Sunday, March 31, 2019

Another report on how unaffordable it is to buy a home in New York City






















Patch

Many New Yorkers may dream of buying a home, whether it's a Brooklyn Heights brownstone or an almost suburban house in eastern Queens. But a new report suggests housing is unaffordable for the typical worker in all five boroughs.

In the report published Thursday, ATTOM Data Solutions crunched housing and wage numbers for 473 of the nation's more than 3,000 counties nationwide. It determined affordability by assuming a 28 percent maximum "front-end" debt-to-income ratio. That means a buyer purchasing an affordable home would not be spending more than 28 percent of their income on house payments including insurance, mortgage and property taxes.

Every New York City borough is considered unaffordable, meaning median home prices in the first quarter of this year were too expensive for average wage earners. That was the case in 71 percent of the counties that were analyzed.

 The city's highest shares of income needed to purchase a median home were seen in Brooklyn and Manhattan, where a buyer needs 115.9 and 115 percent of the average annual earnings, respectively, the report shows.

Things weren't as bad — though still pretty dismal — on Staten Island, where the costs of buying a home eats up 72.4 percent of the average annual wages of $51,337, according to the report.


ATTOM's affordability index took median home prices from public sales deed data. Average wage figures came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In all, 231 million people live in the counties analyzed by the company.

 Here's what the researchers found for each New York City borough.
Manhattan
  • Affordability index (Under 100 is less affordable than historic average): 76
  • Median sales price: $1,862,500
  • Year over year annualized wage growth: 6.8 percent
  • Year over year median home price growth: 33 percent
Brooklyn
  • Affordability index (Under 100 is less affordable than historic average): 92
  • Median sales price: $760,000
  • Year over year annualized wage growth: 5.8 percent
  • Year over year median home price growth: 0 percent
Queens
  • Affordability index (Under 100 is less affordable than historic average): 91
  • Median sales price: $630,000
  • Year over year annualized wage growth: 6.9 percent
  • Year over year median home price growth: 7.7 percent
The Bronx
  • Affordability index (Under 100 is less affordable than historic average): 91
  • Median sales price: $445,000
  • Year over year annualized wage growth: 5.7 percent
  • Year over year median home price growth: 11 percent
Staten Island
  • Affordability index (Under 100 is less affordable than historic average): 101
  • Median sales price: $490,000
  • Year over year annualized wage growth: 7.3 percent
  • Year over year median home price growth: 1 percent

Judge rules in favor of Brooklyn homeowners against city's government program TPT plunder scheme.


25 MacDonough St.


Kings County Politics




The city attempted to take all the properties under the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD) Third Party Transfer (TPT) program, and in which KCP has been doing an ongoing investigative series. 

Under the TPT program, the city seizes properties they deem “distressed,” and give them to the public/private non-profit Neighborhood Restore, who in turn give the property for a nominal fee to a qualified non-profit or for-profit developer. The program was created in the late 1970s, when the city had a large number of abandoned and neglected buildings.

However, with gentrification, these properties, and others in the same program, are now worth millions of dollars in market value. Almost all were completely paid for with no mortgage and located in traditionally black and brown neighborhoods, which are becoming increasingly gentrified.

When the city takes property under TPT, they give no equity to the property owners, who in many of the cases paid thousands of dollars in back taxes and water bills to the Department of Finance, which was never registered as being paid.

Much of the properties taken by the Third Party Transfer (TPT) program are located in rapidly gentrifyingng neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

Partnow rulings were on six separate property cases that came before his court. Two of the properties – 25 McDonough Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant and 19 Kingsland Avenue in Williamsburg/Bushwick were the subject of several of the KCP stories. The other properties Partnow ruled on were 1055 Bergen Street in Crown Heights, 972 Rutland Road on the Brownsville/Crown Heights border, 315 Harman Street in Bushwick and 463 Classon Avenue in Clinton Hill.

“The City has particularly targeted properties that are owned by minorities. The court recognizes that home ownership is an important means for families to build intergenerational wealth. While the Third Party Transfer Program was intended to be a beneficial program, an overly broad and improper application of it that results in the unfair divestiture of equity in one’s property cannot be permitted,” wrote Partnow in his ruling.

Partnow found several problems with the taking of all these properties including a lack of process in serving property owners that their property was being taken, and that the properties in questions never met the definition of being distressed.
But time and again, in each of the cases Partnow noted the city took properties worth millions of dollars without giving any equity/compensation to the owners.

“The transfer of the Kingsland property to Neighborhood Restore is also unconscionable and shocking in the conscience of the court based on the amount of the City’s lien versus the substantial value of the Kingsland property. In addition, since the Kingsland property is not a distressed property, the taking of it through the Third Party Transfer program would constitute an unlawful taking of private property without just compensation in violation of Kingsland’s HDFC’s constitutional rights under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Consitution and article 1, section 7, of the New York State Constitution,” he wrote.

Anyone seen the former HPD director Alicia Glen lately? Because her dirty vampire calimari hands are all over this. 


Admin note: if anyone is not familiar with her background, she previously worked at Goldman Sachs in their Urban Investment Group dept., which this neighborhood would certainly meet it's qualification for "urban" and it's gentrification as "investment". As for my description, she sardonically replied in a Vanity Fair article about Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi's description of GS as a Great Vampire Squid by saying that her former employer are actually nice little calimari.

Long story short, this woman should be indicted and arraigned on punitive charges for what she did to these homeowners while running HPD.

Bronx citizens are frustrated with the lack of response from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

Image result for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez



NY Post


Amid her zeal to save the world with the Green New Deal, Rep. ­Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has ­ignored residents in her own Bronx back yard.

“I thought AOC would be our savior, but that’s not the case,” complained Roxanne Delgado, a local activist who said she has tried for months to get in touch with the congresswoman for help saving an animal shelter and to clean up parks in the district.

Delgado, 40, says she has made numerous calls to Ocasio-Cortez’s offices in Washington and Queens and sent a barrage of tweets after the freshman lawmaker encouraged residents during a recent visit to a Bronx public library to hit her up on social media.

