WPCNR STREET LEGAL. From Disability Rights Advocates. May 15, 2019:
A civil rights class action lawsuit was filed today in New York against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), challenging its prevalent, discriminatory practice of renovating New York City subway stations without installing elevators or other stair-free routes in blatant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
This ongoing illegal conduct harms hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, and also those who have heart or lung conditions, arthritis, or other disabilities that make it difficult, dangerous, or impossible to use stairs. (Editor’s Note: The White Plains Metro North Station has an elevator in place for access to the elevated platforms.)
The lawsuit was filed by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit legal center, on behalf of three individual plaintiffs and a broad coalition of disability groups, including Bronx Independent Living Services; Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled; Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York; Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York; and Harlem Independent Living Center. The law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP is co-counsel with DRA.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of another lawsuit filed by DRA against the MTA in 2016. That case, in which the U.S. government intervened, challenges the MTA’s failure to install an elevator as part of its seven-month closure and renovation of the Middletown Road station in the Bronx.
In March 2019, Federal Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that those renovations triggered accessibility obligations under the ADA regardless of how much those improvements cost. The ruling cast a spotlight on the MTA’s practice of ignoring accessibility during subway station renovations. This lawsuit focuses on the same principle, but as applied by the MTA system-wide.
“The MTA’s actions clearly demonstrate that they value amenities like Wi-Fi over serving passengers with disabilities,” said Michelle Caiola, DRA’s Managing Director of Litigation, said, “MTA has a longstanding pattern of ignoring their ADA obligations when altering stations, harming not only those with disabilities, but all New Yorkers who benefit from elevator access, including parents with strollers and senior citizens. Its disregard and negligence should no longer be tolerated.”
The New York City subway is the fastest, most convenient way to travel throughout the City. The speed, frequency, convenience, and relatively low cost of a subway ride are unmatched by any of New York City’s alternate modes of transportation, including buses, cabs, and the Access-A-Ride paratransit service. Some of these alternate modes of transportation are also inaccessible to customers with mobility disabilities, highlighting the critical importance of the subway.
Yet, individuals with disabilities are completely excluded from more than 75% of stations that do not offer a stair-free path of travel, making traveling around the City more burdensome and, in some cases, impossible. Half of all neighborhoods served by the subway do not have a single accessible station, and subway accessibility is even more dismal in outer boroughs where a disproportionate number of people with disabilities live.
This dire situation continues because for the past several decades—in contradiction to the ADA’s requirement that accessibility be included along with station renovations—the MTA has completed numerous major renovation projects to improve station usability for nondisabled riders.
The authority has spent millions of dollars and closing stations for months, while repeatedly failing to install the elevators necessary for customers with disabilities to access these renovated stations. The MTA has ignored the needs of its customers with disabilities for years.
“The MTA needs to get their priorities straight,” according to Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York. “When they’re already doing the work and spending money to fix a station, they need to remember to finish the job and install elevators.”
“For decades, the MTA has renovated stations at a cost of billions, blatantly evading the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Joe Rappaport, executive director of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled. “It’s long past time access is first among the MTA’s priorities, not an afterthought or not thought of at all.”
The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the MTA to install elevators or other means of stair-access in all renovated stations, as well as a declaration that Defendants’ practice of ignoring accessibility during renovations is unlawful. Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages.
About Disability Rights Advocates (DRA)
Disability Rights Advocates is one of the leading nonprofit disability rights legal centers in the nation. With offices in Berkeley, California and New York City, DRA’s mission is to advance equal rights for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA’s work in New York City has resulted in making half of the City’s yellow taxi fleet accessible to wheelchair users, a federal court order requiring the City to make its voting sites accessible, and a victory at trial in a class-action lawsuit challenging New York City’s failure to plan for the needs of persons with disabilities in disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. More information can be found at www.dralegal.org.
About Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID)
For more than 60 years, the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled’s mission has been to empower persons with disabilities. BCID provides services for the community, helping people advocate for themselves, and leads advocacy for better transportation, housing and in other campaigns for full access and integration into the life of Brooklyn and New York City. Visit www.bcid.org for more information.
About Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY)
The Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York is a leading advocate for people with disabilities in New York City. It was founded in 1978 to ensure full integration, independence and equal opportunity for all people with disabilities by removing barriers to the social, economic, cultural and civic life of the community. In 2018, CIDNY reached more than 100,000 New Yorkers. For more information, visit www.cidny.org.
WPCNR POLICE GAZETTE From the Westchester County Police. May 14, 2019:
Westchester County Police arrested two wrong-way drivers in separate incidents this morning and charged them with driving under the influence of alcohol on the Saw Mill River Parkway in northern Westchester.
In the first incident, which occurred about 1:10 a.m., the wrong-way driver collided with another vehicle near Grant Street in Pleasantville.
