Mayor, City Council Members, Propose Fines To Eliminate LED Advertising Barges

Two city council members proposed a $100,000 fine to any firm operating an advertising barge in New York City's waters.

Mark Levine and Justin Brennan oppose the vessel that displays a 20-foot by 60-foot double-sided electronic sign while floating up and down the east river and now they have gained the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"I think it's an affront to the people of this city. I think it is polluting our visual environment," the mayor says. "We don't need more pollution of our visual environment. There's enough out there as it is. But, also, it's dangerous."

He feels that the LED billboard barges distract drivers and cyclists on nearby highways and notes the city has even sued the barge sign operator in federal court.

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How Much Longer Is That Floating Billboard Going to Ruin My View?

By Michael Gold

In a metropolis replete with bright lights, innumerable signs and an overwhelming blitz of advertising, the views along the Hudson and East Rivers have offered a slice of aquatic Zen for New Yorkers.

So unsurprisingly, the sight of a 1,200-square-foot electronic billboard sailing along Manhattan in October produced countless eye rolls and gripes, numerous tweets and considerable frustration.

Now months later, New York City has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the company that operates the billboards from sailing its ad-bearing barges. But the company, Ballyhoo Media, says it plans to keep its boats afloat.

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Residents Question Details of Congestion Pricing As New Tolls Gain Steam in Albany

By A. Campbell

This week, New York State Assembly members decided to move forward with a congestion pricing plan in hopes of raising billions of dollars to modernize New York City’s flailing public transportation system. State leaders have not yet presented a detailed proposal of exactly how they expect to achieve those results. The proposed congestion pricing zone would encompass Manhattan’s central business district, beginning at 60th street and encompassing everything south to the Battery.

Congestion pricing has been the subject of heated debate among New Yorkers in recent months. Many see it as key to improving New York’s notoriously unreliable and aging subway system. In a recent interview on WNYC, Governor Andrew Cuomo called congestion pricing “the greatest opportunity we have had. We have talked about it for 20 years,” he said. “It is the smartest idea, I think, for urban development.”

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City Council Considers Banning Fur

By Claire Lampen

Local legislators may soon ban fur within New York City. Council Speaker Corey Johnson, along with Council members Mark Levine of Manhattan and Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx, has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to sell new fur across the five boroughs.

"As an animal lover, I truly think it is cruel to kill an animal for the sole purpose of people wearing a fur coat," Johnson said in an emailed statement to Gothamist. "There is really no need for this. In a progressive city like ours, we need to take steps to protect animals."

The proposed legislation would fine businesses that sold fur between $500 and $1,500, depending on how many violations they racked up, but would not apply to used fur products. Thrift stores could still sell vintage and second-hand furs, and as long as they didn't add any new fur apparel to their inventory, they'd avoid penalties. The proposal would also allow people to repurpose furs—into a trim, for example, or a similarly recycled product—and sell them that way. "No new furs" would seem to be the bottom line.

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Councilman Wants To Quadruple Fines For ‘Billboard Boats’

There’s a new type of billboard taking over New York City waterways, and one councilman is trying to stop it.

Councilman Mark Levine says ad companies are breaking the law with what have become known as “billboard boats.”

“Massive, utterly massive video billboards that are cluttering what should be a beautiful landscape,” Levine said.

Fines of up to $25,000 per day have been issued to the companies that have put the boats on the East River, Hudson River and in New York Harbor.

That fine, says Levine, is too low: “Companies are flouting this law because they’re making money hand over fist. And we’re proposing to increase the fines to a level that would simply make it unsustainable for them to continue to operate.”

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Presentan nueva iniciativa para combatir crímenes de odio en NYC

Por Raymon Frisneda

Los crímenes de odio siguen en aumento en la Gran Manzana. El en 2018, según cifras del Departamento de Policía de Nueva York (NYPD), se reportaron más de 350 casos en todos los cinco condados, y es por esto que activistas, organizaciones comunitarias y oficiales electos, incluyendo al defensor del pueblo Jumaane Williams, se unieron este miércoles para exigir a las autoridades de la Ciudad que cambien la estrategia para combatir este flagelo.

