Saturday, June 20, 2015

No to de Blasio "Zoning for Quality and Affordability Plan” from the BROADWAY COMMUNITY ALLIANCE


Community Board 8 Land Use Meeting Thursday Night June 25th at MS/HS 368   -   7:30 PM
2975 Tibbett Avenue off West 230th Street.

Ten Reasons to Say NO to the Mayor's "Zoning for Quality and Affordability Plan”

1. Up Zoning Plan. This citywide proposal is intended to promote a positive goal: new affordable housing for seniors, families, and special needs populations. However, it will undo years of community planning that Community Board 8 fought for in its 197(a) Plan and approved by the City Planning Commission and the City Council in 2003.

2. Overdevelopment. Under the current zoning, developers already have the right to build more densely. This plan allows developers to build taller buildings even in contextual zones, which were designed to restrict building height.

3. Parking Requirements Eliminated or Reduced. Under present zoning, developers of senior and affordable housing are already permitted to provide fewer parking spaces. This plan Eliminates All parking requirements for new affordable housing located within 10 blocks of a subway. The change severely impacts residents of North Riverdale, Kingsbridge, and Marble Hill who live in the Broadway area near the #1 train, as well as Van Cortlandt Village residents near the #4 train. Additionally, Developers will be able to reduce parking for projects more than 10 blocks from a subway to the detriment of Every Neighborhood!

4. Unprecedented Retroactive Zoning. The plan permits developers to build affordable housing on parking lots of current senior housing and nursing homes, which retroactively changes our zoning protections. Among other issues, where will residents, visitors, and staff park?

5. Grass is Past. The plan will eliminate or reduce setbacks, rear and side yards, open space requirements, and more. The result will be a tsunami of new development that will block air, light, and views, and eliminate landscaped area. 

6. Decrease Homeownership. We will witness many smaller buildings and private homes being bought, razed, and rebuilt as behemoths. 

7. Hidden Costs. Will taxpayers get soaked? According to the NYC Independent Budget Office (IBO), the city plans to commit more than 1.6 billion dollars in capital spending to finance the increased infrastructure needs (like sewer and water lines) caused by the additional buildings. "The city has created a $75 million Acquisition Fund it will use to purchase private land, which it will then convey to developers at little or no cost. In exchange, the developers will be required to build affordable housing, "(IBO report, May 2015). Funds for new schools to accommodate increased density are not included.

8. Questionable net increase in Affordable Housing Units. Ironically, the mayor's "Zoning for Quality and Affordability Plan" will not appreciably increase the number of affordable units, as many developers will enjoy many new benefits while building a small percentage of affordable units. Many housing advocates oppose the plan because they believe the mayor's affordable housing goals will not be reached.

9. Where are the Facts? The plan states that it will change our current zoning definitions. It does not say which definitions and what those changes will be. It does not define affordable housing criteria or explain which groups fall under the umbrella of affordable housing. The currently available plan is hundreds of pages long, but short on specifics. 

10. Rush Job. City planning wants a Community Board 8 vote on this rezoning plan this Fall followed by votes taken by the Borough Board, Borough President, and City Council. Where is the time to study and understand the impacts of the rezoning on our community?

A rezoning of this magnitude will definitely have 

For these reasons the "Zoning for Quality and Affordability Plan”

permanent consequences for our community!

Must Be Voted Down!

New Farmers Market Comes to Morrison Avenue

Above - Some of the vegetables available now at the Morrison Avenue Farmers Market.
Below - Some of the Blueberries, Strawberries, and Cherries.

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and City Councilwoman Annabelle Palma welcomed the new Morrison Avenue 'Harvest Home Farmers Market with a ribbon cutting (or vine cutting as you see below) for this first day of selling farm fresh fruits and vegetables to the neighborhood. 

Above - Assemblyman Crespo speaks with Harvest Home CEO Maritza Owens and one of the farmers who is selling his fruits and vegetables.
Below - Assemblyman Crespo speaks with one of the Harvest Home volunteers standing in front of the tomato display.  

