Summer should be a time to relax, and take a step back from routines, and enjoy the good weather. While there’s been some time to catch up on reading, there’s still a lot going on in the District. Here are some of the highlights.
Street Safety Call to Action
In June we lost another Upper West Sider to a traffic collision — the fourth this year, all within a two-block radius. This is more than a tragedy; this is an epidemic. I am committed to pursuing street safety on every level: legislation, street redesigns, NYPD enforcement, and a public health campaign. I wrote about my next steps in an op-ed in last week’s West Side Spirit, which you can read here. The Department of Transportation announced on Friday that Amsterdam Avenue from 59th st to 190th st will become an Arterial Slow Zone with a reduced speed limit of 25 mph, and today NYPD will begin enforcing the Broadway slow zone from 59th to 220th st. If you have suggestions about street safety, please submit them on my website.
DOT West End Avenue Redesign
We had a full house last Thursday at the Department of Transportation’s presentation of their West End Avenue street redesign. Please look on my website to review their plan. Over 100 people made comments, and I thanked DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for staying the entire 2.5 hours to listen. There will be a second public hearing on August 12, so if you were not able to attend the first hearing, please come to the next one. As soon as the date, time, and location is confirmed, Community Board 7 will post it on their website, and I will send it around as well. You can hear my thoughts about the redesign on Pix11.
What can be done about the “poor door”?
It’s not just a “poor door,” everything about the two doors and the two buildings at 40 Riverside Boulevard is repugnant. To add insult to injury, the project is being financed through city-sponsored abatements. I spoke out against this issue on NPR, and I joined my colleagues in a letter to the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the Department of Housing and Preservation Development (HPD), which was also forwarded to the Mayor’s office and the City Council Speaker’s office. You can read it here, and feel free to reach out to any of us with questions or comments about this issue.
Increasing Access to Affordable Housing
Last month the Council passed my bill to expand DRIE (Disability Rent Increase Exemption) Program. The bill raised the income cap of disabled people who qualify from $20,000 to $50,000, and it is expected to impact at least an additional 1,000 households. It will make life a little easier for those with limited incomes who, until now, were facing escalating rents. My office is working closely with many tenants organizations and attending tenant meetings to discuss affordable housing issues and issues specific to buildings in our community. If you would like me to attend a tenant meeting in your building, just reach out to my office at 212 873-0282 x206.
Affordable Housing Advocate Anne Cunningham Joins the Team!
Affordable housing advocate Anne Cunningham (“AC”) has done extraordinary work in the community for years, and I am delighted to announce that she will begin working with our office! Anne was the mastermind behind the monthly housing clinics at Goddard Riverside, and she will be integral as we program our next season of housing clinics, which begin again in October.
Senior Food Bag program
The Senior Food Bag program is going strong, with 170 people and many local farms participating. (To the right is Anne Cunningham, Council Member Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, volunteers, and me after packing food bags the other day.) If you are a senior or a senior caregiver and you would like to participate, you can sign up at Goddard Riverside (593 Columbus Ave at 88th Street) on Monday, August 11th or Tuesday, August 12th from 1pm-3pm.
2 of 33 Laws Passed by the Council This Year are from Team Helen!
Capital New York posted an article yesterday about the bills passed so far this year in City Council, and 2 of the 33 bills passed are from Team Helen! I’m so proud of these two laws, Cooper’s Law and the DRIE Expansion Law, and I will keep working on getting legislation through the rigorous and daunting process of becoming New York City law.
Free Summer Meals for Kids 18 & Under Through August 29th
Kids 18 and under can get two free, healthy meals every weekday through August 29th! Several schools and community centers in the neighborhood are participating, and no application or registration is required.
Report Reckless & Unsafe Drivers to New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC)
You can play an important role in making our streets safer! TLC will issue summonses to reckless and unsafe drivers based on citizen reports of unsafe driving. If you see a cab or limo run a red light, fail to yield to pedestrians, talk on a phone while driving, or otherwise drive in a reckless or unsafe manner, you can report them via 311 or the nyc.gov website (here for yellow cabs and here for car services / limos). TLC lawyers will review your complaint and issue a summons if they find that the complaint is warranted. Photos / video helpful but not required.
I had such a blast at two picnics for our public housing residents (NYCHA Family Days) this past weekend, and I am looking forward to one more this coming weekend. I also had the chance to play soccer at the Street Soccer USA Cup Opening Ceremony game. I enjoyed playing with my colleagues, and next time I’ll remember to avoid hitting the ball into my own team’s goal– and aim for the other team’s goal. The John Jay Twilight Series jazz concert was delightful, and I look forward to attending the last one on August 12th.