Morning Bulletin: Pit Bull Attack, Declawing Bill, Tenant Victories and Woes


Photo by Naama Yehuda.

June 17, 2019 Weather: Rain off and on, with a high of 79 degrees.

Notices:
Concerts, readings and many other local events are on our calendar.

News:
Chris Chodkowski was out with his family in Central Park when he was attacked by a pit bull. “The dog’s owner stopped for a moment, seemed to apologize, but then left as outraged onlookers pleaded with him to stop…’The amount of blood was really scary so I’m surprised he just left like that.’ Police took a report but they say the dog owner probably didn’t break any laws when he left the scene.”

Assembly member Linda Rosenthal has been pushing to ban cat declawing for years, but this year she’s gotten the bill through the state House and Senate. “The declawing of cats is a horrific practice, whether done by laser or traditional methods, that involves the amputation of a cat’s first toe bone along with the removal of tendons and muscles. All done to protect a couch or a set of curtains, declawing leads to a lifetime of discomfort for the tens of thousands of cats on which it is performed, and it often manifests in significant behavioral issues,” she writes.

The state passed a sweeping set of laws protecting tenants, particularly those in rent-regulated apartments. The bullet points here give a good overview.

Speaking of tenants, a group of tenants on West 83rd Street say they’re being asked to cover rent hikes of up to $1,056 to replace stairs. “The landlord first made headlines in July 2017 when it abruptly told tenants the staircase was being replaced. Instead of figuring out a way to allow them to get around the work, the owners told tenants to use the fire escapes.”

Mary Max, wife of artist Peter Max, was found dead of an apparent suicide at her apartment on 84th Street.

NEWS | 50 comments | permalink
    1. Please ask Naama Yehuda for a caption for the photo. What trees are these?

    2. Kat French says:

      Wait a minute! It is not illegal to leave the scene when your dog bites someone? That’s crazy!!!! Dog owners should be required to give their name and contact information, as well as how to verify the dog’s vaccination records.

      • Jen says:

        I was wondering the same. How it is not illegal? Surely this and the failure to put the muzzle on a dangerous dog should be legally accountable?

        • EricaC says:

          It may not have been known that the dog was dangerous.

          That said, I agree – the dog owner should be liable, and should not leave. At the very, very, very least, they should provide accurate vaccination information.

          (I’m a dog owner.)

      • geoff says:

        i agree, assuming owners will tell the truth. i doubt all would.

        what makes most sense is to require dogs to wear a license, literally a ‘dog tag’.

        no tag? no dog. sorry.

    3. Bill Williams says:

      Good to know that Rosenthal has been diligently working to prevent cat declawing. An issue at the top of everyone’s mind while the UWS crumbles, I’m sure.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        while the Upper West Side crumbles? really? a very strange perspective.

        also, re: cat declawing, all the “cat people” i know, including from as far away as Maine, are grateful to her for this. what is wrong with outlawing cruel practices?

      • EricaC says:

        It is possible to be concerned about more than one thing at a time. (For some.)

    4. Alex says:

      a side factual note: neither West Side Rag nor ABC7 says how they know the dog was a pit bull. How was this verified? This is important, since misdentification of pit bulls is widespread; and the breed is demonized. In all events, of course, the most important fact is that the man is okay.

      • LDEC says:

        Of course our 1st concern in the well being of Mr. Chodkowski!
        My 2nd concern is the accurate identification of the dog.
        I guess a headline reading “standard poodle mauls person” isn’t going to stir up the ire of dog haters, even tho a large poodle can do as much damage to a person as any other breed of dog.
        Any dog can bite, any large dog can cause damage. Why, just this afternoon a German shepherd mix jumped out of the vehicle he was riding in, charged my chain link fence, slammed into the gate, charging my dog. My 80 lb “pitbull” bolted across the yard and waited at my side, to see what was going to happen. Still not sure of he was protecting me or wanting my protection for himself. Owner of the car, got out caught his dog, got back into his car without so much as an apology or acknowledgement.
        I truly don’t like many people these days.