Above - There were many varieties of apples on display for sale at very reasonable prices.
Below - Other products that were farm made included Honey, Apple Butter, and several baked goods.

Maritza Owens CEO of Harvest Home thanks Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Councilwoman Annabelle Palma, and the many others who made the Morrison Avenue Farmers Market a reality.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Upcoming Events From Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda

Albany Chaos Update

At least some things are getting passed into law. even if the major items are expiring.

1 - The state legislature has voted on and passed the right to take your dog with you when you eat out at a restaurant in New York State. The only problem here is who will be held liable if your dog bites someone in the restaurant, the dog owner, the restaurant owner, or both. Then there is the matter of a dog relieving itself on you, again just who is responsible, and where does the New York City Health Department play a role in this new law?

2 - They have also agreed upon the importance of the Wood Frog in New York State.

3 - Well at least the state legislature passed a rent law extender, that is until Tuesday June 23rd. At least they were able to go home and enjoy Father's Day. That is the non leadership position state legislatures. 

I almost forgot - Most Bronx state legislatures are sending out press releases either from a member of the assembly or state senate touting that the Assembly passed Assemblyman Z's bill on 'Who cares', or the State Senate passed State Senator R's bill on When it happens'. These one house bills are as good as a $3.00 bill, since both houses must approve the same language in a bill or it is called a 'Comprise Bill' between both houses, and the Governor must sign a bill to make it law.

By the way which Assembly member has July 3rd as the end date of the session, because you are probably going to be the winner of the assembly end of session pool.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chaos in Albany

Three days after NYC Rent Regulation laws expired there seems to be no compromise coming as all 3 sides (State Assembly, State Senate, and the Governor) are on different pages.

In the State Assembly Assembly Housing Chair Keith Wright has come out with a proposal for an extension at least until Feb. 2016 that was laughed at by State Senate Republicans.
Other assembly members are sounding off - Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz in an interview with Gerson Borrero Editor at Large of City and State said that there is no feel yet, Carl Heastie has been there on this issue which is the speaker's one main issue. Dinowitz also said that 'It Takes 3 to Tango in Albany', as he blamed the Republican State Senate majority who are from outside NYC, and the governors inaction on the issue. 

As it goes the state senate should be leaving tonight, but the Majority Leader Senator Flanagan has said that he will stay. The State Assembly will be in session for most of Friday until members start leaving, and are taking up a pool ($1.00 each) for when the session will end. 

Other key issues that also need to be worked out before they also expire are the 421A Tax Abatement, Mayoral Control of the NYC public schools, raising the Charter School Cap, and several other minor issues.

Could we see Albany legislatures working past the 4th of July?

Also what of the U.S. Attorney's Office continued investigation of Albany legislatures from the Mooreland Commission. I am sure we have not heard the last from the U. S. Attorney as to indictments of State Assembly or Senate members. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

State Senate Passes Klein & Savino Bills to Combat Predatory Auto Lending Practices in New York State

Independent Democratic Conference Leader State Senator Jeff Klein and State Senator Diane Savino announced Tuesday that the State Senate passed two critical pieces of legislation they sponsor aimed at  predatory subprime auto lending in New York.

Senator Klein’s bill (S.5485A) increases required surety bonds used car dealerships must hold as a consumer protection from $10,000 to $100,000 if the used car dealership sells more than 50 cars annually. Smaller used car dealers can take out $20,000 bonds if they sell fewer than 50 vehicles a year.

“Predatory subprime auto lending takes advantage of vulnerable New Yorkers in every corner of our state and often drives people with bad credit further into debt. Even worse, fraud and deceptive tactics are used to lure consumers into signing loans they could never afford to repay. Once a consumer realizes they’ve been taken for a ride— legal recourse is difficult. This legislation will ensure that if a consumer wins a battle in court, a used car dealership will be backed by a sizeable bond and be able to pay what a conned consumer is due,” said Senator Klein.

Senator Savino’s bill (S.5506A) designates lenders as the assignee of a loan issued at a used car dealership since they play a significant role in the financing of a used vehicle. It also grants courts the power to make the assignee pay reasonable attorney’s fees if a consumer sues and wins.

