Brad Lander, the city comptroller, said that appointing someone “who has expressed skepticism about the entire system of rent regulation is deeply troubling.” He urged the board to reconsider its proposed increases.
“While a modest rent increase may be merited this year, Mayor Adams’s appointed board must not return to the days of Giuliani and Bloomberg’s unreasonably high increases,” Mr. Lander said.
Mr. Adams also appointed Christina Smyth, a lawyer who says on LinkedIn that she represents “multifamily building owners,” as the landlords’ representative, and Adán Soltren, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, a nonprofit that provides legal services to poor New Yorkers, as a representative of tenants.
Mr. Adams won a competitive Democratic primary last year with support from Black and Latino voters and working-class neighborhoods, but he is also close to business leaders and real estate developers.
Members of the Real Estate Board of New York, the real estate industry’s main lobbying arm, donated to Mr. Adams’s campaign or to a PAC that supported him.
Aby Rosen, a co-founder of RFR Realty, gave $100,000 to the PAC, called “Strong Leadership NYC,” and Gary Barnett, the founder of Extell Development Company, gave it $250,000. Other real estate executives like Richard LeFrak, C.E.O. of the LeFrak Organization, donated to Mr. Adams’s campaign.
Mr. Adams said last month that small landlords had been “decimated” by the pandemic and could lose their buildings to landlords who own thousands of units.
“What happens if they lose their buildings?” Mr. Adams said. “The megaguys come in and buy the buildings, and now we see the gentrification that we all say we fear.”
Dana Rubinstein and Mihir Zaveri contributed reporting.