But she’s heard nothing back.

“NO email or contact on @AOC’s page except DC number which has full #voicemail and no one picks up,” Delgado tweeted on Monday.

The Post made several calls to both the Washington and Queens offices last week. The same recording at both numbers gives Ocasio-Cortez’s Web site and doesn’t allow a caller to leave a message.

The website includes a “scheduling request” form that visitors can fill out to ask for a meeting.

Another Bronx constituent told a community gathering last month that they needed Ocasio-Cortez for a sitdown with post-office officials to sort out difficulties he was having with mail delivery.

“I want AOC or a representative from AOC to be there,” Anthony Vitaliano, a former cop and Community Board 11 member, said at a Feb. 28 board meeting.
Vitaliano, 78, also wants Ocasio-Cortez to pressure Amtrak to clean up graffiti at property it owns on Tremont Avenue.

“You know, I appreciate what she’s doing, but she has to represent us,” he told the board gathering, where other elected officials — from the city and state but not AOC’s office — sent staffers.

Whether you politically disagree or agree with her, like or loathe her, what this woman has done in three months is amazing and her minutes at congressional hearings are must see T.V. But the one thing Ms. Ocasio-Cortez seems to have forgotten with all the fame and attention she's achieved is that all politics are still local.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

D.A. candidate Katz holds campaign fundraiser at mob connected restaurant


 Image result for melinda katz


NY Post

Aren’t these the guys she’s supposed to be putting away?

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz boosted her campaign for district attorney by holding a fund-raiser at a mobbed-up eatery in Rego Park, The Post has learned.

Sources said Katz partied with supporters Tuesday night at the Barosa Italian restaurant, which is co-owned by reputed Genovese associate Frank Barbone.

Barbone, 47, has twice been convicted in illegal-gambling cases, including one in Queens for which he served a 1 ¹/₂ to 4 ¹/₂- year prison term.

He’s currently on supervised release in the other — in which he admitted to a Manhattan federal judge that gangsters might drop by his place from time to time.

Barone was present at the restaurant during Katz’s fund-raiser, for which tickets cost $150 each, sources said.

“Shouldn’t she know where the owner is a mobster?” a source wondered.

In 2016, Barbone was among 46 reputed gangsters busted in what the feds called a “sprawling and long-running racketeering conspiracy” that involved four of New York’s “Five Families,” as well as the Philly mob run by Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino.

Prosecutors said Barbone ran an illegal sports-gambling operation with reputed Genovese member Alex Conigliaro, with whom he was also convicted in 2000 on state gambling charges.
 
In 2017, Barbone struck a plea bargain that got him a one-day, time-served jail sentence, and three years supervised release.

 Katz campaign spokesman Grant Fox said: “It’s surprising that Melinda’s opponents, who are tripping over themselves claiming to be reformers, are floating this kind of half-baked opposition research to hurt someone who paid his debt to society and now runs a popular restaurant that has hosted events for candidates on both sides of the aisle.”

Kew Gardens LIRR Station has an urban blight street art display.


Hi Crappy,thought you'd like to see the view people get of Kew Gardens from the LIRR.This has been like this for years.



Man's house torn down while he was in Florida


From NBC:

A law in New York’s biggest town allows the town to demolish homes deemed “dangerous” or “abandoned” — and it is affecting hundreds of people.

“This was the lot,” Phil Williams said as he stood in an empty yard in the West Hempstead neighborhood he once called home. “And as you can see, there is nothing left.”

Williams went to Florida in December 2014 for knee surgery. When he returned months later in August, his house was gone.

“I bought the house from my dad in 1974,” Williams recalled. “My wife and I lived there. We had six children that lived in the house.”

The Town of Hempstead tore down Williams’ house according to Chapter 90 of town law.

It’s a law that allows building inspectors to identify and demolish structures that they deem are dangerous or abandoned. Currently, the town is dealing with 850 open Chapter 90 cases.

The town’s definition of dangerous is defined, in part, as something that is "…unsafe structurally, or a fire hazard or a nuisance to the general public."

"The house was not a danger. It’s just a ridiculous statement," Williams said.

It wasn’t just the house that was a loss for Williams, though. Decades worth of personal belongings and memories — all of them, gone.

Now, he is taking the town to court.

Friday, March 29, 2019

NYC Ferry subsidy costs are INSANE




NY Post

 

The city’s ferry system is taking taxpayers for a ride, with each individual trip costing $10.73 more than passengers pay, according to a government watchdog.
 
In a report titled “Swimming in Subsidies,” the Citizens Budget Commission said the $2.75 fare covered just about one-fifth of the cost of the waterborne-transit system.
 
The $10.73 subsidy is 10 times the $1.05 that the government kicks in for each subway trip, which costs the same $2.75.
 
And it’s nearly twice the $5.46 paid to subsidize each trip on the free Staten Island Ferry.
It was only a few months ago that city officials pegged the ferry subsidy at $7 to $8 a ride.
 
A planned expansion of the ferry system will hit taxpayers even harder.
 
A Coney Island line due in 2021 will need an eye-popping $24.75 per passenger from the city to stay afloat, the CBC estimated.
 
“They have created a ferry network that serves a small number of New Yorkers, is expensive to operate and requires a high subsidy that will only grow higher,” said CBC researcher Sean Campion.
The ferries carried 4.1 million passengers last year, less than the subways did in on an average day.
 



 Also:

City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s recent warnings about massive waste at NYC Ferry were alarming enough. But a Citizens Budget Commission report out Thursday truly, uh, rocks the boat.
 
For every ferry ride, the CBC found, the city kicks in an average of $10.73 of its own funds to meet costs. Every ride!
 
And, to be clear, that $10-plus is on top of the $2.75 fare.
 
That’s 10 times the average subsidy for the New York City Transit system. And double the one for the Staten Island Ferry.

And get this: A new route Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced will run from Coney Island to Wall Street — and cost the taxpayers a mind-numbing $24.75 in subsidies for every ride.