The wrong-way driver was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of travel in a 2013 Honda Civic when he collided with a 2011 BMW, seriously injuring himself and causing injury to the other driver.
The wrong-way driver, who had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, had to be extricated from his car by the Pleasantville Fire Department and was taken to the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla by the Pleasantville Volunteer Ambulance Corps. He was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries.
The wrong way driver, a man in his 50s, did not have identification in his possession. County Police have a tentative ID and are working to confirm it.
The driver of the other vehicle suffered leg injuries in the crash and was treated at the emergency room at the Westchester Medical Center.
The wrong-way driver was charged with Driving While Intoxicated, Reckless Endangerment 2nd Degree and Assault 3rd Degree, misdemeanors. He will be required to surrender to county police to be booked on the charges following his release from the hospital.
The second incident occurred about 2:30 a.m. when county police received a report of a wrong-way driver traveling northbound in the southbound lanes in New Castle. Officers observed the wrong-way vehicle, a GMC Envoy,at the Mount Kisco-Bedford border and were able to stop it at the Route 117 exit in Bedford.
The driver, who also had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, failed a field sobriety test. Matthew Seiter, 36, of Brookfield, CT, was subsequently charged with Reckless Endangerment 2nd Degree, a misdemeanor, and Driving While Ability Impaired and Reckless Driving, violations. He is due to appear in Bedford Town Court on June 5.
WPCNR PLAYLAND GO ROUND. From Westchester County Department of Communications May 13, 2019:
Playland’s 2019 Opening Day is going in the record books as having the highest attendance the park has seen on opening day in 7 years. The Park welcomed 8,228 people on opening day, with attendees enjoying the rides, food, musical entertainment and Kiddie Land shows.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “This attendance record shows just how important refreshed marketing, creativity and drive are when promoting an amusement park. The workers at Playland did a fantastic job readying the park – it was spotless and colorful and adorned with our new mascot Coaster.
I thank them for their tireless work. Hearing the roar of the Dragon Coaster coupled with laughter under the warm sunshine was the perfect Saturday at Playland Park. I am excited to see attendance continue to climb as we roll out more of our promotional events at Playland this season.”
Westchester County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Commissioner Kathy O’Connor said: “Opening day at Playland this season was a dream. I am incredibly proud of the work of the Parks Department and incredibly thankful for County Executive Latimer’s support of Playland. Playland is different this season – you can feel the energy and excitement – and we are looking forward to rolling out all of our new programs and initiatives. It is going to be a great summer at Playland.”
Westchester County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Deputy Commissioner Peter Tartaglia said: “I want to thank County Executive Latimer for his commitment and vision. People are excited to come out to Playland in a way that has been missing for years. There is an excitement and a buzz, people see us more on television and on social media. Customers know this is a fun and safe place to be and they want to be part of it.”
Playland General Manager Frank Carrieri said: “The 2019 season at Playland is off to a tremendous start – we are proud and excited of all the new programs and events we are running this summer and the public is also. There is an energy and an excitement at this Park we haven’t seen in a long time, and I want to thank County Executive Latimer for believing in Playland and fighting to keep this the people’s park.”
Playland has been Westchester County and the New York Metropolitan areas’ great family amusement park and entertainment center since 1928. For the 2019 season, the Park is welcoming many new, exciting events and promotions – including a collaboration with ArtsWestchester and the Westchester Parks Foundation for a public art display, the first new commercial in 10 years, the welcoming of “Town Days” to promote community and 11 new musical acts.
The 30-sec TV commercial was produced in-house by Catherine Cioffi the Westchester County Director of Communications and her assistant Carl Pagano. Ms.Cioffi told WPCNR more commercials are planned. And you can see the commercial on this link:
Ms. Cioffi turned WPCNR over to Deputy Commissioner of Parks, Recreation & Conservation, Peter Tartaglia to answer WPCNR’s question about future public information efforts. Tartaglia in a statement said:
“Zanzarella Marketing is our media buyer as well as our consultant. The $850,000 consists of all media including social media- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, television broadcast and cable, New York and Westchester radio, billboards and digital boards in Westchester and the Bronx, area newspapers and area direct mail.”
Latimer continued: “This administration is committed to Playland. We plan to run this park with a level of energy and vitality that has been missing. This is a County park for County people – and whether you live in the far northwest corner of this County in Cortlandt, Peekskill or Buchanan, or down in the southeast portion near Pelham Manor and New Rochelle, or if you are in Yonkers in the southwest corner, or North Salem in the northeast section of the County – Playland is a park for you.”
Among the new features for the 2019 Season: a public art display, Westchester Town Days, the Westchester Loves to Read Program, laser shows, 11 new musical acts, a new coaster mascot, new social media campaign #HeyCoaster, Playland museum, updated commercial and updated webpage (playlandpark.org).