Durante una demostración en las escalinatas de la Alcaldía, en la cual se presentó la nueva Iniciativa de Prevención de la Violencia por Odio, los manifestantes criticaron a la Ciudad asegurando que ha sido inefectiva en responder cuando ocurren incidentes de violencia por odio, enfocándose más en las acciones policiales en vez de educar a la comunidad y tratar de curar las heridas dejadas por estos sucesos.

“Ningún grupo en la ciudad de Nueva York es inmune al alarmante aumento de los delitos de odio, y todos los neoyorquinos deben unirse para combatir esta epidemia. Necesitamos apoyar a las organizaciones de base de las comunidades que están en el terreno en las zonas afectadas, garantizando que tengan los recursos para ayudar a prevenir y responder a estos actos”, dijo el concejal Mark Levine.

Lea el artículo completo aquí.

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Hoylman: Pied-a-terre tax is the right step

By Gabe Herman

As lawmakers in Albany are working to shape the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, state Senator Brad Hoylman’s pied-a-terre tax has been included in a Senate budget resolution.

Hoylman, whose district includes the Village, part of the East Village, Stuyvesant Town and much of Midtown, has been pushing for the tax since 2014. If approved, the measure would charge people with expensive homes that are not used as a primary residence.

The tax would raise an estimated $650 million annually for the city. It would apply to residences worth more than $5 million. Fees and rates would be charged on an increasing scale as properties increase in value.

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Community Holds Vigil For Woman Killed In Harlem Hit-And-Run

By Brendan Krisel

Community members, safe street advocates and local officials held a candlelight vigil Monday nightto offer support to the family of a woman killed in a Harlem hit-and-run and call for a safer Amsterdam Avenue.

Erica Imbasciani, 26, was killed Friday after stepping into the curb of Amsterdam Avenue and West 141st Street when an impaired SUV driver struck her and pinned her into a parked car, police said. The Staten Island native recently moved to Harlem.

Local City Councilman Mark Levine thanked Harlem community members for showing support to Imbasciani's family and standing with them "in a time of unfathomable pain," despite Imbasciani's short time living in the neighborhood. Levine said that five people have been killed on a dangerous stretch of Amsterdam Avenue during his five years in office and said the city " can and has to make this street safer."

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Evictions down in areas where tenants get free lawyers: analysis

By Ryan Deffenbaugh

A city program that provides free lawyers to low-income tenants in housing court has helped cut down on evictions, according to a new analysis by advocates for the program.

Home evictions declined five times faster in city ZIP codes where tenants are eligible for free legal counsel than in similar ZIP codes where the program is not available, showed numbers released Monday by the Community Service Society of New York. Tenant advocacy groups said Tuesday that the numbers show the effectiveness of the city's Right to Counsel law, which gives tenants with an income below 200% of the federal poverty level an attorney when facing eviction.

The city's fiscal year 2018 budget provided $15 million to implement the program in 20 of the city's more than 200 ZIP codes, with plans to expand the program to the entire city by 2022.

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Broadway Theatergoers Say They Were 'Eaten Alive' By Bedbugs During 'Harry Potter' Play

By Paula Mejia

The Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child allegedly has some bloodthirsty freeloaders in the house. A woman who attended a performance of the play at the Lyric Theatre last week says she and her husband were attacked during the performance by the dreaded "You-Know-Who": bedbugs. 

The tipster, who asked Gothamist to withhold her name, says she and her husband had seats in the balcony, where they were "eaten alive during the play," she writes in an email. Afterwards, she says they found bites on their neck, arms, and hands, and sent us these triggering photos.

The two also apparently discovered a bedbug on one of their bags upon exiting the theater, which they bagged as evidence for the photo below.

Of course, bedbugs aren't strangers to our city's theaters, though anecdotal reports show them infesting movie theaters more frequently than Broadway houses. In December 2018, City Councilman Mark Levine introduced a bill that would require movie theaters to develop a program that would issue annual reports that they are indeed bedbug-free.

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