THE ASSEMBLY

STATE OF NEW YORK
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Steering
MICAH Z. KELLNER
65
th
Assembly District
May 9, 2012
Woody Pascal
Deputy Commissioner for Rent Administration
NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal
Office of Rent Administration
Gertz Plaza
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, NY 11433
RE: Docket Number A04300050D
Dear Deputy Commissioner Pascal,
I am writing this letter in opposition to the Buchanan Apartments LTD's application to decrease
essential services at 160 East 48th Street, New York, NY 10017. The landlord in the application has not
stated any issues or problems removing a doorman would cause. It is my understanding and belief that the
current proposal would be to remove the doorman station on the 48th Street side of the building. The
following will show that removing one doorman creates a security problem that effectively removes both
doormen during the night shift, and convenience and accessibility issues during all shifts.
Under the landlord's proposal, a single doorman would be the only building employee on duty at
night from 7:00 PM until 8:00 AM the next day. The current proposal as stated in the landlord's
application only refers to an intercom system. The proposal does not include any consideration to watch
the 48th Street side via a closed circuit television system or any other means, nor does the proposal
address any of the concerns stated below.
Currently, during this period the doormen regqlarly perform either other duties assisting tenants
or take breaks permitted under the agreement with the union. The doormen are away from the door station
for periods of up to one half hour or longer in order to perform these duties. Currently the doorman that is
not assisting tenants or is on break stands in the middle of the courtyard and cover both sides. Under the
proposed application there would be no coverage by any one for extended periods oftime.
The following is a list that includes, but is not limited to, the reasons a doorman leaves the door
station:
• Change fuses for tenants that have lost power - This building was built in 1929 and the electric
power has not been upgraded. Apartment fuses are located both in the apartments and in fuse
rooms in the basement that are off limits to tenants. These fuses regularly blow and ifthe fuse is
in the basement, the doorman is the only person that can change the fuse.
i
c 654 Legislative Office Building. Albany, NY 12248· (518) 455-5676, FAX (518) 455-5282
c 1365 First Avenue, New York. NY 10021 • (212) 860-4906, FAX (917) 432-2983
E-mail: KelinerM@assembly.state.ny.us
• Lockouts - The building retains copies of apartment keys in a locked room in the basement. The
doorman is the only person that can retrieve the key from this locked room for a locked out
tenant.
• Problems with apartment door locks The doormen regularly assist tenants with problems
accessing their apartments when the apartment doors or locks get stuck.
• Noise Complaints Occasionally, one of the doormen must go to the apartment of a tenant that
is making excessive noise upon complaint from another tenant when calling the noise-making
tenant on the intercom does not respond to intercom calls from the doorman.
This problem has become an issue in the building. It became so bad that the landlord removed
the building supplied picnic tables from the courtyard without warning to the tenants (an amenity
supplied by the building for years) due to tenant complaints to the main office.
This problem is the result of the landlord converting one (I)-bedroom apartments into two (2)
bedrooms, and two (2) bedrooms into three (3) bedroom apartments and leasing them to groups
of young adults that party until two or three in the morning. The removal of the tables did not
solve the problem. The parties only moved the 48th Street steps, blocking access to the rest of
the building and causing the doorman on the 48th Street side to intervene.
