CONTINUED - NYC Development Targets Pet Owners…Part II
By Michael Mullins
Published August 28, 2012
Gateway Plaza who has owned German Shepherds for 22 of those years. “Pets have never been an issue at Gateway. When you have 1,700 apartments there is always going to be some tenant who causes a problem, but that should be dealt with on an individual basis, not like this.”

Galloway's sentiment was shared by another long-time Gateway resident.

“My wife, Terry, and I have resided at Gateway Plaza for 23 years. Its pet-friendly atmosphere has kept us, and many residents here,” said Sidney Baumgarten who owns a Great Dane-Lab Mix. “We are dismayed by the proposed new lease rider and its regulations which seem arbitrary and, indeed, incapable of being defined: Why is a 50 lb dog less worthy than a 39 pound dog? And when will they be weighed each year? Each month? What is a “hunting dog”? A Beagle at 30 lbs is a hunting dog, so is a Dachshund. Golden and Black Labs are among the best household pets and are true hunters.”

Baumgarten went on to point out that Battery Park City has an “outstanding” canine search and rescue team comprised “mostly of Gateway residents,” which received a Presidential Citation for its work in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. The most common search and rescue dogs are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, all of which are now banned due to their weight under Gateway’s new pet policy.

“I truly hope that common sense will prevail and the proposed rider (will be) scrapped,” concluded Baumgarten, who is also a partner in Devereaux, Baumgarten, a lower-Manhattan law firm that specializes in pet law, having successfully defended both individual pet owners and animal rescue organizations in the tri-state area.

Gateway Plaza Tenant’s Association President Glenn Plaskin also voiced his opposition to the new policy.

“The pet rider must be removed from the lease because it violates a rent stabilization agreement we have with management as well as a city law that prohibits a landlord from evicting a dog if the pet has been residing with the tenant for at least 90 days.”

A veteran journalist who wrote a book about his Cocker Spaniel called Katie Up and Down the Hall, Plaskin identifies with residents who have larger breeds saying, “The safety of a dog has nothing to do with their breed or size. Dogs are family here, if your dog is well-socialized and has not caused any problems with other tenants what gives management the right to force that owner to surrender their dog.”

Plaskin went on to say that if a Gateway resident has a dog that is not well-socialized and which other tenants view as a threat to their safety, he has no issue with management removing that dog for the safety of others or penalizing an irresponsible owner whose behavior negatively impacts the quality of life of others at Gateway.

As word of the revised pet-policy spread, local media picked up on the story, leading to several online articles and a report on ABC 7 Eyewitness News. Following the media attention last week, building management withdrew the cat declawing provision.

On Monday Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, who represents the Financial District and the Lower East Side, wrote a letter to Richard LeFrak, chairman of the board at the LeFrak Organization, on behalf of his constituents who oppose the new measure. In the letter Rep. Silver cites the pet ownership fee and the multiple restrictions placed on Gateway Plaza pet owners as violations to a 2009 agreement between the government and the Lefrak Organiation that allowed the corporation “to extend its ground lease in return for keeping thousands of Gateway residents in their apartments at affordable rents.”

Earlier today, a spokesperson for Gateway Residential Management LLC informed The Companion that the development would no longer be seeking a $250 pet ownership fee from tenants. All remaining provisions, however, remain.