Sunday, February 2, 2014

Civics say "hell no!" to basement apartments

From the Queens Chronicle:

Mayor de Blasio’s multifaceted approach to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade is ambitious and, many agree, noble.

But one of the ways he plans to attain that goal has Queens civic leaders up in arms.

In a Jan. 22 New York Times article, de Blasio is reported as favoring legalizing some illegal basement and cellar apartments. On the housing page of his campaign website, it is said that de Blasio “will end the practice of pretending these homes and their families don’t exist.

“As mayor, he will bring them into the regulated housing system, ensure they meet legal standards for safety, and work to bring them under rent-regulation,” the page says.

Queens Civic Congress President Richard Hellenbrecht believes such a plan is simply “inconceivable.”

“There’s a reason for zoning. Our neighborhoods are designed to be lived in by a certain occupancy,” Hellenbrecht said. “If [de Blasio] said, all of a sudden, you can develop basement apartments and it started happening in Bellerose, I’m gone. I’ll move out tomorrow if that happened.”

Hellenbrecht believes that legalizing a number of illegal basement apartments would add another level of stress on many already overcrowded school districts and the public transportation and sewer systems.

“It would just decimate neighborhoods. It would really destroy a lot of neighborhoods and bring down property values,” he said. “I really haven’t heard of anyone else really supporting this. No way in hell.”

Forest Hills Civic Association President Barbara Stuchinski also didn’t shy away from expressing her dislike of such a plan, calling it “absolute bull.”

“I am totally opposed. The answer to affordable housing is not sticking people in basements. I wouldn’t want to keep my dog in the basement,” Stuchinski said. “Who wants to raise a child in a basement? I would be out there picketing if I knew children were being raised in basements.

“The possibilities for extremely hazardous conditions are endless. Potential for loss of life is endless. A fire? Boom, you’re dead,” she continued. “Your boiler and hot water heaters are down there, and every time it rains, basements flood.”

Stuchinski also expressed worries that any influx of people living in such dwellings would strain infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and sewer pipes that are already stretched to the limit.

The Mayor’s Office did not respond to requests for comment on the issue.

A long, long time ago, my ancestors came here with nothing but the clothes on their back. They worked at unskilled trades, yet were able to afford apartments that were not subterranean. Yet, the more development we allow, the less affordable apartments seem to become.


Anonymous said...

What a pile of B>s> from these two-bit pols. They are crazy and blind if they think this isn't already happening en-masse.

May be they'd rather pretend that these 'apartments" don't exist and the profit their owners enjoy don't exist either...and remain untaxed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he has a basement apartment in his home that he wants to legalize?

Joe Moretti said...

As long as you keep them in Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, West Village, etc, go right ahead.

Put them all in the fucking areas where you "powers to be" people live and make sure you have several on your fucking block along with a homeless shelter.

Anonymous said...

You should see bayside! Bayside has alot of basement apartments and where are our schools now? Overcrowded,! Not to mention it's not fair to the garbage men who have to pick up the trash. Instead of it taking them only 8 hours to finish their route, it'll now take them 10 hours (maybe longer) to finish the route and who's going to pay for all the overtime in long run? Taxpayers! Also, in certain areas, there's already a lack of parking spaces, bring more people on and there definitely won't be any parking whatsoever in those neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Good for you Richard!!

Anonymous said...

Come to Flooshing! You can tell exactly which apartments have illegal dwellings (and probably people).

Most houses will have 1 garbage pail and 2 recycling pails. Then you come to house with 5 overflowing beat-up garbage pails.

DeSleazio is another clueless, out-of-touch asshole. Let kick him, MK and and MMV, the hell out of office!!!!

Tony A. is the best politician in Queens! Tony for mayor, then gov!

Anonymous said...

Why isn't te city fining these illegal apartments like they used to do in the past???? I guess all the immigrant inspectors are being paid off in bribes all these recent years .

J said...

I remember looking for my first apt. by going to various realtors,and I swear all of them were basement apts.This law is about as ignored as spitting(and apparently,littering)for years.

another obivious sign are the number of sattelite dishes.

as for setting up illegal apts in the aforementioned gentrified parts of brooklyn and the upper class manhattan.they are already passing closets as studios for 1 grand a month.

has it only been a month of the BLaz?to think he might benefit from a law like this should make people wonder if he or any of his financial backers might make a small fortune over pre-k.

Anonymous said...

I repeat: in many places illegal cellar units already exist, so the infrastructure strain is already on. Tax the owners for these income-producing units and maybe you can get improvements to the infrastructure. Better yet, insist on stuff like school-seat certifications before legalization.

And anyone who thinks this is something new need only read some of Jacob Riis' writings about multiple families occupying flooded cellars at the turn of the century... maybe not Koreans or Mexicans or whatever group du jour, but still, immigrants. Matter of fact, those conditions are what led to Code requirements on room size, light and ventilation, the same standards that we're throwing out the window now (250 sq. ft. apts and cellars? good lord).

