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6/20/08 Affairs and Appointments

6/20/08 Affairs and Appointments

Special Section: A Busy Week for Development in New York City

Special Section: City-State Business

New York City

New York State

Public Hearings

Notable Sayings of the Week

What do you think, I go around breaking people’s arms?

Assemblyman David F. Gantt, Democrat of Rochester, in response to a question about whether he had sought to influence other members of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee to vote against a bill which they had co-sponsored. The bill would have allowed New York City to mount cameras onto buses to identify cars that encroached upon special lanes reserved for a new class of city buses.

This is such a specific New York City issue, it’s one of the many things where you wonder why the State Legislature has any role at all.

Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing, Democrat of Manhattan Democrat, who was the bus camera bill’s chief sponsor.

The South Bronx – long known nationally as the area Howard Cosell was referring to when he said ‘the Bronx is burning’ and once known locally as an area of underinvestment and decay – is undergoing an extraordinary transformation.  Today, more than $3 billion is being invested in the South Bronx by the public and private sectors for new housing, open space, retail amenities, mass transit infrastructure, schools and a new Yankee Stadium, all of which is creating thousands of new jobs.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, atop the steps of the Bronx Civic Center, introducing a new economic development initiative for the South Bronx.

According to published reports, some members of the M.T.A. board are considering voting in opposition to Chairman Hemmerdinger’s proposal to restrict their own personal use of free E-ZPass tags, commuter rail passes, and other special benefits. At a time when millions of state residents are feeling the pinch of an economy in turmoil and struggling to support their families, such a decision would demonstrate an utter contempt for average New Yorkers… If M.T.A. board members truly want to better understand the system they oversee, they should pay the same tolls and fares as everyone else, and be part of the public transportation system that millions of New Yorkers depend on every day.

Governor David Paterson, commenting on reports that the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will vote down Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdiner’s proposal to restrict board members’ use of free lifetime transit passes.

Although the negotiations went down to the wire, they produced an agreement that truly belongs in the winner’s circle.  Working with State leaders, we have put out to pasture a fiscally flawed arrangement with OTB – one that threatened to divert City funds from police and fire protection, public schools, and other essential services. Instead, the City will continue to receive a public benefit from racing that takes place in New York City.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, commenting on the creation of a new State entity to assume control of New York City Off-Track Betting.

Musing of the Week: What Technological Advances Created the Vertical City?

The New York Sun’s Sandy Ikeda examines how invention of the steel frame and the safety elevator unwittingly enabled the rise of skyscrapers.  Read Ikeda’s post “The Vertical City as an Unintended Consequence.”


Related Companies have selected Jay Cross, President of the New York Jets, to join Related in July as President of Related Hudson Yards.  In this position, Cross will lea Related’s development efforts of the 26-acre Hudson Yards site in collaboration with New York State, New York City, the MTA, elected officials and the community.  Read Crain’s New York Business.comarticle on Jay Cross here, and read prior A&A coverage of Related’s plans for the Hudson Yards here.

Roger Kelley resigned as the president and chief executive officer of the New York Power Authority, effective Aug. 1.  NYPA runs the Niagara Falls electric generating station and 17 other power plants in the state.  Gov. David Paterson said he will nominate Kelley to serve on the board of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

Manhattan to Get New Schools as NYC’s Educational Construction Fund Announces Agreement with World Wide Group

From Peter Kiefer of the New York Sun:

Negotiators for the city have reached a multibillion-dollar agreement with a developer to build two new schools in Manhattan and a 59-story mixed-use tower at 250 E. 57th St.

Lawyers for the New York City Educational Construction Fund announced yesterday that they had closed on the first phase of financing for the World Wide Group to construct a new elementary school and a new high school that would replace the High School for Art and Design. In return, the World Wide Group has secured a 75-year lease from the city for a 1.5-acre site at East 57th Street and Second Avenue, where it plans to construct 200,000 square feet of retail space and 488,000 square feet of residential space. The developer plans to build 300 residential units, an unspecified number of which will be dedicated to “affordable” housing.

This type of deal, which allows for the creation of new schools at no cost to taxpayers, was more common in the 1970s, and is being revived by the Bloomberg administration. It calls for lease payments to be used for similar public school projects and, in total, the New York City Educational Construction Fund estimates the agreement has a capital value in excess of $4.2 billion.