 
That’s $247.50 for five round trips a week — or $12,375 a year. Is the mayor nuts?
 
Based on Kelly Blue Book figures, de Blasio could buy each regular commuter a late-model Jaguar XE and save more than $2,000 a year on each one. Or put three riders in an Uber: The cost of that trip at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday was $35. Even with a $10 tip, the city could save $5,000 a pop each year. What in the blue seas is he thinking?

We all know damn well this mayor has no modicum of fiscal sense or is even capable of thinking. But there is something that wasn't mentioned in the CBC report and that is the free shuttle bus service that acts as a transfer to and from the ferries that traverses east and west Rockaway...


...which are also operated by Hornblower






















Mayor de Blasio has closed off to the press meeting with Councilmember Koslowitz about Kew Gardens tower jail

 Image result for kew gardens jail


Mayor Bill de Blasio met with Councilmember Karen Koslowitz and Central Queens community leaders to discuss the plan to build a 30-story jail in Kew Gardens on Wednesday afternoon, but the event was closed to members of the press. The discussion about the jail plan took place a few weeks after officials from the mayor’s office banned reporters from two previous meetings.

A spokesperson for Koslowitz told the Eagle that the event was “the mayor’s meeting” and that he believed about 30 people were invited, including members of the Queens Advisory Committee on Rikers. Koslowitz supports the plan for the new jail at 26-02 82nd Ave., near the Queens Criminal Courthouse.

The mayor’s office did not provide a list of attendees, an agenda or the meeting minutes when contacted by the Eagle.

“Not every meeting is subject to open meetings law because some are purely advisory and don’t have a formal government role, nor do the people involved vote on any aspect of the plan,” a spokesperson for the mayor told the Eagle. “Their purpose is to gain valuable initial feedback before having broader community meetings that will be open press. Not every conversation government has with the public is open to members of the media.”

Meeting attendees included de Blasio’s Senior Advisor for Criminal Justice Freya Rigterink and Deputy Director of Close Rikers and Justice Initiatives Dana Kaplan, Patch reported.

Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit Commissioner Marco Carrion also attended, according to Patch, which has led local coverage of the Kew Gardens jail plan.

De Blasio acknowledged community opposition to the proposed jail, which would rise 30 stories at a site next to the Queens Criminal Courthouse and dormant Queens House of Detention. The facility would house all the women detained in New York City, the mayor’s office said Friday.

When we ask a community to do something for the whole city, which is what we're doing here, then the community has a right to say, here are things that would help our community, including things we've been trying to get for a long time and haven't gotten," de Blasio told attendees, according to a recording obtained by Patch. "How can we say to the community, we're asking you to shoulder a burden but we want to do something back that's really going to make a difference?" 



Community meetings begin for Sunnyside Yard development.

Sunnyside Yards: NYCFC's Dream Stadium Location?
PIX News

 If ideas begin at the drawing board, the tables in the cafeteria at P.S. 166 on 35th Avenue in Queens are a good place to start.


NYC Economic Development Corporation and Amtrak have scheduled four community forums about possible development at Sunnyside Yard.


The second public session was Tuesday evening in Astoria, Queens.


The 180 acres that run along the border of Long Island City and Sunnyside are the size of about 136 football fields.


Neighbors, business owners, community leaders and industry representatives participate in the brain-storming sessions. This is the midway point for an 18-month long master planning process.


Amtrak, MTA and NJ Transit use the facilities, which have been around since the early 1900s. There have been ideas for decades about building over the tracks.


" With Amtrak and MTA currently undertaking critical capital investments in its rail infrastructure, this is a unique moment for the City to coordinate long-term planning for the future of the yard," says the project website.


The public meetings begin with a presentation and a question-and-answer session. Officials want people to know this is the early stages of the project and it's too early to say how any plans would be financed.


A public-private partnership helped create Hudson Yards over the rail yard on Manhattan's West Side. That project was 15 years in the making. Residential and office buildings began to open a few years ago. Shops, restaurants, and public parks opened to the public this month.


Sunnyside Yard is 7 times larger.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

District Attorney candidate Melinda Katz appointed current Caliendo architect for City Planning Commissioner



Image result for Raj Rampershad, gerry caliendo

nyc.gov

Oudeshram Raj Rampershad, is a lifelong resident of Richmond Hill, Queens. He was appointed to the New York City Planning Commission in 2018 by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
Prior to his appointment, Raj was the chairperson of the Queens Community Board 9 for three years, from March 2015 to March 2018 and had served on the board since 2005. Throughout his time on the board he served on the Land Use Committee and as chair he oversaw the day to day operations of the board which involved working with multiple city agencies, local Civic groups, and residents. It was through that experience that he developed a deep appreciation for the importance of conducting city business in a transparent, respectful, consistent, and open-minded manner, both with fellow board members and the public.
Mr. Rampershad is currently a Senior Project Manager at the Gerald J. Caliendo architectural firm, based in Briarwood, Queens. Since 2001, his duties there have included managing multiple projects throughout New York City, as well as analyzing and applying building and zoning regulations to those projects. Prior to that he worked at a family owned business located in Ozone Park, Queens for over two decades. Raj is a graduate of Richmond Hill High School and has an Associates degrees in architectural Technology from New York City Technical College and received his bachelor's degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute.

 Not much of a conflict of interest there.
 




Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Broadway, look a farm, LOL

A reader sent this in.

Location: N/E Corner of Crocheron and 164th St.

QNS from 2017

 Following reports that revealed the average person in Queens has to spend a whopping 83.7 percent of their income to be able to buy median housing throughout the borough, a study has placed twelve neighborhoods in Queens on a list of the top 50 priciest in all of New York City for 2016.

 Broadway, a neighborhood within Flushing, was the next Queens neighborhood to appear on the list. The area ranked No. 28 with a median sale price of $944,000.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Long Island City luxury hotel transforms into "motivational" short stay hostel.


https://2sei0v2s93y31n9ndy1lrzmh-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/PaperFactory_2-1.jpg

QNS


The Paper Factory, a boutique hotel in an industrial section of Long Island City, has been acquired by The Collective, the British pioneer of the communal living movement.

