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Owner problems focus of RSA 'Survival' day.

The real estate industry sent a powerful message to New York City officials last week during a five-hour conference sponsored by the Rent Stabilization Association.

A handful of the 1,200 owners that attended were at times openly hostile and heckled several of the speakers, including Mayor David N. Dinkins, who officially opened the breakfast event with a short speech.

Dinkins said rental housing was "the lifeblood of the local economy" and that New York is "unique" in the amount of residents that make their homes in apartments. He rattled off a number of economic and quality of life initiatives that he has pushed forward. Those included: More police via the Safe City/Safe Streets tax, programs to help small businesses, and tax stability.

The mayor, straight from a heated press conference on the Crown Heights "burglar," asked one owner, irate over housing court, to allow him to speak.

The mayor seemed surprised to face the massive audience and long wings of panelists, and noted he thought the. intention was to "break up into smaller groups" and discuss the individual problems facing rental owners.

John J. Gilbert, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, served as master of ceremonies in the packed ballroom of the Sheraton New York.

The audience was riveted by the newly produced RSA video that recounts the horrors of owning rental units in the City of New York.

One clear objective of the film was to dispel the myth that landlords are white and wealthy. The vast majority of the owners interviewed for the film were African American, Hispanic, Indian and members of other nationalities.

The video proved without a doubt that city landlords are merely a reflection of the rainbow population and most could have easily been on the other side of the apartment door.

What are the Problems?

Gilbert began the live discussion by asking the industry panelists to describe owner problems and Arnold Goldsfein, the managing partner of Samson Management, summarized their plight.

With a budget of $40 million, he said, the Department of Housing and Community Renewal's initials "DHCR" actually stand for the Destruction of Housing Construction and Rental Property.

Goldstein categorized. the Major Capital Improvement (MCI) payback time increase from 60 to 84 months as one of the reasons. for the destruction of rental housing.

The ballroom full of owners cheered as he made a plea to the officials that judges require rent money be deposited in court.

Senator Kemp Hannon, after complaining housing court judges have too much discretion, said he was concerned his colleagues were caught up in the logjam of believing nothing could be done.

Jerome Belson, president of the Associated Builders & Owners of Greater New York, who himself manages 15,000 units under the Mitchell-Lama program, suggested having all rental tenants certify their income and pay more rent if it goes up. One million people do this under Mitchell Lama, he said, reminding the legislators the law says the owner is entitled to a 6 percent return.

Additionally, panelists said, the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption program is set up to verify incomes.

Deputy Mayor Barbara J. Fife said she would oppose any means test and later, owners and other officials expressed concern over her position.

Steven Spinola, president of the Rid Estate Board of New York said, "The reality in the City of New York is that if you own property, you are the not-for profit segment."

The renewal cycle of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act should also give an opportunity for legislators to take a look at these problems, panelist Assemblyman Howard Lasher, chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee said later.

Councilmember Alfred C. Cerullo said he will be scheduling five bills into the council with regard to vacancy deregulation and luxury decontrol. Additionally, he would support a pass-along of water bills to tenants.

Recycling and litter violation discussions made Sanitation Commissioner Emily Lloyd aware that the department needs to focus on the generators of the garbage. Even after an audience outburst that clearly unnerved her, she would not commit to more than a meeting with industry reps to discuss the matters.

Angelo Aponte, DHCR'S commissioner, calling himself the Commissioner of"the Evil Empire,' agreed DHCR needs to jet rid of the duplicity of paperwork and said they are.putting together a legislative package. Later, Assemblyman Howard Lasher, chairman of the Housing Committee and also on the panel, said he is very interested in receiving this legislation.

"The system favors more and more efficient owners," complained Michael D. Lappin, president and CEO of the Community Preservation Corp. Assessments rose precipitously in the 80's, will they now follow the decrease in the 90's?," Lappin wondered. Panelist Martha E. Stark, special assistant to Finance Commissioner Carol O'Cleireacain, never got to answer that question.

Other issues addressed by panelists and audience members included: MCI's and J-51's, the 23 percent in rem increase; rent guidelines board sensitivity; the problems of small owners; and lead paint abatement, which was not dealt with in depth.

Water metering problems were addressed and showed the need for a reallocation of costs, caps and transitional increases. Council Speaker Peter Vallone, in a speech, said the Water Authority had a $209 million surplus.

"Clearly we have an authority out of control," he said and called for the authority to answer to the City Council. Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, Albert F. Appleton, who oversees the Water Authority, was sitting on the panel and turned bright red at that remark as everyone stared at him.

Vallone also called for transitional water bills for owners who rehabbed buildings prior to July 1, 1988, and who have been left out of the current bill program.

"Without you," Vallone said to the owners, "we have no city."

Other panelists included: Robert Bernstein., president of the Small Property Owners of New York; Robert S. Ecker, vice president of Ecker Manufacturing; Scott Edelstein, partner in Novick, Edelstein, Lubell, Reisman, Wasserman & Leventhal; Clara Fox, director emeritus, Settlement Housing Fund; Aston Glaves, chairman, Rent Guidelines Board; Maurice E. Grey, president The Harlem Taxpayers & Property Owners Association; Andrew Hoffman, president Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP); Felice Michetti, Commissioner Department of Housing, Preservation and Development; Joseph B. Rose, executive director Citizens Housing and Planning Council; Mary Ann Rothman, Council of New York Cooperatives; Lewis Rudin, president Rudin Management; David Singer, executive vice president, Original Consumers Oil; Peter D. Salins, chairman Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College; Councilman Archie Spigner, Council majority leader.

Many attendees latched onto the panelists before they could leave the ballroom in order to discuss specific issues. While most owners thought the forum provided an excellent opportunity to present the officials with an inside look at the plight of the housing, industry, others, disgruntled by the lack of responsiveness from some officials, complained it was a waste of their time.

While many believe the problems stem from an owner versus tenant mentality, the tone of last week's seminar seemed to indicate that the true dynamic is everyone versus government.
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Title Annotation:Rent Stabilization Association sponsors conference for real estate owners
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Dec 9, 1992
Words:1170
Previous Article:Playboy to move NY office to the Crown Building.
Next Article:Anita Perrone.
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