De Blasio promises “big changes” to state loft law

Tenant advocates said mayor has been MIA on issue

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he will push for “big changes” to the state loft law next year, something loft advocates say he failed to do during the most recent legislative session in Albany.

During a town hall meeting in Brooklyn last week, the mayor discussed his plans and blamed his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, for supporting changes to the law that loft tenants and attorneys say tipped the scales in favor landlords at their expense, Politico reported.

“We are very clear in this administration and I think the [city’s] Loft Board members understand this, that we think the previous administration’s approach was wrong,” de Blasio said. “We think that the previous administration’s approach, which basically favored the free market, undermined a supply of housing, including affordable housing for people who need it — some of whom in fact were artists and cultural workers who we obviously want to protect in this city, but even beyond that just a supply of affordable housing that was important.”

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Since 1982, artists who live and work in lofts have been able to go to the nine-member city Loft Board to convert their spaces into legal residences. In 2010, new rules were put in place that require windows facing a yard or street.

Loft advocates have been pushing de Blasio to get tough on implementing changes they see as more favorable to tenants. But earlier this year they said he was MIA.

“Mayor de Blasio promised affordable housing units for artists, and we need that. But we also need him to protect the existing ones,” Ximena Garnica, who has been looking to legally convert the Williamsburg loft she’s lived in for two decades, said in May. “We don’t need only to build new ones, but we need him to protect the live-work spaces that already exist.” [Politico]Rich Bockmann