Tuesday, February 21, 2017

If you can't tax them, ban them

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio said he's "very open" to banning plastic bags outright after the state legislature and Gov. Cuomo blocked a city law to impose a five cent fee on the bags.

Albany intervened to stop the city for at least a year from requiring stores to charge five cents for plastic and paper bags. City pols say they wanted to encourage shoppers to ditch the environmentally harmful bags for reusable ones.

"That was one way of doing it. A ban is another option, which I'd be very open to," de Blasio said Monday night on NY1. "The one thing I know is the worst possible outcome is what we have right now. Vast number of plastic bags are just harming the earth. It's not good for any of us."

Are DOT's plaza projects misguided?

From QNS:

Local businesses in Ridgewood are feeling the pain during a months-long project to make the 71st Avenue Plaza a permanent site.

Much like their Glendale counterparts — who are facing plaza construction issues of their own — several businesses that abut the ongoing construction site along Myrtle Avenue are seeing a decrease in customers, and in turn, a decrease in profits.

Although businesses are hurting right now, Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), asks business owners to look at the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

“Once the sewer project is complete, then work will be going on in the plaza itself,” Renz said. “Vincent Arcuri (chair of Community Board 5) and I met with the contractor with DDC (Department of Design and Construction) on [Feb. 16] and he expects the sewer project, with the big gray sewer connections, to be completed in three weeks. Then work will be commencing in the plaza itself and the visibility will be greatly improved.”

Renz also mentioned that once construction is completed — scheduled for September of this year, according to the contract — that the new permanent plaza will be a major boon to the same businesses that are suffering right now.

Defective cables cause frightening explosions

From CBS 2:

A series of manhole explosions rocked a Queens neighborhood Monday, damaging several cars parked cars and leaving dozens without power.

Just before 11 p.m., an electrical fire shot blue flames out of a manhole on Queens Boulevard between 67th and 68th avenues in Forest Hills.

Some people who live nearby captured one of the blasts on video. In a matter of minutes, two more explosions sent smoke billowing into the air.

Con Edison officials told CBS2 the blasts were caused by defective cables underground.

“Then all of a sudden I saw huge pieces, I couldn’t tell if they were — if they were metal or concrete, but I saw three huge pieces fly,” said Ben Benyamin.

That airborne debris landed on parked cars, cracking windshields and crushing hoods. It took the FDNY nearly two hours to extinguish the raging flames underground.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bronx parking garage collapses

From CBS 2:

Dozens of cars were damaged when a parking garage in the Bronx suddenly collapsed on Sunday morning.

Collapsed concrete crushed cars inside a two-story parking garage, with the wheels of one vehicle clearly visible coming down through the roof of 3000 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.

Firefighters got the call just after 6 a.m. Sunday when part of the second story loaded with cars came crashing down on vehicles below.

One employee was inside at the time, but wasn’t injured.

The Department of Buildings ordered the structure to be vacated and issued the owner a violation for failing to properly maintain the building.

De Blasio jobs prediction is full of crap

From the Observer:

Nearly everyone noticed the lack of detail in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City proposal to create 100,000 “good-paying jobs”—and it appears that’s because it’s simply an extension of what the city’s mayoral-controlled Economic Development Corporation has done for the past 15 years.

The jobs proposal was the centerpiece of the State of the City address de Blasio delivered at the Apollo Theater in Harlem last Monday night. De Blasio vowed his policies would produce 100,000 positions over 10 years in a variety of sectors throughout the city, with salaries ranging anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 a year or more.

The mayor promised work in film and TV, technology, life sciences and “advanced manufacturing,” though declined to offer much in the way of an explanation of how the city would generate these jobs.

“This new addition, this new focus on creating more and more good-paying jobs, this will be the new frontline in keeping New York City affordable,” he said.

For the mayor’s emphasis on what a “new” and ambitious undertaking this is, a 2016 report from the New York City Industrial Development Agency, a public benefit corporation that the EDC runs, credited its combination of tax incentives and bond financing with the creation and preservation of approximately 146,000 jobs since 2002. That would average roughly 10,428 jobs a year.

This would suggest that the mayor’s plan for 100,000 jobs between Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal Year 2028 is merely a projection of a pattern of growth the IDA and EDC established over the past decade and a half.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Brooklyn house hole

Just wanted to point out that a construction fence around the side yard is not very effective for a house demolition...

Not sure what happened here; an application for mechanical demo was approved in 2014, yet this is what the building looks like today, vacate order and all. They want to replace it with an 8-unit building.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Stink trains also a problem in Bayside

From the Queens Chronicle:

Sleeping while engines idle at the Long Island Rail Road’s yard in Bayside between 215th and 220th streets is not easy, some say.

“Our lives continue to be gravely affected by the Long Island Rail Road’s work yard, construction site junkyard and dump site,” neighborhood resident James Lollo said at last week’s Community Board 11 meeting.

“The stench” is so bad, he said, that it results in “eyes and sinuses irritated [and] throats sore.”

Lollo added that the LIRR officials responsible for the yard should be ashamed of themselves.

“I don’t know how they’re able to sleep at night,” he said.

Another Bayside resident irked by the idling engines also complained at the meeting.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) sent a letter to LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski two days after the meeting calling his attention to the matter.

“Residents state that diesel trains are left idling for hours during the day and evening hours sometimes until 1:00 a.m.,” the lawmaker wrote. “This has caused several environmental concerns for residents who state that the noise is unbearable and they are unable to open their windows due to the fumes that come from trains idling in the yard.”

