Residents Just Outside Congestion Zone Worry About Parking

There is plenty of free parking north of the congestion zone enshrined in New York state’s new budget, but finding a spot is another story.

A driver told CBS2, “It's already really difficult and it becomes a part time job looking for parking here.”

She says congestion pricing will only make matters worse when more suburban drivers dump their cars uptown and take mass transit to avoid the congestion fee.

Councilman Mark Levine has long asked that residents be given priority at the curbs.

He said, “It's being done in big cities all over America. It's time for New York to catch up.”

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Residents Outside Proposed Congestion Pricing Zone Fearful Their Already Minimal Parking Will Dry Up

By Andrea Grymes

 Congestion pricing is getting the green light in Albany, but drivers are seeing red over the new deal.

The plan involves charging a toll on drivers entering Midtown, Manhattan below 60th Street. The surcharge will not apply to the West Side Highway and FDR Drive, as long as you are just passing through.

Sources have told CBS2 drivers in cars could pay around $11.50, and truck drivers around $25.

A panel of experts will set the surcharges by the end of 2020.

But residents who live in the zone say the plan will cost them more than just toll fees, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported Monday.

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Court officials urged to improve tenants' Right to Counsel

By Sarina Trangle

Lawmakers who shepherded through City Hall legislation that lays the groundwork for providing low-income tenants facing an eviction with legal representation by 2022 are urging the court system to take several steps to ease the transition.

In a mid-March memo, City Council members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson urged the state's chief judge to ensure courts are physically configured so eligible tenants and lawyers can convene and to do a better job of informing individuals about their right to representation.

"There are challenges particularly in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island on functional, confidential space for attorneys to meet with clients. It's also really important that tenants understand they have this right before they show up for their court hearing," Levine said. "Sometimes landlord attorneys work the line outside of housing court, which can be very long in the morning, even over an hour. … The tenant might, again, out of fear and desperation, sign a very unfavorable document."

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Help UWS Council Members Spend $1M On Neighborhood

By Brendan Krisel

Want the chance to help spend at least $1 million to fund public improvements in your neighborhood? You're in luck, because it's time to vote in this year's New York City Council participatory budgeting cycle.

Voting opens on March 30 and end April 7 for New York City's eighth participatory budgeting cycle, city officials said. Residents of the Upper West Side will vote on whether to fund projects selected as finalists by City Council members Helen Rosenthal or Mark Levine, depending on whether they live within the council's fourth or fifth district.

Projects selected as finalists for participatory budgeting address community needs such as housing and school improvements, park upgrades, public safety and senior services. Most projects don't carry a funding value of $1 million, so multiple projects can win funding. If certain projects prove popular, city council members may chose to allocate even more funds.

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NYC Council passes bill to allow for striking deviant doctors from birth certificates

By Jillian Jorgensen

New Yorkers will be able to remove deviant doctors from their children’s birth certificates under a bill passed by the City Council Thursday.

The bill allows for the removal of the name of the attending doctor from a birth certificate if the doctor had his or her license suspended, revoked or surrendered due to misconduct.

It passed 47-0 after a public crusade led by Marissa Hoechstetter, who was sexually abused by Robert Hadden, the gynecologist who delivered her twins.

“This is an example of how one brave and relentless leader can actually move government," Councilman Mark Levine, who sponsored the bill, said of Hoechstetter.

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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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