As part of the city’s London-esque Ring of Steel plan to one-day monitor New Yorkers as they eat, drink, walk, talk and take a shit (all of which have been known to occur right on Broadway), the NYPD has been quietly testing a camera that scans the license plates of cars that venture too close to ground zero. Police spokesman Paul Browne said that the camera is currently not storing any data, which is hardly a comfort whether you’re all for the Big Brother approach or against it. And this is just the beginning folks; these types of cameras will likely be installed in a ring around all of Lower Manhattan for the low, low price of $81.5 million, with 3,000 cameras below Canal Street by the end of next year. The particular camera in question, located at Church and Duane Sts., sends footage wirelessly to a computer system that can automatically compare the plates against a database so the NYPD will be aware when a suspicious vehicle has passed that corner. Except that the NYPD will also be aware when all not-so-suspicious vehicles have passed that corner. According to the Associated Press, Mayor Bloomberg has said that city folk must accept that they are under constant watch as a necessary precaution. “In this day and age, if you think that cameras aren’t watching you all the time, you are very naive,” Bloomberg told reporters at London’s City Hall while visiting to study their security system. Naive, invested in civil liberties, same difference.
As predicted, the new owners of some of the city’s most prominent affordable housing units are taking steps to make back some of the money they dished out. Tishman Speyer, who recently bought Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for the groundbreaking sum of $5.4 billion, has now hired a private detective to investigate tenants who may be violating rent stabilization rules, according to The New York Sun. Fred Knapp has the wrath-incurring job of seeking out leaseholders who either use their home as second residences or sublet them to other tenants. The tenants confirmed of committing such illegalities (or those who can’t afford to fight such accusations in court) will be evicted, allowing the landlord to make improvements to the units in an attempt to depose them from their regulated status. Last week’s sale of Brooklyn’s Starrett City for $1.3 billion is also raising concerns over the loss of affordable housing. Yesterday, Brooklyn congressmen Reps. Edolphus Towns and Anthony Weiner requested congressional hearings on this and other recent real-estate deals like it throughout the country. Towns, whose district includes Starrett City, has accused new owner Clipper Equity of planning to raise rents and build market-rate housing. The New York Times reports that David Bistricer of Clipper Equity said that the company will likely buy out of the state’s Mitchell Lama program, while insisting that the existing buildings would remain affordable.