The MTA’s LIRR press office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Push continues to legalize basement apartments

From Crains:

There are up to 210,000 basements and cellars across the city that could potentially be converted into legal apartments—enough to move the needle on the city’s housing crisis without pouring a single new building foundation.

But the legalization process is fraught with political and technical pitfalls, which is why a study released Thursday suggests that the de Blasio administration should start with a pilot program to capture the lowest hanging fruit: the roughly 38,000 basements in single-family homes that could be converted without any major changes to city or state law.

Trouble is, an interactive map provided along with the study shows that there is no ideal place to launch the pilot. While the simplest conversions can be found in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx—neighborhoods where homeowners would not be legally required to provide an additional parking space for each additional housing unit—these areas are not flush with suitable basements.

Far more potential exists in Staten Island, southeast Brooklyn, Queens and the eastern portion of the Bronx. These are also areas with high rates of foreclosure, suggesting that homeowners there would benefit from supplemental rental income. The only catch? By law, adding an apartment to a single-family home in many of these areas would require the creation of an additional parking space, posing significant economic and logistical challenges.

The study suggests finding a community that both supports the concept and has the inventory of basements, and calls on the city to provide homeowners with financial incentives, a list of knowledgeable contractors, expedited permits and waivers or modifications for certain building regulations that could be changed without city or state approval.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Addresses will soon need to be posted

From Crains:

Believe it or not, there is no law requiring New York City landlords to post an address near each building entrance. That is set to change today, 13 years after the bill first came before the City Council.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer first penned the legislation in 2004 to help ensure that firefighters and police were not delayed in responding to emergencies due to unmarked buildings—of which there are many. A 2010 study found that nearly half of all buildings along several Manhattan commercial corridors did not have a building number visible from the street.

"For years, New York City's streets have been like something out of a Harry Potter book, with storefronts and whole buildings that are only easy to find if you already know where they are," Brewer said in a statement announcing the bill, which was expected to pass the council Wednesday before heading to the desk of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Current regulations require building owners to post an address only at the front entrance—which has complicated efforts by first responders.

The new law, which was introduced by City Councilman Jumaane Williams, requires an address to be posted at any doorway used by pedestrians, and it increases the initial fine to $250 from $25. If a required address is not posted within 30 days, a $50 fine would accrue for each day afterward.

Troopers giving tickets out left and right

From NY1:

We've obtained the numbers, and they are astounding. State troopers write an average of 50 tickets a year in the city. But already this year, they've written more than 3,000 tickets.

Police who work for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority — part of the MTA — a state agency, have written another 2,200 tickets since January 1.

Many of the tickets are for toll evasion, but drivers complain they are also being cited for violations like broken tail lights.

The ticket blitz follows Governor Cuomo's said state troopers would be posted at TBTA bridges and tunnels to help with the transition to cashless tolls, and to help the city with counterterrorism efforts.

Some questions answered about Fresh Meadows mystery hotel

From the Times Ledger:

Since a permit was given to build a hotel at 186th Street and 64th Avenue in Fresh Meadows about three years ago, there has been no contact with the owners of the hotel.

Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association President Jim Gallagher had been told that the hotel would be used by transient Chinese students. This sparse information did not satisfy the local civic associations.

They were concerned that the owners of the hotel would use it for homeless families as has been done in other areas of Queens.

A regular hotel is definitely not the place for homeless families and other challenged homeless people.

The Liquor License Committee meeting was held on Jan. 10 at the Community Board 8 office. We learned that the Mayflower International Hotel Group owned the hotel and it is a Wyndham franchise and wanted to legalize a liquor bar on the main floor.

Since this was a hearing only for a liquor license, the civic leaders had to carefully phrase their questions to obtain some of this information.

The manager of the Mayflower Hotel, Blossom Ho, answered all questions from the committee and at a quick gathering which the leaders of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, the Utopia Estates Civic Association, the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, and the Meadowlark Tenants Association had with her after the hearing ended.

Ho explained that the hotel planned to serve families of local college students, businessmen visiting companies, tourists and the guests of people who were having events like weddings at nearby places. She did not know anything about the information that we had been given years ago that the hotel would be used for transient Chinese students.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Yet another hotel used for homeless

From the Queens Chronicle:

The Department of Homeless Services recently moved dozens of homeless families into the Comfort Inn in Ozone Park — and a nearby resident says the area has become a hotspot for illicit activity.

“It’s filthy there,” said Dominic, a resident who lives nearby. “There’s food just laying on the windowsills all the time ... people smoking marijuana outside.”

It’s unclear when the families were moved to the hotel, located at 137-30 Redding St., a short distance from PS/MS 202.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Park) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) condemned the use of the hotel as a homeless shelter in a joint statement issued Tuesday.

Dominic said in addition to people smoking marijuana, he’s spotted people he believes to be living in the hotel engaging in sexual activity.

He’s not the only one to report such acts, as other residents have reported them to area politicians.

Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rat pee is killing people

From Fox News:

A rare bacterial disease linked to rats — and normally only seen in animals — has killed one person in The Bronx and left two others fighting for their lives, city officials reported Tuesday.

The three cases of leptospirosis were identified in a one block radius of the Concourse section of the Bronx over the past two months, the Health Department said.

“Human leptospirosis cases are very rare in New York City,” explained Demetre Daskalakis, acting deputy commissioner of the Health Department.

“This is the first time a cluster of cases has been identified,” he said. “All three cases had severe illness and were hospitalized with acute renal [kidney]and hepatic [liver] failure. Two cases developed pulmonary hemorrhage and one died as a result of infection.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's skunk seems oddly appropriate

From NBC:

Pepe the Love Skunk will spend this Valentine's Day in a safe, secluded part of Forest Park in Queens after he made a surprise appearance at a greenhouse, according to NYC Parks Rangers.

The skunk, affectionately named for the famous cartoon character, was captured in the Forest Park Greenhouse in Queens on Tuesday.

Parks wildlife experts said that the skunk is in good health and has been humanely relocated elsewhere in the park.

De Blasio redeveloping Bush Terminal

From DNA Info:

The city will spend $136 million to renovate two rundown buildings at Bush Terminal, creating a campus where textiles will be created, movie and television shows filmed and food manufactured.

The plan, which Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed as part of his 2017 State of the City speech Monday, is expected to create a 100,000 square foot film and television production studio and 200,000 square foot garment production space that will support 1,800 permanent and good-paying jobs.

The project, called the Made in NY campus, is part of de Blasio's pledge to create 40,000 jobs that pay $50,000 and up over the next four years, and to eventually create 100,000 such jobs over the next decade to help New Yorkers struggling to afford one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

The mayor, who is running for re-election this year, has pegged the plan as the natural extension of his affordable housing plan.

"Folks got used to struggling just to get by. We want something better for people," said de Blasio.

Details on where the 40,000 jobs will come from are still sketchy.

And who will run this? And creating jobs is great, so long as you aren't importing the employees from elsehwere. Then it defeats the purpose.

Aluminaire House is west coast bound

From the NY Post:

The Aluminaire House, a 1,200-square-foot structure billed as the first all-metal home built in the United States, has been called one of “the pivotal works of modern architecture in America” by respected critic Paul Goldberger.

The 1931 masterpiece was even highlighted in a MoMA exhibit on modern architecture.

It also may be the most hated house in New York.

After rankling a Queens historic district, the aluminum building has languished inside a storage facility since 2012. Before that, it had been subjected to vandals on Long Island.

And so, on Wednesday, the house’s disassembled panels, pipes and beams began a 2,800-mile trek from Ronkonkoma to Palm Springs, Calif., inside a 45-foot-long trailer at a cost of $15,000.

The desert resort city, some 100 miles from downtown Los Angeles and celebrated for its stock of modern properties, will become its new permanent home. The city plans to reassemble it in a planned park and open it to the public in 2018.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Crappy building materials can't withstand wind

From DNA Info:

Strong winds tore pieces of the facade off a luxury building that opened to renters just three years ago on Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street on Monday afternoon, the FDNY said.

Several FDNY companies responded to a 2:56 p.m. report of "Styrofoam-like debris" raining down from 278 Sixth St., which is right next door to FDNY Engine Company 239's firehouse, an FDNY spokesman said.

In addition, a Fresh Meadows gas station collapsed and trees came down:

Illegal truck parking causes a hazard in South Ozone Park

"Look how dangerous this is. Trucks obstructing drivers views of traffic coming west on busy south conduit ave, the trucks are here daily and sometimes don't move for days. Their are about three of them, they also parked on the south conduit intersection and block fire hydrants, NYPD reported no evidence of a violation in regards to my 311 complaints. Address for this location is 125-20 125th street and south conduit."
"Another complaint i did Saturday night at 9pm, I put commercial overnight parking is prohibited on city streets from 9pm to 5am and officer Clarke waited till 5:00 on the dot Sunday morning to respond to the complaint, done it purposely too." - anonymous

Happy Valentine's Day from Tommy Huang

From today's BSA calendar:

Akerman Senterfitt, LLP
39-39 223rd Street & 223-01/15/19 Mia Drive, Queens
Variance (§72-21) to legalize four single family homes which do not comply with the rear yard requirements, ZR §23-47. R1-2 zoning district. Community Board #11Q

You can read the entire backstory on these houses here.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Gianaris behind protests of IDC members

I had to laugh when I saw this. Avella just got re-elected by a gigantic margin after being in the IDC for 2 years and there were zero protests before the election. His constituents seem to be content with his decision. But Gianaris got some heat recently for tweeding, so this is the reaction.

Stay safe out there!

From PIX11:

A wind advisory is in effect throughout the tri-state area, where wind gusts could reach up to 50 miles per hour or higher and cause power outages Monday.

Winds blowing down limbs, trees and power lines are among the chief of concerns listed in the advisory, as well as isolated power outages. These winds will also make driving difficult, and light-weight outdoor objects such as patio furniture should be properly secured.

The New York City Department of Buildings issued a warning to builders, contractors, crane operators and property owners to secure their construction sites, buildings and equipment due to the high-powered winds. They will performing spot-check inspections of construction sites around the city. If sites are not secured, the department will issue violations and stop work orders.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Bank lobby is home to homeless

"The homeless are now banking at Carver Saving Bank to shelter them from the coldness. This is yet another health hazard in the black neighbourhood. Blacks face all sorts of suffering at the hands of black political bandits, aka political leaders.

They ignore every form of suffering perpetrated against black people. Now homeless occupants are using the ATM area as their quarters at nights; when the bank is closed. After, hearing much complaints, I tried using the ATM myself last week. The bank is located at 159-02 Archer Avenue, Jamaica Queens, near the e-train station.

The experience was stink and scary; two homeless persons were present. One was wrapped in a blanket; with his or her back turned away from the ATM. The other was sitting up straight with his head covered. His eyes were darting, then staring directly at me. The atmosphere was shitty."

"The quality-of-life abuse seems to be non-stop. Hopefully, these political bandits would come to a tragic end; by means of prison or what ever else; they are useless. Yes, Blacks live in hell. Keep wondering why Trump is our president?

Depression and unemployment in the black neighbourhood are at an all time high. Yet, Borough President, Katz claims that she is building on her success. Sadly, blacks cannot count on black leaders; who have recluse them self from the plight. Worst yet, the Blacks keep voting for the public bandits.

I called Carver today at (718)230-2900. After a few transfers; I spoke to Mr. Williams/ manager. He said that he will contact the appropriate person to resolve the problem. I asked him to please remove the homeless encampment. It is unsafe and unhealthy."

P. Hazel: Social Media Journalist for Justice.

P. S : Let's see if I have to resort to twitter.

Giving low income tenants a right to counsel

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio and the City Council will announce a new initiative Sunday giving low-income tenants in housing court access to an attorney, according to sources.

Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan), among others, has been fighting for a so-called “Right to Counsel” bill that would provide New Yorkers facing eviction with legal representation since 2014.

The movement hopes to lessen the chances that those unable to afford an attorney will end up in the homeless shelter system.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Developer decides not to build huge project on restaurant row

From DNA Info:

The owner of a Forest Hills building housing several restaurants on the neighborhood's “Restaurant Row” has halted his controversial plan to replace it with a new 12-story mixed-use development, according to his lawyer.

The plan, which would have replaced the current 1-story complex at 107-18 70th Road that is home to several popular restaurants, including The Grill, Cabana and MoCA Asian Cafe, sparked numerous protests among locals and business owners including an online petition on Change.org started last year.

Adam Rothkrug, an attorney for the developer, confirmed on Friday through his secretary that “he is not proceeding with the application at the present time.”

Several restaurant owners said that they were recently told by the developer that he decided to halt the project because of the strong community opposition to the plan.

DOT work causes flooding

From the Queens Chronicle:

When Michael Hannibal and his wife paid for the reconstruction of their driveway along with the curb and sidewalk in front of their house to stop rain from getting into their basement, they didn’t expect a bureaucratic nightmare to follow.

According to the homeowner, the DOT raised the height of Eton Street in Jamaica Estates, where their house is, as part of a citywide resurfacing and milling initiative in July 2015, the year after the reconstruction. With the street in places above the curb, the agency effectively undid the fix. Their work also created a parking problem: Without the curb high enough above the road, a car parking on the street in front of Hannibal’s home will easily go onto the curb.

Hannibal and his wife filed a formal complaint with the agency that month “with the understanding that the Queens Borough Commissioner and Operational Unit would provide recommendations by August 20,” according to the homeowner.

He is a member of Community Board 8, and he worked with the board and the office of Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) to communicate with the DOT, emails show.

DOT official Richard Gippetti visited the site and said that it would be resolved, but did not follow up with the homeowner, Hannibal said.

In August 2015, the Queens Street Maintenance team found that no damage was done to the curb by city work; Hannibal was informed of their inspection last September.

After the office of City Comptroller Scott Stringer disallowed Hannibal’s claim and said that the city was not responsible, he filed a civil lawsuit against the city.

The homeowner is suing for $5,750 — an estimate given to him by a contractor — to have the sidewalk redone.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ridgewood Reservoir nominated for National Register

From Save Ridgewood Reservoir:

NYC H2O has applied to the State and National Historic Registers for the Ridgewood Reservoir. You can write a letter of support and address it to the State Historic Preservation Office. Here's a link to a suggested letter.

New York State Division for Historic Preservation
Peebles Island State Park
P.O. Box 189
Waterford, NY 12188-0189

Ridgewood Reservoir Nomination by ridgewoodreservoir on Scribd

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Unwanted real estate ads foisted upon homeowners

From the Queens Chronicle:

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association receives numerous complaints of offers landing in homeowners’ mailboxes and some getting an agent walking straight up to their door.

The offers all have the same theme — agents can sell your home for cash, a lot of it. Some of the pamphlets, copies of which were provided to the Chronicle, show comparative sales in the neighborhood.

One such ad, given to the WRBA on Jan. 18, said the realtor had closed 15 deals in five months in Woodhaven and surrounding neighborhoods.

It also reads, “Your house will be next,” seemingly assuming the sale.

Another was simply a white piece of paper with the words “I am interested in buying your house ALL CASH,” with the agent’s name and phone number on it.

Such unsolicited offers were once barred in Queens, as homeowners could list their homes as properties where solicitation was not allowed.

That ended in 2014 and realtors were once again free to solicit whomever they wanted.

Now, such cease-and-desist zones can only be established for certain neighborhoods that show it’s a prevalent issue.

Human bones found at Kissena Park

From NBC:

Decaying body parts were discovered in a Flushing park, a grisly find that has neighbors on edge and police combing the area.

The badly decomposing body parts were found in a wooded area near a bike path in Kissena Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Bones were strewn about the woods along with tattered clothing and a skull, sources said.

An investigation is underway — the Office of Chief Medical Examiner was sent to the scene and a forensic anthropologist is also working on the case.

Authorities said the remains have been in the park for some time, making it hard to tell the age, race, sex or any other identifying details about the person they belonged to.

BdB investigation halts sale of prison to film studio

From SI Live:

The sale of the old Arthur Kill prison site to Broadway Stages was rejected by the state comptroller's office because of the company's ties to investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio's political fundraising.

The office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli returned the sale contract to state agencies unapproved for "lingering vendor responsibility issues" and questions over the public's investment in the land deal.

The $7 million sale price may be as much as $45 million below market value.

Charlotte Davis, the comptroller's director of contracts, detailed reasons for rejecting the sale in a letter to Frank Pallante of the state Office of General Services on Dec. 21, 2016.

"As discussed," Davis wrote, "Broadway Stages and its owner and president, Gina Argento, appear to be involved parties in State and Federal investigations into campaign contributions to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio."

While the state can resubmit the contract, the rejection further stalls plans for a new production studio at the closed Arthur Kill Correctional Facility in Charleston.

Three years after the state selected Broadway Stages to develop the land, concerns have been raised over political contributions, tax issues, business integrity and the property's value.

Exactly when the new studio will open is still unclear.

Homeless removed from hotels featured in DHS' race-baiting videos

"Ok, here is the latest update directly from the operators of the hotels. As of 1/3/17 homeless residents were no longer being housed in the Quality Inn Hotel on Jericho Tpke. As of 1/10/17 homeless residents were no longer being housed at the Bellerose Inn Hotel on Jericho Tpke.

Even though the DHS has agreed to no longer house homeless in these two hotels, the owners are still being pressured and getting occasional calls from DHS contractors requesting to house homeless families. This type of pressure and putting these hotel owners in this position is unfair and contrary to the agreement in which DHS was informed about.

Let me also provide background on this entire episode so that everyone understands how our community succeeded in fighting back deBlasio homeless housing overreach. Back in November, I received a call from one of the owners of these hotels who asked for my help in terminating the use of these hotels for homeless individuals. These hotels had signed NO contract with DHS and never agreed to house homeless for an extended period of time, but had been continually pressured by DHS and its vendors to do so.

The reason the hotel owner called me is that as President of Glen Oaks Village Co-op I have known him from the community and he has a trusting and amicable relationship with me. I urged him to meet with members of the local civics in which I am an active participant to work out a plan with the local community to extricate these hotels from housing homeless individuals and families. These hotels were not in appropriate locations (no subways, limited bus service, no job sites) to house homeless individuals. When I approached the civics I was met with very strong opposition which came from their distrust of the hotel owners. I urged them to meet as we had an opportunity to finally resolve this issue and we shouldn't let this opportunity slip away. I told my fellow civic leaders that even if we did not succeed, we would be in no worse position. They were not convinced.

I did not want to lose this opportunity to finally resolve this homeless hotel problem on Jericho Tpke and contacted Councilmember Grodenchik who I know well and explained to him the situation in detail and asked if he would be willing to host a meeting between the hotel operators and the civics. I felt the civic leaders would be more inclined to participate if the Councilman hosted the meeting. He agreed to do so and he urged the Civic leaders who strongly opposed the meeting to attend. My strategy succeeded and a meeting was held between a number of civics, elected officials and the hotel owners. We all agreed that it was in the best interest of all to terminate the relationship with DHS (Dept of Homeless Services).

The parties agreed that by 12/31/16 all homeless being housed in these hotels would be out. Due to DHS delays, it took about a week after the 12/31/16 timetable for DHS to find alternate living arrangements for the few that were still in the hotels. That is the complete and accurate story to date of this chapter. I am proud that we were all able to finally work together and resolve a perplexing problem that many communities have been unable to resolve."

Thank you.
Bob Friedrich
President, Glen Oaks Village

Take a lesson from these folks. They did great work by sticking together. The fact that they actually have electeds who support them instead of just paying lip service to them helped as well. These hotels were where the DHS made 2 videos, one of which shows shots of black homeless children dubbed over with someone yelling "white lives matter". They craftily blamed Maspeth for this despite it allegedly happening in Bellerose. Aja Worthy-Davis was moved over to ACS (which must be the de Blasio administration's version of a punishment) and the "f*ck whiteness" guru Lincoln Restler is still in hiding as BdB prepares to meet Preet. - QC

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Coney Island still looks like crap, but getting more amusements

From the Brooklyn Paper:

The city is asking amusement-park operators to pitch rides and games for the empty lots between the Cyclone roller coaster and MCU Park — part of a long-running redevelopment plan to expand the amusement area.

It’s another step toward the new Coney Island envisioned under a 2009 rezoning, but officials say they will pick proposals that harken to the area’s glory days as a “publicly-accessible, affordable amusement park, a place for experimentation, innovation, whimsy and surprise.”

A stretch of W. 16th Street between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk could become a concession­aires’ row, while the empty lot between the ballpark and the Thunderbolt roller coaster may become a new thrill-ride hub, according to a request for proposals the city issued on Feb. 6.

What happened to the luxury condos and affordable housing?

De Blasio gets a concession from Preet

From the NY Times:

Mayor Bill de Blasio will probably be on familiar ground when he is questioned by federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents in New York as part of a sweeping criminal investigation into his campaign fund-raising.

It was unclear when exactly the interview would take place, but it was expected to be conducted in a conference room at offices of Mr. de Blasio’s lawyer’s firm in Midtown Manhattan, people with knowledge of the matter have said, not in the offices of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan. It was expected that the interview would last about four hours, the people said.

The parameters of the session took shape after extensive negotiations between prosecutors and the mayor’s lawyer, Barry H. Berke, the people said, and it was possible that some details could change.

It is unusual for federal prosecutors to question a subject of a criminal investigation in the offices of the subject’s lawyer. Such sessions, which can become contentious, are almost always conducted in the prosecutor’s offices. It was unclear why the federal prosecutors agreed to hold the meeting at the Kramer Levin offices.

Let's hope it's because the case against him is so good that it doesn't matter where the inquiry is held. In the meantime, Emma Wolfe is absent and a lot of people at City Hall are shitting a brick.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Out of state car registrations cost NY $93M

From Crains:

Newcomers are required to register their cars with New York authorities within 30 days of moving to the state, but many don't bother. As a result, they cheat the state and city out of millions of dollars in revenue while making use of precious free parking spaces.

Neither the city nor the state could provide an exact number of improperly registered cars on the road, but a 2011 state Senate report found that nearly 25% of all accidents in the state involving cars with Pennsylvania license plates occurred in Brooklyn—a number that suggests many of those cars' owners were New York residents, not visitors.

The report also found that motorists who live in New York but drive cars registered out of state cost the city $73 million in unpaid parking tickets and deprive the state of $1 million annually in fees for license plates, titles and vehicle registrations.

But those unpaid tickets and uncollected fees still take a back seat to the loss of potential sales tax revenue. A New Yorker who pays the average price for a new car—$33,560, according to Kelley Blue Book—must fork over about $3,000 in sales tax. Approximately 125,000 new cars were added to state Department of Motor Vehicles registration rolls in 2015. If up to 25% of residents' vehicles were purchased out of state, as the Brooklyn accident number suggests, New York could have lost out on more than $93 million in tax revenue.

AirBnB violators face heavy fines

From the NY Post:

A Manhattan landlord and a former Corcoran realtor are the first casualties of a newly enforceable law meant to curb illegal Airbnb listings, The Post has learned.

Property owner Hank Freid — who was once crowned one of NYC’s “Worst Landlords” by a watchdog group in 2005 — and real estate broker Tatiana Cames were slapped with 17 violations, at $1,000 apiece, for their allegedly illegal listings on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in Bedford-Stuyvesant, in Brooklyn, according to documents obtained by the Post.

Freid, who manages the Marrakech Hotel, was hit with 12 violations for listing SROs in the building on several booking platforms, including Booking.com, Expedia, Kayak, Hotwire, Travelocity, and Orbitz, the citations reveal.

Meanwhile, Cames — who was served with five violations — allegedly posted five separate listings to Airbnb advertising 320 Macon St, which records show she purchased for $2.15M in 2015.

The Macon St. property was discovered to have inadequate fire alarms, sprinklers, illegal subdivisions, and a confused bunch of French tourists in a rear unit, according the procured documents.

Cames appears to be making money off the vacancies in the building as she attempts to fill the space, as the same units are advertised as “for rent” on her personal website.

The listings also seem to suggest that drawing illegal Airbnb-ers into BedStuy will help “diversify” the locale.

Expensive report released about project that will never happen

From Curbed:

On Monday, the city’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) released a feasibility study in regards to a planned, mostly residential development over the Sunnyside Yard.

The study is a follow up to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to build thousands of units of affordable housing on top of the massive rail yard, which he first announced at his state of the city address in early 2015.

Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed his opposition to the project shortly afterward claiming that the owners of the site—the MTA, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit all had expansion plans that would interfere with any development in that area.

The results of the feasibility study are now looking to dispel those concerns. The study identified that about 80-85 percent of this 180-acre site is buildable with the use of decking, and highlighted three potential proposals, costing anywhere between $16 to $19 billion, on how best to move forward.

The first would see the creation of 18,000-24,000 apartments, 5,400-7,200 of which would be affordable (that’s about 30 percent of the overall development). That proposal would also create between 13-19 schools, 38-52 acres of open space, and retail.

Monday, February 6, 2017

LPC turns its back on another Queens historic site

From the Queens Chronicle:

In a blow to Queens preservationists, a Downtown Flushing building with a rich history involving Quakerism will be replaced with an eight-story mixed-use building.

The Orthodox Meeting House and Cornucopia Masonic Temple are attached at the site, which is located at 137-66 Northern Blvd.

English colonists bought the location from Matinecock Indians in the 17th century, when Flushing was a Dutch New Netherlands colony, according to zoning consultant Paul Graziano, who made a report about the building’s viability for landmarking in 1994 under a contract with the Queens Historical Society.

A British guardhouse was at the location by the end of the 1600s to defend against Native American attacks. The building was demolished for firewood in 1776.

After the war ended, the site was bought by Orthodox Quakers for use as a secret meeting place (which they had used the location for since the 1600s), according to the report by Graziano, who is running in the nascent Democratic primary race against Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside). They built a meeting house there in 1827. It immediately bordered the Quaker Meeting House during that era, which also saw a split in the religious group known as the Separation: Factions were divided between the Hicksite and Orthodox sects.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected protecting the site in 2014, finding that “it did not rise to the level of an Individual Landmark” according to spokeswoman Damaris Olivo. She did not immediately return a request for comment when asked why it was not determined to be deserving of the status or who submitted the building for landmark consideration.

“If it was in Manhattan, it would have been designated 40 years ago,” Graziano told the Chronicle.

The owner of the site today, an LLC, will build 12 units in the planned eight-story structure, according to the real estate news website YIMBY. Retail, medical office and residential space is set to go there, and demolition permits were filed last year.

Letter grades for food carts?

From DNA Info:

A Queens councilwoman wants food trucks and carts to display letter grades, just like city restaurants.

