BYOC: Council bill would let New Yorkers bring their own cups to stores and coffee shops

By Will Bredderman

Councilman Mark Levine wants to see more muggings—but only in bodegas, corner stores and coffee houses.

Levine introduced a bill Wednesday to create a "right to reuse," obligating every storefront java hawker in the city to post a sign informing customers that they can use their own cup. This, the Upper Manhattan councilman asserted, would encourage caffeine fiends citywide to bring their own mugs from home, reducing the number of disposable containers littering city streets and decomposing in landfills.

"Many coffee shops have policies that don't allow environmentally conscious consumers to get their own reusable containers filled up," Levine said in a press release. "This bill is a simple, cost-saving solution, that will empower New Yorkers to reduce their carbon footprint."

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Councilmembers Demand Diaz’s Resignation

By Matt Tracy

Local elected officials and advocates braved the snowy conditions outside City Hall on Tuesday morning to demand the resignation of Bronx Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr., who remains defiant in his refusal to step down or even apologize for his recent homophobic remarks.

“We must all call for his resignation, and he must go,” said out gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, who said Diaz’s comments about LGBTQ folks controlling the City Council represented “an attempt to put us in our place.”

“I believe firmly that Councilmember Diaz’s comments embolden those who already hate us,” he added. “So we are not just speaking out against those comments, we are speaking for those LGBTQ youth in the Bronx or otherwise who might be struggling with their sexual orientation or identity. His comments cannot be internalized by them.”

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Ruben Diaz, Sr., Spews Homophobia About Corey, Council

By Matt Tracey

Bronx City Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr., a notoriously homophobic lawmaker, is under fire for making homophobic comments last week about the City Council and its openly gay speaker, Corey Johnson — and he’s still refusing to cave in to his colleagues’ demand for an apology.

“When I get to the City Council, I find that the City Council is controlled — most councilmembers out of 51 councilmembers — over there, everybody is controlled by the homosexual community,” he said during a Spanish-language program known as “El Desahogo,” according to NY1 News.

The conservative Democrat, who returned to the City Council last year after spending more than a decade in the State Senate, also said Johnson is a “homosexual” and falsely stated that he is married to another man. He later said he “misspoke” when he said Johnson is married, but stood by his other comments.

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The $238 Million Penthouse Provokes a Fierce Response: Tax It

By Jeffery C. Mays

For the last five years, a bill that would create a so-called pied-à-terre tax in New York has languished in the State Legislature, where proposals for new taxes often go to die.

But after Kenneth C. Griffin, a hedge fund billionaire with an estimated net worth of $10 billion, added to his personal real estate portfolio last month by closing on a $238 million apartment on Central Park South, things may soon be different.

The record purchase — surpassing the cost of the next most expensive home in the United States by more than $100 million — was a stark reminder that when wealthy buyers like Mr. Griffin purchase expensive apartments as second homes or investments, New York City and the state get less financial benefits. If the buyers live out of state, they are not subject to state or city income taxes, and do not pay New York sales tax while outside the state.

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City Budget Gives Buses A Key Boost at Intersections

By David Meyer

New York City buses are getting an extra shove across the finish line — er, intersection.

The city’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget allots $2.66 million annually through 2023 to upgrade 300 intersections per year with transit signal priority — a technology that holds green lights and shortens red lights for approaching buses.

It’s a major win for transit advocates, who had previously admonished the city for the slow pace with which it rolled out the technology, known as TSP among transportation insiders. Mayor de Blasio teased the accelerated rollout in his State of the City speech in January.

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Woman fights for law that would remove sex-abusing doctors' names from birth certificates

By Jillian Jorgensen

Marissa Hoechstetter’s memories of her pregnancy will always include the doctor who abused her — but she’s hoping her children’s birth certificates won’t.

Hoechstetter testified to the City Council Thursday in support of legislation that would allow people to remove the name of the attending doctor from a birth certificate if the doctor had his license suspended, revoked or surrendered due to misconduct.

That’s what happened to Hoechstetter’s doctor — Robert Hadden, a deviant gynecologist who was charged with abusing six patients but pleaded guilty to sexually abusing just two of them as part of a plea deal that outraged some of his victims and included no jail time.

Hoechstetter didn’t even get to bring a case against Hadden — she’s said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.’s office incorrectly told her the statute of limitations had passed.

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Crown Hts. Attacks Have Leaders Searching For Answers

By Amy Sara Clark

Four violent attacks against chasidic men on the streets of Crown Heights in less than a month have community leaders scrambling to piece together the reasons for the assaults and implementing programs aimed at preventing them.

And the rash of attacks has prompted the chair of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus to draft legislation to probe the problem in a more systematic way.

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City sees an unprecedented 37 percent drop in evictions

By Michelle Cohen

The mayor’s office announced this week that New York City’s residential evictions by marshals had declined by 37 percent since 2013, with approximately 18,000 evictions in 2018 compared to almost 29,000 evictions in 2013. In Manhattan, evictions are down 47 percent since 2013. What that means: Since 2013, more than 100,000 New Yorkers who might otherwise have faced evictions have been able to stay in their homes. And evictions decreased 14 percent in 2018 alone. Maps from the New York City Council show data on where the most evictions happen and allow you to search for a specific address in any borough to find out more.

The decline in evictions follows an equally unprecedented effort to promote housing stability with a commitment to providing legal services for tenants facing eviction and displacement. As 6sqft previously reported, in August of 2017, the city passed the Universal Access law which provides free legal help to low income tenants facing eviction. In its first year the law provided free legal services to more than 87,000 New Yorkers, and 21,955 New Yorkers threatened by eviction were able to stay in their homes.

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Sorry, Mr. Mayor: New York City needs the rich to live and work here

By Steve Cuozzo

A home-buying spree by the uber-rich is “out of control” and “dangerous,” Mayor Bill de Blasio fumed last week over hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin’s $238 million purchase of an apartment at 220 Central Park South.

It was cheap talk by the mayor, who never misses a chance to pander to the “income inequality” crowd. But he isn’t stupid, and knows better than to mess too much with the real-estate free market — which props up the city treasury as nothing else does.

That’s why he’d surely block a “pied-a-terre” tax proposed in the City Council last week. One sponsor, Mark Levine, ripped Griffin’s purchase as “grotesque” and blasted “this kind of extreme wealth moving into our cities without it benefiting the people that live there.”

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Free Housing Lawyers Drive Down NYC Eviction Rates, City Says


By Kathleen Culliton

A new law that provides free attorneys to low-income renters is driving down eviction rates in New York City, according to city officials.

Evictions declined 14 percent in 2018 to about 18,000, Department of Social Service statistics show, and elected officials say New Yorkers have the newly enacted Right to Counsel Law to thank.

"We believe tenants shouldn't walk into Housing Court alone when their home is at stake," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. "To New Yorkers facing harassment and eviction: we have your back."

Right to Counsel, which provides legal representation and advice in eviction cases, provided help to about 87,400 New Yorkers in 2018, city officials said

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