Case Notes in

Bike Lane

First published: Jan 2014
Cambridge Owners Corp. v. New York City Department of Transportation

The Citi Bike program, officially launched in May 2013, has been met with enormous controversy. The unofficial, anecdotal opinion of the authors is that people either love the program or hate it – there are very few who have a middle-of-the-road stance. In any event, although this case is not specifically about cooperative and condominium issues (notwithstanding the fact that the petitioner is a co-op), it is important. A Challenging Standard. It is apparent that Cambridge asserted good, solid, and extensive arguments to challenge the placement of bike share stations in front of its building. At the end of the day, however, it is very difficult for a co-op or condo to meet the requirements imposed, i.e., was the action of DOT in installing a station in front of their building arbitrary and capricious? Where, as here, DOT apparently complied with its own guidelines, Cambridge could simply not overcome its burden. We note that this is a trial-level case, that there are other cases pending, and that we do not know how appellate courts will treat the issue when it is presented to them. Think Local. This case also reminds us that co-op and condo boards must be diligent about following local politics and familiarizing themselves with the issues under consideration by their local community boards. We find several situations where an item on a community board’s agenda is belatedly brought to a board’s attention, so that the building has to scramble to present its case. Often, the board is not advised of an item that – in its opinion – may affect its building, so that no director appears at a community board hearing to contest the issue. Boards and managing agents should keep abreast of local issues, so that they can identify projects of concern and provide timely comment on actions for which a city agency or a private organization has requested permission.

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