The developer will add 40% more space to the High School for Art and Design, along with an art gallery and other upgrades. The new elementary school will be built on the site where P.S. 59 exists.

World Wide Group has built about 1,350 residential apartments in Manhattan, and was a partner in the development of the mixed-use Worldwide Plaza on West 50th Street.

Two Trees Management to Build Mixed-Use Facility for Brooklyn Cultural District

From Kate Taylor of the New York Sun:

In an adjustment to a worsening economic climate, a triangular parking lot in downtown Brooklyn that originally was slated to be an Enrique Norten-designed public library will be developed instead by Two Trees Management as a mixed-use facility.

The proposal for this Enrique Norten-designed library will now be replaced with a mixed-use facility from the same architect.

The city is expected to finalize the plan in the coming days. In addition to 180 housing units and 187,000 square feet of commercial space, the proposed 371,000-square-foot facility, to be designed by Mr. Norten, will include studios, offices, and performance space for Brooklyn-based arts organizations. The building could also include a small branch library — one much more modest than originally planned.

Under the deal, Two Trees would pay the city $20 million in cash for the site. The developer would also transfer another nearby property, valued at $6.5 million, to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which would use it to build administrative offices and a new, 263-seat community and educational theater.

Continue reading New York Suncoverage of Two Trees’ project here.

City Buys Out Willets Point Landowners

From Crain’s New York Business.comDaniel Massey:

The Bloomberg administration announced Wednesday that it has reached deals with two owners to acquire 74,000 square feet of land in Willets Point.

The Economic Development Corp. signed contracts with Sambucci Bros. Inc. Auto Salvage for two parcels totaling 52,000 square feet of land and BRD Corp. for three parcels that total 22,000 square feet.  They are the first agreements with landowners since the city announced plans to remake the potholed streets of 61-acre Willets Point with 5,500 housing units, a hotel, convention center and 2.2 million square feet of office and retail space.

Continue reading Mr. Massey’s Willets Point article here.

Banishing the Ghost of Howard Cossell, Mayor Bloomberg Touts Economic Development in the South Bronx and Announces New Initative to Aid the Comeback

Developed by the Mayor’s Office and an interagency team in coordination with local elected officials and community groups, the initiative identifies three focus areas – Melrose Commons/Third Avenue, the Bronx Civic Center and the Lower Grand Concourse. For each area, the Initiative outlines specific action items that will be implemented to achieve goals related to office, retail and residential development, affordable housing, transportation and open space. New developments in the initiative area will provide more than 8,000 housing units, about 800,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, 160,000 square feet of hotel and conference space and new and enhanced parks and green spaces.

Read Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement here.

Read Hope Hodge’s New York Sunarticle on the Mayor’s South Bronx Initiative, “The Bronx is Building,” here.

New Health Care Facilities Planned in N.Y.

From Michael Stoler of the New York Sun:

To meet the needs of residents of the tristate region, health care institutions are planning and developing new facilities.

“With an aging population and surging improvements in medical technology, health care leaders in the United States have urged a one-third increase in physicians. By 2020, just 12 years from now, the U.S. population is slated to grow by over 33 million, which is more than New York State’s current population,” a state senator and the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Kemp Hannon, said. “The need for well-trained doctors, at hospitals and universities following established and cutting-edge protocols, is self-evident.”

Perhaps the greatest obstacle for the expansion of health care centers is the lack of available land for development. In Manhattan, industry leaders expect the leading health care systems, including New York University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System, and Mount Sinai Medical Center, to seek locations near their present campuses. Sites may include the former Bellevue Hospital site on 30th Street and First Avenue, the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing on First Avenue near Bellevue Hospital, and the Solow development site on the former Consolidated Edison property on First Avenue between 36th and 40th streets. Potential expansion may include development on Roosevelt Island, as well in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Still, expansion is under way across the city and the surrounding areas. On June 12, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University officially opens its 223,000-square-foot Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine/Harold and Muriel Block Research Pavilion. The five-story, $220 million facility is the largest and most significant research building to be constructed in the Bronx in half a century. It houses 40 research teams, with 400 scientists, dedicated to advancing a broad array of biomedical research.