The Glen Loucks Meet on Saturday at White Plains High School was a spectacular exhibition of exciting, extraordinary competition of champions and aspirants to execellence in crisp cool spectacular weather. The efforts, the disciplined performance and strategic display of race strategies simply stunned in heat after heat, race after race. Discus and Javelin throw. It was youth at its best!
(This is for all you Moms out there. We know what you go through!)
Hey Mom– Bring me two waters so I’m set?
Where’s my underarmor? And my visor?
Are my tights washed? My skates are dull.
Hey Mom, can you call the advisor?
Hey Mom, I wasn’t yelling at you.
I didn’t mean to! You were yelling at me!
You never let me do anything my friends do
Hey Mom, would you chill, lighten up, just do!
Hey Mom, I don’t like the way this looks for the prom –
I don’t like the color, how could you think this was me?
I just can’t wear this, it’s this, it’s that it’s…Oh, Mom!?!
Hey Mom, I’ve been studying all morning getting knowledge.
Can’t I go out, I’ll be back by ten?
But, I know the material, gone over it again and again.
Oh, Mom – I hate my life! I can hardly wait until college.
Hey Mom – But I did call and let you know
Don’t you understand, I couldn’t call at that time.
No, you can’t not let me go – it’s a great band
Oh, Mom – I hate you! You never understand!
Hey, Mom, please don’t embarrass me at the game
By screaming so loud, it’s just so tacky
But, hey mom, I like that you’re over there in the stand
Watching me play, you know that don’t you Mom, you understand?
Hey Mom, can you get me to the rink
At 5 – I know you have to take off from work early?
Thanks, Mom, I’m so sorry but the team has a special thing
I have to be there, thanks Mom – I love you—really.
Hey, Mom, please when you pick me up at the dorm
Don’t come inside. Just wait outside, call me on the cell
I’ll be right down — it’s the norm.
Don’t ring the bell!
Hey, Mom, I’ve read the classifieds
There are no jobs, I can’t make all those calls.
Well, OK, I guess I can send that resume you made for me (sigh).
OK, I’m lost, where’s the post office, down Lexington to what?
Hey Mom, well I’m bringing my friends by,
Don’t let Dad embarrass me with his jokes, OK?
I’ll just die if he’s silly again — you won’t let him do that?
You’ll talk to him about that?
All right, Mom I’ll take that extra course.
But I’ve just been going to school for months it never ends!
Can’t I have a little vacation, I don’t know what’s worse
Can’t I spend a little time with my friends?
You do like him Mom?
Oh, I hoped you would.
Yes, I really do
I am so glad you do too!
Hey Mom, can you take care of the kids this weekend?
We’re going to Vermont with a friend.
And Mom, the cats get kibble in morning and meat at night,
We love you mom, sorry for the short notice, talk to you tonight.
Hey Mom, I’m sorry I can’t see you Mother’s Day.
Are you all right, what will you be doing today?
Going to a play – great – you know we love you in every way?
Though we may not show it you’re always with us
even when you’re away.
the youtube link is https://youtu.be/ASu54dRfq8A
WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE EXAMINER. From the City of White Plains May 8, 2019 UPDATED WITH 2019 INCOME ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS AND 2019 AFFORDABLE HOUSING RENTS FROM CITY WEBSITE, MAY 9
UPDATED MAY 11, 2019 WITH DEMONSTRATION OF A DEVELOPER BUYOUT (RED BLOCK IN STORY) OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING OBLIGATION. :
The White Plains Common Council passed significant changes to the city’s Affordable Rental Housing Program at their May meeting Monday evening. The changes had originally been proposed in February by Mayor Roach and represent a focused effort and commitment by the Mayor and Common Council to increase the overall number of affordable housing units in the city. With these changes the City of White Plains Affordable Rental Housing Program will become one of the most progressive in the region.
The City of White Plains has shown a strong commitment to affordable housing. Its program, which has been in place since 2003, requires multi-family developments to provide a 10% set-aside of affordable units reserved for those at 80% of the Westchester County Area Median Income (AMI) range. Alternatively, a developer could seek Common Council approval to provide 6% affordable units at the lower 60% AMI range. AMI is determined annually by HUD.
“While this program has certainly been successful in creating affordable rental housing units in the city, we recognize that maintaining White Plains as an affordable place to live for people of all income levels strengthens our city. It also requires our consistent attention to ensure that our program is meeting the housing needs of our residents,” said Mayor Tom Roach.