        Also, I Hate to see any journalist resort to headline baiting, but not really surprised by the quality or lack thereof, of journalism anymore.

      • Jeremy says:

        The wife of the man who was attacked said that it was a pit bull. I’m unclear if she conducted a DNA test, but I think 99% of us are comfortable believing the victim here.

    5. Christine E says:

      This is exactly why there should be no off leash hours in parks. If you want your dog to run around, go to a dog run. Or keep your dog on the regulation 6-foot leash, and run around with them.

      And yes I am a dog owner.

      • Craig says:

        How do you know what time it was? There’s no mention in the report, rendering your opinion about dogs off leash after 9am utterly worthless.

        • Cato says:

          — “…rendering your opinion about dogs off leash after 9am utterly worthless”

          The comment was not limited to “after 9am”. Rather, the comment said that “there should be no off leash hours in parks”. Period.

          Where did you conjure the “9am” time from??

          • Christine E says:

            Cato, click through to the full article for more info. The family was eating breakfast, in the morning, when the dog, not with its owner, attacked.

        • Christine E says:

          Click through to the linked article.

      • Joan says:

        I see pit bulls and other dogs off leash in Riverside Park South at all times of the day and have never seen any park people doing anything about it. Add to that the bicyclists who ride on pedestrian paths and the ramp going down to the cafe, and it is a free for all as far as safety rules go.

    6. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      i’m disappointed that the WSR has done such a meager and unsatisfactory job in covering the rent law fight and its results in Albany. there are tens of thousands of rent regulated apartments on the UWS. these laws have a much broader impact than the openings and closings of fancy restaurants that only a small percentage of us can afford.

      congrats to all the housing activists and supporters who made this happen!

      • Cato says:

        — “i’m disappointed that the WSR has done such a meager and unsatisfactory job in covering the rent law fight and its results in Albany. ”

        There are many other media providing coverage of that hot topic, and therefore little need for WSR to take limited time and space to repeat the coverage anyone can get anywhere else.

        But there are no other media providing the local coverage of neighborhood events you casually dismiss as no more than restaurant openings and closings. WSR gets quoted about West Side events by other media that also get that political news you crave.

        No one is forcing you to read the Rag, Bruce. While you often offer valuable viewpoints and insights, don’t deny others the local news for which they — we — come here because you would prefer WSR to be yet another organ for the same old same old.

        WSR, keep up the good work. And thanks.

        • Sherman says:

          Hi Cato

          I agree 100% with you.

          The WSR already covers rent regulation on a regular basis.

          I personally care about neighborhood openings/closings and I think this is important for WSR to cover.

          It’s ironic that certain wealthy people who have been exploiting NYC’s corrupt rent regulation system for decades and have realized extraordinary personal financial gain from these shenanigans are now crying that restaurants in the neighborhood are unaffordable.

          Sherm

      • GG says:

        Really, Bruce?!? Nice attitude and tone.

        Here’s an idea. You can start your own website/blog and then you can prioritize things how you like. People are really something sometimes. SMH

      • Juan says:

        If you don’t like how they are covering it I’m sure that WSR would be happy to have you write something, assuming you could do it in a neutral manner. As others have noted, this topic has been thoroughly covered by much larger media outlets. WSR is wise to focus its resources on topics not being covered elsewhere.

        It would be nice to be able to discuss it here so potentially WSR could just provide a link to an article in the Times or somewhere similar to have us discuss it, but I think you are looking for more.

        I’m sure you think this change is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          Juan, it is an important step in letting working class, poor, and even middle class New Yorkers stay in the city. it was a victory over the land barons and for working people.

          now we have to have a massive program of public and not for profit housing construction — the additional of tens of thousands of units of REAL affordable housing. then we will start making a dent in the biggest problem facing NYC.