Continue reading Mr. Stoler’s article here.

In Bed-Stuy, a 101-Year-Old Library Reopens

From Sewell Chan of the New York Times’ City Room blog:

 The Macon branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, one of 18 Brooklyn libraries that opened from 1901 to 1923 through the support of the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, reopened on Thursday afternoon after a two-year, $2 million renovation.

The library, a two-story, neoclassical building at 361 Lewis Avenue with original fireplaces, oak paneling, alcoves and wooden benches, opened on July 15, 1907, in a ceremony that drew about 2,000 visitors, according to the library’s records. The Macon branch has provided nearly continuous service over the past century to Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Continue reading Mr. Chan’s blog post here.

Mayor and Governor Manage to Preserve New York City Off-Track Betting

An agreement this past Saturday between Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson averted Mayor Bloomberg’s threatened shutdown of New York City Off-Track Betting (NYC OTB) and its 1,500 employees.  Under the agreement – embodied in a bill expected to be approved by both houses of the State Legislature – a newly created State body would immediately assume control of NYC OTB, but would continue to direct a portion of revenues from these operations to the City.  This new State entity will retain the approximately 1,500 OTB employees in New York City and also assume OTB’s financial liabilities. As part of this agreement, the City will continue to receive payments relating to tracks within the City, which last year resulted in approximately $4.25 million. In addition, the City will agree to provide OTB with access to the broadcast signals on city channels 71 and 73 to air races for $3.25 million annually. The term of this broadcast agreement is three years, after which the parties will negotiate in good faith.

Read Governor Paterson’s comments on the NYC OTB agreement here; read Mayor Bloomberg’s comments here.

Read hereNew York Suncoverage of the NYC OTB deal.

As Commmittee Rebuffs PLANYC Initiative, Albany Ways Continue to Flummox City

From Danny Hakim of the New York Times:

ALBANY — Once again, Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, has been frustrated by the mysterious ways of the capital.

The latest indignity came on Tuesday, when Assembly Democrats refused to advance a city proposal to prevent cars from using special lanes that will be reserved for a new class of city buses. If that was not frustrating enough, six Democratic co-sponsors of the bill were among those who voted not to move it out of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee because the panel’s chairman, Assemblyman David F. Gantt, also a Democrat, opposed the measure.
It might seem unusual for lawmakers to vote against a bill they support, but it happens with some frequency in Albany, where political expediency often trumps ideology.

The Bloomberg administration was not pleased.

“Gridlock will not simply disappear on its own,” said Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the mayor. “By blocking a bill that the majority of committee members support, Chairman Gantt undermines the Democratic process.”

The legislative session is winding down next Monday. The last weeks of the session are usually busy, but have been unusually free of activity as Gov. David A. Paterson struggles to pull together his administration in the wake of Eliot Spitzer’s political demise.

The rejection of the city’s bus bill was also disappointing for environmental advocates. This month, the city will introduce new rapid transit buses, which will operate on 50 miles of lanes throughout the city by 2011. The city had hoped to use cameras mounted on the buses to catch cars that encroach in the special lanes.

“It has the potential to revolutionize the way people move around town,” said Gene Russianoff, an advocate for mass transit and a lawyer for the New York Public Interest Research Group. He added that it would be “impossible to enforce lanes now with the police — you’d need a battalion.”

Mr. Gantt, who is from Rochester, has long opposed the use of cameras for law enforcement, but recently he reversed course by introducing a bill that would allow for red light cameras in Buffalo. The bill was drafted to favor a type of traffic-monitoring technology made by a company run by his former counsel.
He brushed off a question about whether he had sought to influence the votes of other committee members on the bus bill.

“What do you think, I go around breaking people’s arms?” he said.
The Assembly co-sponsors of the bill who voted to hold it, all Democrats, were Michelle Schimel and Harvey Weisenberg of Long Island, Sam Hoyt of Buffalo, Janele Hyer-Spencer and Matthew Titone of Staten Island and George Latimer of Westchester County.

Jonathan L. Bing, a Manhattan Democrat who was the bill’s chief sponsor, said, “This is such a specific New York City issue, it’s one of the many things where you wonder why the State Legislature has any role at all.

Bus Frustrations Aside, Mayor Bloomberg Praises Legislature for Supporting PLANYC Initiatives on Traffic/Air Pollution, Incentives for Renewable Energy

Mayor Bloomberg this week praised the Legislature for passing bills to reduce traffic congestion, to provide new City tax credits to homes and businesses for installing solar panels, and to allow individuals who generate renewable power to sell what is unused back to the system.  The Mayor’s press release is below:

In the past several days, the State Legislature has passed three bills that were legislative proposals made in PlaNYC, our agenda for creating a greener, greater New York. Today, the Legislature took a big step toward reducing traffic congestion – and air pollution from idling cars – by passing our proposal to make it easier to cite drivers for ‘blocking the box’ at busy intersections. And on Tuesday, the Legislature approved City tax credits for installing solar panels on homes and businesses – encouraging private property owners to join the growing movement toward the use of renewable power. A third bill, also passed today, allows those who generate renewable power to sell what is unused back to the system, an important incentive for individuals and businesses to install technology like solar panels. This is welcome progress, and I thank the Legislature for their action, particularly Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno; Assembly Member Herman ‘Denny’ Farrell, Jr. and Senator Frank Padavan, who sponsored the Solar Panel bill; and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Senator Andrew Lanza, who sponsored the bill that will reduce congestion from ‘blocking the box.’ I look forward to Governor Paterson signing all of these bills into law.

Poll Finds New Yorkers Glum on Direction of City, but Still Sunny on Mayor Bloomberg

From David W. Chen and Dalia Sussman of the New York Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg remains as popular as ever, despite an overwhelming consensus that his administration should have done more to ensure the safety of construction sites and an overall sense that the city is headed down the wrong path, according to the latest New York Timespoll.

Some 67 percent of city residents approve of the job Mr. Bloomberg is doing, while 28 percent disapprove, according to the poll. (About 5 percent had no opinion.) That matches Mr. Bloomberg’s highest mark ever in a Times poll, which was in October 2005, shortly before he defeated Fernando Ferrer to win re-election to a second term.

Finish reading the Times’ article here.

See an informative graph of poll results here, a description of how the poll was conducted here, and complete results here.

Mayor Bloomberg Announces “Summer Streets,” Pilot Program for a Car-Free City Route

For Three Saturdays in August, Route from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park Will Open

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan this week announced Summer Streets, a new City program that will temporarily open a 6.9 mile car-free route from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street.

Offering connections to Central Park and other open spaces, Summer Streets will give New Yorkers unprecedented access to the streets for exercise and exploration from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays in August, the 9th, 16th and 23rd. Major cross-town streets will remain open for vehicles that need to cross the route.

Read the Mayor’s press release here; download the “Summer Streets” map here.

Read New York Sun coverage of the “Summer Streets” proposal here.

For One Million Rent-Stabilized Tenants, Rent Increases To Come

At a boisterous public meeting Thursday night in the Great Hall at Cooper Union, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board authorized rent increases of up to 4.5 percent on one-year leases and 8.5 percent on two-year leases.

The increases approved on Thursday apply to leases renewed between Oct. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009. Tenants who pay for their own heat are subject to lower increases.

The board also took the rare step of authorizing a supplemental rent increase that will affect only tenants who have lived in their apartments for six years or more. Owners of buildings with those tenants have the option of charging them the approved increases, or a $45 monthly increase for one-year leases or $85 for two-year leases, whichever is greater.

The last time the board approved a set of increases this large was in 1989, when one-year leases saw a 5.5 percent increase and two-year leases a 9 percent increase. In 2003, one-year leases increased 4.5 percent, but two-year leases increased 7.5 percent. Last year, the board approved increases of 3 percent on one-year leases and 5.75 percent on two-year leases.

Read herea New York Times article by Manny Fernandez on the Rent Guidelines Board’s decision.

How Different is 55 from 62? Independent Budget Office Weighs in on Cost to City from Allowing Employees to Retire Early

From the NYC Independent Budget Office:

THE LEGISLATURE IN ALBANY is currently considering a bill that would allow certain public employees to retire at age 55 rather than 62 without a loss in pension benefits. IBO estimates that the bill would increase the city’s pension and fringe benefit costs by $68.1 million in the first year after accounting for savings from hiring entry-level replacements.