The Collective will transform the building, located at 37-06 36th St., into a co-living environment and cultural destination that integrates the surrounding neighborhood at the southern end of the Kaufman Arts District.

The Collective bases its unique living environment on “A Theory of Human Motivation” by American psychologist Abraham Maslow, which he published in 1943. In it, Maslow described the “hierarchy of needs,” five different levels that when met allows a person to “self-actualize” reaching their fullest potential as a human being.

“We are profoundly excited for our arrival in Queens,” The Collective Founder and CEO Reza Merchant said. “We love to join culturally vibrant neighborhoods who are embarking on their own phase of change, and to work alongside locals to understand their current needs. Our vision for Paper Factory is to activate an inspiring environment where the community of Long Island City and our members can share unforgettable, enriching experiences that have a lasting impact on their lives.”

The Collective’s members can take advantage of flexible terms starting from a single night up to a few weeks, with all amenities, utilities, Wi-Fi, linen change and concierge services rolled into a single, simplified cost.

The first phase of rejuvenation at Paper Factory will its expansive ground and basement floors into a 
highly varied series of spaces designed to host daily experiences, ranging from cutting-edge music programming to educational gatherings around the future of living to mindfulness and wellbeing workshops. The program, which will be open to members and to the public, will strike a balance between intellectual growth, spiritual inspiration and cultural discovery.

 “We are very focused not just how people feel in our spaces, but what they may become there,” Merchant said. “We take a huge amount of inspiration from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and believe it is our duty to cater to all needs of the pyramid, starting from essentials like food and shelter. All the way to the top, which is self-actualization. Seeing people grow and achieve their full potential in life is what gets us out of bed every morning.”

Despite all the vibrant marketing jargon here (which is also disturbingly cult-like), this is a glorified and stylized homeless shelter.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Elizabeth Crowley is running for Queens Borough President.



According to the video, this campaign is being marked also as a listening tour. (How about Liztening Tour?)

 Listening to this, Liz is banking heavy on the sexual identity politics and immigration angle, while looking perplexed by some of the questions from the audience.

Hopefully, she doesn't get pushy with citizens who demand more from her than just platitudes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A craptacular apartment building grows in Rego Park


If this doesn't look familiar to readers of this blog, this is the corner where the Drake Theatre and Abbracciamento's Restaurant used to be on Woodhaven Blvd. and 63rd Drive.

This building went up pretty fast and it looks it. From this layman's view, this looks like modular structuring. Not sure it's affordable, judging from the Chase Bank banner there.

Regardless, this is one fugly building.


Which one is the real crap house?


This is at 167th St. and 35th Ave. Flushing, Queens.


Sent in by a discerning Crap reader. Well done. I hope I put these in the proper order and context. 

JQ LLC

More heavy metal debris is falling from elevated tracks, this time in Sunnyside and Richmond Hill


https://cdn.abcotvs.com/dip/images/5203521_031819-wabc-metal-subway-debris-img.jpg

CBS NY

 In what’s become an alarmingly commonplace occurrence of late, a small piece of rusty metal plunged from the elevated 7 train track and crashed into a car in Queens on Friday.

Officials say the hunk of metal dropped onto the trunk of a car on Queens Boulevard and Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside, causing a dent.
The man whose car it hit was surprised to see how much damage the metal inflicted. The incident comes after two separate incidents in the past month where debris fell from the 7 train tracks in Woodside.
No one was hurt, but cars were damaged every time debris fell.
“This is outrageous! More rusty metal debris falling from the 7 train, this time in LIC. Look at that dent— a person would have died!” Tweeted Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “I sent a letter to [the MTA] last week demanding an expeditious inspection of the 7 train structure. What is the hold up?!”

NBC 4 NY


MTA workers were seen inspecting a section of tracks Monday afternoon as they looked into whether metal that apparently crashed into a car's roof in Queens was debris from elevated subway tracks.

The alleged incident occurred Monday when a woman behind the wheel heard a thump, pulled over, got out, looked up and apparently found damage on the roof of her car.

The woman believes it was a piece of metal that fell from the elevated tracks along Liberty Avenue and 115th in Richmond Hill.

She says the debris rained down as a train passed above.

However, the MTA says it looked into Monday’s incident but did not find “anything abnormal at the scene.”

In a statement, the MTA said: “We obviously take any report like this seriously and sent a team to investigate. We didn’t find anything abnormal at the scene – there was no debris on the ground, the track was inspected from both sides and all components were found to be secure. Our systemwide inspection of all elevated track structures continues.”
 

Falling debris from elevated tracks has damaged at least three cars in the last month, including a car impaled by a wooden beam. MTA president Andy Byford said the agency is looking to other cities, including Chicago, for help on maintenance tips for elevated tracks.

"We are reaching out to sister agencies — a classic, obvious example being Chicago because they operate a lot of overhead structures — to see if there is anything that they do additional to what we do," Byford said.

Wait, our transit system needs to be advised from other city's transit authorities to basically clean up after themselves? Too bad Felix Unger is a fictional character and deceased, because he would have been an excellent consultant for the MTA.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xBiaK78M6Js/VNpcNRrZq_I/AAAAAAAA3AE/0mAy59weDb4/w530-h398-n-rw/1200966519_1.jpg




Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bill passes to legalize basement apartments which might spur more gentrification


Image result for basement apartment new york

NY Daily News


Marlene Hernandez moved from her two-bedroom apartment in Bushwick to an illegal basement apartment in East New York two years ago out of necessity.

“I simply couldn’t afford Bushwick anymore, I had to go somewhere else,” the 29-year-old single mother of one told the Daily News. “Even if you live with a roommate, you’re paying $1,000, $1,200, to stay in a room. So I figured, why not live in a basement where I can have my own privacy?”

Some 114,000 New Yorkers live in illegal basement apartments, according to the housing advocacy groups Chhaya Community Development Corporation and the Pratt Center for Community Development.

