The legalization of basement apartments is high on the agenda of Mayor Bill de Blasio. Civic organizations have spent the last decade working tirelessly to protect residential communities from overdevelopment through the process of rezoning.
After a long, hard struggle, most residential areas have finally been rezoned and, we assumed, are now protected from abusive overdevelopment. Some of the problems associated with overcrowding is the lack of infrastructure required for the existing population.
Adding more people to residential neighborhoods will increase class sizes that are already overcrowded, overloading our inadequate sewer systems — not to speak of parking. These are the most obvious problems, but safety must be a major consideration.
Basement apartments have always been illegal for good reasons. Many deaths have already occurred as a result of basement occupancy. Windows are usually too high and small to use as a point of egress in an emergency. Basements generally have only one means of escape and, if it cannot be reached, the occupants are doomed in the event of fire or flooding.
These horrible living quarters are usually damp and susceptible to the growth of unhealthy mold and a breeding area for bugs. Basements have been known to be a common place for the initiation of a fire, major gas or water leaks and sewer back-ups — not ideal for human habitation.
The mayor and the City Council should remember that all civic organizations have been fighting the passage of this agenda item for good reason. They should also remember that civic members are also loyal members of the voting population for both the general elections as well as the all-important primaries.
Kissena Park Civic Association