Preserving Neighborhood Character and Creating Incentives for Affordable Housing, Council Also Votes to Rezone 128 Blocks in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park Community
City Hall, September 30, 2009 – At today’s Stated Council meeting, the City Council will vote to improve the City’s graffiti removal process. Under this legislation, property owners who receive notices from the city regarding graffiti on their property will automatically receive free cleaning from the city unless they object. Previously, property owners were burdened with the responsibility of submitting a waiver request to the City to have the graffiti removed.
This Council will also vote to:
Rezone 128 blocks in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood;
Require the Department of Education to submit student enrollment reports to the Metropolitan Transit Authority in order to better accommodate bus routes around public schools;
Call on the State Legislature to pass legislation limiting the rent contribution to 30% of their income for HASA clients who receive benefits from the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, or have earned income;
Urge Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act which allows United States citizens and legal permanent residents in bi-national same-sex relationships to sponsor their foreign-born partners for legal and permanent resident status.
GRAFFITI REMOVAL LEGISLATION
Allowing for faster and more efficient graffiti removal in the five boroughs, the Council will vote to change and simplify the city’s graffiti removal process. City property owners will no longer be required to sign a waiver allowing the city to clean their buildings. The city will clean graffiti off of buildings unless an owner objects. Under the improved system, the city will send notices to property owners whose buildings are marred by graffiti and the property owners would have 35-50 days to clean their building themselves, contact the city to consent to the graffiti, or remain silent, subsequently allowing the city to clean the building.
“Since 1999, when the Graffiti Free NYC program went into place, the city has cleaned over 27,000 cases of graffiti around the five boroughs,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Simplifying the graffiti removal process today, we will make it easier for property-owners and the city to remove these eye-sores just as fast as they are sprayed on.”
“Taggers and defacers start with a big advantage: graffiti is quick and easy to get up, and time consuming and expensive to remove. And despite our best efforts year after year, I recognize that we need a new approach,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “Our new and better approach is a simple idea with far-reaching implications: the City would actively engage property owners in gaining authorization to quickly remove graffiti on an as-needed basis.”
“This amendment makes my original graffiti bill even easier to enforce and will allow for a greater number of graffiti-free spaces in our city,” said Council Member Peter F. Vallone Jr. who authored the original “Graffiti Free” bill.
SUNSET PARK REZONING
With extensive input from the local Community Board, elected officials, and local residents, the Council will vote to rezone 128 blocks in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood. This large-scale rezoning strives to preserve and protect neighborhood character and scale by implementing new height limits throughout the neighborhood, to create opportunities and incentives for affordable housing through the use of inclusionary zoning, and to support local retail corridors while protecting the residential character of nearby side streets.
“I would like to congratulate Council Member Sara Gonzalez and Community Board 7 for their tireless efforts to bring us to this day,” said Land Use Committee Chair Melinda Katz. “The Sunset Park rezoning successfully evolved because, from the beginning of the process, community members were closely involved in negotiations with the Department of City Planning. This rezoning will preserve the residential character and scale of the neighborhood by placing height limits throughout the area, and will create opportunities and incentives for affordable housing and an increase in local retail.”
“I would like the Administration, the Speaker, and Committee Chair Katz and Subcommittee Chair Avella for their hard work on this very important and very critical rezoning,” said Council Member Sara M. González. “Local residents and all the community groups of Sunset Park should be proud of all their diligent work addressing concerns over new non-contextual development in Sunset Park. I commend Brad Lander and the prestigious Pratt Center for Community Development for matching the funding I put forth to conduct an independent analysis and develop a series of three widely attended workshops to first fully explain the rezoning process and then seek community input from a wide array of Sunset Park residents. I am encouraged by the Administrations commitment to not only provide affordable housing incentives but also to provide the necessary resources to form an anti-displacement task force so that our neighbors can continue to call Sunset Park their home.”
STUDENT ENROLLEMENT INFO FOR THE MTA
To accommodate students using MTA bus services to get to and from school, the Council will vote to require the Department of Education to share student enrollment information with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The MTA utilizes certain student enrollment information to arrange for buses to stop at schools during arrival and dismissal hours. According to the MTA, bus routes may be changed to accommodate students at a particular school if the MTA has information regarding the number of students that will be attending the school and the zip codes in which the students reside.
RENT CAP FOR HASA CLIENTS
The Council will vote on a resolution calling on the State legislature to enact legislation that would limit the rent contribution to 30% of their income for HASA clients who receive benefits from the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, or have earned income. While some HASA clients have their rent capped at 30% of their income, a large share of HASA clients living in private market apartments have to pay between 50% and 70% of their income towards rent leaving them with only $344 per month or $11 per day. This legislation would enhance HASA clients’ standard of living.
“This piece of legislation will not only save money for our state, but it will save money for the thousands of HASA clients and provide some vital relief for their pocketbooks. I urge Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor David Paterson to support this bill so we can take action towards making HASA clients’ lives easier and more affordable,” said Speaker Quinn.
“The New York State legislature must act to correct this blatant injustice. Why should people with AIDS be the only group required to pay more than 30% of income for subsidized housing? People with AIDS can not maintain their health when they are in constant threat of loosing their homes. Passage of this legislation is the humane and the fiscally prudent thing to do,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez.
RESOLUTION FOR UNITING AMERICAN FAMILIES ACT
The Council will vote on a resolution urging Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act which allows United States citizens and legal permanent residents in bi-national same-sex relationships to sponsor their foreign-born partners for lawful permanent resident status. This Federal legislation is consistent with the legal requirements and rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples.