Traffic and Transportation in SoHo

September 29, 2021

Re: Pedestrian safety in SoHo

Shirley Secunda, Jeannine Kielly, Bob Gormley — Community Board #2

Dear Board Members,

It’s been some time since Shirley and I have spoken. We go way back. I’m contacting you because I’ve been keeping track of the myriad pieces of information regarding traffic flow and safety which emanates from the Traffic & Transportation committee. 

Since I’ve lived and worked in SoHo since the late 1940’s I have a unique perspective. And, as former Vice Chair of CB2 I’ve watched the ebb and flow of information and disinformation. 

I’ve read the most recent Full Board minutes from CB2 and it reminds me of the numerous reports, studies, research, which I wrote about in the 1990’s in The SoHo Journal. In one regard, nothing has changed. There is nothing about enforcement or pedestrian safety.

I was recently hit by a car turning the corner from Avenue of the Americas into Watts Street. We have one traffic agent from 4 p.m. to about 6 or 7 p.m. directing vehicles. That’s it!

He doesn’t give out tickets, he doesn’t prevent vehicles from completely blocking crosswalks and he doesn’t EVER assist pedestrians. In fact, people with baby carriages cross the street at great risk. People are often hit by cars and keep going because they know that there is no enforcement. In fact, I’ve even tapped the fender of a car because there was not enough room to cross the street with the light in the crosswalk. As the traffic agent looked on, the driver got out of his car and threatened me for tapping on his fender. The traffic agent did nothing.

Recently, after having been hit by a car heading for the Holland Tunnel I reported this Hit & Run to the police. They did nothing after interviewing me. The vehicle sped away.

So, enforcement is non-existent in SoHo. Do not waste your time discussing ANY reports about how the CIty plans to change traffic flow until enforcement is addressed. Otherwise, DOT is perpetrating a fraud on CB2 and SoHo residents. And, until this issue is dealt with, your committee, from the point of view of the community and pedestrian safety, is a waste of time. This is an issue that Kavanaugh, Glick and Chin are all intimately familiar with and nothing has been done. Meanwhile pedestrians are killed, maimed and damaged by the inactivity. 

I recommend taking action before the lawsuits begin.

Oh, and by the way, you’ve been through many scandals at CB2 and I”m sure you’re aware that I’ve had my own. Even though I never heard a word of support from any of the members of CB2 or any other politician aside from Brad Hoylman, I wanted you to know that after being coerced into taking a plea for my writing about corruption — and spending four years in prison, the SoHo Journal is alive and well and publishing,

And, as a result of my writing, D.A. Thomas Spota, who prosecuted me for exposing corruption in his office and racism in the Hamptons, was recently sentenced to 5 years in prison.

D. Clark MacPherson  http://www.sohojournal.com

The State of SoHo and So Forth

“Things change.”

–Don Ameche

After complaining about traffic in SoHo and warning that pedestrians are being hit by vehicles rushing to New Jersey at an alarming speed — some character in a Jeep decided to accelerate as I was crossing IN the crosswalk, WITH the light, while being watched by a Traffic cop. It took 20 years. But, it was bound to happen because the City of New York, despite its many Traffic plans, doesn’t give a shit about pedestrians. Only lawsuits. So, I’m suing them. During all of this time, Sadik-Kahn from the DOT a biker who worked for Bloomberg, was able to get bike lanes installed all across the city. What did that dynamic duo do for pedestrians? Nothing. What does that tell you? Nothing. I have a bad back and too bad for me. As well as a lot of other people — some of whom are dead.

What I did learn was, that there are Traffic Agents and then there are Department of Transportation Agents. One gives out tickets and the other directs traffic. They don’t do the same thing or even talk to each other. So, you guessed it. The guy on the corner of Watts and Thompson who stands on the corner, occasionally hiding out with a SWAT team of ticket issuers, can’t walk a block over and ticket the vehicles trying to hit me or the woman pushing her baby carriage while in the crosswalk — with the light. But, the Traffic Agent does watch out for the bike riders. What a relief!