Basement and cellar apartments must meet minimum requirements for light, air, sanitation and exits and be approved by the Department of Buildings.

A bill signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on March 5 aims to turn illegal basement and cellar apartments into safe, legal, affordable housing, starting with a three-year pilot in East New York and Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.

But the new law has Hernandez worried. She’s paying $1,200 a month for her off-the-books place and argues that New Yorkers in her position may have to keep finding illegal apartments to keep their rent down, or face higher rents for legal apartments.

“My landlord isn’t going to lower my rent,” she said. “What incentive does he have to legalize my apartment?” she said.


The pilot program will provide $12 million in low-interest loans and grants to eligible low- to
middle-income homeowners, living in one- to three-family homes, to convert their basements into legal apartments. If successful, the city would look at expanding the program to other neighborhoods.
A report from the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) in 2017 said such a program could add up to 38,000 housing units.

All basement apartments legalized with funds from the grants and loans will have to conform to HPD’s affordable housing rules, which cap rents at 30% of a tenant’s income. Landlords who decide to create legal basement apartments without the city’s help will not have to abide by the income cap.


“If they legalize basement homes, landlords can just take advantage,” Hernandez said. “They know that there are people who are able and willing to pay regular apartment prices for these units.”
Jessica Katz, executive director of CHPC, acknowledged that the pilot’s pathway to legalization opens the door for landlords to raise rents. But, Katz said, the benefits of legalization outweigh the possibility of higher rents.

“There is a risk that the landlords will raise the rent,” Katz said. “We’re trying to find the right balance between bringing up the quality of those apartments and protecting the tenants, but also not scaring off tenants who have in certain ways benefited from the legal gray area that they’re living in.”

If anyone else recalls, this is where Councilman Espinal described these areas which he represents as a guinea pig for this housing plan.

I have a gut feeling that East New York and Cypress Hills are going to become "hot", "hip" and "niche" towns pretty soon.
 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Hudson Yards got twice as much tax subsidies as Amazon and their condos' property taxes are dirt cheap






































6 Sq Ft

 The $20 billion, 28-acre Hudson Yards megaproject has been in the news recently as its official March 15 grand opening approaches. The New York Times reports that the nation’s largest residential development has gotten more than a little financial help from the city government to get there. In fact, public records–and a recent study by the New School–reveal that the development has received nearly $6 billion in the form of tax breaks and additional government assistance, twice the controversial $3 billion in incentives held out to Amazon to entice the retail tech giant to bring its second headquarters to Queens.


Where did $6 billion in taxpayer dollars go? Included in that tally were the $2.4 billion spent by the city to bring the 7 subway line to Hudson Yards; $1.2 billion was set aside for four acres of green space within Hudson Yards. The City Council kicked in $359 million to shore up interest payments on bonds when the development fell short of its revenue projections.

The point to be made is that the world’s most successful real estate developers–In this case Related 
 Companies and Oxford Properties Group–are among the biggest beneficiaries of generous government tax breaks, meant to encourage development.

Of the incentives given to the Hudson Yards project, defenders say they’ll reap an enormous benefit to the city in the form of thousands of new jobs created. The subway extension is definitely a boon, and who can argue with parks and improvements at what was for years a jumble of old factories, tenements and a stretch of rail yards once known as “Death Avenue.

But the city was lacking a subway stop on the far west side before the wealthy developers made it happen, and the counter-argument in both the case of Amazon and Hudson Yards is that big businesses with big profits at stake should pay their own way rather than getting government incentives–particularly tax breaks–sorely needed elsewhere.

The New School’s recent analysis, headed by Bridget Fisher and Fl├ívia Leite, focuses on a particularly fortuitous property tax break that developers within the Hudson Yards area benefitted from which has cost the city more than $1 billion so far. This incentive can mean as much as a 40 percent discount for future developers in the area for as long as 20 years.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Glendale residents raise concerns of soil contamination from Superfund site.

 

QNS


State agencies briefed the public on Monday about a Glendale superfund site that will have another round of remediations in the near future after the toxic PCE has been determined to be no detriment to public health.

The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health held a meeting on March 11 in a small room of the North Forest Park library where residents complained that they were not properly notified of the contaminants beneath the soil in their community.

But DEC claimed there was little chance the public could be breathing the chemical since it is deep underground and a study of 10 homes in 2006 showed no sign of PCE in the air – an admittedly small size – but that 30 year project would flush the soil of the contaminant.

“We should have had flyers coming to our house, we should have been informed by you people,” one attendee said. “Nothing.”

This is why there’s nobody here tonight, nobody knows,” another person said, with many attributing QNS for learning about the meeting.

With most of the contamination up to 100 feet below the surface at the deepest parts, DOH does not consider soil vapor intrusion to be an issue for a few reasons: because although the PCE is concentrated in the ground water, there is a layer of clean water between the chemical and the surface; homes are not at risk because the foundations, unless there are crack in the pavement, will seal out the vapors; and there is no risk of people ingesting PCE because the surrounding communities are on the municipal system which is supplied from upstate.

But Robert Nardella, 78, however, maintained concern about his home after the presentation because of the claim by DEC that the underground plume had migrated west at a shallower level and pointed out that some residents may have dug wells on their property over the years as a means to water their lawn or fill above-ground pools to get around water restrictions.

“Why is it being addressed again?” Nardella told QNS. “I was confused as to why this is coming up again when they did everything to minimize our concerns, you know, saying there was no more vapor and that it’s going deeper and deeper into the ground.”


Nardella was also concerned about his home, which was built in the early 1930s which just have wood floors over dirt in the basement, offering no protection from possible soil vapor intrusion.
“There are still many homes next to that site that have dirt over a wood floor, mine included,” Nardella added. “If there are any vapors coming up, I don’t have any protection.”

Councilman Holden's bill for mandatory lead inspection and prevention passes.

Image result for sewer main project middle village queens



 Queens Chronicle

 
Last April, Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) held a red flag and declared a CAC Industries lot a “red flag site” after learning that a sewer main project in Middle Village was stalled late in 2017 after high levels of lead were found in the soil.