Other estimates of the cost of this bill have varied widely, ranging from the Bloomberg Administration’s $200 million projection to the estimate provided by a union-hired actuary that there would be no cost to the city. The no-cost estimate, by Jonathan Schwartz, a former Chief Actuary of the City of New York, was initially used by the Legislature in considering the bill, although once his relationship with the union was publicized, legislative leaders have committed to obtaining a new and independent cost estimate before proceeding.

Background. In 1995, the city and the unions representing many of its non-uniformed city workers negotiated a deal that allowed qualified workers to opt into an early-retirement plan. Those who elected to join the new plan could retire at age 55 with at least 25 years of service but still receive their full pension as if they worked to age 62, which remains the standard age for such workers to retire with a full pension. This program is known as Chapter 96, after the state legislation that authorized it. Although the city would incur higher pension costs for those leaving early, the city expected to offset the higher pension costs with lower payroll expenses because the Giuliani Administration did not plan to replace many of those taking the offer. Employees wishing to participate had to accept by June 28, 1995.

The current legislation (A05754A/S03244A) would give most employees who were eligible but did not take the offer in 1995 a second chance to opt into the plan. Unlike the original, collectively bargained Chapter 96 plan, this second chance or “reopener” legislation is not supported by the Bloomberg Administration, which does not expect the higher pension and other benefit costs to be offset by other personnel savings.

Read the full IBO Report “How Much Will the Proposed Early-Retirement Bill Cost the City?” here; see the appendix and methodological notes here.

New Safety Harness Rules at City Construction Sites

(AP) – New York contractors will now have to submit detailed plans for worker safety harness systems at high-rise construction sites.

The city’s Department of Buildings told contractors Monday about the new requirements in response to a window installer’s death in April. Kevin Kelly fell nine floors to his death after his safety strap failed; investigators said it was improperly installed.

Contractors will now have to obtain engineer-approved drawings of any new safety harness systems that are built into concrete. Site superintendents will have to sign off on inspections for the harnesses. The sites will have to get engineers to certify any safety strap systems that already exist

MTA Board Will Vote to Restrict Free Travel Passes After all

Possible Mutiny against Chairman Hemmerdinger’s Proposal Fizzles after Public Rebuke from Governor Paterson

Read herefor A&A background on the dispute over free transit passes for MTA board members, which began last month when Attorney General Andrew Cuomo charged that free lifetime passes to board members violated a “no-compensation” law.

From William Neuman of the New York Times:

David S. Mack, a vice chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, backed off on Thursday from statements he had made defending the use of unlimited free travel passes for the authority’s board members and said he would now vote to curtail the perk.

Mr. Mack’s reversal came just hours after Gov. David A. Paterson issued a scorching statement saying that continuing the free travel privilege at a time of economic difficulty would show “an utter contempt for average New Yorkers.”

Mr. Mack, a wealthy real estate executive from Long Island, prompted a storm of controversy on Wednesday when he told reporters that if the free travel passes he received as a transportation authority board member were taken away, he might not ride the Long Island Rail Road any more.

“Why should I ride and inconvenience myself when I can ride in a car?” he said at the time, speaking after leading a meeting of a board committee that oversees the railroad.

He also said on Wednesday that complaints made by average people about the authority’s services were ignored, while board members got quick action if they complain about poor service.

On Thursday he changed course.

“I regret that my comments yesterday did not reflect my commitment to the M.T.A. and the work it does to provide the best public transportation system in the United States,” he said, in a written statement.

He also said that he would vote at a board meeting next Wednesday to change the authority’s policy on free travel, so that board members could use free E-ZPass tags or special passes for rail and bus travel only while on official business.

Mr. Mack’s defection appeared to put an end to a revolt that was brewing among board members on the issue and seemed to make the policy change all but certain to gain approval.

Continue reading Mr. Neuman’s article here.

Read Governor David Patersons’s public criticism of MTA board members here.

State Health Commissioner: Tax Hike has Smokers Quitting

State Health Commissioner Richard Daines said nearly 10,000 people called New York’s Quitline during the first week of the tax hike, compared with 2,300 during the same week last year.