          • Juan says:

            I’m not sure why I am the only one who gets a reply (unless others aren’t posted yet). This still does not justify your nasty comments towards the owners of WSR. They are working very hard, doing the best they can, and can’t cover everything. I think they deserve an apology.

            I think rent control is a valuable tool but it has now swung way too far in favor of the tenants. There should be affordable housing so that all types of people can live in NY. But for every well-publicized wealthy landlord, there are plenty of hard working people who own bulidings filled with rent controlled apartment who are losing money, and will now be losing a lot more money. These new regulations are extremist and not based in reality.

            To offset some of these new policies, there should be much stricter rules regarding income thresholds and passing down apartments. I know numerous people who have deeply discounted rents that allow them to use their six figure salaries to finance vacation homes. That is not the point of rent control. Closing these loopholes would free up a lot of housing for those who really need it.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              you weren’t the “only one” who got a reply. I replied to the others below.

              I made no “nasty remarks” about WSR. I stated my disappointment in the coverage. maybe that will have an impact and they will do an article. It is a huge local issue on the UWS. it does not get covered enough in WSR.

              there is no proof that people who own rent stabilized building are “losing money.” in fact, just the opposite. the Rent Guidelines Board publishes extensive statistics every year, and they show that the profit per room is quite high. net operating income (which includes real estate taxes and all other expenses but does not include debt service) was $820 a month per unit in Manhattan (2017, most recent statistics) and has increased for 13 years straight now.

              https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/rentguidelinesboard/pdf/ie19presentation.pdf

              see p. 18 of presentation.

          • B.B. says:

            You are very oddly informed on this matter.

            What makes you think the very same landlords/property owners you vilify are going to now build rental housing that has very little ROI?

            Financial institutions who primarily lend for multi-family construction saw their share value drop over past few weeks. Once bill became law those shares sunk even further.

            In short with upside capped (return on investment for new construction and or capital improvements), sources of investments/loans will either raise rates to seek better returns, or simply exit the market because ROI numbers just don’t work.

            Again, city/state has been down this path before. Much of this new (and now) permanent rent regulation laws simply turns the clock back thirty years. While that may be fine with persons like yourself, it is important to remember *why* those changes came about in first place.

            Long story short by the 1970’s and well into 1980’s little to nil new rental housing was built. The newly enacted RS laws of 1974 simply made it unprofitable to build and own multifamily.

            For those who already owned multifamily housing RS laws made returns so low (due to artificially low rents), owners couldn’t maintain their properties. Worse many couldn’t pay their taxes or mortgages and thus either properties were sized by city or banks.

            Anyone who was around from the 1960’s through even early 1990’s can well attest NYC rental housing stock was the pits on average.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              “BB”:

              actually, i was “around” from the 1960s through the early 90s. Well, i was a child in the 60s but got my first rental/ rent stabilized apartment, near Columbia, in the summer of 1973. it is simply not true that NYC rental apartments were “the pits on average” in that period. in fact, the housing was affordable and quite nice. there was a lot of abandonment in certain neighborhoods (not “on average”, and not on the UWS) but that was due to poverty and the NYC city crisis / declining population.

              you once again raise the issue of construction of new affordable housing. We have been down this route before, and i have explained this point to you, but i’ll do so again. Rent stabilization for new construction is ONLY in effect if the landlord takes 421-a property tax abatement/exemptions (for complete overhauls, the benefit is known as J-51). If the landlord does not wish to take these, then he/she can charge market rates because the new building is outside of the rent stabilization system. Further, even if the landlord takes the benefits, the apartments on new construction exit the rent stabilization system upon expiration of the tax benefits (10-20 years).

              so these changes in rent stabilization have ZERO effect on the construction of new housing, nor on the profits of lenders to new housing.

              https://www1.nyc.gov/site/rentguidelinesboard/resources/tax-abatement-exemption-programs.page

              As for maintenance / repairs: the MCI (Major Capital Improvement) program is still very beneficial to owners, tilted in their favor, though it is no longer the massive windfall that it was until these revisions were passed.

              the MCI for major capital improvements allow the owner to recoup the money, and much much more, through structured rent increases. Both the new law and the old allowed the cost of the improvement to be recouped in 8 years (96 months). Under the old law, the rent increase then stayed in effect forever. Under the new law, the MCI rent increase stays in effect for 30 years. this is, by any measure, a large profit: you recoup your expenses in 8 years but the rent increase extends to 30.

