Governor signs legislation to protect loft dwellers
by Salvatore Isola
Jul 02, 2019 | 2450 views | 0 0 comments | 162 162 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Elected officials celebrated the passage of a bill to protect tenants who live in lofts, but not all thought the fanfare was appropriate.

The bill redefines and amends the 1982 Loft Law, which gives protected status to people who moved into former commercial buildings and created illegal lofts.

Among the provisions is a partial exemption to a rule that prohibited lofts in all Industrial Business Zones (IBZs). The city has 16 IBZs, and the bill permits lofts in just three IBZs. One of them is in North Brooklyn.

Additionally, the bill abolishes Bloomberg-era requirements for lofts to have at least one window. Additionally, the amendments permit legal residency for those who have lived in lofts since 2015.

The evening before Governor Cuomo signed the “Clean Up Bill” into effect last week, State Senator Julia Salazar hosted a town hall in Williamsburg, an area that would be significantly impacted by the law.

“Together we overcame Wall-funded opposition from the real estate industry and their lobbyists,” said Aruna Hekinian, a member of NYC Loft Tenants. “Because of the protections in this bill, it is unlikely another bill will be needed in the future.”

But critics of the bill feared conflict between residents and the industrial uses of IBZ’s.

Edwin Delgado, a community member and manufacturing business owner, spoke of the bill’s effect on workers and their families. He noted that the North Brooklyn IBZ employs 20,000 people, and feared jobs would be lost as manufacturing space is converted into residential.

“This was passed without including changes requested in the names of thousands of workers who stand to be most harmed by it,” Delgado said. “The final bill does not bring equal treatment to the North Brooklyn Industrial Zone and opens the door to even more conflicts between tenants, workers, and lofts.”

Councilman Antonio Reynoso agreed.

“We should have had a deeper discourse,” he said. “I think we fell short of being able to do something that protects tenants and also allows businesses to continue to thrive.”

Reynoso also argued that the law ignores residents in the city renting other technically illegal spaces.

“There’s still families living in basements in Jackson Heights that are still not going to be able to get rent regulation and get protection,” he said.

“This is more than just a rent issue, this is a land use issue," Salazar said. “Our work is absolutely incomplete.”

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