(AP) – New York smokers have been sent outside in all kinds of weather, coughed at in disdain, and now they are burdened with the most expensive cigarette taxes in the nation. Now, to add cost to injury, the state is declaring its highest-in-the-nation cigarette tax a success.

New York Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines says the evidence is in the spike in calls to the state’s Smoker’s Quitline. The number of people seeking help to quit smoking quadrupled during the week of June 2, when the full $2.75-a-pack tax kicked in, to nearly 10,000 calls. Fewer than 2,300 people called for help during the same week in 2007.

The number of requests for free nicotine replacement therapy starter kits also rose sharply. Smokers calling the Quitline requested nearly 7,900 kits that week, compared with 1,722 requested during the same week last year, according to the Health Department.

“Not everyone that tries, quits,” Mr. Daines said. “We estimate about 140,000 New Yorkers will successfully quit smoking. We may have more than a million try to cut down or stop, but this is how you get people to try: give them multiple chances and multiple reasons to stop.”

The increase that took effect June 3 sent the tax from $1.25 to $2.75 per pack. In most of the state, cigarettes range between $6 and $8 a pack depending on brand, and store price. They can cost as much as $10 in New York City, which has its own tax.

Michigan has a $2 tax per pack. Virginia and Kentucky have a tax of 30 cents per pack, both ranking 47th in the nation, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.

Audrey Silk, who heads NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, says the initial increase Quitline calls doesn’t realistically represent how many people will become nonsmokers.

“No matter the goal, it’s disgusting that any group would actually boast that coercive government — this time through the hammer of taxation — to beat a class of society enjoying a legal product into submission is ‘successful’,” Ms. Silk said.

“What is really coercive is the disease that tobacco causes,” Mr. Daines said. “I’ve seen people die prematurely, lose their loved ones and confined to home.”

Cigarette smoking kills about 400,000 people in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 45 million U.S. adults are smokers, though the prevalence has fallen dramatically since the 1960s.

“The reason it’s not unfair is because this tax is helping to make the price that the consumers pay begin to reflect the real cost that cigarettes pose on society as a whole,” said Russell Sciandra, of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York. “If they actually had to pay for all the medical care and lost productivity that cigarettes cost in our society, cigarettes would cost more than $12 a pack.”

Goveror Paterson Signs Bill to Enhance “Net Metering,” Allowing Producers of Renewable Energy to Sell More Unused Power Back to the Grid

Governor David A. Paterson this announced an agreement with the Legislature on energy legislation that authorizes a process called net metering. Net metering allows electricity customers with qualified renewable energy systems to sell excess electricity back to their local utility.

By expanding the State’s net metering law, sponsors of the bill hope to spur greater investment by homeowners, farms and businesses in technology that generates energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and biomass. Increasing market demand for such technologies could in turn create new jobs by attracting renewable energy manufacturers and installers to New York State.

Previously, the Governor’s Renewable Energy Task Force had identified New York’s limitations on net metering as a barrier to broader use of distributed renewable energy generation.  To remove this barrier, this week’s bill will significantly expand net metering in three areas of renewable energy – solar, wind and farm waste.

Solar Power
The bill will expand the State’s solar net metering program to apply to businesses, and increase the size of eligible solar PV systems to 25 kilowatts for residential customers and up to 2 megawatts or the customer’s peak load (whichever is less) for non-residential customers. The law will also increase the maximum amount of electricity that the utility would be required to buy back through net metering. Additionally, the law will provide the Long Island Power Authority with authorization to implement non-residential solar electric net metering pursuant to Public Service Law requirements.

Wind Power
The bill will also authorize net metering for wind technology for all utility customer classes, including non-residential classes. Previously, the law authorized such systems for residential and farm operations only. The law will also allow non-residential wind electric generators to net meter up to the lesser of their peak load or 2 megawatts, and increase the maximum size of wind facilities for farm operations from 125 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts. Caps on net-metering enrollment in utility service territories will also be increased.

Farm Waste
The size of a farm waste electric generation system that can be net metered will increase from 400 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts.
Read Governor Paterson’s press release on the net metering bill here.

Poll: New Yorkers Support Proposed Cap on Property Tax Increases

Nearly 75% of voters support Gov.  David Paterson’s proposal to cap property-tax increases at 4% per year, according to a Siena Research Institute poll released Monday. 

