Tuesday, January 24, 2017

City admits that overdevelopment to blame for sewer problems

From the Daily News:

The city Department of Environmental Protection sends repair teams to that block — and other spots with scores of complaints — but the flooding persists, residents say.

****All told, four of the five spots with the most 311 complaints are in Queens, where city officials say commercial and residential development outpaced the buildout of critical support infrastructure, including catch basins and storm sewers.****

Seeking to fix the longstanding watery mess, the de Blasio administration has set aside $1.7 billion over the next 10 years to build out the city’s storm sewer system.

The planned “sewer buildout” will “resolve longstanding flooding conditions that affect over 400,000 city residents in southeast Queens,” First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris told reporters in April 2015.

Property tax structure may be illegal

From Crains:

The mayor cannot possibly relate to the struggles of Bay Ridge homeowners. As a result of current assessment policy, his house is assessed at just 1.2% of its city-­estimated market value. However, in Bay Ridge, the median assessment is 4.3% percent. For homeowners in Queens (just under 5%), the Bronx (5.2%), and Staten Island (5.3%), it is even ­higher.

The mayor pays about $3,600 in annual property taxes for a house that the city estimates is worth $1.4 million.

In Bay Ridge, the median tax burden for homeowners is about $6,200, even though the city estimates that the median home in the neighborhood is worth only $785,000. If Bay Ridge homeowners paid the same effective tax rate as the mayor, their median tax burden would be less than $1,900. (The discrepancies can stem from a variety of factors, but it’s not clear which ones explain the mayor’s low rate.)

Although city officials argue that these inequities can be fixed only if Albany changes the law, the solution is simple and can be implemented immediately. The mayor should ensure that all assessments for homeowners in the city are uniform. That means lowering their ratio to that of the mayor’s house: 1.2%.

The decision is not only within the city’s control, it is legally required. The Real Property Tax law provides that all assessments must be uniform within each tax class—uniformity is the sine qua non of the property-tax system.

For a mayor whose political mantra includes a commitment to eradicating inequality, not addressing the blatant inequities in the property-tax system from which he benefits, and for which the solutions are solely within his control, is iniquitous. There are solutions. The mayor just needs the will to implement them.

Well that took a while

From the Times Ledger:

Former mayoral candidate John Liu, who began his political career as a city councilman representing northeast Queens, was fined more than $15,000 for violations related to his successful 2009 run for New York City comptroller by the city’s Campaign Finance Board.

Liu’s campaign was fined for accepting 31 over-the-limit contributions, as well as five corporate contributions, eight contributions from unregistered political committees and 16 over-the-limit “Doing Business” contributions. The latter refers to contributions from individuals who have some sort of business with New York City, which the Campaign Finance Board restricts more heavily.

He had received more than $1.3 million in public funds for his 2009 comptroller race, according to the CFB. Liu’s 2009 campaign has a remaining balance of $28,315, according to the CFB’s site.

City wants development over LIC train tracks


From DNA Info:

The city is looking for a developer to construct housing, retail and open space above a rail yard in Long Island City, according to a Request for Proposals published Monday.

The city's Economic Development Corporation, along with the MTA, is seeking a third party to develop the 58,000-square-foot parcel at 11-24 Jackson Ave. bordered by 21st Street, Jackson and 49th avenues.

The city owns the air rights to the site, which is currently used by the LIRR for storage. Any development would need to be built over the existing rail yard, similar to the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan which is being built above the West Side Yard.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Water's Edge development is falling apart


From The Wave:

On Friday, Jan. 13, owners of the condominiums, Water’s Edge in Arverne stood in front of their ‘shoddily constructed’ city-financed dream of first-time homeownership for low and moderate income people and proclaimed it a nightmare.

Council Member Donovan Richards stood in solidarity with the homeowners, asking the Briarwood Organization for one simple thing.

“Just do the right thing,” said Richards. “One of the many dreams we have in life is to become the owner of our very own home. Many people, particularly in our city, never get that opportunity, never mind an affordable home. Unfortunately, for many of the residents here, that dream turned into a reality and then a nightmare. Briarwood needs to make this right and if they don’t, we are calling on HPD to refuse to work with their organization on any subsidized projects.”

