Gotham Gazette: Why Don’t We Ever Hear About Commercial Rent Policy?

By John Surico

July 1, 2015

levine small biz

Mid-June, it was a block in Washington Heights that was poised to be the next to close up shop. The landlord, Coltown Properties, looked to evict the mostly Latino-owned stores on the street, which included a barbershop, restaurant, and income tax service. The store proprietors faced the same issue as many other small business owners in New York — there was nothing they could do.

“Collectively, the businesses on this block have been in operation for over 80 years,” local City Council Member Mark Levine said at a press conference on 162nd Street and Broadway. “At a time when unemployment rates in our neighborhood are disproportionately high, these businesses are vital to the economic livelihood of this area.” Levine’s office is partnering with Legal Aid Society to provide legal assistance to small businesses in his district.

This is New York today, the plight of the city’s small businesses is grumpily accepted like a late train. It’s perceived by many New Yorkers as a part of the city grind, the dog-eat-dog, if-you-can-afford-it-here-you-can-afford-it-anywhere reality of a town teeming with opportunity, but becoming evermore competitive - and expensive...

Council Member Mark Levine, who spoke out against the eviction of the small businesses on a block in Washington Heights, in his district, says that there are other options that can help stem the tide of closing small businesses. And these, he said, do not necessarily require either a dying bill or a dead government. “Albany is not acting in any domain, really,” he quickly noted.

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Jewish Voice NY: NYC Secures $1.5M for Impoverished Holocaust Survivors

By Jacob Kornbluh

July 1, 2015

The newly agreed upon $78.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2016 , finalized Monday night, June 22, between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark, includes $25,185,585 to expand services to New York City’s aging community. This includes $1.5 million as part of an initiative to assist Holocaust survivors living in poverty.

City Council Members, led by Council members Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn) and Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) recently called on the administration to secure in the FY2016 budget the amount of $1.5 million in public investment to help all Holocaust survivors living in poverty, as part of the Survivor initiative...

“There is a clear moral imperative to provide a measure of dignity to the thousands of Holocaust survivors in New York City who live in poverty,” Councilman Mark Levine, Chair of the NYC Jewish Caucus, told JP, “I’m thrilled that the budget agreement recognizes our responsibility to meet this challenge and will help ensure Holocaust survivors in our city live out their final days comfortably.”

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StreetsBlog: Central Park Above 72nd Street Is Now Car-Free Forever

By Stephen Miller

June 29, 2015

Last week, people walking and biking on the Central Park loop had to worry about taxi drivers and car commuters motoring through the park as a rush hour shortcut. This morning was different: Above 72nd Street, you could ride your bike, walk your dog, or go for a run on a safer, quieter path with a lot more elbow room.

Officials and advocates celebrated the permanent expansion of the park’s car-free zone under sunny skies this morning. While traffic is still allowed in the heavily-used southern section of Central Park, today’s ceremony marks a big step on the path to completely car-free parks...

“It’s terrific that we’re getting cars out of the park for the north side of the loop,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who co-sponsored car-free parks legislation with Council Member Mark Levine before the de Blasio administration took up the issue earlier this year. “I think we have a little bit of work to do to get [cars] out of the south side. I think that’s where the challenge really is. So we have some good work ahead of us to get that done.”

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Gothamist: Partial Central Park Car Ban Is Now In Effect, But Some Say It's Not Enough

By Emma Whitford

June 29, 2015

A few weeks ago, Mayor de Blasio announced that large swaths of Central Park and Prospect Park would soon be closed to car traffic on weekdays all year long. The ban—instated none too soon for joggers, bikers, walkers, and their advocates—went into effect this morning along the Central Park loop north of 72nd Street. Prospect Park's West Drive between Grand Army Plaza and Park Circle will follow suit on July 6th.

Councilmember Mark Levine, who chairs the Parks Committee and oversees a district abutting Central Park, was pleased this morning—with an asterisk. Last year, he introduced a bill that would have banned cars entirely from Central Park for the summer. "We've been pushing this on the legislative front for some time," he said. "And we consider this a major step forward. It's going to cover about two thirds of the park, and cuts into rush hour, when the greatest number of people are out jogging and running." 