              Under the old law, you could take a maximum of 6% rent increase for the MCI per year, this 6% for EACH MCI could be taken EACH YEAR, until the landlord reached the pro-rated amount for the apartment, as per the formula. (i.e. 6% increase year one; 6% more on top of that in year 2, etc). Under the new law, it is limited to 2% per year, but the landlord can still add this on each year til reaching the pro-rated amount.

              so the bottom line:

              1) the changes in the current rent laws have NO EFFECT on new construction, which is exempt if the landlord doesn’t take tax subsidies;

              2) the financial incentives to do major upgrades to the building still strongly favor the landlords; the massive financial windfalls have been dialed back a little, but the landlord still comes out ahead.

          • Sherman says:

            Hi Bruce

            “It was a victory over the land barons and for working people”

            Oy gevalt! Who are you, Chairman Mao?

            Since you’re so horrified by “land barons” making a profit based on the fair market value of their property perhaps when you sell your apartment you should sell it to the person willing to pay the lowest price.

            Then you can lecture the rest of us about how greedy we all are.

            Sherm

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        i was under the impression that WSR was dedicated to covering major social issues that affect the neighborhood. West Siders have been intimately involved in the rent stabilization issue. Certainly there are valuable local “West Side” perspectives on this issue: all of the political clubs, for example, were going all-out. the silence on it from WSR was deafening.

        I’ve noticed that, in general, the coverage of WSR seems to be aimed at a certain narrow section of the UWS population. I’m not against covering the openings of fancy restaurants. and a lot of the other coverage, particularly of development issues, is very valuable. to be fair, the WSR seems to want to broaden out, and has started to cover public housing issues. I’m just urging more balance.

        in fact, the WSR recently requested suggestions on areas that are “under-covered.” imho, affordable housing is #1. tenants are being harassed by landlords all over the UWS. has there EVER been an interview with UWS organizers for Met Council on Housing, or other tenant associations? affordable housing activists? Morningside Gardens or other Mitchell Lamas? there are so many local angles.

        finally, Sherman, i am a working man with a middle class income, and indeed i can’t afford to go to these upscale restaurants more than once in a blue moon. you are far more likely to find me at Sal & Carmines, or Regional on cheap pasta night. A splurge for me is Sunday brunch at the Manhattan Diner, where i enjoy seeing many of my rent stabilized neighbors!

      • B.B. says:

        Only thing that “happened” was a total backsliding of rent regulation to thirty years ago.

        Cry victory all you want, but in a few years NYC revert right back to how things were in 1980’s or 1970’s.

      • Rob G. says:

        You’re right Bruce, the West Side Rag should have reported the new rent regulations as an obituary. The new rules will kill any further investment in our neighborhood, and bring any improvement in our housing stock to a halt.

    7. Shmuel says:

      There is little or no thought given to the rent control population of the city as the assumptions made about those persons is typical of the PC crowd that have opinions but choose to ignore the facts. There are just 22,000 units left and probably the vast majority are elderly, very elderly. they are faced with a constant rent increase every year of 7.5%. Years ago they had a good deal but now with rents in excess of 1 or 2 thousand and being on, for the most part, fixed income, a very real hardship exists and these life-long city residents have no one to speak for them. I do not expect any rational answers from the PC crowd, or the politicians, but would like to hear comments anyway just to satisfy my low opinion of most of you. Did I not mention that “I do not like anybody very much” (from “they’re rioting in Africa” by the Kingston Trio.