And, then we have Law & Order SVU. Those of you who have been reading the SoHo Journal blogs and magazine since the 1990’s know that film crews are favorites in SoHo. Not of the residents, though. They’re popular with the Police. They are so popular, in fact, that if you park legally the cops will still tow your car somewhere else. So, here’s a brief warning. As we exit the pandemic (in the minds of many, not in reality), the film crews are returning. Like the one which takes place this coming week. “SVU Season 23” begins shooting in SoHo. Naturally, Law & Order is not suffering since they have our neighborhood as a free back lot. Along with a Police escort that allows them to hobnob with the stars — well, maybe not real Stars. These Stars are starting to look a little rough around the edges and Dick Wolf doesn’t really need the money, especially with a net worth of $550 million. But, hey, who am I to complain about how he’s going to pay for his next cheeseburger? Except that WE won’t be able to walk down our streets, park a car or find a space in OUR neighborhood or avoid the line for our new Covid-19 test clinic now located in a residential building with kids who are unable to be vaccinated. The landlord decided to install a pop-up testing facility in one of our storefronts without any notice.

We’ll have lines of possibly Covid-19 infected people without masks lined up and mingling with the Law & Order stars at the film caterer tents. You know, it’ll be like the old days — another film shoot, where “Night of the Living Dead,” meets “Law and Order in SoHo.”

So, in anticipation of the party it is not-exactly SoHo, also known as SoHo West or Hudson Square, depending upon whether you’re a greedy landlord, Felix Sater or Ivanka Trump trying to sell another condo in the now-defunct Trump SoHo. It’s now The Dominick, of course — which has reopened. However, be forewarned. Stay away. The real SoHo attractions are no parking, the Holland Tunnel traffic whether you are driving or walking and, now, Law & Order “Stars”, lines of possible Covid-infected patients without masks, and building owners who would sell Dracula’s blood to a hospital ICU if they paid in cash. Fortunately, Fashion Week, which AOC got a free ticket to while others paid $35,000, is over and, yes, you missed the invite.

It’s starting to feel like the rich are all around us and WE are all being ignored by the politicians and screwed. Is this the new Gilded Age? Maybe. Is this a precursor to the Bradley-Martin Ball of 1897 and we haven’t been invited to the Waldorf?

Stay Tuned.

SoHo parking sign.

NIMBYism or do 60 families with children deserve a break? Pop up residential Covid-19 testing?
West Broadway storefronts
Prince Street restaurant arcade
West Broadway redux
Crosswalks and Traffic Agent security in SoHo? Cross at your own risk.

The Reckoning for SoHo

“In politics stupidity is not a handicap.”

— Napoleon Bonaparte

Having written several articles about a newly popular political concept called Affordable Housing, I’d like to revisit the issue since it has become a cudgel for developers and politicians trying to justify the rewards they’ve received for having delivered the goods to their deep-pocketed business friends. I mean, where were these socially responsible City Planners when the 100,000 rent-regulated apartments were litigated off the table. Where were they when landlords were using the litigate to evict ploy like a couple of former dentists downtown? The newest case in point is the ongoing SoHo/NoHo Rezoning Plan. How many Affordable apartments are they going to provide compared to those losses?

The current state of this plan is that since May there have been meetings to move it along as quickly as possible. Currently, it has devolved into a mud-slinging contest apparently pitting the residents against the monied-interests being pushed by City Planning whose official role is:

“To be responsible for the conduct of planning relating to the orderly growth and development of the City, including adequate and appropriate resources for the housing, business, industry, transportation, distribution, recreation, culture, comfort, convenience, health and welfare of its population.”

Got that? Welfare of the population? Not the Welfare of the Mayor. So, who does he work for anyway? The residents who elected him as their servant? I don’t think so. Who do the Borough Presidents answer to who appoint the members of that commission? The voters?

So what we have here is a shell game. All of these characters are supposed to give fealty to us, the voters. But, it turns out that they don’t work for us at all. They work for the people who pay them — one way, or the other.

Supposedly, this is a plan that “the Mayor wants.” It reminds me of the Trump Soho project that “the Mayor,” Bloomberg at the time, wanted, and his City Council underling and Speaker Christine Quinn, who helped push through his third term as Mayor, fended off an investigation into the perks of office called Slushgate, and saved Trump SoHo. At the time, neither of them were antagonistic towards The Donald and his goonies from Kazakstan. It even saved The Villager publisher John Sutter from having to reverse the sale of some very profitable air rights to the likes of Felix Sater and his money-laundering friends. When I pointed this out to his editor Lincoln Anderson, he was instructed to produce a hit piece on me — as if Bob Clifford, the Joseph Goebbels of the now convicted D.A. Thomas Spota, who prosecuted me for writing about his corruption, wasn’t enough. After a number of media sales, the archives wound up with community leviathan Schneps Media.

