Phil: You want a prediction about the weather, you’re asking the wrong Phil. I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.
In Part 5 we saw that the behavioral tactics of residents and owners differ remarkably, with residents and their advocates willing to shout, chant, disrupt and otherwise intimidate and smear anyone who disagrees with them, versus the owners, who as unwilling participants are functionally put on trial by the uninvested, to be judged by the unaccountable.
Sources for this post
The Indypendent (May 11, 2005; powder-blue font)
New York Post (June 24, 2009; brown font)
New York Times (June 24, 2010; violet font)
New York Times (June 27, 2011; yellow font)
The Real Deal (December, 2011; navy blue font)
New York Observer guest editorial (May 14, 2014; peach font)
New York Daily News (June 11, 2014; emerald font)
New York Daily News (June 17, 2014; olive font)
New York Daily News (June 23, 2014; black font)
New York Post (June 23, 2014; teal font)
New York Post (June 24, 2014; orange font)
Curbed New York (June 24, 2014; lavender font)
New York Post (June 25, 2014; gray font)
Crain’s New York (July 9, 2014; magenta font)
3B. By the unaccountable
In addition to the mayor giving his strong views, other elected officials decided to weigh in, knowing they could freely grandstand without being held accountable for it:
Mark-Viverito: “Two years ago, landlords enjoyed their largest year-to-year increase in operating income since the Giuliani era. Yet tenants’ median household income fell by three percent from 2007 to 2010.”
But loud calls for a rent freeze dominated a hearing Monday — from elected officials who included City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Stringer’s for bagel freezes too
Like the others, Ms. Mark-Viverito expects that resident affordability should figure in rent-setting (CBS New York; gray font)
”This is a challenge we must face head on — it cannot be solved unless we commit to ending the distressing loss of our existing stock of affordable housing. This means not just preventing further deregulation of apartments, but also ensuring that rent stabilized apartments are in fact affordable,” Mark-Viverito said in a prepared statement.
Naturally, she’s unwilling to appropriate any money for this purpose
The mayor may not be able to freeze property taxes and water charges to help keep rent increases low, but a revamp of the property tax system to reduce the relative burden on rental properties should be in the housing plan.
Nor did Ms. Mark-Viverito or the others endorse an offset of government charges on housing that the government has economically suppressed:
The mayor could also reduce costly government mandates and provide relief from nuisance administrative fees and penalties as he has promised to do for other small businesses.
The mayor too failed to mention any changes to make property more affordable, such as these:
Regulation causes a lot of [the city’s] housing problems. The solution would be to have a system of step-by-step deregulation of housing stock. You’d see things ease up, and you’d see more housing being built, even in this economy . When you have apartments with regulation, you see landlords having to make up the shortfall in other apartments by raising those rents.
The moment of triumph: Election Night
Bill De Blasio is a smart man [Not since his election – Ed.] and his initial position on rent increases probably recognized the fact that most property owners would need a rent increase as long as city taxes, oil, insurance and other operating costs continue to escalate.
Landlords said they would fight a rent freeze. Jack Freund, vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association, an organization that represents thousands of city landlords, said a rent freeze should be accompanied by a freeze on municipal sewer and water charges and no increases in property taxes. (Messrs. de Blasio and Lhota have pledged to not raise property taxes.)
Offering Fruendian analysis of the mayor’s political miscalculation
“Bill is not too smart backing this,” Mr. Freund said. “I’m not sure if this is campaign rhetoric but he will recognize the reality if and when he takes office.”
As referenced earlier, I think the mayor did recognize the reality, felt himself backed into a corner where he had a political debt to pay (endorsing a one-time rent freeze).
Six days earlier, he had urged board members to decide “what makes sense” based on “the actual numbers.”
And he took the position as late as he could:
But Mr. de Blasio’s first public statement as mayor in favor of a one-year freeze came on the morning of the vote.
Unfortunately for the mayor, having thus reversed for political reasons, he then suffered the political ignominy of not even getting what he had endorsed.
“We’ve never had a situation where you have a mayor in place that campaigned on a zero Rent Guidelines Board increase, so I think they’re certainly shooting for zero — and they could possibly get it, because the mayor has appointed a majority of the members,” said Jack Freund, vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represent 25,000 property owners.
“We’re looking to keep owners whole and keep them in business, and what that requires is a rent increase above the range this board is considering,” he added.
Further, the mayor demonstrated his personal unaccountability by expecting others to do what he himself will not:
Meanwhile, de Blasio danced around the issue of whether he was going to raise the rent on his own apartments, which are not covered by the guidelines.
“I have a different situation by law,” he said, adding: “It depends ….”
Mister mayor, what does it depend on?
Mayor de Blasio, who is preparing to move into Gracie Mansion, is planning on renting out his Park Slope home while he lives on the taxpayer’s tab for at least the next three and a half years.
This looks to me like a candidate for gander-sauce rent stabilization: Mayor de Blasio’s 11th Street home in Park Slope.
According to a source, de Blasio could receive at least $5,000 per month while renting his home and possibly much more.
Not only will de Blasio collect rent payments on his actual home, he will also continue to collect rent on a two-family rental that he owns.
So candidate de Blasio saw the economic and social value of becoming a landlord.
According to the article, annual rental income on that property rose from $47,500 in previous years to $52,000 last year. For at least the next year, owners of rent stabilized units will struggle to preserve the City’s affordable housing stock with 1% increases while the Mayor continues to benefit from unlimited market rents.
Other NYC landlords saw the mayor’s answer as hypocritical:
“Sometimes there’s no increase, sometimes there is,” de Blasio said of his units.
His answer didn’t sit well with landlords fuming over the loss of a rent hike for a year.
“I think it’s completely outrageous,” said West Village landlord Jimmy Silber. “To be the champion of affordable housing and not promote it in your own building is completely hypocritical.”
Jimmy Silber (far left), in 2011
3C. For the uninvested
As I’ve posted before, rent stabilization residents have no stake in anything: not the property’s physical condition, not its cost of operations, not their overconsumption of housing that displaces others who might be more needy. Feeling themselves entitled by luck, they become perpetually aggrieved against …well, against somebody.
Angry tenants stormed up to the stage after the vote, chanting and yelling.
The board members scurried off to the sound of boos and hisses, and one man carrying a pro-tenant sign who climbed onstage was hauled off by cops.
“We feel like the rug was snatched from beneath us,” said disappointed Brooklyn resident Donna Mossman, 56.
Rug about to be snatched away? Ms. Mossman testifying
[Continued tomorrow in Part 7.]