Karen Koslowitz introduced a bill in the City Council Wednesday, which she said would require the city’s Health Department to conduct inspections and give food carts and trucks letter grades of A, B or C.

“You go to a food cart, and you really don’t know its sanitary condition,” Koslowitz said in a statement. “Our current grading system works well for restaurants, and I believe it would be good for the City’s food carts as well.”

Letter grades have been given to restaurants in New York City since 2010.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Vision Zero not working in 112th Pct

From DNA Info:

The number of pedestrians hit by vehicles in Forest Hills and Rego Park jumped by 64 percent this year, according to the 112th Precinct which recently launched a safe driving campaign.

In January, 23 people were hit in the neighborhood, compared to just 14 during the same month in 2016, according to the precinct's commanding officer Captain Robert Ramos.

In many instances, pedestrians were hit by cars making turns, police officials said.

De Blasio claims he will raise private money for his defense

From NBC:

Mayor DeBlasio answers questions from reports for the first time since the I-Team reported he will be questioned by federal prosecutors. Melissa Russo reports.

Related: De Blasio Won't Use Taxpayer Money for His Legal Defense, He Says

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Fighting to protect historic neighborhood

From GoFundMe:

The Fenimore Street Block Association learned late last month (Jan. 2017) that a beautiful house on the southeast corner of Bedford Avenue and Fenimore Street is being targeted for demolition. A prominent Williamsburg developer recently filed for a permit to demolish 174-176 Fenimore Street. While no plans have been filed as of yet, we suspect that he will construct an as-of-right apartment building many times the size of the existing house.

For several years now, our Block Association has been fighting to preserve our neighborhood from non-contextual development that is quickly becoming the hallmark of new construction in PLG. We are currently in the process of initiating a rezoning application to change our current R6 zoning - which allows high density development - to R2, which only allows single family homes. This is due to our research, where we discovered that houses on the south side of Fenimore Street between Bedford and Rogers--including 174-176 Fenimore--have deed restrictions that explicitly prohibit the development of apartment buildings, as the language makes clear that only single-family houses may be built - like the rest of Lefferts Manor. We discovered that this side of the street was originally part of the Lefferts Farm and should have been included in both the R2 single family zoning which begins on the north side of the street as well as the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District, which covers the entirety of Lefferts Manor proper. In fact, as of this week, all 19 properties on the south side of Fenimore Street have been found eligible to be added to the National Register of Historic Places as an extension of the existing Lefferts Manor National Register Historic District.

The Fenimore Street Block Association intends to battle this developer in court with the understanding that we have a very strong legal leg to stand on. We are doing this because the courts have routinely deemed these original deed restrictions to be binding if found enforceable, which our zoning and land use expert has affirmed to be the case. However, we lack the necessary funds for a sustained legal battle. It is possible that there are other parts of PLG which also have enforceable deed restrictions as well and a victory in this case could set an important legal precedent for future court cases against developers.

Seneca Avenue crazy crap got stopped

You may remember this big steaming pile from a post here last summer - August 2016. Shortly after that post was made, there was a partial stop work order placed on the site. But not for the questionable mezzanine (DOB made sure to mention that is was A-OK) - for an unsafe scaffold. All these months later, per DOB precords, it doesn't look like they've rectified that situation, and work has seemingly come to a halt.

Hydrant slides to the left

The hydrant in front of the Gerry Caliendo warehouse that replaced the St. Saviour's site has been moved to accommodate a driveway/loading dock. Who paid to move it is anyone's guess. It's going to be fun watching the tractor trailers pull out into two-way oncoming traffic in the middle of Rust Street.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Concerns over LIC rezone

From DNA Info:

The city is eyeing a 50-block swath of Long Island City for possible rezoning, an effort to spur development of more office space and affordable housing — but some locals worry the change would only speed up gentrification in the increasingly pricey neighborhood.

The Department of City Planning held a community meeting Tuesday about a portion of Queens Plaza and Dutch Kills, the first in a series of public discussions over the next several months before officials make specific zoning recommendations sometime this summer, they said.

The goal is to encourage the creation of more office space in the area — which has been dominated in recent years by new residential construction — and to implement the city's new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) amendment, which would require developers of new buildings in the area to construct affordable units on or off-site.

Worrying about gentrification in LIC at this point is like closing the barn door after the horse ran away.

Civics to de Blasio: Pay for your own lawyers!

From the Queens Chronicle:

Although the city’s paying for the lawyers is legal, civic activists in the borough say that the embattled mayor — who has personally hired a lawyer paid in campaign funds to represent himself— should not be relying on public funds to pay for the attorneys.

“It’s another example of the mayor wasting taxpayer money,” Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden told the Chronicle. “He’s done it on so many other issues. It really seems almost unethical.”

Queens Civic Congress Executive Vice President Richard Hellenbrecht recalled another scandal-tarnished lawmaker who used public funds on attorneys while he was being probed.

“Look at Chris Christie over in New Jersey, who spent a couple of million dollars in taxpayer money fighting the Bridgegate situation,” he said. Christie, however, had taxpayers foot the bill for his own criminal defense lawyer, unlike de Blasio.

“I think that money should go for things the city needs,” Community Board 8 Chairwoman Martha Taylor, who is also a member of the Jamaica Estates Association, said. She added that the money could go toward “improvement or maintenance” work.

It is possible that the public’s footing the bills in situations like the de Blasio administration’s could be banned eventually. State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said he would “look into” legislation prohibiting the practice.