But back to Afffordable Housing and SoHo. City Planning is now prosecuting this plan to add more commercial real estate, more gallery space (Art for the Masses?), more artist’s spaces, and, last but not least, more affordable housing. Okay, and just to add to the usual suspects, it’s not Edison or any of the other Masters of the Universe of Manhattan realty who have already spread around cash and are involved. It’s respected institutions like New York University that want this — for us and our children, mind you. Well, someone’s children, anyway — not anyone you know who resembles middle class lives in the neighborhood. That went out of style at NYU in the 1970’s unless you remained a cash-heavy Alumni. Even with corporate donations and a $4.4 Billion dollar endowment. Their current favorite rejection ploy is the “Wait List.” Believe me, I know, I earned three degrees at NYU. My children, however, have been wait listed numerous times along with multiple rejections for me for additional graduate degrees.

So, here’s how Affordable Housing really works. First comes approval for whatever the developer wants to build. Second, comes selling or renting new units to the public at market prices. Third, comes the lists of units that are earmarked as “Affordable.” No sales rep at the new buildings have any information about affordable units since they receive no commission for renting them. Like the development of 111 Varick Street which had “Affordable Housing” signs plastered all of the building, it wasn’t until I made a few phone calls did I discover that HPD — the very agency that is supposed to force landlords to comply with the rules regarding heat, hot water, deteriorating walls and ceilings — handled the affordable units on its very own website. They can’t get existing rent-regulated tenants heat and they cannot get you an affordable apartment.

I applied for an affordable apartment at HPD and never heard from anyone — not to mention the fact that no one at 111 Varick Street knew about or could even advise me about which apartments were affordable or how much they were. Oh, and there was no phone number to call at HPD. The 111 Varick Street rental office ($4000-6000 a month for market rate apartments), couldn’t get me off the phone fast enough.

Now, take the the history of the 100 Varick Street building which sought and received approval for an eight story rental building through Community Board #2. The developer proposed affordable units for the community and was approved — and then sold the entire project to a developer who explained that he was going to build a hotel and had “as of right” ability to build thirty or forty floors if he did not get approval for 20 floors of condo units — affordable units were not mentioned any longer. It made everyone crazy but before this developer could even get that approval he sold the project again to the current developer who bought it — and built Twin thirty story towers. (The zoning had changed while the deals took place) A few Community Board members made out well on that deal and we now have mega condo towers known as Renzo Piano two blocks from The Dominick, where Trump once was. None of the units in its last iteration claimed to be affordable. Games were played upon us with Trump Tower, 111 Varick, Renzo Piano — because that is how developers treat the community. And, City Planning plays ball along with the politicians. The idea that new studio space, affordable housing, the arts in SoHo, making it more attractive to tourists and enabling the educational interests of the community with the SoHo/NoHo Partnership — is pure bullshit. It is nothing but a real estate play.

As one resident confided about City Planning said, “Look no further than former DCP Director Carl Weisbrod. He’s in a perpetual revolving door, private – public – private -public – private…The DCP is in bed with big real estate and the organizations that support big real estate. Google the DCP team leader of Soho/Noho rezoning, Sylvia Li, she’s on boards of real estate ‘non-profits.’ It’s really incredible, they don’t even hide the corruption.”

Its a money play using one of the most convenient agencies in New York — City Planning. The members have been chosen by elected politicians who owe someone — from the developer’s ranks. Politicians like Margaret Chin, who sold out SoHo long ago, in order to sell out the community. SoHo does not need more tourists, more art galleries, or more condos and certainly does not need any more commercial space. The artists have been gone for thirty years. Where was the City then? Oh, I forgot, the artists brought the developers so it didn’t matter when they were forced to leave. You think they’ll come back to more tourists and traffic?

The tourists overwhelm our streets so that pedestrians are routinely hit or killed, stores are vacant and boarded up in SoHo and the Village. And we need more commercial space for whom?

Yes, for the developers. Who’ve paid for it.

Stay Tuned.

