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Key Soho/Noho rezoning votes coming up

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Like a number of his other 11th-hour initatives, Mayor de Blasio’s furious scramble to approve the Soho/Noho rezoning is coming down to the wire.

Slated to vote on the contentious initiative next week are the City Council’s Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee on Tues., Dec. 7, followed by the Land Use Committee on Thurs., Dec. 9.

According to Jeannine Kiely, the chairperson of Community Board 2, these votes will be critical.

“The rezoning will be finalized by next Thursday,” she explained.

With the Christmas holiday fast approaching, the full City Council will then vote on the Soho/Noho rezoning at its stated meeting the following week on Wed., Dec. 15. The term-limited de Blasio would then have to sign off on the rezoning as one of his final acts before having to vacate City Hall.

Kiely shared the timeline for the rezoning votes at Thursday evening’s joint meeting of the C.B. 2 Land Use Committee and Soho/Noho Working Group. On the meeting’s agenda was related legislation, which is also totally last-minute, by Councilmember Margaret Chin, who is also term-limited, to increase fines for Soho/Noho nonartist residents in Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists-zoned housing.

C.B. 2 members and local residents at the meeting roundly decried the proposed legislation as “punitive” and half-baked.

Chin surprisingly did not attend the meeting herself, sending aides to speak on her behalf. However, her staffers appeared overwhelmed by and unable to answer many of the probing questions thrown at them about the proposal by board members and longtime locals. Shortly after being advised by Frederica Sigel, who was chairing the meeting, just to stop trying to answer questions if she was unable to, Chin’s deputy chief of staff abruptly dropped off the Zoom call.

Christopher Marte, who will succeed Chin in four weeks as the District 1 councilmember, called the confusing and problematic legislation a red herring.

“It seems like this is being rushed through to distract from the rezoning,” he said.

3 Comments

  1. David Thall David Thall December 3, 2021

    I have been a property owner and lived in SoHo for 31 years. I am retired and make no income from my property. No one currently in my JLWQA building are “certified artists.”

    Chin’s 11th-hour proposed violations/tax increase grossly misinterprets the intention of the existing regulation:

    Original JLWQA regulations were enacted to legalize loft housing in SoHo for artists. Period. NOT punish anyone else living there.

    The current $1,250 violation is only meant to address owners who REFUSE to rent to artists. Which is NOT the vast majority of JLWQA owners in 2021.

    Everyone who lives here knows this. Including: realtors, mortgage bankers, and even the Dept of Cultural Affairs in charge of issuing “Artist Certifications” doesn’t fine nonartists living in JLWQA condominiums or Coops.

    Because it doesn’t benefit anyone to do that -– including the artists.

    It begs the question:
    why after 60 years, punish current and future JLWQA condo-owner SoHo residents who are not artists by taxing them with a whopping $25,000 violation that they cannot possibly correct, plus burden them with an endless $1,000-per-month new punitive tax?

    It’s a permanent Catch-22 violation that benefits no one and hurts a lot of longstanding SoHo homeowners.

    I mean, how many “certified artists” are there out there who can afford to buy or rent a converted loft condominium in SoHo? And how many future potential buyers who are not artists would want to invest in a property with such a draconian tax attached to it?

    This proposed new punitive violation/tax will seriously undermine the JLWQA real estate market by destroying the property value of JLWQA lofts. It makes them more costly to own –- and no more available to artists than they are now.

    FACTS:
    Any artist has been welcome to buy or rent any unit in our JLWQA condominium building since it was converted over 31 years ago. However, no “certified artist” has chosen to. Why is that?

    The reality is renovated JLWQA buildings that were converted to condominiums –- like ours, at great expense — are no longer suitable as artist studios. Because they either don’t have what artists are looking for in terms of floor space and light, or they are just too expensive as an artist studio.

    In any case, lofts throughout SoHo that are suitable will remain so. This new violations/tax changes nothing for artists. It only hurts owners.

    This looks like it was invented as a political solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Targeting a select group of SoHo residential owners, saddling them with a catastrophic financial albatross with no way out.

    It is a permanent tax masquerading as a temporary violation. It doesn’t get any more misguided or venal than this, folks.

    Who is lame-duck City Council representative Margaret Chin really representing here?

    It’s one helluva an out-of-tune swan song.

    • LES3025 LES3025 December 3, 2021

      It is absolutely delusional for you to call anyone else “out-of-tune.” You live illegally in a JLWQA building. That zoning was enacted well before you bought your apartment. It was illegal for you to live in your apartment at the time you bought it. You took housing that was supposed to be for artists because you decided the zoning laws didn’t apply to you. And now you are throwing a fit because you’re being asked to pay an extremely small amount relative to the value of your apartment, which has appreciated exponentially since you purchased it due to the restrictive zoning in SoHo, which you decided applied to everyone but you and your fellow illegal owners.

      Retired and can’t afford the fine? Get a HELOC. Your condo is probably worth $3-4 million and you own it outright. The total fines over the rest of your life will barely make a dent in your home equity.

      I really hope others will read your post and see the selfishness of so many of the SoHo opponents.

      • David Thall David Thall December 3, 2021

        Wow, from your belligerent tone Looks like the truth really struck a nerve, huh?

        You live here trolling, and we know exactly what you are, if not who you are.

        You are just a mean-spirited paid troll, working for the interests of outside real estate predators.

        Fact:
        You don’t live in Soho, you troll here nonstop full-time representing the interests of self-serving egregious outside real estate opportunists who hate homeowners in Soho.

        Why? Because your employer wants to drive Soho homeowners out — because we are the only ones that push back against their agenda to deregulate everything, turn Soho into an overbuilt shopping mall and destroy the quality of life for the residents who actually live here.

        The fact that you anonymously troll and attack homeowners endlessly with your specious disinformation AND refuse to identify yourself, says it all.

        You are just another Trump wannabe. So transparent. I dare you to reveal yourself.

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