“All too often we’ve heard stories from used car buyers who realize they’ve been had and call the bank immediately to report fraud. The lender suddenly claims they’re not the one driving the loan application, the dealer is, and process it anyway. In court the dealer shifts blame to the financial institution. This legislation finally says, that in New York State, lenders who work with used car dealers are the assignees and will be held accountable. With the passage of this bill financial institutions will think twice before ignoring claims of fraud and deception,” said Senator Diane Savino, Chair of the Senate's Committee on Banks.

In April, the IDC released an investigative report , “Road to Credit Danger: Predatory Subprime Auto Lending in New York,” which highlighted numerous predatory tactics being practiced by used car dealerships throughout New York City. The report detailed ways in which unscrupulous dealers often appeal to consumers with bad credit, no credit, or those living on fixed incomes by offering guaranteed approval for financing through enticing online advertisements. Once at a dealership, unsophisticated or unsuspecting customers fail to realize loan applications contain abusively high interest rates, sky-high financing mark-ups, unnecessary add-ons, and are often being filled in with fraudulent income information. In the end, some consumers wind up with cars costing twice the financing and with terms they could never afford to repay.

Bronx Assemblyman Luis R. Sepúlveda Endorses Move NY Fair Plan

Office of Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda
District Office: 1973 Westchester Ave, Bronx NY ∙ Phone:718-931-8620

Eastern Bronx Residents to Benefit from
Faster, Safer, Fairer Transportation Options

   Bronx Assemblyman Luis R. Sepúlveda (87th District) joined the growing chorus of City and State elected officials who have endorsed the Move NY Fair Plan as the blueprint for sustainably and fairly funding the New York metropolitan region’s transportation infrastructure. Developed by transportation guru, “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, the plan would generate $1.5 billion annually ($15 billion when bonded) and help plug the hole in the MTA’s yet unfunded $14 billion budget gap for its 2015-2019 Capital Program.

“Representing a district surrounded by three major highways and the busiest intersection in America I have seen my constituents suffer from the long lines of traffic and congestion that plague my district,” saidAssemblyman Luis R. Sepúlveda. “Asthma rates around these highways are higher than anywhere else in the city and people are faced with toll and fare hikes every year. By increasing access and expanding options of public transportation as planned with the Move NY Fair Plan we can decrease vehicle traffic on our already over capacity roads and improve the health and well being of our residents.”

The Move NY Fair Plan offers positive benefits to the Assemblyman’s district:  anew Metro-North Penn Access line with four stations in the East Bronx, including a stop at Parkchester; reduced fares on MetroNorth within the city and discounted fares on all Express Bus Service – both of which will allow for more affordable options to get around the city more quickly and efficiently. In addition, many of the 2010 service cuts will be restored, bringing buses back to the communities who need them most. For those who rely on a car to get around, the plan sets aside $375 million annually to go to keeping our roads and bridges in good repair.

“Assemblyman Sepúlveda is emblematic of the leadership New Yorkers need in State government to fight for the future of our transportation system,” says Alex Matthiessen, Move NY’s Campaign Director and President of Blue Marble Project. “He has done his due diligence in reviewing the Move NY Fair Plan and concluded – as many do once they see the benefits – Move NY will make travel in and around the city faster, safer, and fairer. We look forward to working with him and other elected officials to make Move NY a reality.”

Specific benefits to Bronx residents include:
·         100% of tolled Bronx bridges will see reduced tolls
o   45% EZ-Pass Toll Reduction on Triboro/RFK, Whitestone, & Throgs Neck
o   39% EZ-Pass Toll Reduction on the Henry Hudson

·         No tolls on Harlem River bridges

·         Metro-North “City Ticket” extended to 7 days a week, with fare within city limits slashed to $6 peak/$4 off-peak
·         More Express Bus service
·         Express Bus fares reduced from $6.50 to $5.50
·         More frequent and less crowded subway trains

·         New Metro-North “Penn Access” line with four new stations in the East Bronx
·         Expanded ferry service
·         Continued extension of Second Avenue subway into Northern Manhattan and the Bronx

Information regarding the Move NY Fair Plan, including the finalized version of the plan itself, can be found at

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

And This From City and State About the Blame Game


by City and State 

City and State spoke to seven lawmakers in Albany about the expired NYC Rent Regulations and here is what each had to say after the rent regulations expired last night.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx)
You know, I’ve been very clear from the day I got elected speaker, it’s rent, rent, rent and more rent. ... Sen. Flanagan is trying to raise what he thinks gives him leverage. ... 