The Rise of the Professional Tenant

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.”

— Rodney Dangerfield

Among the problems that tenants and landlords face in this brutal on again off again pandemic, is the one that is surging just outside of expected norms. The abuses that landlords have used to evict people were based in part on “vacancy decontrol,” which allowed owners to raise rent-regulated rents to whatever the market would bear once an apartment was vacated. By whatever means necessary, it made sense for landlords to litigate the shit out of tenants in order to gain back certain apartments. In fact, in my own case the two Dentists that took over our building racked up nearly a half a million dollars in legal fees just to evict one family. While I know I’m popular, that’s pushing it.

No more. Vacancy decontrol has been scrapped, in part, owing to people like State Senator Brad Hoylman, a hard worker in the Legislature that got that killed. There’s now little advantage in evicting a paying tenant.

However, there is a subclass of people, not homeless or unhoused as they are now called in places like Venice Beach, who move in to apartments, hotels, motels, sublets and shared living situations — who have no intention of paying rent. These are people who are “on the grift” and who claim everything from mental illness to poverty. In fact, many of them have learned how to game the system at the expense of others, not just landlord-property owners. They also prey upon other tenants who pay their rent and have shared their apartments. Subletters or apartment shares can now simply stop paying any rent and refuse to leave like the krockers in Amsterdam. A city where — if anyone manages to get into your property — it’s your problem in getting them out. Meaning, you have to pay them to leave. Basically, it’s an extortion racket. With no law enforcement and no courts it will only get worse.

You would think that the City would assist someone with a rental apartment attempting to sublet space to others as some in my building do. Some tenants pay their rent from that income and essentially live rent-free. However, if you let someone into your apartment in Manhattan or elsewhere in New York City, don’t expect anyone to escort them out — like the Police or the Sheriff. Not going to happen. Of course, they may leave upon request. But, anything more than that, like pushing them out or changing the locks after putting their possessions in the hallway can earn you an arrest AND a lawsuit. In fact, it’s not just in New York City these days. A family in the Hamptons has recently been in the news for refusing to move out of a rental. A Cantor Fitzgerald executive recently refused to leave their Water Mill rental. In Hampton Bays, a hoarder has refused to leave the house she was renting. And, tenants like Nancy Strebel in the Hamptons have basically extorted money out of one motel owner because she’d rented a room and stayed for more than 30 days and then refused to leave. The same is true for hotels.

In some cases the only solution for exasperated owners or tenants sharing their apartments for a few weeks or months is to buy off the grifters because law enforcement will do nothing and the courts, when they reopen, carefully avoid assuming any responsibility. The rent laws need to be re-written to address this loophole caused by professional tenants.

So, keep in mind that if you rent a room to someone in your apartment whether you are there yourself or not, no one is going to come to your aid and move the offending party out for you. You’ll have to go to court for assistance. When they reopen, that is.

Stay Tuned, folks.

Turning a New Page on Justice.

“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

― Martin Luther King, Jr.

The recent election cycle was difficult and in some cases was contentious. Having known some of the candidates and having personally known a few of those who held the office of Manhattan District Attorney, this was an election that had added meaning. Morgy, or “The Boss,” as Robert Morgenthau was known among his employees was widely respected and served for decades. I remember interviewing him in his Hogan-era conference room after having been introduced to him by one of his trusted assistants, Julie Nadel, as he went on to describe his John Doe DNA concept — which protected victims from statute of limitations problems inherent in rape cases. It was a novel concept and it worked. I took some heat from his adversary but he won re-election. Even though Jim McManus, arguably one of the last of the powerful club leaders, supported a former judge by the name of Leslie Crocker-Snyder.

Cy Vance, Jr. ran for Morgenthau’s seat when, at age 90, Morgy decided to retire. Snyder ran against Vance and was defeated and Vance took over as District Attorney. Of course, while The SoHo Journal promoted the candidacy of both Morgenthau and Vance, I never expected the Spanish Inquisition. The issues in those Manhattan races were less explosive than the rampant corruption I was writing about in the Hamptons, which unfortunately destroyed my life and that of my family. Freedom of Speech, of course, does not guarantee Freedom from Retaliation. It was a classic case of prosecutorial malfeasance and the use of legal extortion to obtain convictions and D.A. Thomas Spota was well-versed in corruption and extortion. I took a plea to barely survive and was imprisoned for four years. Even my landlord joined the party and offered to help the criminal enterprise in order to get me out of my rent-stabilized apartment. How many poor, disadvantaged, minorities have been forced to choose between truth, innocence and prison by taking a plea in our society?

