoning initiative. Read it here: https://www.thevillager.com/2019/03/editorial-decoding-soho-noho-rezoning/

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org