Government briefs

Bedbug complaints rose 7 percent in 2010

Residential bedbug complaints in New York City climbed 7 percent last year, statistics from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development show. There were 13,472 complaints, up from 12,594 in 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported. Louis Sorkin, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, said there are likely many more infestations than complaints. “[People who have infestations] may not file a complaint, but they may go through the proper channels and tell the landlord or co-op board or condo owner,” he said. In New York, bedbug complaints are registered with the city’s 311 nonemergency hotline. The landlord is notified and the department contacts the tenant to confirm before making a site visit. If bedbugs are found, a violation is issued. HPD lists bedbugs as a Class B housing violation, which means they are considered hazardous and the landlord has 30 days to correct the problem. Sorkin predicts that the situation may deteriorate in 2011. “Each year it’s always a little worse than the year before, because not everyone is on the bedbug bandwagon,” he said.

Records shed light on politics behind Park51

E-mail records sought by opponents of the proposed Park51 Islamic community center and released last month by City Hall show that members of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration worked closely with project organizers to combat public opposition to the mosque. According to the Wall Street Journal, the chairman of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission allegedly wanted “political cover” before denying landmark status to the building, which is located several blocks from ground zero and is being developed by Sharif El-Gamal. Aides to Bloomberg said the e-mails are no different from typical back-and-forth correspondence between government officials and members of the community. But project opponents point to the e-mails as evidence that the Bloomberg administration was in cahoots with Park51 organizers, and say that they cast doubt on the legitimacy of LPC.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

State nearing passage of property-tax cap

Democratic leaders in the State Assembly may be ready to throw their support behind a Republican-backed cap on local property taxes, according to the New York Times. But in return for their support, Democrats are requesting stricter rent regulations for New York City, a measure that is strongly opposed by Republicans and the real estate interests that helped elect Governor Andrew Cuomo. “In a day and age when we’re talking about giving people the ability to live in their homes and not be priced out of their homes, we should not forget people who have rent protections,” said Sheldon Silver, the Assembly’s speaker. However, real estate leaders are arguing that property tax caps and rent regulation should be considered separately. “The cap on property taxes doesn’t apply to people in New York City,” said Steven Spinola, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York.

Bovis pays city $5 million to settle overcharges

Bovis Lend Lease will pay $5 million to the city for construction project overcharges, the mayor’s office announced last month. The settlement is the result of a New York City Department of Investigation review, which showed Bovis improperly paid overtime to workers when it wasn’t warranted. The DOI investigation showed that Bovis overcharged on more than 100 city-funded projects from 1999 to 2009. In a statement, DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said the investigation “shines a light on one such practice that drove up costs to the city.” Bovis reportedly came forward during the course of the DOI investigation to request a settlement deal.