The issues of prosecutorial malfeasance and abuse, racial discrimination, criminal justice abuses and landlord harassment have all come out into the open now. Those elements have percolated to the top of the extortion racket used by District Attorneys like former Suffolk County D.A. Thomas Spota and his Assistant D.A.’s, who currently await sentencing for their convictions.

But, the success of Alvin Bragg as Manhattan District Attorney will now be able to address many of these issues for the benefit of all, not just SoHo residents. Hopefully, we can look forward to a new era of healing and appropriate criminal justice reform. Bragg has addressed this in his statement:

“I applaud all the candidates for their passion and ideas to transform the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, thank them for making me a better candidate and better prepared to lead the office, and look forward to working with them to bring the change that New York’s criminal justice system so desperately needs.”

“This has been a long journey that started in Harlem. And today, that 15-year old boy who was stopped numerous times at gunpoint by the police is the Democratic nominee to be Manhattan District Attorney.
We are one step closer to making history and transforming the District Attorney’s office to deliver safety and justice for all. One that ends racial disparities and mass incarceration. One that delivers justice for sexual assault survivors and holds police accountable. One that prosecutes landlords who harass tenants, employers who cheat their workers, and stands up to hate crimes. And one that stops the flow of guns onto our streets.
The road to reform will not be easy, but I promise that I will never stop working to deliver safety and justice for all.”


SoHo Alive!

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity.”

— Hunter Thompson

Keeping in mind that most of what you read by journalists online or in newspapers these days is an alternate reality — whether from conspiracy-theory-addled conservatives or hypocritical liberals fleeing to the Hamptons. So here are some photos of the real current state of affairs in SoHo. The hotels have reopened, although several like The James are under different names and ownership. The Hampton Inn is now SoHo 54 on Watts Street and offers rooms with nothing — even WiFi and water costs extra. The restaurants and bars are serving again and the traffic is back with a vengeance. So here’s a look see so you can make up your own mind whether or not to visit.

Felix Restaurant
Broome Street Bar.
Crossing Broome Street.
West Broadway. Maybe leave the baby home.
Alain. Felix Restaurant owner.
SoHo developer Jay Schwimmer in his offshore hat making deals.

Decision Time for SoHo

“Vote early and vote often”

— Al Capone

For candidates that will work for SoHo and have a proven record of accomplishments, here are the issues and here are the right candidates:

  1. Developers looking to get fat off of the pillaging of our community, reject the recent push to provide so-called Affordable Housing — The SoHo-NoHo Development Plan. It has become a fake issue. Few, if any of us knows the game. As had been done with the 111 Varick development, the developer hires an expensive attorney, gets the Community Board to approve their building, agrees to put aside affordable units — and there is no follow up. Maybe HPD puts the affordable units on their site, maybe they don’t. There is never any assistance from the approved building’s rental office, no list to apply to, no follow-up from HPD when you inquire, and zero help from the Community Board. When I tried to initially get information, Community Board 2 wasn’t even aware that this particular project was in their catchment area. So, with a big push to develop SoHo, how are those “Affordable Housing” units going to be doled out? I’ve heard that a big-wig from Chinatown and Edison Parking, an aggressive real estate company from New Jersey are main factions behind this. Who’s from SoHo?
  2. Abuse and harassment continue to be used by landlords in order to evict tenants in SoHo. And this directly affects Affordable Housing — and something can be done about it. Laws need to be passed which prevent landlords in Holdover Actions from charging rent AND causing tenants to pay legal fees to defend themselves. THAT is how landlords force tenants out. It is abusive and tenants should not be bankrupted in order to keep their apartments. In my case, in order to keep my apartment for my family (while in prison for writing about the now-convicted corrupt Hamptons D.A. Thomas Spota) the landlord, created a fictitious problem and got us into Supreme Court for having done approved interior construction 30 years before. The bullshit case put us $500,000 in debt while we also were required to pay rent. Should this be permitted? Because the plan, which works, is to use high-priced lawyers to force tenants to pay rent AND pay a lawyer. Landlords must face fines of up to $50,000 and one year in jail for using this criminal ploy.
  3. No one has done anything about the traffic dangers downtown — especially around and near the Holland Tunnel as well as along Broome and Watts Street. Pedestrians have been hit by vehicles and Traffic Agents protect motorists and ignore pedestrians, even with baby carriages. I was hit by a car with no registration and no insurance — yet the police Detectives would not even investigate. No more talking. I’ve been complaining about this for 35 years. Time to act. Time to hand out moving violations for vehicles blocking crosswalks. Assign 10 agents permanently to write summonses. And, after a few summonses make it a criminal matter. Those without insurance or registration should be arrested around these specific routes. If people want to make money from SoHo — protect our residents!
  4. Here are a few comments about the so-called VCF, the Victims Compensation Fund. The arm of the World Trade Center entity that pays out claims to those of us who were impacted by the terrorist attack in 2001. Many of us have never received any award for our health impact. The Fund is incompetent and once they received the $10 Billion injection due to Jon Stewart’s media event, the money came in and they paid each other’s salaries. How’s 20 years from the event and 3 years from putting up with countless phone calls to find out what — if anything — they are doing? I was actually asked to provide a form that I’d submitted almost a year before. In the meantime they were doing nothing. But, even more important the program does not pay for any psychological or psychiatric damage caused by watching people jump out of the World Trade Center buildings, or the health damage from the burning fires, or watching the buildings collapse. No compensation for years of dealing with PTSD, an emotional rollercoaster existence, endless nightmares, distorted emotions and experiencing the deterioration of your health. That must change. The countless thousands of residents downtown need to be treated properly and compensated. When I complained to my lawyer about the fact that I could be dead from cancer by the time I see a check he said, “Oh, I have many dead clients waiting for a check.”

Here are he candidates that will most likely help us in SoHo, despite all of the rhetoric and campaigning. I’ve left out those candidates and offices which I can’t support.

D.A. — Alvin Bragg

Borough President — Brad Hoylman

Mayor — Maya Wiley (except for the police defunding)

City Council — Christopher Marte

Stay tuned for more in SoHo and the latest from the corruption in the Hamptons.

Crosswalks in SoHo

The Candidates. Vote!

The times is Now.

SoHo has specific requirements and it’s not always easy to figure out who will do what once they are in office. I can tell you that a lot of politicians on the local level have been an embarrassment. So, if I miss a couple of candidates interpret it any way you like.

Christopher Marte is our choice for City Council. The less said of his predecessor, the better. He is responsive and hopefully will continue to be so.

Its a crowded field for Mayor and only Maya Wiley stands out with intelligence and drive. I know a few of the others — so that’s why Maya is the choice. Defunding police, however, is NOT the route to take. Education, training and real community cooperation between the police and the community has to be a priority. In SoHo, we are served by the 1st Precinct and recently my contacts with them have presented officers who are polite and considerate as well as diverse.

None of the D.A. candidates are familiar. The campaign people were less than cooperative — across the board. While I knew Morgenthau and Vance, the choice is more a sense that we live in a changing world and Alvin Bragg seems to be the most in-tune with the issues of Mass Incarceration, equal justice, and the rising danger on the part of those who would destroy democracy using Reactionary politics. I can tell you personally, a District Attorney who uses his or her incredible power to destroy opponents (as Thomas Spota did in the Hamptons) is a dangerous politician. Alvin Bragg seems to be interested in protecting all of us while maintaining a sense of racial equanimity and prosecutorial sanity.

Brad Hoylman is fhe choice for Manhattan Borough President. He gets things done as he has shown in the State Senate and in a prior post here he outlined his views for changing the Community Board. While these are not his words, the Board needs to become genuinely responsive to the needs of those in the community — not become just a feather in the cap of those who bought their way into their position with political donations and fealty.

All of the candidates need to pay attention — not lip service — to the practical actions that will enable Affordable Housing, lest we become like California. Developers need to step up to the plate and actually support the community needs not simply hire expensive lawyers who are well-connected and then ignore any follow-through once they’ve gotten their building permit.

Housing Court and HPD need to focus on eliminating landlord abuse and harassment of New York City tenants. Tenants need REAL protections. Affordable Housing needs to be a real and concerted effort with deals that have teeth — or consequences if ignored.

