News in New York – Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin Resigns Following Indictment, Rent Guidelines Board Recommends Substantial Rent Increases, NYC Council Introduces Legislation

April 18, 2022

Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin Resigns Amid Campaign Finance Indictment

Last week, Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned after federal charges were brought against him. On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York charged Benjamin of bribery and wire fraud for procuring illicit campaign funds, for which he pleaded not guilty. Bail was set at $250,000, and the terms of his release call for his travel to be restricted and bar him from returning to Albany. Shortly after the indictment, Benjamin submitted his letter of resignation to Governor Hochul, which she accepted immediately. Governor Hochul appointed Benjamin as Lieutenant Governor in August of last year, and now faces several challenges with replacing him as the 2022 election is fast approaching. New York law makes it difficult to remove Benjamin from the June primary ballot as the endorsed candidate of the Democratic Party, but party leadership stated that they are exploring all options in doing so. In the interim, the Governor has indicated that she would choose a replacement, which she has the power to do unilaterally. However, that person will serve as a placeholder until the 2022 general election winner for Lieutenant Governor assumes office at the beginning of 2023.

Rent Guidelines Board Recommends Higher Rent Increases on Rent-Regulated Apartments

Last Thursday, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) recommended allowing higher rent increases on rent-regulated apartments this year. The RGB sets rates at which landlords can raise rents on NYC’s nearly 1 million regulated units, and the board’s staff recommended increases of between 2.7-4.5% for 1 year leases and 4.3-9% for 2 year leases. This would be the highest increase on rent-regulated apartments in over a decade, signaling that the board may be more friendly to landlords under the new Administration. Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council Housing Chair Pierina Sanchez came out strongly against the proposed increases, calling it “unconscionable”. The RGB will hold public meetings over the next months, hearing from both landlords and tenants, and will vote on the final rate increases by July 1.

NYC Council Introduces Legislation

Last Thursday, the NYC Council convened a stated meeting, where they introduced multiple pieces of legislation. The Council introduced a bill that would establish minimum neighborhood service standards and require environmental mitigation reports on certain large-scale developments. The bill would require projects that go through ULURP and require environmental impact statements to undergo additional review by the following City agencies: Education, Environmental Protection, Parks and Recreation, Sanitation, Transportation, Police, and Fire. The Council also introduced legislation which would limit the amount of sidewalk area that a residential or commercial property owner is responsible for maintaining, making them responsible for sidewalk areas up to thirty feet from the property line. In addition, they introduced a bill that would establish an Office of Climate Resiliency, which would be responsible for policies and programs relating to climate resiliency measures in NYC. You can find all of the bills that were introduced here.


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