Will Congestion Pricing Create Parking Problems at the Periphery?

By Jeanmarie Evelly

Dozens of residents filled the auditorium at Cooper Union Thursday night at a forum hosted by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, where attendees – some touting signs – offered their thoughts on congestion pricing, the proposal to charge cars a fee to drive into the borough’s traffic-snarled business district south of 60th Street.

Congestion pricing has been a central part of the state legislature’s budget negotiations, which are supposed to wrap up by April 1, though reports suggest lawmakers are still divided on the issue. So were speakers at Thursday’s forum, where proponents stressed the necessity of congestion pricing as a revenue source for the MTA, countered by opponents who expressed a litany of worries about the plan.

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Amtrak Angers Uptown After Blocking Views, Spraying Chemicals

By Brendan Krisel

Upper Manhattan residents held a rally Wednesday night to call out the transit company Amtrak for its poor treatment of uptown neighborhoods.

Residents held signs reading "stop Amtrak" near the site of a new billboard the company is constructing over its tracks on the west side of Manhattan. The billboard, located on West 155th Street between Riverside Drive and the West Side Highway, will block scenic views of the Hudson River.

"The view from 155th St up the Hudson to the GW Bridge is one of the most iconic views in NYC. And now it's about to be sullied by a giant billboard being erected by [Amtrak]. Our neighborhood is united in calling its removal," City Councilman Mark Levine said in a statement posted to social media.

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Upper Manhattan Residents Say Amtrak Billboard Would Block Their View Of River

Amtrak is under fire – not for its service, but a billboard.

Upper Manhattan residents and elected officials gathered in Washington Heights on Wednesday to protest the new sign on Amtrak property.

It hasn’t been installed yet, but residents describe the structure as a “monstrosity” that blocks their views of the river.

City Councilman Mark Levine said Amtrak offered to lower the billboard two feet, but the community wants it scrapped.

“We are upset about this, we do not accept it. It was done without consultation with the community,” he said. “It is visual clutter we don’t want and need.”

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Mark Levine on marijuana, e-cigarettes and the need to vaccinate

By Jeff Coltin

Who says a health committee has to be all about insurance premiums? Halfway through City & State’s interview with New York City Councilman Mark Levine, the health committee chairman said it was the most fun interview he’s ever done: “You’re hitting all these cool issues.”

But that’s just because in his role, Levine has been hitting some of the most interesting issues of the day, such as marijuana, e-cigarettes and a measles outbreak in Brooklyn.

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NYC's Long-Empty Stores Would Be Listed Under New Bill

By Noah Manskar

A Manhattan lawmaker wants to create a list of the long-empty stores that have plagued commercial corridors around New York City. City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal introduced a bill Wednesday that would establish a city registry of all storefront property that has been vacant for at least three months.

Doing so would give lawmakers a clearer picture of commercial vacancies across the city, a problem that has so far been tough to quantify on a large scale, the Democratic lawmaker said.

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La ciudad sopesa ampliar la ayuda legal por evicción a comerciantes

Por Ana b. Nieto

Renta. Renta. Renta. Cuando los pequeños comerciantes independientes de la ciudad hacen un listado con sus preocupaciones, lo que literalmente les quita el sueño, el alquiler del local comercial desde el que operan, ocupa los primeros lugares. Porque la renta es alta, porque vence el contrato, porque no se renueva o porque se ha iniciado un trámite de desalojo que suele acabas con un negocio y los empleos que genera.

El miembro del Concejo, Mark Levin, presentó el miércoles una propuesta para que los pequeños comerciantes puedan hacer uso de servicios legales gratuitos de la ciudad cuando hagan frente a un procedimiento de desalojo. Es algo que hace un año y medio se aprobó para casos residenciales y los desalojos se han reducido desde entonces un 37%. “Los procedimientos que afectan a los comerciantes no son tan elevados, un promedio de 174 al mes, pero están aumentando”, explica.

Lea el artículo completo aquí.

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Nurses move to strike over staffing levels

By Greg McQueen

Registered nurses at three hospital systems have threatened to strike over what they call unsafe staffing levels.

At a press conference on Thurs. Mar. 7th, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) announced that nurses had voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike at Mount Sinai, New York-Presbyterian and Montefiore sites if conditions are not improved.

The final combined tally was 8533 “yes” to 230 “no,” according to NYSNA.

A strike would affect about 10,000 nurses and could be called in the coming weeks, NYSNA officials said.

Nurses insisted that they are forced to care for too many patients at a time, creating an unsafe environment. “Nurses are expected to treat patients they haven’t been properly trained for,” said NYSNA Vice President Anthony Ciampa. “They’re expected to skip breaks or lunches.”

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Congestion Pricing Town Hall

Congestion pricing has gained support in the state legislature, and could pass this year. Council members Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine are holding a town hall meeting on Tuesday at John Jay College to discuss the details.

Congestion pricing involves charging drivers for entering Manhattan’s central business district, with tolls likely being set up around 60th Street and at other entry points. Some residents have expressed concern that drivers fro the burbs will park their cars in the neighborhood, to avoid the charge, so local officials have discussed possible resident parking permits.

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This new City Council bill could slow evictions of small businesses

A bill that will soon be proposed in the City Council would provide small businesses in New York City with free legal counsel if they are facing eviction.

City Councilman Mark Levine plans to introduce the bill on Wednesday, and it is based on a similar program for residential tenants, according to the Wall Street Journal.

There have been more than 3,900 commercial evictions in New York City over the past two years, and the average number has gone up each month since 2017, data from the city shows.

The bill would apply to independently owned businesses, along with owners whose household income does not exceed 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.

The current Right to Counsel program for residential tenants covers legal help for harassment and displacement issues, and it has helped about 33,000 households throughout the 2018 fiscal year.

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Measles Outbreak: 1 Student Got 21 Others Sick

By Tyler Pager

Public officials and health experts had given several warnings: Do not allow a student in school if they had not been vaccinated against measles.

Still, during New York City’s largest measles outbreak in a decade, a school in Brooklyn ignored that advice, resulting in one student infecting at least 21 other people with the virus.

The outbreak, at Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov in Williamsburg, is reigniting concerns that too many people in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities are unvaccinated, as well as worries that measles would continue to spread after travelers arrived last fall from parts of Israel and Europe, where the virus was spreading.

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