Council Member Nadine Hunt-Robinson said, ‘We are always looking for ways to improve our City, and the expansion of our affordable housing program ensures that White Plains remains accessible to people of varied income levels. This is vital to maintaining the diversity that makes our City a great place to live, work and play. In addition, after championing an increase to SCRIE/DRIE protections a few years ago, I am pleased that we are now raising the income eligibility limit further to the state maximum.”
The legislation passed on May 6th expands the City’s Affordable Rental Housing Program (ARHP) in several ways. First, it would make the program applicable citywide in areas where multi-family housing with 10 or more units is permitted by the Zoning Code. Currently, the program applies primarily in the downtown area.
Second, the proposal expands eligibility for the program to those whose incomes are 50% of AMI. The City’s current Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice reveals that there are few housing options for those in this income range. Subsidized housing exists for those whose income is below the 50% AMI threshold, and the ARHP is available to those whose income is above this threshold. This change would close an important identified gap in the current program.
Third, the proposal would increase affordable set aside amounts to 12% of units at 80% AMI and to 8% at 50% and 60% AMI. Developers would have the discretion to select either the 8% or 12% option.
Fourth, the proposal would establish a buy-out of up to 25 of the required affordable rental units as an option for developers.
The funds generated from the buy-out option would go into the city’s existing Affordable Housing Assistance Fund (AHAF) and would be used to create a range of housing assistance programs and more affordable units.
For example, the funds could be used for down payment assistance, land acquisition or project construction expenses for the development or rehabilitation of affordable housing, to defray a portion of the city’s administrative costs associated with management of the program, and other actions taken for the furtherance of increasing affordable housing city-wide.
White Plains Affordable Rental Housing Program:
The City of White Plains Affordable Rental Housing Program (ARHP) provides over 150 apartments in eleven buildings located at various sites throughout downtown White Plains. The purpose of the ARHP is to ensure that the City remains an economically diverse community by filling the need for quality housing that is affordable to moderate income households. To achieve that goal, the ARHP requires developers to rent a portion of the apartments in their buildings to tenants whose annual income is between 60% and 100% of the Area Median Income in Westchester County.
Karen Pasquale, Senior Advisor to the Mayor wrote WPCNR supply this supplemental information below:
“See this link to the Affordable Housing page (under Planning Dept) on city website: https://www.cityofwhiteplains.com/719/Affordable-Rental-Housing-Program. It gives the 2019 income eligibility requirements and allowable rents (studio thru 3 BR). These numbers are established annually by HUD and are based on a number of factors specific to our area.
The ARHP is open to everyone who meets the income requirements. There is no residency requirement for participation.”
2019 Income Eligibility Requirements
|1 Person||2 Pple||3 People||4 People|
|Minimum Household Income||$50,550||$57,750||$65,000||$72,200|
|Maximum Household Income||$84,200||$96,250||$108,300||$120,300|
The rent for ARHP apartments is generally lower than rent charged for market rate apartments, but this is not a low-income housing program. Rents for the ARHP apartments are established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are set at three different rates, based on income ranges as follows:
2019 HUD Rents
|Studio||1 Bedroom||2 Bedrooms||3 Bedrooms|
A separate proposal also aimed at increasing affordability will be introduced at an upcoming Council meeting.
This legislation will propose increasing the annual income eligibility limits under the Senior Citizen Rental Income Exemption (SCRIE) program and authorizing the city to participate in the Disabled Rental Income Exemption (DRIE) program.
The city has participated in SCRIE for many years. Several years ago the city increased the income eligibility limit under SCRIE to its current $30,000 level.
In an effort to encourage more participation in these programs, the proposal would increase the income eligibility limits to the current state maximum of $50,000/year.
These programs apply to those who live in Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) buildings, of which there are many in the city. Tenants in ETPA buildings who are participating in the SCRIE or DRIE programs are protected from rent increases and building owners receive a tax credit for their participation in the program.
Closeup satellite shot showing where the new apartments will be built on the 1133 Westchester site, owned by RPW Group. The apartments are anticipated to be built by Spring 2022, being the first apartments to come on the market of the approximately 7,000 proposed rentals approved or in the process of being approved in White Plains NY USA
WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE-EXAMINER. Special to WPCNR from the NRP Group. May 8, 2019:
The 1133 Flats Apartments project was approved Monday night by the White Plains Common Council and Westchester Industrial Development Agency. Construction is intended to begin construction by February 2020, expected to be completed in Spring, 2022.
Below is a statement from The NRP Group, one of the developers on the project (with RPW Group):
“The NRP Group is excited to move forward with the development of 1133 Westchester Avenue, which will be among the most innovative residential developments in the region. Our environmentally progressive vision for the development — which includes solar panels on all three buildings, energy efficient systems, electric vehicle charging stations and future LEED certifications — reflects Westchester County’s evolving needs and trends. We look forward to further collaborating with the White Plains community to deliver this modern, mixed-use campus.”