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DNAinfo: City Favored Former ACS Heads in Funding Uptown Day Care, Suit Charges

By Gustavo Solis

June 28, 2015

A top-rated day care center defunded by the Administration of Children's Services in favor of a corporate child care provider is suing the agency claiming the contracting process was "tainted."

Nasry Michelen Day Care Center lost its city funding at 510 West 145th St. after 35 years, despite getting top scores on their reviews, because the ACS opted to go with Lutheran Social Services after two former agency commissioners went to work there, according to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on June 26...

The City Council has stepped into the fray donating $933,000 in discretionary funding to Nasry.

“We think it’s critical that they continue to operate,” Councilman Mark Levine said. “It’s just not good public policy to evict a group like this.”

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Gotham Gazette: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, June 29

By Ben Max

June 28, 2015

This week must be much quieter than last - the city budget is passed; the legislative session in Albany is over; the two escaped upstate prisoners were found (one killed; one shot and captured); and the United States Supreme Court has wrapped up its spring. It's also a holiday week as we head toward Saturday, July 4 - the official holiday is Friday, as you probably know. There is quite a bit happening in New York politics on Monday and Tuesday, as you'll see below. There's also sure to be plenty of examination this week of what happened last week, and with much to consider as people dig further into the city budget, Albany 'big ugly,' and more...

At 8 a.m. Monday morning, "City Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine and City Council Member Helen Rosenthal will be joined by DOT and Parks Department officials to kick-off the first day of car free Central Park north of 72nd Street. Last year, Council Members Rosenthal and Levine introduced legislation, Intro 499, which would ban cars in Central Park for a portion of the year and study banning them year-round...Central Park, West Drive and near 92nd Street Enter the Park at 93rd Street and Central Park West."

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CBS Local: Central Park Car Ban Goes Into Effect Monday

By CBSNY/AP

June 28, 2015

A ban on cars in Central Park north of 72nd Street is going into effect starting Monday.

That means the drives in most of the park will be mainly for recreational use, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reports.

City Councilman Mark Levine says over the years cars have been slowly phased out, currently only allowed on the loop a few hours during weekdays, and says this ban returns most of the park to its original purpose.

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DNAinfo: Upper West Siders Push for Bill to Curb Construction Noise Near Schools

By Emily Frost

June 26, 2015

Parents from a pair of local schools that sit next to construction sites argued passionately in favor of a City Council bill that would mitigate construction noise in the classroom during school hours at a hearing Thursday.

Intro 420 was introduced by local City Councilman Mark Levine last July and is co-sponsored by local Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, as well as 21 other councilmembers.

The bill calls for noise levels inside classrooms within 75 feet of construction sites not to exceed 45 decibels and that noise levels be monitored throughout the school day.

"The sound of jackhammers and cement trucks... is an undeniable impediment to learning," Levine said.

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New York Daily News: City Council approves NYC's $78.6 billion 2016 budget — which adds close to 1,300 new NYPD cops

By John Spina

June 26, 2015

The City Council overwhelmingly approved the city’s $78.6 billion 2016 budget on Friday...

The City Council overwhelmingly approved the city’s $78.6 billion 2016 budget on Friday.

The plan, which most notably adds close to 1,300 new police officers, was nearly unanimously approved with a vote of 46 to 1. Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Queens), who’s under indictment on charges of filing false documents and stealing state funds, was the sole abstainer...

“I wish New Yorkers who have lost faith in the government in Albany could be here today,” said Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan). “We stuck to our principles and in the end it’s a budget we can all be proud of.”

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WNYC: Gentrification Is Coming: Northern Manhattan Grapples with Big Real Estate

By Brian Lehrer

June 24, 2015

Northern Manhattan City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez, Manhattan City Council member Mark Levine and Village Voice editorial fellow Solange Uwimana discuss how the Upper Manhattan neighborhoods of Hamilton and Washington Heights have become prime targets for investors looking for real estate holdings in these hot new markets and the adverse effect it’s having on residents.

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