The State of SoHo: An open letter to Senator Kavanaugh

“We don’t even ask happiness, just a little less pain”

–Charles Bukowski

May 30, 2021

State Senator Brian Kavanaugh,

As a journalist who lives in SoHo a couple of problems have gone unaddressed.

First, the traffic rules on Avenue of the Americas from Canal Street headed North to Watts street where cars turn into the line-up for the Holland Tunnel is erratically and poorly enforced. Even when there are Traffic Agents directing traffic, there is never an effort to keep the crosswalks clear to protect pedestrians. This is true at Grand Street and Avenue of the Americas and at Watts Street and Avenue of the Americas. With too little enforcement and zero summonses it has become a dangerous free for all. As a result, with no enforcement whatsoever on a holiday weekend — I was hit by a car this past weekend and seriously injured. With no room to use the crosswalk and no enforcement and a green WALK sign, my only witness was the frankfurter cart vendor when I was hit. Funny? Not really. I’m 77 and have a heart condition and cancer. Not funny at all.  And, I often watch mothers with baby carriages trying to weave in and out of cars which could care less if they hit them, lest they miss a light heading to New Jersey.

Do something about enforcement, giving out steep summonses, and keeping crosswalks clear before any more residents are hurt or killed.

Second, do something about the laws regarding abuse and harassment in Housing. Otherwise Affordable Housing will remain a joke for all but greedy developers.

I’ve lived in a rent-stabilized apartment for over 35 years. It is a building operated by people whom I consider to be criminals. My own prosecution for writing the Truth will be accurately judged once former Hamptons D.A. Thomas Spota is sentenced next month. But, I was the subject of a landlord lawsuit — attempting to evict me and my family — as a result of complaining and suing over numerous habitability issues. Due to the excessive cost of paying rent AND paying legal fees — I was forced to remove improvements made with the permission of the prior owner and approved by a corrupt judge by the name of Braun. The well-developed abuse ploy is “litigate-to-evict,” which makes the cost of defending your home impossible to afford. The landlords in my case have honed this method of abuse and eviction and out of 60 originally rent-stabilized apartments only 5 rent-stabilized and at least 10 Loft Law apartments remain. The Loft Law units were commercial apartments whose tenants were subjected to incredible abuse but the tenants eventually forced the courts to designate them as Loft Law units. 

Kathryn Freed and Sean Sweeney, you may recall, originally got that Loft Law passed. Our Loft Law tenants got their approvals accomplished after nearly two decades of abuse, harassment and threats by our landlords. It’s a well-planned criminal operation known by various names since the late 1980’s. Even membership on Community Board #2 did not help. 

I barely have heat all winter, constant leaks and a judgment against me for $250,000 because I fought the attempt to evict me and my family which was brought to the Supreme Court for SEVEN years; a case that cost $500,000! That case alone warrants an investigation by Attorney General James, the Department of Investigation and the District Attorney — as do the details of how Mitch & Murray (as I call the landlord and their enforcers), came to own this building and many others.

From your perspective, penalties for abuse and harassment should rise to a minimum of $50,000 per incident PLUS prison time — and tenants should not be obligated to pay rent at all while paying an attorney to defend them. The current laws regarding abuse and harassment are absurdly easy to circumvent for landlords.

As I am writing this, I have no heat in 48 degree weather and apparently no one is managing the building. There is no superintendent. The building’s voicemail is full. Clearly, it is retaliation for utilizing the benefits of the pandemic rent moratorium. HPD is not open on weekends and agents do not arrive for days anyway. When a heat problem is reported they call the landlord before arriving so that the landlord can temporarily fix the problem — until the inspector leaves. And, due to the incompetence of HPD, for example, 311 does not respond to our heat complaints since we are a Rent-Stabilized tenant in this building. Ironically, Stabilized apartment tenants are erroneously designated now as Loft Law tenants by HPD through 311 — while the Loft Board does not recognize Rent-Stabilized tenants as being within their purview. Ergo, no one responds to us. I can’t call 311 to lodge a lack of heat complaint.

Reports from other constituents that your office is unresponsive may be unfounded: please demonstrate to me and my readers that you are our concerned State Senator.

Sincerely,

D. Clark MacPherson