On Wednesday, Int. 1063 passed the City Council, which requires any city development to provide notice to the relevant Council member and community board within five business days of discovering or becoming aware of a hazardous level of lead in soil.


The bill is Holden’s first to pass in the City Council.

“Increased transparency between city agencies and the public is a value that I campaigned on and I’m pleased to see this bill accomplishing that,” he said in a statement.

The soil that had been excavated during the Penelope Avenue sewer work was sitting in a yard leased by CAC Industries across the street from PS/IS 128, a K-8 school. The dirt had been sitting uncovered at the site until a tarp was eventually placed over the mounds.

In April, Holden took aim at the Department of Design and Construction, saying, “If they knew this was contaminated, to leave it uncovered is criminal. To leave it uncovered across from a school is more criminal.”

The discovery about the soil was made after CAC Industries, the project’s contractor, tried to bring the dirt to a dump but management there declined to take it after a visual inspection.

Testing revealed lead levels in the dirt mounds between 300 and 600 parts per million, exceeding the federal limit for bare soil where children play.

Eventually, the soil was removed and relocated to a facility in New Jersey.

 “It is common sense that local officials should be notified of any dangerous contamination so they can help inform and protect their constituents,” Holden said in his statement. “There is no excuse for carelessness that this bill will correct.”

Other bills in the package address lead-based paint hazards, lead testing in water, blood lead screenings, childhood lead poisoning prevention and the availability of lead hazard testing.


Hell's Kitchen rent-stabilized tenants experiencing discrimination and landlord intimidation by technology


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NY Post

 A group of tenants in a Hell’s Kitchen apartment complex say they are being locked out — by technology.

And now they are suing their landlord for the return of their low-tech keys to the front lobby.

“It’s ridiculous that everyone is spending all this money to go to court just to get a key,” said Mary Beth McKenzie, 72, an artist who has lived in the West 45th St. building for nearly five decades. “For 45 years I’ve had a key. And now, we can’t get keys.”

Instead of keys, the building’s owners have installed a new electronic security system called Latch, which requires a smartphone app to access the building’s lobby, where a newly built elevator and the tenants’ mailboxes are located.

McKenzie’s 93-year-old husband has been a virtual shut-in since the new technology was introduced last year because he doesn’t use a cellphone and has difficulty walking up the three flights of stairs to their apartment, she said. Tenants in the complex at 517-525 West 45th St. don’t need to use the lobby to access the stairwells to the buildings, which are between four and five stories each.

McKenzie and some of the other rent-regulated tenants who are suing for the return of their keys say Latch also includes a GPS function that allows the building’s owners to monitor their movements and even their social media.

The app, which is currently in use in more than 1,000 residential buildings in the city, also comes with an 84-page contract which states that any information collected through the Latch system goes to the building owner, the tenants say.

 “It’s a form of harassment,” said McKenzie, whose paintings hang in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. “What happens if your phone dies? I don’t want to be stuck on the street and I don’t want to be surveilled.”

 The owners — a limited liability company controlled by Offir Naim and Shai Bernstein — said they installed Latch to provide tenants greater security following a burglary in August 2018, according to court papers. And the GPS function is optional, they said.

  The Latch system also allows tenants to buzz someone, such as a courier, into the building without having to be at home, court papers say.

Yeah, this is a phenomenal idea. Especially with the rise of cellphone, mail and package delivery theft going around.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mayor de Blasio wants 10 billion dollars to save Downtown Manhattan from climate change




NY Daily News


Mayor de Blasio proposed extending the South Street Seaport area by two city blocks into the East River — part of a $10 billion effort to fend off rising sea levels as a result of climate change.


“We had to find something that would work, no matter how expensive or ambitious it was,” de Blasio said Thursday at a press conference downtown.


The plan, part of a resilience study released Thursday, calls for extending the shoreline by a maximum of 500 feet, or two city blocks. The new segment of the shoreline, which would be 20 feet or above current sea levels, would serve as a flood barrier during storms — but it could also be home to buildings, including potential private development, de Blasio acknowledged.


But it will be necessary to keep lower Manhattan from being underwater, he argued -- saying the city’s study had found that by 2100, 20% of the streets in area would experience daily tidal flooding, even in sunny weather.




“This is the existential threat. This is the core issue we all must face as aggressively as humanly possible,” de Blasio said.

 The plan, announced six years after Hurricane Sandy swamped the city, may sound familiar to some New Yorkers — in 2013, Mayor Bloomberg proposed a similar project dubbed “Seaport City.” That plan would have leveraged private development on the new land to pay for the massive expense of building it.


De Blasio said whether the new land would contain private developments depended on whether the federal government would pony up any cash for the plan.

 From the perspective of the City of New York alone, this would be extraordinarily difficult to fund. I think it comes down to simply this: if there’s federal money in play, it probably looks one way, if there’s not federal money in play, we have to get some private money and there has to be some development,” he said.


What happened to the affordable housing plan? What about emergency funding for NYCHA?

The mayor proves yet again where his priorities lie, with the real estate overlords. New development? If all those luxury towers around there are under threat now from accelerating sea level rise, why would you build more "private" development on the new shoreline
If there is a light side to this idiotic proposal, this ten billion dollar defense of luxury real estate from the effects of climate change seems to be inspired not only from de Blasio's obeisance to his biggest donors (obviously still) but from a mentally retarded female character from the classic comedy show Arrested Development.








Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Kew Gardens Community Board rejects de Blasio's tower jail


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The Kew Gardens community board voted unanimously against the plan for a new local jail advancing to the next stage. Queens Community Board 9 voted unanimously Tuesday night to urge the City Planning Commission not to green light the plan for a new jail in Kew Gardens, which would allow the plan to advance to the city's land use review process.

The planning commission must decide by March 25 whether to certify the jail plan as complete and send the plan through the city's land use review process, known as ULURP. The vote Tuesday is largely symbolic, but city rules say the planning commission must explain any decision that goes against community board recommendations.

