By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE - A new law has made it easier for the city to shutter illegal hotels.
Governor Paterson signed the bill Friday, making it illegal to convert apartments into hotel rooms by ruling class A multiple dwellings be rented for no less than 30 days.
The move was welcomed by Mayor Bloomberg and by supporters who claim landlords looking to make a quick buck rent out apartments to tourists, pushing out long-term tenants.
"We're being kicked to the curb," said a man who asked not to be named but lives in one of the questionable buildings at West 95th Street and West End Avenue. He said tenants are feeling the squeeze from landlords who want to cater to visitors.
Full-time tenants say landlords neglect them in favor of tourists.
Maids make up visitors' rooms while hallways go uncleaned, said Jackie Del Valle of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance, a group that has worked to combat the spread of hotel rentals.
"Tenants feel harassed and treated like second-class citizens," she said.
Activists believe the hotels are eating into the city's affordable housing stock, and Del Valle noted that an estimated 7,000 west side units that were once apartments have been converted to hotel rooms.
There are several such hotels within blocks of each other on the Upper West Side.
Some blend in with elegant apartment buildings along Riverside Drive, while others have the feel of youth hostels in Europe.
At the Candy Hostel on West 94th Street, which houses permanent residents, music blared in the lobby, where guests could purchase phone cards and Internet access.
Operators of the "hotels" said they were providing vital services to city visitors.
A man at the front desk of the Candy Hostel said his business was being treated unfairly, referring comment to his attorney. The lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said her Upper West Side district is "overrun" with the hotels.
She posed as a tourist in 2007 and stayed in one of the hotels on 79th Street.
"Inside, I saw firsthand what the long-term tenants had to deal with," Rosenthal said in a statement. "Tourists checking in at all times, making noise and traveling freely through all parts of the building that should have been for tenants' use only.”
She added, "Legitimate residents do not deserve to have their homes treated with such disrespect."