Thursday, May 7, 2020

Last Night with the Common Council

The Common Council Housing and Transportation Committee met last night. According to Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), who chairs the committee, the only thing on the agenda was a resolution she had proposed back in April calling for a rent freeze or rent reduction for residential tenants in Hudson. In the discussion, Garriga spoke of "rent cancellation," saying she didn't want to see "a slew of evictions" when the COVID-19 crisis was over and rent that had been deferred came due. She reported that so far she had not received a draft of the resolution she had proposed from Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council. 

Alderman Shershah Mizan (Third Ward) said he was being asked by landlords about how they can meet their expenses if people aren't paying their rent. Garriga responded, "People will get evicted while landlords will still own their buildings."

Council president Tom DePietro opined, "The Peekskill one is perfect," referring to a resolution regarding tenants and landlords passed by the Common Council in the City of Peekskill which was brought to the attention of the committee by Alderman Rebecca Wolff (First Ward). It was decided that Wolff should adapt the Peekskill resolution for Hudson, and they would "pass it through Jeff" before presenting it to the full Council at the informal meeting next Monday.

Today, in his daily COVID-19 briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he was extending rent relief, on both residential and commercial buildings, which was set to expire in June, for another 60 days, until August 20.

When asked by a reporter what would happen on August 20, Cuomo responded, "Whatever happens, we will handle it." In addition to saying that he was "working on relief from the banks for landlords," Cuomo said, "I don't want to see people evicted at this time." 

At last night's committee meeting, Wolff brought up another issue, prompted by a letter she had received from a constituent complaining that people are "still coming from New York because they are still welcome." The letter seemed mostly concerned about standards of cleanliness in rental units, but it inspired Wolff to call for a moratorium on short-term rentals. "Let's put community over profit and shut them down," she suggested. Garriga complained there were "a lot of people and out-of-towners on the street without masks." Wolff concurred. "People are trying to enact a little vacation in our city when they are supposed to stay home." DePietro called the current Airbnb situation "very disturbing," alleging, "People are advertising this as an escape from New York."

Mizan said that, in Bangladesh, people who come from elsewhere must report to the police and observe a mandatory fourteen-day quarantine. Wolff asked, "Can we do that here?" It was determined that the answer to the question was another thing they would have to find out from Baker.


  1. Hudson is sounding more like Trump's America every day. How sad.

  2. Strange days indeed when Peter Meyer and I agree!

    I'd remind Ms. Wolff that Hudson likes to bill itself as the Friendly City, not the "We're Afraid of Visitors City." Try to think of those seeking refuge in Hudson and environs as refugees -- because they are. Try not to be too ICE-y in your fear and loathing of "others." As I recall, you are a rather recent transplant yourself as are many if not most of Hudson's population -- so get over the faux tribalism and try to be humane towards those in fear seeking safety.

    If the Council wanted to do something about public health, besides entertain its clear animus for tourism, it might pass a local law requiring the wearing of masks in public and then give that law some teeth (i.e. a fine) and work with the HPD to craft and implement it. Of course that's a lot like work and the Council historically shies away from its actual job, engaging instead in really important things like yet another non-binding resolution about a problem they have no power to address.

  3. That's all they can address (and say) as the city faces utter financial doom and collapse? Why are they not working on a comprehensive recovery plan and including the public. Third graders in a zoom meeting could do a better job running the city of Hudson. Hopeless.

  4. Not knowing what is in the Peekskill resolution, and with it not published here, here is a copy and paste of a characterization of its contents that I found on line:

    "The City of Peekskill Common Council is asking local landlords to work together with tenants during the pandemic. This includes considering a freeze on all rent increases planned for the immediate future, waiving late payment penalties, offering rent payment flexibility (allowing more time for tenants to pay their rents with modified payment schedules), and waiving rent wherever deemed necessary and appropriate for both residential and commercial tenants."

    It may be the above verbiage is of the "toothless" genre, to use the word employed by Mr. Friedman, but on the other hand, when it comes to the individual circumstances between landlord and tenant with respect to a given lease, every situation, and the competing equities and financial hardships, is different.

    Some landlords, for example, no doubt have a negative cash flow after making their mortgage and tax payments. In this very high property tax jurisdiction, the tax payments themselves might equal say on an annual basis about 4 months of the gross rents (that is rents before expenses, even before factoring maintenance and insurance and mortgage expenses), and therefore have a substantial negative cash flow as it is. Moreover, even if some lenders may be allowing the deferral of payments for a short period of time, next to none are forgiving them that I know of.

    Some of the all size fits all, meat ax approaches out there about how and when landlords should give tenants financial accommodations if actually enacted into law as mandatory might well be unconstitutional as well an uncompensated taking.

    The irksome to some legalities aside, many of the notions concerning how to make housing more affordable via landlords taking the financial hit through rent rollbacks and the like, while providing short term financial benefit and relief to some tenants, over the long term can prove catastrophic to the health and well being of a community, or at least entail highly undesirable consequences. Of course, the politicians who did not think about the long term, or didn't care, will not be around in the long term to answer for their bad decisions, or even if around, the damage will have been done.

    The nexus of economics and public policy, and getting it right, can prove to be a very difficult exercise, there is no doubt about that. At a minimum however, one should proceed very cautiously and try to think things through thoroughly and with an good understanding of the requisite data needed to make a reasoned decision having been gathered.

    Does this make sense to anyone, or am I just seeming to some or most as outing myself as a class enemy who should just be put out to pasture and marginalized, as an obtuse obstacle to what a fair and just society is all about? Your choose.

  5. The continued us vs them mentality of our city’s government is becoming more pedestrian than the quarantine itself. Ms. Wolff is known for her distain of anyone who makes money or is a successful business owner. Whether short-term rental owners, which she has likened to coal mine owners, or establishments that are too bourgeois for Hudson, yet she frequents.
    The Council has spent zero time focusing on the more important issue at hand – compliance. Instead of telling us what they don’t like, why don’t they actually strategize and find a common ground for making sure that RESIDENTS wear masks as they jog, walk and window watch down the street. Then, perhaps, those from out of town, will follow – it’s that funny thing called leading by example.
    As I continue to press the Council on supporting the state mask laws, the CC President would rather flex his muscle by telling me how I am wrong and telling me to prove what other towns and hamlets are doing around Columbia County.
    Time would be better focused on doing the job rather than telling people what an incredible job and how are you are working. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and this pudding is inedible.

  6. The following comment was submitted by a reader whose identity is known to Gossips:

    I’ll support a moratorium of short-term rentals when the representatives of Ward 2 start to work actively to get their citizens to wear masks. While walking the streets of Hudson, it is insulting and depressing to see the number of people who are without masks. This is true particularly in Ward 2, where people are gathering in groups and/or playing games, etc, with no attempt at protecting others by wearing masks.