City Council member Carlina Rivera with Council Speaker Corey Johnson at a news conference July 18, 2018. Photo by Emil Cohen/New York City Council.
A bill sponsored by local City Council member Carlina Rivera aimed at Airbnb sailed through the Council yesterday.
The legislation, approved unanimously, would require home sharing firms to turn over information about their hosts to city regulators. It is illegal to rent most apartments in New York City for less than 30 days unless the host is present. The bill, which has the support of Mayor de Blasio, will enable the city to crack down on violators.
Critics of apartment sharing services say they have exacerbated New York’s housing crisis, making it easier for building owners to profit from short-term rentals. They argue that many apartments have been removed from the city’s stock of affordable housing as a result. Airbnb launched a ferocious PR campaign against Rivera and her Council colleagues.
After a similar law was enacted in San Francisco, the New York Times reported, Airbnb listings fell by half. Companies will face a $1,500 penalty for each listing they fail to disclose.
Airbnb unsuccessfully argued that the law would hurt “the little guy,” struggling New York City residents who use the service to earn a little extra money. The firm also accused Council members of being beholden to the hotel industry. Following the vote, spokesperson Liz DeBold Fusco said:
After taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the hotel industry, we’re not surprised the City Council refused to meet with their own constituents who rely on home sharing to pay the bills and then voted to protect the profits of big hotels. The fix was in from the start and now New Yorkers will be subject to unchecked, aggressive harassment and privacy violations, rubber stamped by the City Council.
Rivera countered, “Yes, sometimes it’s the common New Yorker. But many times, especially in my district, these are landlords who are taking rent-regulated units out of the housing stock because they’d rather get a lot more money per night.” She added, “This bill is about transparency and bringing accountability to billion-dollar companies who are not being good neighbors.”
Photos by Emil Cohen/New York City Council.
City Council member Carlina Rivera and New York Chief Administrative Law Judge Fidel F. Del Valle spent some time at the swimming pool yesterday. The visit to Dry Dock Playground on East 11th Street wasn’t recreational. They were kicking off a series of public events meant to give local residents the tools to deal with summertime summonses.
Del Valle serves as commissioner of the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH). Yesterday’s outreach event, “OATH School at the Pool,” offered information on fighting typical warm-weather summonses, such as open container, late night noise and, yes, urinating in public violations. The idea is to demystify the sometimes confusing court hearing process.
OATH has prepared a video to help educate the public about city-issued summonses. You can watch it here.
Carlina Rivera during an unrelated tenant rally at City Hall last week. Image via CM Rivera’s Twitter.
On Thursday, local City Council member Carlina Rivera plans to introduce legislation aimed at Airbnb.
If the proposal becomes law, the home sharing firm would be fined $25,000 for each apartment listing it fails to disclose in quarterly reports to the city. Airbnb and similar firms would be required to reveal addresses, host names and contact info in filings with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.
Rivera told Politico she hopes to schedule a hearing on the proposal right away. “To be clear,” she explained, “this bill is not going to punish the operators — it’s going to mandate consequences, financial consequences, that apply only to Airbnb, not the operators, if they do not hand over the info that we’re requiring.”
Screen shot: some of Airbnb’s Lower East Side listings.
Rivera and many of her Council colleagues believe Airbnb rentals are depriving local residents of apartments which would normally serve as rent stabilized housing. State law prohibits most short-term (less than 30 day) rentals unless the owner is present.
Airbnb has launched an aggressive campaign against the bill, arguing that the “deep pocketed big hotel industry” is behind the legislation, and that there could be internet privacy concerns. An Airbnb spokesperson claimed that the legislation would hurt, “seniors who share their space to avoid economic hardship while living on a fixed income; millennials who have opened their doors to pay off student debt; and families of color who share their home to stay in their home amidst rising rents.”
Coming up on Saturday, April 28, City Council Member Carlina Rivera is hosting a community resource fair with Grand Street Settlement. There will be free blood pressure screenings, information about affordable housing applications, information about volunteer opportunities, etc. The event takes place from 1-4 p.m. at Grand Street Settlement’s main building, 80 Pitt St. You can RSVP by emailing District2@council.nyc.gov, or by calling 212-677-1077, ext. 107.
Photo courtesy of Carlina Rivera’s campaign.
Carlina Rivera, a candidate for City Council in District 2, has picked up two significant local endorsements. She’s won the support of State Sen. Daniel Squadron and State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou.
Rivera is running in September’s Democratic Primary to replace her former boss, Rosie Mendez. The sitting Council member is prevented from pursuing another term due to term limits. District 2 includes some sections of the Lower East Side below East Houston Street, and it covers the East Village, Gramercy Park and Kips Bay.
