Loft-law reformers say de Blasio is MIA

As June registration deadline approaches, advocates are looking for allies in Albany

Bill de Blasio, Helaine Balsam (credit: NYC Mayor's Office via Facebook) and Andrew Cuomo
Bill de Blasio, Helaine Balsam (credit: NYC Mayor's Office via Facebook) and Andrew Cuomo

Hundreds of loft dwellers could lose their homes and workspaces if they don’t meet a deadline next month to convert their lofts into legal residences. And as advocates push for loft-friendly reforms in Albany, they’re finding little help from the de Blasio administration.

“Mayor de Blasio promised affordable housing units for artists, and we need that. But we also need him to protect the existing ones. We don’t need only to build new ones, but we need him to protect the live-work spaces that already exist,” said Williamsburg loft tenant Ximena Garnica, Politico reported.

Tenants, advocates and attorneys are trying to spread the word about the June 15 deadline to convert lofts to legal status.

They’re also looking to reform changes enacted to the loft law in 2010 that require windows that face either a street or a yard that threaten their application, language some believe Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration inserted to appease landlords.

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But advocates say Mayor Bill de Blasio is MIA on the subject.

According to the minutes of the loft board’s March meeting, executive director Helaine Balsam said the city’s Office of Legislative Affairs told her that “that they are not dealing with the loft law at this time,” according to the meeting’s minutes.

But a spokesperson for the administration refuted the idea that City Hall is not willing to take the issue up in Albany.

“Legislative Affairs and the city’s Department of Buildings, which includes Loft Board staff, are engaged on this issue and working with our elected officials, including Assembly housing chair and staff, to understand what can or should be done this year,” the spokesperson said.

In addition to extending the registration deadline past June 15, loft advocates want to end the “incompatible use exclusion,” which makes prohibits mixing residences with certain building uses. [Politico]Rich Bockmann