 
"The City Planning Commission does irreparable harm by starting the ULURP clock," the community board's resolution states. "This proposal, designed without any communication with the affected communities, will quite simply overwhelm and destroy the small historic residential neighborhood of Kew Gardens, and also adversely affect the adjacent community of Briarwood."
A spokesperson for City Council Member Karen Koslowitz, who represents Kew Gardens, declined to comment on the vote.
 Queens BP Melinda Katz finally chimed in:

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. sharply rebuked the mayor's office last week for what they said was a failure to collaborate with the local communities that would house the new jails.

"We are deeply disturbed by the lack of meaningful local engagement on the borough-based jails project to date," Katz and Diaz Jr. wrote in a letter dated March 8. "The process of developing the borough-based jails system must start anew."

"The irony ... of unveiling a citywide plan for 'modern community-based jails' in the absence of community input is not lost on the boroughs," Katz and Diaz Jr. wrote.

 Admin note: The woman who wrote these articles (and the one on Meeks) is Mara Kaufman, the one who got repressed from reporting on this crucial meeting by the mayor's arbitrarily opaque rules

Congressman Gregory Meeks is the new chairman of the Queens Machine


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Patch

 U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks was unanimously elected Monday as the new chairman of the Queens Democratic Party. Meeks succeeds former U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, who stepped down in February.


Meeks was considered the most likely successor to Crowley, according to a City & State report that broke the news ahead of the Monday election. Crowley left the post after he joined one of the country's top lobbying firms. Meeks, a Crowley ally, is unlikely to spearhead radical changes within the party, City & State reported. He's a vocal opponent of a bill that would raise taxes on Wall Street traders and supported the Amazon HQ2 deal for Long Island City.

In 2013, Meeks was named one of the 13 most corrupt Congress members by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit that investigates the influence of money in politics. In 2006, Meeks paid a below-market sum for a St. Albans house built by one of his campaign contributors on land owned by another contributor, according to the CREW report. He has also failed to report loans on personal financial disclosure forms, CREW found.

Utterly disgraceful. And they talk about the President and his own sordid corruption and abuse of  power? This political neoliberal gangster has made a productive and lucrative career with his own dirty deeds and wheeling and dealing in his career as an elected official. And Jamaica is still blighted in the two decades since he's "represented" the district.



 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Brooklyn train station inundated with dust from Canarsie Tunnel construction


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NY Post


“I want to get the f–k out of here,” said Aaron Burnett, 37, who left the station after seeing how bad the dust was. “They need to shut the train completely down. That’s what they said they were going to do anyway. If it’s going to cause health problems, they should close it!”

MTA board members — who are still waiting for an independent consultant on the project to be hired — say they will demand that the agency tell them what is in the dust at the station.

“Is this what riders have to look forward to for 20 months?” said Andrew Albert, an MTA board member who heads the New York City Transit Riders Council. “This is just the beginning.”

An MTA spokesman said in a statement that the platform is safe for all riders. 

 Why does that statement eerily resemble former EPA commissioner Christie Todd Whitman's reassurance that the air quality was safe to breathe at Ground Zero in 2001.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

City approves modular building for affordable housing


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Queens Eagle


A proposed 167-apartment development in East New York is one of the first projects using modular construction that the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development has selected to finance, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Modular construction refers to the off-site construction of prefabricated, factory-produced units (modules) that are then stacked on top of each other to form a full building. The Build It Back program implemented in Queens and Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy also used modular housing.

The modules will be constructed by FullStack Modular at its factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The proposal was submitted by a development team led by Thorobird Cos. and its local nonprofit partner, Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Services.

“Doing modular is a really important, long-term strategy for the city,” said New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, whose last day on the job was Friday. “We know it saves time, and as it scales up, it will start saving money.”


Astoria Blvd. train station will be out of service for almost a year.

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Queens Eagle

The heavily trafficked Astoria Blvd. Station will close for nine months beginning on March 17 so that the MTA can install several ADA-accessible elevators and reconstruct the mezzanine.

The station, which first opened in February 1902, served more than 13,000 Astoria commuters per day in 2017 according to MTA data, but it lacks ADA accessibility. The upcoming renovations include the installation of four elevators to service the station, as well as raising the station’s mezzanine in order to better accommodate street-level truck traffic.

“We’ve been on a steady march of improvement work on the entire Astoria Line to increase reliability and improve safety and the customer experience, and this elevator project is a huge win for our customers,” said MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford. “Raising the height of the station is also vitally important for our train service and structure as well as the vehicles that use the streets below those elevated tracks.”

District 22 Councilmember Costa Constantinides said the single-subway line neighborhood was long overdue for an ADA-accessible station, after previous Astoria subway station renovations left much to be desired. Currently, none of the neighborhood’s N/W train stations have elevators.

“As someone who catches the train at Astoria Boulevard almost daily, I can tell you this station desperately needs the pending upgrades," Constantinides told the Eagle. "I'm glad to see the MTA finally decided to give in-need Astoria riders elevator access — only after doing vanity upgrades to four other stations when we explicitly requested they become ADA-compliant. As we move forward on the discussion about municipal control of the subway system, I hope future upgrades will account for the needs of the community, so people don't have to trek several blocks just to access an elevator."

Nine months? That is to laugh. Keep an eye on this Astoria, because it took four years to put up one elevator and new staircases at the Lefferts Blvd. station that I chronicled on for two years on Impunity City.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Ed Magnano and wife convicted of bribery charges


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NY Post

 
Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda, have been found guilty at their seven-week corruption retrial on Long Island — and each now faces as much as 20 years prison.

In a late-morning split verdict Friday, a jury found Mangano guilty of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from ex-restaurant owner Harendra Singh in exchange for the once powerful pol’s help in securing more than $20 million in loans.


Ed was cleared of a single count of extortion. He was also cleared of charges that alleged he swung to Singh a lucrative contract to provide bread and rolls to the county jail, and a second contract to feed the county’s emergency workers after Hurricane Sandy.