Anonymous said...

To make basement apartments legal one has to repeal all of the tenement codes going back to the 1850's stipulating access to air, light, and a toilet.

Don't go down this road or people will be putting plywood shacks up on the roof for housing and renting out the garage in addition to the basements.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. It would appear this weakly ran a story that doesn't serve the tweeders. Can anyone explain?

Ned said...

"that were not subterranean"

Big difference, most these new so called "immigrants" ARE subterranean many from pueblo tribes south of the border, 3rd world slums. The uneducated oozing sores & leaches of society to boot.
10 living in a dugout under a sheet and some rocks is normal. -Add toilet & running fresh water you have a palace.

This slum loving “liberal progressive” diBlasio will soon be coming for the basements of LAW ABIDING HOMEOWNERS who don't even want to rent them out or live with human garbage! (That be hard working white middle class Americans who stand up to the left’s diversity mantra who get pilloried and labeled as pernicious, vile, intolerant, racist, backward Bubbas and rednecks).
The left is forcing its version of diversity throughout our society and culture. According to the left and its acolytes, we are supposed to respect people who refuse to respect Old Glory or learn English, look for a job or put forth the effort to do an honest day’s work to support themselves. We are supposed to respect all cultures, values, laws and religions - even when they have proved throughout history to be dangerous and diametrically opposed to our American way of life, customs, laws and traditions.
Yeah, right WHAT BULLSHIT I cant believe this "brainwashing" and neutering is pushed in ALL NY public schools and colleges today.
Hey, I’m your biggest supporter if you want to swan-dive naked into a pool of goat urine. What I will NEVER support is these "progressives" like, diBlasio, Obama, Bloomberg trying to make thing's mandatory for everyone to do it or be penalized and labeled!!

Unfortunately all of the above is going to happen (and worse)thanks to all the stupid sheeple voters & lazy s watching TV when they should be voting or performing some civic duty to help stop this bullshit.


Henry Euler said...

The following is part of a letter to the editor that I sent in to local newspapers regarding this subject:

Mayor deBlasio and other city officials are floating the idea of legalizing illegal basement apartments and other units as a way of dealing with the need for more affordable housing in our city. The outgoing Chair of the City Planning Commission, Amanda Burden, has stated that we must accept an increase in density and height in our neighborhoods, if we are to accommodate all of those needing housing. She admitted that this would be a hard sell in most areas of the city.
These proposals should send up red flags across the city. Many civic organizations have fought against illegal conversions and overdevelopment for many years. Civics have lobbied for rezoning of our neighborhoods that would maintain the character of those communities. Those rezonings have been accomplished with the help of elected officials and the City Planning Commission. We must not move backwards and negate those rezonings by allowing legalization of units that will overburden the infrastructure of existing communities. In addition, many schools in our city are overcrowded, especially here in Northeast Queens. Cramming additional people into already stressed areas will strain those educational resources.
We must also consider the plight of the individual homeowner who invested a huge amount of money to afford a home in our city. If they chose to live in a single family district, or any other area for that matter, and supported zoning that protected those areas from overdevelopment, why should the city be able to overrule those protections to remediate the need for more housing units? We must also consider the safety of the people who would live in these newly legalized units.
Yes, we definitely need more units of affordable housing in our city. But there has to be other solutions that would not impinge on the rights of current homeowners.

Anonymous said...

Basement apartments are a huge burden to neighborhood homeowners for every reason already listed in these posts. I am not as conservative as most of the posters here but I agree with you all on this point. Basement apartments RUIN quality of life in middle-class neighborhoods and are already illegal, and the laws against them need to be strictly enforced.

Anonymous said...

LOL. I have to laugh at these comments due to their ignorance. Commenters have no idea. "basement apts .oh no!"..blah.

Basement apartment are cool and fine. Cellar is not. Big difference. Cellar has no windows and the external soil ground to the interior ground is much much higher than 4 ft. In fact, if you have zoning of R5 and you make a 3 family house and you 4 stories, the basement can count as 1 apt unit if it meets certain rules that define a basement such as standard ceiling height has to be 8 ft.. but with a basement apt which you legalize, it can be only 7 ft (so call it's 'free' .. free as mean you don't have to dug the ground to meet 8 ft)..and the external soil to interior floor hit 4 ft.

Also as long as there is a lighting ratio from the windows to the room (I think 1:10 or something..i forgot) it's fine.

And no, based on the tech details you read above, you would someway think I'm not just your average commenter. I know details...unless they changed the building dept code again..but I don't think can be that soon.

So I think the mayor is right in a's basement legalization ..NOT CELLAR legalization.. again read technical terms between basement and cellar for nyc.

Queens Crapper said...

You're laughing when the mayor himself said he wanted to legalize cellar apartments?