- Gale Brewer - https://www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov -

Weekly COVID newsletter (3/17)


In times like these we need some lightheartedness.

Frederick Douglass Houses (and NYCHA) resident Samantha (Sam) Diaz, 20, appeared on American Idol last night. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmWan7bGk5w [1].

Meanwhile, here’s today’s USEFUL news…

TODAY at 6 pm, the City will issue a test alert to EVERYONE’S cell phone to try out a way of notifying city residents to “shelter in place” and not travel except for food and emergencies. The Mayor says a final decision on an ACTUAL shelter in place order will be made in the next 48 hours.

The City of New York is seeking New York State-certified healthcare workers to support healthcare facility needs. Learn more at nyc.gov\helpnownyc [2]

This week everyone should have received, by snail mail an invitation to fill out the Census form. You can fill it out online at https://2020census.gov/en.html. [3]

You can text “COVID” to 692-692 to stay informed with official health information.

The City’s Dept. of Small Business Services has this webpage up with “guidance for businesses impacted due to novel coronavirus.”  https://www1.nyc.gov/site/sbs/index.page [4]

If you have a large-ish space that might be suitable as a community location or health care screening site, the Office of Emergency Management wants to know about it. Send an email to publicprivate@oem.nyc.gov [5].

Community Boards are using technology to overcome social distancing, even in the absence of ULURP deadlines. Three boards are using Zoom to manage and meet virtually.  Others are using Facebook and Google Hangouts. Their tenaciousness is to be admired!

Alternate side parkung rules have been suspended until 3/24.

Fines totalling $275,000 have been assessed on stores since March 5th by the city’s Dept. of Consumer and Worker Protection on stores that have price gouged on these essential coronavirus-related products:

Price gouging is defined as charging more than 10% of the pre-crisis price; fines are $500 per service item. You can file a complaint online at nyc.gov/dcwp [6].

Also, according to the New York State Attorney General’s office, New York State’s Price Gouging Law (General Business Law § 396-r) prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services that are “vital to the health, safety or welfare of consumers”  for an “unconscionably excessive price” during an abnormal disruption of the market place or state of emergency. To file a price-gouging complaint with the Attorney General’s office, see the online form at ag.ny.gov/price-gouging-complaint-form [7].

Yesterday I mentioned that school age children can pick up a free breakfast or lunch between 7:30 am and 1:30 pm this week. To be clear, that means ANY child 18 and under can go to the nearest public school and pick up a meal, not just public school students.

The Mayor has instructed all Department for the Aging programs to close, canceling all congregate meal, recreational, and educational services and activities. Senior centers will operate strictly to offer food, either as take-home meals or meals delivered to homes. We reached out to Manhattan senior centers and found that pick up times vary per site; We have asked DFTA to collect the complete list of pick up windows for each site and share it broadly via 311, government and community partners. Meanwhile, here is our list of Manhattan senior center meal pickup locations (current as of 3:30 pm, Tuesday 3/17/20):

SAGE is not offering meal pick-ups at this time.

As of today (Tuesday) all non-emergency court staff (including judges and clerks) are directed to stay home. So cases will not be moving forward towards judgments. (Recap: yesterday we noted that Housing Court is shut down and evictions have been suspended.)

The Pre-K application deadline has been extended to Sunday, March 29th. Families can apply online through www.myschools.nyc/en/ or over the phone by calling 718-935-2009 (M – F, 8 am to 6 pm). School staff will now have until Friday, April 3 to verify applicants’ sibling status on the MySchools School Portal. Questions can be directed to ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov [8]. Pre-K offers will still be released in May.

Morningside Retirement and Health Services in Morningside Heights is suspending all their NORC programs until further notice. Don’t hesitate to call them at 212-666-4000 for more information. In their email notice, they included the following useful contact list:

In addition, many seniors might find our Age-Friendly Supermarket Guide useful– it lists supermarket services including delivery options and senior discounts. Access it online here: https://www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/supermarketmaps/ or download the PDF here:
https://on.nyc.gov/324gOK4. The PDF is subdivided by Community Board District; the online list is alphabetical and uses the online map for navigation.

VOLS Elderly Project Legal Hotline. Seniors age 60+ in need of legal assistance, as well as their social workers, health care professionals, and caregivers, should contact Peter Kempner, Legal Director & Elderly Project Director at Volunteers of Legal Service (www.volsprobono.org) directly by phone or by email if they are in need of legal assistance: (347) 521-5704 pkempner@volsprobono.org

Most mobile carriers and ISPs are relaxing data caps and overage policies [9] as the pandemic– and the need for internet connectivity– deepens. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Comcast, and Verizon are waiving overages and data caps after the FCC issued its “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.”  Under this agreement, carriers have agreed to…

The Stroock law firm this morning wrote up the Mayor’s Executive Order suspending ULURP rather well:

“Mayor Bill de Blasio announced late yesterday Emergency Executive Order No. 100, which will, among other things, temporarily suspend (1) the requirement that the City Council hold two stated meetings every month, (2) the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (“ULURP”), (3) the landmark designation process, and (4) cancel the special election for Queens Borough President.

“Effective as of Monday, March 16, 2020, ULURP has been suspended. Time limitations on public hearings, certification, submission of recommendations, required or necessary voting, and the taking of final actions are suspended and tolled for the duration of the State of Emergency. This means that community board meetings, borough president hearings, and City Planning Commission and City Council hearings and review will not take place during the State of Emergency in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding in-person gatherings and practicing social distancing.

“Emergency Executive Order No. 100 also directs the Department of Buildings, along with other agencies, to “take all appropriate and necessary steps to preserve public safety and the health of their employees.”

“As of this morning, we have received guidance from the Department of City Planning reiterating these suspensions and tolling. We expect to receive specific guidance from other agencies including the Department of Buildings and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and will update once received.”

That leads to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s changes in procedure:  Starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020, as part of the agency response to the COVID-19 situation, LPC will be temporarily accepting emailing of all permit applications at applications@lpc.nyc.gov.  Electronic applications will be given priority during the City’s COVID-19 Response– because of reduced workforce at the LPC’s office, applications that are mailed or dropped off will likely experience significant delays in processing.

Here’s how to do an E-filing:
1.    Go to the LPC website at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/lpc/index.page  and navigate to the Forms page (https://www1.nyc.gov/site/lpc/applications/forms.page) to choose the desired application form type (Standard, FasTrack, XCNE or Post-approval).  Note: only one form can be used per application- please check instructions on the form to make sure that you qualify.
2.    Fill out the application form completely, including the owner signature, and the attached verification cover letter.
3.    Send an email to applications@lpc.nyc.govwith “New Applications” in the subject line, and attach the completed application form and any file attachments under 10MB in size.
4.    Within the body of your email, include a list of all file attachments and if necessary, provide a file transfer link to send any files over 10MB.  If you are unable to transfer your files at this time, your application will still be assigned, and your staff preservationist will work with you to transfer them directly.
5.    An email notifying you that the application has been received will be sent within two business days, which will provide the docket number associated with your application along with further instructions about the permit review process.  After submitting an application electronically, if you do not receive a confirmation email within two business days, please send a follow-up email with your contact info and the property address to applications@lpc.nyc.gov without any file attachments.