Read Crain’s New York Business.comcoverage of New Yorkers’ attitude toward a cap on property taxes here.

Bowing to His Conference, Majority Leader Bruno Appears Ready to Reverse Course and Embrace Governor Paterson’s Property Tax Cap

For Background on Governor Paterson’s proposed cap on local property taxes, see A&A coverage hereand here.

From Jacob Gershman of the New York Sun:

In a dramatic policy shift, Senate Republicans in Albany say they are pulling back on their opposition to Governor Paterson’s proposal to force school districts to limit the annual growth in property tax levies.

Under pressure from his conference members, the Republican majority leader of the Senate, Joseph Bruno, is poised to break with the Assembly Democrats and join the governor in supporting a tax cap.

Mr. Bruno is “definitely warming up to a tax cap,” a Republican senator of Brooklyn, Martin Golden, said. “There is overwhelming support within the conference for some kind of property tax cap.”

Continue reading Mr. Gershman’s article here.

Schedule of Hearings in the New York City Council for the Week of June 23

Governmental Operations Simcha Felder, Chair
Monday, June 23, 10:00 AM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Will New York City be HAVA compliant for the 2008 Primary and General Elections?

Aging; Public Safety Peter F. Vallone, Jr., Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Chairs
Monday, June 23, 11:00 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: Int 737 – By Council Members Vacca, Addabbo Jr., Avella, Brewer, Dickens, Fidler, Foster, Gennaro, Gentile, Gonzalez, James, Koppell, Liu, McMahon, Mendez, Monserrate, Nelson, Recchia Jr., Sanders Jr., Stewart, Weprin, White Jr., Katz, Martinez, Palma, Gerson, Vann, Vallone Jr., Ignizio and Oddo – A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to elder abuse prevention. Res 1421 – By Council Members Vallone Jr., Addabbo Jr., Brewer, Felder, Fidler, Gentile, Koppell, Liu, Nelson, Sanders Jr. and Vann – Resolution calling upon the New York State Assembly to pass A.0305, which would amend the New York State Penal Law to include the financial exploitation of the elderly or disabled within the crime of larceny. Res 1422 – By Council Members Vallone Jr., Gentile, Nelson, Sanders Jr. and Weprin – Resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to amend the Criminal Procedure Law, by adding the advanced age of a witness as a ground for an order directing the conditional examination of that witness. Res 1423 – By Council Members Vallone Jr., Addabbo Jr., Gentile and Nelson – Resolution calling on the New York State Assembly to pass A.3640-A, which would amend the Criminal Procedure Law to allow the submission of business records by affidavit without the need for live testimony by the custodian of records in grand jury proceedings.

Veterans Hiram Monserrate, Chair
Monday, June 23, 1:00 PM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Exploring Employment Options for NYC’s Veterans Preconsidered Res____ – By Council Member Monserrate, the Speaker (Council Member Quinn) and Council Members Dickens, Jackson, Stewart, Recchia, Jr., Fidler, Weprin, Comrie, Felder, Vann, Sanders, Jr., Mark-Viverito, Arroyo, Gentile and Koppell – Resolution calling upon President Bush to sign the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act.

Consumer Affairs Leroy G. Comrie, Jr., Chair
Monday, June 23, 1:00 PM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Details: Proposed Int 80-A – By Council Members Gioia, Gentile, Martinez, McMahon, Nelson, Sanders Jr., Stewart, Weprin and Liu – A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to registering private ATM machines.

Community Development * AdditionAlbert Vann, Chair
Tuesday, June 24, 10:00 AM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 16th Floor
Details: Oversight – Testimony from Service Providers and Advocates on Poverty Reduction in New York City

Contracts; Women’s Issues; Civil Rights; Small Business David Yassky, Helen Sears, Larry B. Seabrook, Letitia James, Chairs
Tuesday, June 24, 10:00 AM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Oversight – M/WBE Compliance

Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Chair
Tuesday, June 24, 1:00 PM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Providing Adequate Workspace for Artists and Musicians in New York City.

