Friday, September 14, 2012
Queens has most illegal conversions
From the Queens Courier:
According to Department of Buildings (DOB) spokesperson Tony Sclafani, the agency fields roughly 20,000 complaints regarding illegal conversions annually, most of which come from Queens. To manage the high volume of complaints from the borough, the DOB created a separate component called the Quality of Life Unit, which is solely dedicated to dealing with Queens-based grievances.
Illegal conversions garner a B rating on the DOB’s priority-arranged scale of complaints — the same level earned by improper fencing, exposed elevator shafts and malfunctioning boilers.
Many neighborhoods throughout the borough are speckled with complaints against residences they believe may be unlawfully harboring multiple families. Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, said his organization receives several calls each month regarding illegal conversions.
“If you walk by a two-family house and they have 17 satellite dishes, you know there’s a problem,” he said.
Wendell said those most likely to spot these unlawful abodes are neighbors who are reluctant to turn over their street mates for fear of retaliation.
A Woodhaven resident, who wished to remain anonymous, estimates that he has complained about illegal apartments nearly 80 times. Since moving to the neighborhood in the mid 1980s, the resident said he’s seen his block undergo a transformation as mailboxes triple and parking is suddenly impossible.
The local claimed that the increase in residences and people has caused property values in the neighborhood to plummet, something he said translates to low-priced rentals and low-income residents whom he believes bring crime to the neighborhood and degenerate the quality of the area.