Tuesday, December 21, 2021

First News from Tonight's Council Meeting

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the amended "good cause" eviction law was defeated tonight. The vote was five to five, with one abstention, but a majority was needed for the law to pass, and there was none.

It will be remembered that the Council voted to enact the law in September. At that meeting, all but one of the aldermen present (Eileen Halloran and Jane Trombley were absent) and Council president Tom DePietro voted in favor of the legislation. Shershah Mizan abstained. The day before Mayor Kamal Johnson was to sign the legislation into law, Rebecca Wolff announced at a Legal Committee meeting that she wanted to amend the law to eliminate transfer of ownership as a "good cause" for evicting tenants. It was determined that the best way to amend the law was to have the mayor veto it and send it back to the Council. And that's what happened. The law was amended and once again placed on the aldermen's desks in November.

In the discussion that preceded the vote tonight, John Rosenthal, who supported the law in September, said he was troubled by the route the new version had taken. He noted that the City of Albany was being sued over its "good cause" eviction law and predicted that Hudson would be next. He went on to say, "This bill goes in the direction of defining all landlords as bad and all tenants as good." He called it a disincentive for improving buildings and concluded that the bill would work against the interests of tenants.

Ryan Wallace agreed with what Rosenthal said and added, "Removing transfer of ownership was a mistake."

Rebecca Wolff argued that the law did promote improvement of property because "that's a way a landlord can raise the rent." She defended the amendment she had insisted on, saying that its omission in Albany had been a concession to landlords and omitting it rendered the law meaningless in Hudson because transfer of ownership had been the cause of so many evictions here.

Tiffany Garriga declared, "Tenants are depending on us," and stated, "Landlords are upset because they won't have 100 percent control to raise rent for whatever reason."

In the end, Garriga, Dewan Sarowar, Malachi Walker, Wolff. and DePietro voted in support of the law; Halloran, Dominic Merante, Rosenthal, Trombley, and Wallace voted against it. Mizan again abstained. After the vote, Wallace suggested that the Council could revisit the legislation "once we see how Albany makes out with the lawsuit."

When the meeting was opened to public comment, Quintin Cross called it a "cowardly act" to vote on the law after the election. He accused Wallace of lacking integrity for being "worried about a lawsuit instead of people at the margins." Cross warned, "We will hold you accountable."

Rebecca Garrard, of Citizen Action, declared herself "deeply, deeply disappointed by people who had claimed to support [the legislation] but withdrew their support because of a lawsuit." She too called it a "cowardly act" and a "shameful, shameful night." 

DePietro said he personally was disappointed in the vote but promised "to work to get something done in January." In January, three of the aldermen who voted nay will be off the Council, as will two of the aldermen who voted yea and the one who abstained.


  1. This is very good news.

    If the Council is intent on taking away homeowner's property rights, it's only fair that homeowners start trimming Alderman's legislative rights in return. Perhaps we should introduce legislation requiring the City Council obtain an Order signed by a Judge saying there is "good cause" for the Hudson City Council to legislate. What's fair is fair, right? Do Aldermen have the right to legislate? Sure, but go get a Judge's order saying so and that it's for a "good cause." If you can't understand the chilling effect this anti-landlord law would have on Hudson's fragile rental market, you're not arguing in good faith.

    Thank you to the majority of the Council who saw through this misguided power grab.

  2. I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of John Rosenthal. Hudson does not need a costly lawsuit to defend.

  3. How bizarre that a majority lame-duck council, especially this council, would heed either common sense or the rule of law. Perhaps some of them were visited by 3 ghosts? Who knows. The good thing is this misguided, illegal attempt to destroy the Hudson rental market was defeated. For now at least. Sounds like the council president and his cheerleaders are planning to bring it back, perhaps with a more compliant and less thoughtful council (is that even possible?).

    And, as a coda to her legislative career, it's nice to see Tiffany Garriga's exit marked by the repudiation of her fact-free harangues about "illegal evictions" and how a new law will make what is already illegal "more illegal."

  4. Looks like the puppet master has broken a few strings. Now that's accountability.

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  6. I have said, often and loudly, that real estate, especially residential real estate, is a different kind of investment. The assets Hudson landlords collectively control make up a large part of the housing for the community, and big jumps in the market can lead to the kind of displacement tenants who are voters certainly have a right to advocate against. Small landlords who have invested for their retirement in Hudson, investing in properties, opening small businesses, and counting on rental income to provide them some financial stability in their golden years also make up part of the Hudson community, and they are the ones most likely to be negatively impacted by slipshod resolutions like this, pushed on the Council in its first draft without process or input and made worse with revision.

    I’m not a homeowner, and having been displaced in part by Hudson’s increasing housing costs, there is a version of this law I could certainly rally behind. But rather than a deliberative, data-driven process, which by the way could have started in early 2020 when the demographic push began in earnest, a couple of Council members took advantage of the terrible committee structure the Council has been operating under to copy-and-paste another municipality’s effort to karma farm for easy eleventh-hour votes with nothing in the way of input or discussion.

    It was for the best that this resolution failed, so Hudson’s residents, dealing with a City Hall mired in amateurish mismanagement and already paying high taxes to support local politicians’ career ambitions, don’t have to foot the legal bill for another bad idea.

    Hopefully the Council next year might actually work on some zoning changes and incentivize ADU construction for workforce housing, allowing Hudson homeowners to provide for the missing middle, generate income, and increase City revenue without generous handouts to shady developers who seem to think the apex of urban design is an Extended Stay America.

    (Edit: there was a version of this comment previously posted that indicated that Tom DePietro voted against the first draft of this bill. While quietly impressed that Tom may have actually stood up to a bad idea at the outset before eventually and unfortunately caving to his pathological need to pander, Gossips has informed me that my interpretation of the post was incorrect.

    Sigh, I regret the error.)

    1. Deliberative, data driven processes? In Hudson? Wake up, Rip. You’ve clearly been dreaming.

  7. Aside from the legislation being poorly drafted and creating incentives for landlords* to get out of the rental business and convert their properties to owner occupied ones over time, or yes, ironically enough, those hated Airbnb's (or Bread and Breakfast operations), and become part of the even more hated hospitality and tourist industry that one council member seemed to excoriate amazingly enough, just what is “cowardly” about waiting to find out whether state law has preempted the rent control field here? Or at least await the AG's opinion that Ithaca requested as to a more moderate version of the legislation that it was considering?

    What is the rush? Legal fees attend lawsuits, not only for Hudson's counsel, but also potentially for the plaintiff's counsel if the plaintiff prevails per a fee shifting statute. Did Citizen's Action offer to indemnify and hold harmless Hudson from such costs secured by a posted bond (rhetorical question from a bad ass “gaslighting” lawyer so no need to respond to that one)? No, instead all that was offered up were epithets from one of their members.

    Yes, I know. I probably should not have posted here. I do so more in sorrow than in anger. Hudson is more a source of stress than of joy to me these days. And with that, Merry Christmas to all.

    *Unless of course they are sophisticated and well-staffed corporate landlords who know how to secure government subsidies and pilot tax waivers and credits.