New Year brings new hopes and new opportunities
by Emily Gallagher
Jan 03, 2019 | 921 views | 0 0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As a new year is beginning, it is important to set new goals. I asked a few well-informed friends what they were excited about seeing happen in 2019, and I got some great answers that I will share with you.

Erika Jozwiak, a local advocate and environmental sustainability expert, said she was excited about a new bill proposed by Councilman Costa Constantinides of Astoria requiring buildings over 25,000 square feet to implement new standards to reduce carbon emissions.

Such large buildings are a small percentage of the city's overall real estate, but make up almost one-third of the carbon emissions.

Some of other dream pieces of legislation include regulation of disposable packaging in light of China's recycling ban (they are no longer accepting our plastic waste), and a law that requires wet wipes to be re-labelled specifically non-flushable so that they don't clog up wastewater treatment facilities.

Housing attorney Adam Meyer, would love to see a bill that will eliminate the "owner's use" eviction loophole.

"This is a loophole in the rent-stabilization regulations that allows owners to evict rent-stabilized tenants from apartments so that the owner or his family can move in,” he explained. “This may have made sense when small owner-occupants owned rent-stabilized buildings and needed to take back an apartment for grandma, but these owners no longer really exist.

At this point, rich folks are buying entire rent-stabilized buildings for the purpose of evicting all tenants and converting the buildings into mansions,” he added. “The loophole should be eliminated."

Rita Pasarell, a lawyer and victim's rights advocate, would like to add language in the New York State Constitution that prohibits discrimination based on gender.

The current constitution protects against discrimination based only on race, color, creed, religion.

“It's 2019 and time to get our constitutional protection," she said.

She also puts a priority on fixing the state's sexual harassment standards. She explained that current law forces employees to endure a rather high level of abuse before it is considered sexual harassment under state law.

“Under this standard, employees have been groped and courts have said the standard was not met,” Pasarell said.

Sustainability and cycling advocate Austin Horse would like to see the New York Health Act passed. This is a universal health care bill that would bring health care to every New Yorker and replace private insurance.

His New Year's wish list also includes eliminating cars in lower Manhattan and free mass transit.

Horse said that Oslo, Norway, has eliminated cars from their downtown to great success, and Missoula, Montana, is offering free public transportation already. Instead of fares, philanthropy pays for the cost of the system.

It's an exciting new year full of new opportunities. Let's make sure to think about the changes we would like to see, and push our best dreams forward to actualization.

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