Technology in Government Gale A. Brewer, Chair
Tuesday, June 24, 1:00 PM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: Oversight – HHS-Connect

Parks & Recreation Helen D. Foster, Chair
Tuesday, June 24, 1:00 PM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Details: Oversight – Status of Yankee Stadium Replacement Parks

Civil Service & Labor * AdditionJoseph P. Addabbo, Jr., Chair
Tuesday, June 24, 1:00 PM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 16th Floor
Details: Proposed Int 702-A – By Council Members Lappin, Brewer, Felder, James, Liu, Palma, Weprin and Monserrate – A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to electronic pay stubs for city employees.

Planning, Dispositions & Concessions * AdditionDaniel R. Garodnick, Chair
Wednesday, June 25, 9:30 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: See Land Use Calendar Available in Room 5 City Hall

Zoning & Franchises * AdditionTony Avella, Chair
Wednesday, June 25, 9:45 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: See Land Use Calendar Available in Room 5 City Hall

Land Use Melinda R. Katz, Chair
Wednesday, June 25, 10:00 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: All items reported out of the subcommittees AND SUCH OTHER BUSINESS AS MAY BE NECESSARY

Finance * AdditionDavid I. Weprin, Chair
Wednesday, June 25, 11:00 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: L.U. 797 – By Council Member Weprin – Baisley Park Gardens, 125-30 and 120-45 Sutphin Boulevard, Block 12051, Lot 20, Block 12045, Lot 1, Queens, Council District 28. Preconsidered L.U. ____ – By Council Member Weprin – Courtland Corners II, Block 2408, Lots 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 20, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31 and part of Lot 16 (part of tentative Lot 1), Bronx, Council District No. 17 Preconsidered L.U. ____ – By Council Member Weprin – New Foundations Program, POKO South Bronx Condominiums I, 1434-8 Morris Avenue, Bronx, Council District No. 16 Preconsidered L.U. ____ – By Council Member Weprin – Section 202 Supportive Housing Program for the Elderly, Council Towers V, 2228 Givan Avenue, The Bronx, Council District No. 12 AND SUCH OTHER BUSINESS AS MAY BE NECESSARY

Rules, Privileges & Elections * AdditionDiana Reyna, Chair
Wednesday, June 25, 11:00 AM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Preconsidered Res____ – By Council Member Reyna – Resolution approving membership changes to certain committees. AND SUCH OTHER BUSINESS AS MAY BE NECESSARY

Stated Council Meeting
Wednesday, June 25, 1:30 PM
Committee Room – City Hall

Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse & Disability Services G. Oliver Koppell, Chair
Thursday, June 26, 10:00 AM
Jacoby Hospital
Details: Tour: Jacoby Hospital Inpatient Behavior Unit 1400 Pelham Parkway Bronx, NY 10461

General Welfare Bill de Blasio, Chair
Thursday, June 26, 10:00 AM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Details: Oversight – Examining DHS’ Strategies and Progress toward Meeting the Goal of Reducing Homelessness by 2/3 by 2009

Waterfronts Michael C. Nelson, Chair
Thursday, June 26, 1:00 PM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Developing and Maintaining New York City’s Waterfront Infrastructure

Senior Centers * AdditionJames Vacca, Chair
Thursday, June 26, 1:00 PM
Dreiser Senior Center
Details: Senior Center Tour and Roundtable Discussion: Seniors’ Responses to Proposed DFTA Modernization Efforts Location: Dreiser Senior Center 177 Dreiser Loop Bronx, NY 10475

Public Safety * AdditionPeter F. Vallone, Jr., Chair
Thursday, June 26, 1:00 PM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Int 721 – By Council Members Vallone Jr., Nelson and Gerson – A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to prohibiting climbing or jumping from structures.

Environmental Protection James F. Gennaro, Chair
Friday, June 27, 10:00 AM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Proposed Int 476-A – By Council Members Recchia Jr., Avella, Brewer, Fidler, Gentile, James, Liu, Martinez, McMahon, Nelson, Seabrook, Weprin, White Jr. and Mark-Viverito – A LOCAL LAW – To amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to benchmarking the energy and water efficiency of buildings. Preconsidered Int____ – By Council Member Vann – A LOCAL LAW – To amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to disclosing the energy and water efficiency of 1-4 family homes, co-ops and condominiums.