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse)
“Let me put it this way: You never say never in this business, that’s No. 1. But No. 2, we’re trying to get an agreement. We had a real bill, that if the negotiations started, the bill that was for an eight-year extender, the time frame of the extender could change, certain provisions could change, but you’ve got to get true negotiations where everyone’s participating and trying to get to a result. 

State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn)
“We passed it. We say the Assembly should have stayed and passed it. I mean, the Assembly went home. Shame on them.” This is not a game. We’re talking about people’s lives.

Assembly Housing Committee Chair Keith Wright (D-Manhattan)
“ i'm Disappointed, angry, annoyed, vexed—what’s another adjective? I think it’s totally irresponsible that the folks in the Senate would allow this to happen. I think it’s political and legislative malpractice.”

Assemblyman Dick Gottfried (D-Manhattan)
The fact that the Senate allowed that to happen, I think, reflects a real lack of concern for the welfare of tenants. I think the governor has a real responsibility to play a much stronger role to get the law, not just renewed, but strengthened. 

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan)
For a conference whose leader in the (Senate) Housing Committee doesn’t have one unit of affordable housing to hold hostage the whole City of New York and the entire state where there are rent-regulated apartments I think is unbelievable.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan)
“There’s a real, palpable fear that Albany isn’t going to do its job and I think we’ve let a lot of people down.

The entire city and State article with more of what the elected officials said can be found at the link at the beginning in yellow.

Editors Note:
So who is to blame for Albany's dysfunction now?
We also see how much things have gotten worse in Albany with the two new current leaders of the State Assembly and State Senate, for as long as they both shall remain leaders of their respective houses.

Stop the Blame Game

What You Should Know
By Senator Rev Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District

You should know that the rent control expiration date has come and gone, and Governor Andrew Cuomo is bragging that he will keep the legislators here in Albany until we reach an agreement. To all of you who don’t know how this place works you might say, “Bravo, Mr. Governor!” But to those of us who know all of the ins and outs and all of the games people play here we ask, “Who are you fooling?” 

My dear reader, you should now that nothing happens here until the three men get in the room. They are, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Not until they get into that room and come out with an agreement, we the Legislature are powerless.  Therefore when the Governor said “I will keep the Legislators here until they come up with an agreement,” he is trying to spin the failure of the three of them by blaming the Legislators. Knowing that the rent laws would end, they had a whole year to negotiate and talk about it, but they waited until the last minute to play their game and try to fool all of you. Don’t buy it! 

At the last minute, they say they will talk, and that they need a two day extension. They are trying do in two days what the three of them neglected to do for the whole year and now that they see their failure, they are trying to blame the whole Legislature by threatening to keep us in Albany, getting a $175 per diem, doing nothing, waiting for the three of them to get into that room and wasting the taxpayers money. 

Pardon me, Mr. Governor, but I need to correct you so to be clear. You should say: “I’m going to keep Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and myself here in Albany until the three of us come to an agreement on rent control guidelines, and everything else.”  Then, Mr. Governor, you should call us back to discuss and vote on the three men’s great agreements.

This is what should be done especially to save taxpayer money, because we Legislators won’t be able to vote on anything until the three of you get an agreement.  It is not fair for New York State taxpayers to be punished and waste their money in paying the Legislature to wander the hallways aimlessly wondering what is going on, while the three of you are taking your sweet time. 

My message to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is to stop the blame game and stop wasting taxpayer money to pay us to do nothing.  Send us home, and you three stay until you come to an agreement. 