Under these circumstances the door station would either be unattended for long periods of time
or tenants would continue to be disturbed and not receive the "quiet enjoyment" of their
apartments as stated in their leases;
• Plumbing Problems - Doorman regularly are called to apartments where there are leaks and the
toilets will not stop flushing and overflow. Again, this building was built in 1929 and many of the
fixtures are old and do not work properly. It can take up to a half an hour to fix or stop the water,
during which time there will be no coverage for the entire building;
• Lunch Breaks The agreement with the union requires that the doormen take two (2) fifteen
minute breaks during each shift. There will be no coverage for the entire building during this
period;'
• Bathroom Breaks - The only bathroom on the Main level is located in Ii room on the first floor of
Section 5 (next to the 48th Street entrance), a city block away, leaving the 47th Street door station
unattended for at least ten (10) minutes and again no coverage for the entire building. The other
alternative is a bathroom located in the laundry room in the basement, which would also take the
doorman at least ten (10) minutes to go to the bathroom and return to the door station;
• Requesting Unescorted People to Leave the Building - Doormen on occasion must leave the door
station to escort people that have no legitimate business in the building and are wandering
through the hallways. Again, with one doorman, the 47th Street door station will be unattended
and there will be no coverage for the entire building;
• Elevators - Each of the five (5) sections in the building contains fifty-six (56) apartments plus at
least one (1) penthouse. Furthermore, each section has one (1) automatic passenger and one (1)
manual service elevator. The sections are not connected. Therefore, when a passenger elevator
breaks down in this period, the doorman becomes an elevator operator and brings the tenants to
and from their apartments. Depending on the circumstances, it can take from several hours to an
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entire night before the elevator maintenance company repairs the elevator. With one doorman
there will be no coverage at the door station during this period,
• Miscellaneous Reasons Doormen leave the door stations for several other reasons, including but
not limited to the following:
o Escorting tenants to their respective apartments for various reasons;
o Removing rodents (a problem in the building) from apartments, and;
o Requesting unwanted guests to leave tenant's apartments.
During shifts where there are other building personnel able to cover the above referenced issues,
there are many tenants that regularly arrive home from work with packages and require assistance from
the doorman at the 48th Street entrance to enter the building. Tenants also shop at food stores north of the
building (there are no stores south ofthe building) and return home with large and heavy packages.
Removal of the doorman from the 48th Street side would cause tenants living in Sections 4 and 5
that require the above referenced assistance from the doormen, to walk a full city block to the 47th Street
side in order to enter the building. One ofthe reasons tenants rented the apartment in this building was the
convenience of a doorman on both sides ofthe building so that tenants may enter the building from either
side. This becomes a hardship for all tenants living in Sections 4 and 5.
There are several safety issues created by removing the 48th Street doorman that have not been
addressed by the landlord in the application to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal
(DHCR). These are as follows:
• There are several bars located close to the building. One venue in particular is a cause of c o n ~ e m .
This venue, The Latin Quarter, located at East 48th Street and Lexington Avenue has been the
scene of many problems, including the incident in which Plaxico Burress (the former NY Giant
football player) shot himself in the foot. There have been many incidents in which fights and
other altercations have taken place on 48th Street from Lexington Avenue to Third Avenue,
including directly in front ofthe 48th Street entrance to the building.
Drunken patrons from this establishment hang out on 48th Street (including directly in front to
the building) after the venue closes. The 47th Street door station will not be able to stop these
people. Currently, the 48th Street doorman keeps this area clear of unwanted people and provides
a sense of security when entering the building.
• "Piggybacking" - A common problem of unwanted or uninvited entering the building with
tenants is a major problem. Unlike many other buildings, this building is actually five (5) separate
buildings with five (5) separate lobbies. Without the 48th Street doorman screening people, these
unwanted people can enter anyone of the five lobbies without detection and potentially cause
harm to the tenants.
Section 5 is not on the same level as the rest ofthe building. There are five (5) steps that connect
it to the rest of the building. Currently, when an elderly, disabled or injured tenant living in Section 5
enters the building the 48th Street doorman assists these tenants to the section lobby_ With the removal of
this doorman, the building has substantially changed its access and will not be ADA compliant.
Compliance would require a ramp at a slope no greater than 1: 16 to <1 :20 L The current design of the
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garden would not permit such a ramp to be built. A copy of this letter will be sent to the U.S. Department
of Justice.
The landlord's claim that removing a doorman would save money by reducing the current staff by
four (4) personnel is incorrect. Based on a thirty-six (36) hour work week, there are five (5) people that
will lose their jobs. Furthermore, the landlprd would have to spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of
dollars to upgrade the current intercom system (all new wiring and repair to each apartments walls) and
install new doors (the current doors would be totally inadequate for this purpose), negating any short term
gain from this change.
I believe that DHCR should reject the landlord's application dated February 23, 2012. Tenants
rented their apartment with the understanding that the entrances to the building would have 24 hour
doorman service. This is a blatant reduction in services.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact me at (212)
860-4906.
Sincerely,

cc: U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney
........ 'fWiciI1'Z: Kellner
N¥§ Quart Assembly Member
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