In a statement, Squadron said, “Carlina Rivera has worked for years as a champion for the Lower East Side. Her experience and commitment to our community will make her a strong representative for the Second Council District. I am proud to endorse her, and I look forward to working with her as a colleague in government.”
Niou, who was recently elected to serve Lower Manhattan, said, “I am thrilled to give Carlina my support… Having spent years as a community advocate, Carlina is prepared to hit the ground running and advocate for the Lower East Side and its surrounding communities. I am confident Carlina has the knowledge, experience and energy to take on this challenge, and I look forward to working with her to deliver real results for Lower Manhattan.”
Other candidates competing in the primary include Jasmin Sanchez, a community activist who worked for Squadron; and Mary Silver, an attorney active in local education issues.
Rivera was previously a staffer in Mendez’s office and worked for Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), the housing advocacy organization. She’s a lifelong resident of the Lower East Side. She’s also been endorsed by State Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and, of course, Rosie Mendez.
Photo courtesy of Carlina Rivera’s campaign.
Next week we’ll have a pretty good idea how the 2017 campaigns for City Council are shaping up. On Tuesday, candidates must file finance reports with the city covering the past six months. One candidate in District 2, which covers the East Village, isn’t waiting for the filings to become public.
Carlina Rivera announced last night that she has raised $176,000, including $76,000 in private funds. This means Rivera is just about finished fundraising for the Council race. The spending cap for Council campaigns is $182,000. The city offers a six-to-one match for the first $175 in donations from local residents. A press release from Rivera’s campaign noted that she has “one of the largest small donor bases in the city” and that her filing, “demonstrates that she is the clear front-runner in the open–seat primary to replace Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.”
Rivera is Mendez’s legislative director and has been endorsed by the three-term City Councilwoman. Mendez is barred from running this year due to the city’s term limits law.
According to the Campaign Finance Board, two other candidates have filed to run in the District 2 primary this coming fall. They include Jasmin Sanchez, a community activist who has worked for State Sen. Daniel Squadron; and Mary Silver, an attorney active in local education issues.
District 2 includes Gramercy Park, Kips Bay and East Village, but also a few pockets below East Houston Street on the Lower East Side. Buildings in the neighborhood currently represented by Mendez include the Vladeck Houses, Masaryk Towers and 210 Stanton St.
Carlina Rivera on Stanton Street, 2013.
The next City Council election isn’t scheduled until 2017, however, one Lower East Side contender took an initial, but important, step toward running over the weekend. Carlina Rivera sought and received the endorsement of CoDA, the progressive political club covering Council District 2.
Rosie Mendez is serving her third and final term as Council member in an area covering a sliver of the neighborhood below East Houston Street, the East Village and Murray Hill. Rivera is Mendez’s legislative director. She previously worked for Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), the housing advocacy organization, and was a member of Community Board 3. Rivera currently holds a volunteer elected position, that of district leader in the 74th AD (Part A).
During an endorsement meeting on Saturday, the lifelong Lower East Side resident said of the community, “It’s where I went to school. It’s where I made my closest friends, and it’s where I fell in love (Rivera was married to fellow neighborhood activist Jamie Rogers last year). Needless to say, I know how precious the LES is. It’s everything to me, absolutely everything.” She promised to help lead the battle for tenant rights, for the survival of small businesses and for the sustainability of public housing. “I’m a fighter,” said Rivera. “I plan to work hard every single day.”
An official announcement regarding the Council campaign is likely months away. CoDA’s endorsement, however, is significant. It means Rivera will be able to count on the organization as a political base, following in the footsteps of Rosie Mendez and Margarita Lopez (who served as LES Council member from 1998-2005). A potentially crowded field is expected to compete for the District 2 seat.
CoDA weighed in on other campaigns this past weekend. The club decided it won’t make an endorsement in the April 19 special election to replace Sheldon Silver in the 65th Assembly District. Alice Cancel, the Democratic nominee, was fighting off a flu bug and did not attend. Rosie Mendez spoke on her behalf. Yuh-Line Niou, who’s running on the Working Families Party line, did make an appearance. She faced a withering series of questions from club members (we’ll have more about this in an upcoming story regarding Niou’s candidacy). Nydia Velazquez (7th Congressional District) and Carolyn Maloney (12th Congressional District) both received CoDA endorsements.
The organization also selected new leaders. Jamie Rogers and Marquis Jenkins were elected co-presidents. Rogers, owner of Pushcart Coffee, is also a member of Community Board 3.
This feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. This month, we are featuring Carlina Rivera, a community activist and lifelong LES resident. This story originally appeared in the March 2013 version of our print magazine.
What do you do?
I manage programming at Good Old Lower East Side, serving and organizing seniors around the issues affecting their quality of life everyday. GOLES is an amazing nonprofit that does a little bit of everything in the name of social justice. I’m also a member of the community board.