Fact: The biggest joke in New York is the Rent Guidelines Board. Every year this nine-member panel gathers to hold a series of circus-like public hearings on rent increases (or, heh, decreases) for stabilized apartments. Every year, tenant groups demand a rent freeze, and landlord groups demand double-digit increases. Every year, the increases fall somewhere in the middle (this year is a little high, though), following lots of shouting, some impromptu jam sessions and occasional nudity. But here's the thing: it's only now, when this annual theater is suddenly threatened, that we realize how much we'd miss the damn thing.
According to a Sun report, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is seeking to overhaul the sideshow, because it's, well, a sideshow. In a letter that will entered as testimony at today's Rent Guidelines Board meeting, Quinn writes, "The RGB has become a sideshow, a predictable and silly display that holds no regard either for the residents or their circumstances. And that must change." Quinn is supporting a state bill that would restructure the board (which is appointed by the mayor and includes two members representing tenants, two representing landlords, and five representing the "general public"), deny rent increases for one year on buildings with serious violations, and require the use of a tenant's income and expenses in determining whether an increase is warranted. That all at least kidna-sorta makes sense, which immediately puts it at odds with everything the Rent Guidelines Board stands for. Fight, RGBers, fight!
· Speaker Quinn Urges Overhaul of Rent Board [Sun]
· Annual Rent War Theater Lacks Drama This Year [Curbed]
· Fresh Meat Thrown to Dogs in Annual Rent War [Curbed]