This is Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Upcoming Special June Events at JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center

JASA Hosts Hernan Brizuela Tango Demonstration and Lesson #2 for Older Adults
Thursday, June 18th, 2015 12:15 lunch, followed by Tango Demo/Lesson #2 from 1:00 – 2:15 pm
JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center will again host master Tango performers Hernan Brizuela and Anita Flejter. A delectable meal of salmon w/dill sauce, quinoa and green beans will be served at 12:15 pm. 65 guests are expected to attend this spectacular bi-annual event. 
We would like to invite you to join us for this dazzling dance event which will feature a nutritious kosher meal followed by a spectacular Tango Demonstration and group lesson.  
Recommended senior voluntary contribution for lunch is $3.00 and $2.00 for the event. 
Non-seniors are welcome to attend for a fee of $6.15 for the meal and $3.00 for the event. 
Hernan Brizuela Tango demonstration and lesson #2 will be hosted by JASA, a New York-based nonprofit serving 43,000+ older adults each year by providing social work, recreational, health, home care, housing, cultural, and educational services to help sustain them in their homes and communities and offer opportunities for a better quality of life. 

JASA Hosts the Bronx Opera Ensemble for Older Adults
Wednesday, June 24th, 2015  Dinner served at 5:30 pm; concert at 6:30 pm.
JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center will host the Bronx Opera Ensemble.
They will present favorite classical and Broadway selections. Dinner of Shake & Bake Chicken or Tilapia will be served. 60 guests are expected to attend this special event.
Recommended senior voluntary contribution for dinner is $3.00. Recommended senior event donation: $2.00.Non-seniors are welcome to attend for a meal fee of $6.15 and event fee of $3.00. Please call in meal reservations to senior center office 718-549-4700 by June 19th.

JASA Hosts Art Salon for Older Adults
Monday, June 29th, 2015. Lunch served at 12:15 pm followed by Art Salon at 1:00 pm.
JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center will host fabric artist Bernice Etheridge as part of our JASA  Art Salon series.  A meal of chicken piccata or tuna salad will be served at 12:15 PM. 35 guests are expected to attend this cultural event.
Recommended senior voluntary contribution for lunch is $2.00 and $1.00 for the event. Non-seniors are welcome to attend for a fee of $6.15 for the meal and $2.00 for the event.

All events are hosted by JASA, a New York-based nonprofit serving 43,000+ older adults each year by providing social work, recreational, health, home care, housing, cultural, and educational services to help sustain them in their homes and communities and offer opportunities for a better quality of life.

All events will take place at -
JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center
3880 Sedgwick Ave, 1st Floor
Bronx, NY 10463

RSVP:        Sharon Wolfe/Esha

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Riverdale Riverfest 2015

  The highlight of Riverdale Riverfest 2015 was the concert by the current band Blood Sweat and Tears which was arraigned by State Senator Jeff Klein. KRVDC and all their volunteers helped made this years Riverdale Riverfest 2015 the best one yet. Below are just a few photos of Riverdale Riverfest 2015. 

Above - It may have been Senator Klein who got the band for Riverdale Riverfest 2015, but it was Councilman Andrew Cohen who was the best dressed elected official at Riverdale Riverfest 2015.
Below - Senator Jeff Klein may have also had the the best tan, but it was Councilman Andrew Cohen who had the best legs of the elected officials on the stage. Also in the photo are Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, and hidden by the speaker Ms. Tracy Shelton of KRVDC.

Above -  Face painting was only one of the attractions for children at Riverdale Riverfest 2015. 
Below - The Buffalo Wild Wings mascot is found in front of the Buffalo Wild Wings booth, where wings were available with several of the 24 sauces ranging from mild to extreme. 

Above - The New York City Department of Transportation was at Riverdale Riverfest 2015, with information about Vision Zero. 
Below - During the afternoon there was a secondary stage where several other bands and groups showed off their talent. 

Above - A stilt walker was on scene as another one the many attractions. 
Below - S.C.A., The Society for Creative Anachronism presented medieval events. The photo is of Ms. Agatha Jurgo dressed in a beautiful costume of the era.

Riverdale Riverfest 2015 took place at the College of Mount St. Vincent, and an unidentified young lady sits at the college table.