      • B.B. says:

        New law mandates increases on RC units is fixed at five year average for RS apartments as voted by RGB for one year leases.

        Since the past six years under BdeB RGB has caved into progressive/liberal politics and voted puny to zero (for two years consecutively) things look to be one percent or less for yearly increases this time around.

        It will take three or more years of yearly increases for RS units at or > 2.5% at least to move that average.

        Clearly Albany was and is counting on RGB continuing with low increases for foreseeable future. Again because we’re dealing with an average not straight yearly increase (like RS units) it is going to take time before those zeros and nil (one percent) numbers are replaced.

    8. Bob says:

      Bravo to Bruce Bernstein for addressing the important issue of rent regulation and for continually taking on the gentrification lovers here. And how hilarious to read a comment about how the Upper West Side is crumbling. Did the writer mean that getting more and more luxury buildings in our neighborhood with rich apartment owners is evidence of the crumbling? 🙂

      • Bob Lamm says:

        Not sure why my last name didn’t show on my comment about Bruce Bernstein. It was from Bob Lamm. Perhaps I was tired and neglected to type my last name. I detest use of fake or incomplete names on the Internet and social media.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          many thanks, Bob Lamm. I appreciate your encouragement.

          Also, I agree with you that posting our full names encourages responsibility in commenting, and reduces unnecessary snark.

    9. B flat says:

      Dogs should be on leash at all times in public, and if it’s not illegal for an owner to walk away from an attack without exchanging insurance info, it should be. Otoh just yesterday I was a park worker telling people to leash their dogs, and then watched as they took them off leash again as soon as the worker was gone.

      The problem is never the dogs, it’s their irresponsible idiot owners.

    10. Matt Zarzecki says:

      Fault the owner, not the breed. Nothing wrong with dogs off leash when owners have control over them.

    11. B.B. says:

      Bruce E. Bernstein, as I explained to *YOU* some time ago, 421-a is not the only game in town to create RS apartments.

      Under city’s “inclusionary housing” scheme any new construction in an area that has been rezoned, and or where developer receives a zoning variance must include “affordable housing” component. Those units are “permanently affordable” and under the RS system

      Also in certain areas of city if a developer elects to add greater density there is an “inclusionary bonus”. This means in exchange for adding more floors than FAR allows, developer must include a certain percentage of “affordable housing. These units again fall under RS.

      http://www.herrick.com/publications/new-york-citys-voluntary-inclusionary-housing-program-a-hidden-gem-for-affordable-housing-owners-and-air-rights-purchasers/

      https://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/zoning/districts-tools/inclusionary-housing.page

      A good percentage of all those “affordable housing lottery” units are not due to 421-a, but either mandatory or voluntary inclusion housing.

      As to other points made in your posts, the new RS act contains several provisions that apply to *all* rental housing in New York state; private market rate, RS, RC, mobile homes and so forth.

      For instance market rate tenants cannot be evicted for at least one year in most cases. Nor can they be easily evicted if a child in household attends local school.

      Fees for credit/background checks are capped at $20.

      Use of tenant blacklists are now banned.

      Private landlords must now give formal notice in advance regarding increases in rent, and of if a lease will not be renewed.

      Security deposits are now limited to one (1) month.

      https://therealdeal.com/2019/06/18/analysis-heres-what-the-new-rent-law-will-do-to-the-average-stabilized-apartment/

      https://therealdeal.com/2019/06/14/state-approves-landmark-rent-regulation-reform-bill/

      You can read the entire hot mess here:

      https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/s6458

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        “BB”: it’s a little astonishing that the Real Estate industry is whining about the measures aimed at all tenants, such as limits on credit check fees ($150 for a credit check? really?) and the need to inform people in advance of rent increases or non-renewals (evictions, in effect). And are you seriously saying that these basic consumer protections will have any effect on new housing construction? that is patently ridiculous. How can you oppose these basic protections?