The Queens lawmaker, who will not re-endorse de Blasio for re-election, has heard complaints from constituents not happy about public dollars going to pricey attorneys.

Landlord renting from MTA refusing repairs in Kew Gardens

Excellent report in the Queens Tribune:

Kew Gardens businesses have been waiting eight years for $3 million in repairs to their buildings on Lefferts Boulevard and several store owners have said there appears to be no end in sight.

According to business owners on the Lefferts Boulevard bridge over the LIRR tracks between Austin and Greenfell Streets, the landlord of the property has refused to maintain the buildings for the eight years he has leased them from the MTA.

Since the master tenant, Zee N Kay, took over the lease in 2009, Nathalie Reid, owner of Thyme Market, said she has had a hole in the floor of the storage room through which she can see the passing LIRR trains below, and Zee N Kay has not made any attempt to repair it. She has since covered it with plywood boards.

Reid said that the stores are so poorly insulated that they have to keep the heat on high during the night so the pipes don’t burst. Thyme Market carries vitamins with gel capsules and during the night, in the high heat, those capsules melt. “My heating bill is astronomical,” Reid said.

Pradeep Argawal, a certified public accountant with an office on Lefferts Boulevard, said that his pipes have frozen several times and the landlord sent someone to fix it, but it is only a temporary fix as it will freeze again regardless of whether or not the heat is kept on.

Both Argawal and Reid have asked for reimbursements for heating expenses since they say that Zee N Kay has never insulated the pipes, but that request was refused.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

De Blasio won't kill innocent groundhog this year

From SI Live:

Mayor Bill de Blasio won't risk dropping Staten Island Chuck again this Groundhog Day.

Three years after a potentially-fatal fumble on his first Groundhog Day as mayor, de Blasio will skip the Staten Island Zoo's annual ceremony for the second year in a row.

"The Mayor's on Staten Island as much as possible and that will continue in 2017," de Blasio spokeswoman Jessica Ramos said. "We doubt the groundhog will be heartbroken."

The mayor's office didn't say what de Blasio would be doing on Thursday instead of attending the 7 a.m. ceremony.

The Staten Island Zoo said Public Advocate Letitia James will officiate instead of de Blasio.

Weiner likely to get hard time

From the Daily News:

Anthony Weiner is facing hard time — unless his lawyers can strike a good deal.

Attorneys for the disgraced former congressman are trying to talk prosecutors out of going forward with child pornography charges that could land Weiner behind bars for at least 15 years, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The charges stem from sexually explicit messages and images he allegedly exchanged with a 15-year-old girl.

Sources told the newspaper that Weiner’s lawyers have been in talks with federal prosecutors for weeks, angling for a plea deal. But officials from the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and FBI agents have not backed off.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

De Blasio suddenly in favor of more deportations

From DNA Info:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is willing to add to the list of 170 felony criminal offenses for which the city will work with federal authorities to deport perpetrators.

De Blasio — who has said cooperation with those crimes makes President Donald Trump's executive order threatening to pull funding from sanctuary cities redundant — made the statement during a budget hearing in Albany Monday as part of a testy exchange with Republican state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.

"So, for instance, if an individual here conducts sexual misconduct, forcible touching, sexual abuse in the second and third degree, grand larceny, welfare fraud, identity theft — this was just a small list of a much larger list in which the city refuses to comply with detainer requests from the federal government — why would you protect individuals who are here illegally committing these crimes?" she asked the mayor.

"If there are some offenses that we should add, we are willing to do that always," de Blasio replied.

From September 2014 to September 2016, New York City received 584 detainer requests from the federal government but only complied with 32, Malliotakis stated.

"My issue is, why would the mayor of the city of New York who is entrusted to protect the safety of our citizenry say that they're not going to comply with these detainer requests," the assemblywoman asked.

Malliotakis said she was concerned that offenses such as identity fraud, welfare fraud, forcible touching and grand larceny were seemingly not included. But the mayor believes many of those offenses overlap with what is listed and invited the assemblywoman to consult with the city's lawyers.

"When you come up with a list of 170 offenses, if there were several more that should be included, I'm perfectly happy to include them," de Blasio said.

Enforcing parking restrictions in residential zones

From the Queens Chronicle:

Just as President Eisenhower worried about the “falling domino” principle that would spread Soviet influence in Indochina, Maria Becce of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association is concerned that a few instances of illegal parking practices in her neighborhood will become widespread.

“One house does it and it’s a domino effect,” she said. “We have three active complaints; one seems to have been resolved. We don’t want it to be 30.”

Broadway-Flushing, with its well-preserved Tudor Revival homes and cavernous lawns, is a rare breed of Queens neighborhood. With a large portion of it protected by the Rickert-Finlay Covenant, a deed restriction that limits homes to single-family usage that is not enforced by the Department of Buildings, the homeowners association must litigate to preserve the rule, and its members are vigilant about notifying city agencies and elected officials when they see misconduct of any kind in the neighborhood.

The DOB issued violations in October for the creation of an unpermitted parking pad at 35-69 168 St., an apartment building, according to a spokesman for the agency. Violations were also given for not complying with area parking regulations and work without a permit.

The agency also gave a violation at 35-66 165 St. for the illegal usage of the side yard as a parking lot in December. The Chronicle saw three cars in the property’s side yard on Wednesday.

And at 35-28 163 St., where a car was parked on pavers in the front yard when the Chronicle went to the site on Wednesday, the DOB issued a violation in October for not complying with a residential district’s parking regulations.