But he could still go to prison for two decades under the one top-count conviction.
The same jury found Linda guilty of four of the five counts against her: two for obstructing justice and two for making false statements, all to cover up the bribe scheme. Ed was also convicted of a single obstruction charge.

She, too, faces a potential two-decade prison term.
 
The two are maintaining their innocence, and said they will appeal the verdicts in the case, which proved an embarrassment for Mayor de Blasio.

At both this trial and last year’s mistrial, Singh testified under a cooperation agreement that he was a big donor and had the mayor at his beck-and-call.

This may be why the co-mayors went to South Carolina this weekend. Bill took a lot more from Singh and he has also anointed his wife with a plum job running the Advance for New York fund and the funding government void THRIVE mental health program.

 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Tom Seaver has dementia, retires from public life

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 In tribute to the phenom pitcher, here's the broadcast of Tom Terrific's 19 strikeout game against the San Diego Padres where he struck out 10 batters in a row, a record that still stands.








Thursday, March 7, 2019

More dangerous crap is falling from the elevated tracks again in Woodside



NY Post


A piece of debris from the elevated 7-train tracks crashed down onto a vehicle for the second time in two weeks Wednesday, prompting a Queens lawmaker to blast the MTA for the “public safety threat.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer pointed out the incident on Twitter, firing off a photo of the roughly one-pound, 10-inch wide metal piece of debris and a cracked car windshield on Roosevelt Avenue — just blocks away from where a similar incident occurred last month.

“What the hell is going on here?! For the second time in two weeks a piece of debris has come crashing down on a vehicle Below tracks on Roosevelt Ave., this time at 62nd street,” Van Bramer tweeted.

“The car was occupied and moving,” the pol tweeted. “No one injured but someone is going to get killed here @MTA!”


About a dozen MTA workers using a cherry picker were spotted Wednesday afternoon cutting out chunks of rusted metal from the underside of the main stairwell at the entrance to the Woodside/61st St. Station, where local merchant Esmat Elmarakei, 57, the owner of T-Shirts & More on Roosevelt Avenue, said garbage and debris routinely falls from the tracks.

“It hit the back of my husband’s car and broke his back window a few years ago,” Elmarakei said.

Last month wood from the elevated train tracks crashed into the windshield of a black Chevy Tahoe underneath the tracks on Roosevelt Avenue near the Woodside/61st St. Station.

After that incident, MTA officials promised to inspect all of the city’s elevated train tracks.

“We will begin to inspect the rest of the elevated lines that run through Queens, The Bronx, and Brooklyn to…make sure some anomaly like this doesn’t exist anymore,” the MTA’s Chief Safety Office Patrick Warren told reporters.

 Debris falling in the same area during a busy weekday afternoon ceases to become an anomaly. The MTA should focus their damage control efforts on clearing out their garbage and improving transit service instead of spinning b.s. to the media.

Jimmy really conveys sadness in that picture.

 

Every bus line in the five boroughs sucks except just one, and it's in Queens!


Image result for new york city bus q52


NY Daily News


Transit advocacy groups released report cards for bus routes across the city Wednesday, and the grades weren’t exactly honor roll material.


Half of all the routes analyzed across the five boroughs received a “D” grade or lower, shining a light on the depressing, delay-ridden commutes that plague the city’s 2 million daily bus riders.


The report also shows breakdowns of bus performance by City Council district— all but five of the 51 across the city received “D” or “F” grades.


“For a long time I’ve felt that the problems on our buses were an ignored second transit crisis in this city,” said City Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan), whose district received an F grade and has an average bus speed of 5 miles per hour. “All the attention goes to the obviously serious problem in our subways.”





Despite the dismal findings, the analysis does show that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s bus service is improving slightly. Last year, 30 fewer bus routes received failing grades than in 2017, a statistic advocates largely chalk up to improvements in the way that buses are dispatched.

Just one route detailed in the report received an “A” grade: the Q52 select bus, which travels from Elmhurst to the Rockaways.

Jaqi Cohen of the Straphangers Campaign attributes the route’s success to features like dedicated bus lanes and all-door boarding.



 “We know how this bus got this great grade,” she said. “The simple answer is that it uses solutions that we know could work across the city.”



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Commissioner O'Neill orders NYPD to tow thirty cars while brazenly violating new placard rules for silly private football game



NY Daily News

Angry upper Manhattan residents accused the NYPD of unsportsmanlike conduct for towing their cars to free up parking for the department’s flag football championship.


The alleged offensive interference with the local motor vehicles came in the hours before Sunday’s NYPD flag football championship contest at Columbia University’s Baker Field.


Police, citing traffic concerns and accessibility for the disabled, towed 30 cars on W. 218th St. between Broadway and Indian Road prior to the law enforcement Super Bowl pitting the 40th Precinct against Midtown South.


But one Inwood resident said most of the newly-created spaces on the west side of Broadway were instead filled by cops going to the game.





“There were mostly civilian cars with placards on their dashboards or notes about the flag football game,” said local man David Thom, 44. “This was removal of cars for personal vehicle parking for officers.”

While the cars were relocated rather than ticketed or taken to a tow pound, it still outraged some locals who emerged to find the police had called an audible on their parking spaces.


“How can they do that?” said Anna Dominguez, 52, who lives in the area but was not towed. “You think you’re gonna leave your car here Sunday and everything is gonna be fine — and then you come back and it’s gone. Just because the NYPD wanted space for a game? They’re taking advantage of their power.”

 Some cops left the notes in the cars to explain why they were illegally parked in crosswalks, in front of hydrants or in no parking zones.


Mayor de Blasio recently vowed a crackdown on placard abuse. But NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said Tuesday there was no abuse in this case.


“This was a special event,” O’Neill said. “This was the flag football championship. The cars were relocated. Nobody was towed and nobody got a ticket.”


O’Neill did suggest the 34th Precinct could have done a better job getting word out about the towing.


“But there are special events all throughout the city, every day,” O’Neill added.


What a dick. Although he does reveal that the city permits too much privatization of the streets.

Look how many people showed up for this "championship game"



So this is strike one according to the Mayor's new placard violation laws. Right?