        i noticed that you have stopped making the argument that the new MCI regs will lead to building maintenance decline. that argument is indefensible. the fact of the matter is that the old MCI regs were immense windfalls: the repair was paid for in 8 years (96 months) but the rent increase was forever. The new MCI regs also give a huge incentive: 30 years of rent increases for a repair paid for in 8 years. 275% profit on a investment (not accounting for inflation)? pure profit after 8 years? not counting the increase in the asset value of the building. who would turn that down?

        as for your argument regarding the new law having a chilling effect in the construction of market rate rentals that include Mandatory Inclusionary units and/or the market rate rentals in rezoned areas:

        the items that conceivably could have an effect were ending vacancy decontrol and luxury decontrol. but if the units were by legislation “permanently” under the RS system, as you seem to state, how could those two decontrol provisions matter? there was no prior decontrol of these units.

        there was another provision, vacancy increases of 20% (but not decontrol), which could have an effect. However, since the developers are getting zoning variance, presumably they are designing enough market rate units that they still make loads of cash. anyhow, i think you are reaching in making this argument.

        but thanks for the links, i will read them. it’s good for discussions to be fact-based.

        the bottom line: the real estate industry is crying wolf, but they have already failed abysmally at building affordable housing, and will continue to build market rate housing, as they have been doing. We have to develop government financed programs in NYC to build new affordable housing, and lots of it.

    12. Lauren says:

      I see so many dogs off their leashes in Central Park. For some reason dog owners are oblivious to the fact that some people are afraid of dogs, and for very good reason. This is a perfect example.

    13. Shmuel says:

      Thank you, B.B. for advising me that RC units are included in the new rent law. I have two legal questions.
      1. If the landlord has not yet provided the paper work for the RC increase he was due for on 1/1/19, can the tenant maintain that such increase (7.5%) exceeds the current law and refuse to pay it?
      2. Can the tenant now refuse to pay the fuel pass along that is included in the monthly rent bill received?

      Other than that I will say to B.B., who seems to be a serious UWS person, I am personally glad to get this new break but truthfully if the new law entitles my landlord to an increase next year of about $12.00, I am troubled by that. They have increased costs too and need a fair return.

      • B.B. says:

        Do not know answers to your queries. Am sure as the dust settles someone somewhere will spell out how things are going to unfold.

        Yes, as noted in my previous response; using a five year average RC apartments are going to see nil to minimum increases over next few years thanks to BdeB keeping rent increases artificially low. Those two years of back to back zero increases will take a few years to age out of the average.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          the RGB zero increases, which were not “artificially low” but a small level of relief for beleaguered tenants, were for Rent STabilized apartments and had nothing to do with rent COntrolled units.

    14. Shmuel says:

      May I propose that B.B and Bruce B. duke it out? I am an experienced referee. Both have legitimate points but that has been the problem all along. There is no middle ground. It is us vs. them.
      FYI, Bernstein, the new rent law ties the increase in rent for rent controlled units to the average stabilized increases on 1 year leases for the past 5 years. So, the next increase for controlled units will be less than 1%.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        thanks, Schmuel, for the correction. And so what is wrong with that? Rent controlled leases have been going up 7.5% each lease, right? Some correction is needed.

        The new rent laws ARE middle ground, please don’t fall for that landlord / real estate industry whining and BS. Rents have gotten un-affordable in NYC and the land barons have had their way in Albany for far too long. As an example, look at MCIs. The new laws still give the land barons a huge guaranteed profit on MCIs. But the old law gave them a true windfall, a permanent rent increase. So the new law represents “middle ground” on this issue.

    15. B.B. says:

      Another summary of new laws that protect *all* renters in NYS.

      So now everyone from those who rent out a co-op or condo unit to those in single family homes will see evictions that drag on for one or more years, cannot properly vet prospective tenants and the same ills that come with RS/RC system.