“Good cause” by any other name: De Blasio calls for tenant protections

The mayor is said to want rent increases capped at 5 percent to 7 percent

Feb.February 10, 2020 02:50 PM
Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio urged state lawmakers Monday to pass “universal renter protections” — but stopped short of explicitly throwing his support behind “good cause” eviction legislation.

Testifying on the proposed state budget in Albany, the mayor urged state legislators to approve protections for renters in unregulated apartments. He had called for “universal renter protections” during his State of the City address last week, saying tenants of the city’s 900,000 market-rate apartments need to be shielded from dramatic rent increases and displacement.

Sen. Julia Salazar, who is championing a statewide limit on rent increases, said she is “excited that there’s a political appetite for universal rent control” but noted that the mayor seems to support a higher cap on rent increases than her bill proposes and that he wants to exempt certain new construction.

According to Salazar, the mayor is seeking a 5 percent to 7 percent cap on rent increases, similar to measures passed in Oregon and California. The latest version of Salazar’s “good cause” eviction bill allows for a rent increase of 3 percent or 150 percent of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is higher.

“I certainly think ‘good cause’ is the better proposal,” the democratic socialist Brooklyn senator said. “I’m excited. It’s an opportunity to work with the mayor’s office and the City Council. His support for any kind of universal rent control proposal is indicative of momentum and public support.”

A representative for the mayor’s office didn’t return a request seeking additional information on universal renter protections. De Blasio has not released details on what precisely he would support. Such a change would require action at the state level.

Much of the mayor’s testimony Monday centered on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed changes to Medicaid, which de Blasio estimates will shift $1.1 billion in costs to the city and result in the closure of 19 neighborhood clinics and layoffs of 1,300 doctors and nurses. He suggested removing the 2 percent cap on property-tax increases outside of the five boroughs and taxing the wealthy as alternative routes to covering increased Medicaid costs.

“If the problem is revenue, then we should be taxing the people who have done very, very well,” he said. “If people want new revenue to solve this, I know where the money is.”

De Blasio also called out the governor’s proposal to redevelop Pier 76, which would require the relocation of the New York City Police Department’s 250,000- square-foot tow pound by the end of the year. The mayor said the governor essentially wants the city to violate its own land-use laws, which involve environmental studies and a seven-month public review, to meet that deadline.

“It’s utterly unrealistic,” he said.

Last month Cuomo called the impound lot on the pier, across the street from the Javits Convention Center, “the most expensive parking lot on the globe.”

“It is currently used as a parking lot by the NYPD. Why, you ask? For no good reason,” the governor said. “It’s time for the NYPD to move on, vacate the pier, give it to Hudson River Park and let them come up with a re-use plan.”

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