On Sept. 1, 2016, the condominium board sued the Briarwood Organization Arverne /Briarwood II, LLC, its principals, Vincent L. Riso, Raymond Riso, James Riso, Howard Goodman, and Briarwood Properties, Inc. who built the 130-unit complex consisting of 65 two-story buildings, with a condo unit on each floor after winning the bid of the Request For Proposal (RFP) issued by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) during the Bloomberg administration.

Whitestone parcel eyed as parkland


From the Queens Chronicle:

A northeast Queens lawmaker wants new greenery to be planted at an abandoned lot in Whitestone.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) made the pitch in a letter to the Parks Department and Tower Capital Management — a company that hired an attorney to force a sale of the property after the city hired it to manage the lot’s lien and collect taxes owed on the site. He requested that the 7,1000-square-foot derelict site at 24-19 Francis Lewis Blvd. be transformed under the city’s Greenstreets initiative, which would result in it being changed into a green space with shrubs, trees and ground cover made for capturing stormwater.

The site, which is owned by the New York City Tax Lien Trust, did not sell at an auction in September, though it will be available again on Jan. 20.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

CB2's land use committee rejects Woodside megachurch

LAND USE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY REJECTS MEGACHURCH EXPANSION

WOODSIDE, QUEENS -- In a major victory for the residents and businesses of Woodside, Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee voted unanimously on the evening of January 18 to reject the application of developers to expand and build a six-story 2,000-person capacity megachurch and parking lot. The expansion of the church would include a gym, a spa, television studios, and private apartments with retractable roofs, private roof terraces and balconies for the enjoyment of church leaders.

The megachurch developers have repeatedly failed to make the case as to why the community should support their request for special rights and permission to build this community-killing project that violates the existing zoning code for the land. The developers have presented no meaningful plan to address reasonable concerns that businesses would not survive the disruption to customer traffic as a result road closures from cranes, dumpsters, and other construction measures. The developers also failed to guarantee that they would employ union labor. The unanimous vote by the Land Use Committee is a result of tremendous community organizing and canvassing and demonstrates the kind of power the Woodside community can build when we organize and make our presence known at spaces where decisions are often made without our input.

The Coalition to Defend Woodside and Little Manila is calling on members of the community to attend the full Community Board 2 meeting on Thursday, February 2, 6:30 pm at Sunnyside Community Services 43-31 39th Street. The community board’s vote is advisory. It is then anticipated that the application will go to the Queens Borough President Melinda Katz for a Land Use hearing, where the borough president will make an advisory recommendation. The New York Board of Standards and Appeals is then expected to hold a hearing on the application and will make the final determination to the church’s application to break the zoning rules that everyone else in the community has followed. The coalition is also calling on Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to oppose the application.

The Land Use Committee voted against recommending the project for approval by the full Community Board by noting that it fails to meet four out of five criteria as defined by Section 72-21 of the zoning resolution. The Land Use Committee found that the plan was out of character with Little Manila, that the hardship the church leaders claimed was of their own creation, that the configuration did not meet the zoning variance regulations, and it was not the smallest possible exception to the rules the church needed to continue their operations.

- Coalition to Defend Woodside & Little Manila

Astoria housing development is a-hummin'

"Hi!

I've been enjoying Ye Olde Queens Crap blog for some time now. I've been a Queens homeowner and resident for 17 years on 30th Rd, and that still makes me a "new guy" on this block!

I'm writing you regarding a particularly polished turd that just went up here. While it is well....crappy, that's not really the worst of it. If I just had to look at it, and accept it...well that's not too bad. But sadly that isn't the case. These folks have installed an enormous HVAC system on the roof that is bombarding an entire block with a low frequency droning sound - 24 hours a day!

So, we've reached out to them (this neighborhood is still local enough that through mutual friends I was able to contact them directly) - they were very nice - but ultimately completely dismissive towards us.

I know ZERO about posting something on a blog or anything like that. Might you be interested in helping? I mean this piece of junk deserves a spot on Queens Crap if only for its transparent co-opting of the Welling Court Mural Project - but then to shrug off the complaints of the neighborhood (including my neighbor who has been here since 1952!!) So much more to tell, but I won't waste any more of your time (unless you ask).

How do you spell dreck? This website will tell you."

- Anonymous

"P.S. They are spending far more on the appliances for their outdoor rooftop kitchen than whatever the cost may be of a properly designed noise enclosure.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!"