e&c — May 14, 2019


In today’s edition of East & Creek, the Greenpoint newsletter: an e&c exclusive and a duck. But first, the news.

What’s up in Greenpoint?

There’s a monthly meeting of Community Board 1 tonight, at 6 p.m. at 211 Ainslie St. Expect: Vocal bicyclists, some boring procedural stuff regarding liquor licenses, maybe a chance to meet interesting neighbors, and who knows what else.

Prolonged rainfall over the past several days caused storm water, untreated sewage, and the ghosts of fatbergs past, present, and future to overflow into Newtown Creek on Monday.

NYPD are searching for a man suspected of stealing $7,400 worth of items from San Damiano Mission Catholic Church, located on Nassau Ave. across from Automotive High School. (Greenpoint Post)

And across the street from San Damiano, The Lot — after much Dept. of Health drama — earned an “A” rating from the D.O.H. in an inspection last week.

The site of a proposed development at 996 Manhattan Ave. is mostly just collecting strewn garbage, according to neighbors. (Greenpointers)

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who represents Greenpoint along with parts of Queens and Manhattan, may have yet another challenger in 2020. Dawn Smalls, a veteran of Democratic federal administrations, may run against Maloney — joining comedian and J.P. Morgan project manager Lauren Ashcraft (who has declared her candidacy) and (maybe, possibly) educator and D.S.A. member Pete Harrison (who has not). (BKLYNR)

A Cool Thing: “Greening Greenpoint” is distributing free trees today, between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m., at McGolrick Park. A Sad But Still Cool Thing: They’re all outta trees, because apparently people are excited about planting trees! (Click through for an email to contact about getting on the waitlist, and to demand that they give out more trees. More trees for Greenpoint, please!)

Meanwhile in New York City…

The NYPD officer accused of using a chokehold on Eric Garner, killing him on Staten Island in 2014, went on administrative trial this week. The trial could lead to the officer’s firing. (New York Times)

A bill in the City Council — sponsored by Councilmember Stephen Levin, who represents Greenpoint, among other neighborhoods — lost three sponsors this week. The bill would cap rental brokers’ commissions at about one month’s rent. The three councilmembers withdrew their support in response to backlash from the real estate lobby. (The Real Deal)

Gov. Cuomo signed a law that will dramatically increase the number of speed cameras in school zones. Existing cameras are credited, at least in part, for a 55-percent drop in traffic fatalities near schools. (New York Post)

Mayor de Blasio trumpeted the city’s Green New Deal at Trump Tower on Monday; the event quickly devolved into a circus. And before you ask — yes, reader, he drove to his Green New Deal event. (Politico)

e&c exclusive: Greenpoint landlord sued for rent overcharge, “fraudulent” rent-stabilization “scheme”

The owner of a residential building in Greenpoint improperly raised rents on a rent-stabilized unit and then offered its current tenants a “fraudulent,” non-stabilized lease, according to a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court on Friday. The plaintiffs allege that the owner, “161 Newell Enterprises LLC",” overcharged them as part of a “fraudulent scheme to deregulate the Apartment.”

The suit comes at an important moment for rent stabilization itself, with Democratic majorities in the state legislature weighing progressive reforms to New York’s rent stabilization laws, which expire next month.

According to the lawsuit, the unit remained regulated until 2004, when its legal regulated rent was only $571.15. After the present owner purchased the building the following year and performed putative “apartment improvements,” new tenants began paying $1,700 in rent, in 2007. The plaintiffs allege that this was an illegal overcharge, questioning the owner’s accounting in applying the “individual apartment improvement” rent increase — though at this point the unit remained registered as stabilized.

In 2015 the plaintiffs moved into the apartment after signing a lease that “did not specifically state the Apartment was rent-stabilized.” [NOTE: A previous edition of this newsletter erroneously left out the word “state” from the previous sentence.] They paid $2,500 in rent between then and now. A dispute over a lease renewal — due to have taken effect by the end of this month — seems to have triggered the lawsuit.

But what triggered the lawsuit — and this is really the interesting part for you, reader — had to have been the simple, enlightening act of requesting the apartment’s rent history from the Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

(That’s right, it’s news-you-can-use o’clock!)

If you live in a building with six or more units built before 1974, you should review your apartment’s rent history. It’s easy to request. Email rentinfo@nyshcr.org; let them know you live in this-or-that apartment and you’d like the full rent history, dating back to 1984.

Maybe your apartment is stabilized and you’re paying just the right amount. (Congrats!) Perhaps your apartment was once stabilized, but the landlord has since (legally) deregulated the apartment. (Tough luck, kid. e&c is in the same boat.) Or maybe, just maybe, you are being overcharged. (Crikey!!)

In a changing neighborhood like Greenpoint, rent-stabilized apartments are in a precarious spot. The owner in this case — “161 Newell Enterprises LLC” — also owns a building located at 75 Engert Ave., in Greenpoint. Between 2007 and 2017, according to JustFix.nyc, the owner deregulated five apartments at 75 Engert Ave. And according to tax records reviewed by e&c, the owner deregulated — or “deregulated” — four apartments at 161 Newel St. between 2013 and the present.

This Is Ridiculous, What Am I Doing Here

Local duck, spotted blocking the bike lane on Franklin Ave. by @wildgreenpoint.

See something? Say something — to e&c. Submissions, tips and tidbits welcome at eastandcreek@substack.com.

Thus concludes this May 14, 2019 edition of East & Creek, the twice-weekly newsletter about Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Read the full archives here.

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If you don’t like what you’re reading — or if you have any comments or questions — send an email to eastandcreek@substack.com.

See you around town,