Blogger Takes Aim at Hollow Men and Basic Bitches in the City, Starts #SaveNYC Campaign

(NYC Go Campaign)

Since 2007, Jeremiah Moss has kept a fascinating blog, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, with one eye toward New York City’s storied past as well as its changing present and probable future. But the tone has become increasingly depressing as Jeremiah’s posts have become more and more frequent as places that even he as a nostalgic, hyper-aware cynic had taken for granted, have recently closed. One of his most recent entries chronicles the shuttering of Moran’s in Chelsea, an Irish bar and restaurant that’s been open since 1957, shows Moss’s emotional attachment to some of the places that truly make New York City a weird, varied, and endlessly fascinating city. “How can it just vanish?” he wrote. “By now, you’d think I’d know better.”

But Moss isn’t one to give up the ghost. In an op-ed published today over at the Daily News, Moss laments the gildification of the city, its transformation into one giant, chain-riddled gated community for the rich and super fucking rich. He points to developers and the rising cost of housing due in part to money grubbing landlords who can dramatically increase rent with few restrictions, the loss of local businesses in favor of cookie cutter corporate chains that can afford to pay more for retail space, and, finally, to Mayor de Blasio’s administration for failing to take meaningful action against these forces of late capitalism.

Recently, the New York Times graded de Blasio’s first year in office according to several points, giving him an “incomplete” for laying out a very ambitious, though extremely long-term plan to create more affordable housing. Though he “delivered the lowest rent increases ever for nearly a million rent-regulated apartments,” the Times predicted the “mayor may find it harder to get Albany to reform rent laws and housing subsidy programs after Democrats failed to retake the State Senate.” Despite the lofty rhetoric, most people will acknowledge things are still looking pretty bleak when it comes to addressing the affordable housing crisis.

In his op-ed Moss also points to the projects of Rob Speyer, a supremely wealthy real estate developer and “de Blasio’s buddy,” who is “hoisting three extravagant slabs of glass into the sky” in Long Island City. Though Jeremiah doesn’t explicitly say that Speyer is benefitting from his friendly relationship with the Mayor, he implies that Speyer is proof that de Blasio might not be so different than his predecessor Michael Bloomberg and that despite his progressive rhetoric, his arms are just as open to embracing sparkly developments that could remain mostly empty, built solely for gajillionaires.

“Imagine a city filled with empty super-condos, money vaults in the sky. Our streetscapes will be sleek windows on the dead space of bank branches and real-estate offices,” Jeremiah writes. “There will be no more bookstores, no more theaters, no more places for live music. No more places to sit on a stool and drink a beer with regular folks.”

“It will be a hollow city for hollow men.”

We’ve heard this all before, almost to the point of frustration. But Jeremiah and others have clearly reached a breaking point, and so he writes he’s not about sitting by anymore. His campaign, #SaveNYC will collect testimony from natives, transplants, visitors, regular people and famous people alike to demonstrate that quite a lot of people agree that something needs to be done to save small businesses, to address the dramatic increase in rent, and what Jeremiah sees as out of control luxury development.

As the campaign’s first political initiative, Jeremiah has brought attention to the reintroduction of the Small Business Job Survival Act  that would give small businesses some basic rights in resigning rents with landlords and create “a fair negotiating environment,” between the interested parties. Lawmakers point out in the act that, “the absence of legal protection for the interests of commercial tenants in the lease renewal process has unnecessarily accelerated the closing of small businesses and resulted in lost jobs, tax revenues and community instability.”

Basically, the act will help prevent landlords from terminating leases without good reason and also requires the landlord to notify the lessee well in advance of any changes in the renewal contract, which would give businesses time and leeway to challenge rent increases.

A majority of City Council members as well as the speaker and Mayor de Blasio have pledged their support for the Small Businesses Survival Act, signing a Change.org petition which has surpassed 1,000 signatures. But we all will just have to wait and see if real change is going to come, or if it’s just going to be more of the same.

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