Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Not your routine stop work order

In the 12 years we've been at this (has it really been that long?) we've come across a number of SWOs posted on buildings. But the story behind this one at 64-00 Metropolitan Ave is like none ever profiled here before.
You can learn a new way to get an ECB violation every day around these parts.

And wait, there's more! The plot thickens...

There are a slew of complaints about this building, and they're interesting to read.

More rules for AirBnB

From Crains:

The mayor's office on Monday unveiled a set of proposed rules that will force short-term rental sites such as Airbnb to disclose the identities of hosts and the types of listings they are offering. The new statues are the result of a law enacted earlier this year that's designed to aid city inspectors in cracking down on illegal home sharing—which they have done in grand fashion lately.

Absent certain exceptions, the new rules propose that booking services submit monthly reports to the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement through a yet-to-be-create web portal or face fines up to the larger of $1,500 or the annual income from the listing. The reports are to include a host's personal information, how much money changed hands, where to find advertising materials for listings and, most crucially, whether an entire apartment was being rented out and for how long.

Renting an empty unit for fewer than 30 days in larger buildings is considered a violation of the state's multiple dwelling law, and the mayor's office has invoked that statute to ding homeowners or building owners and then hit them with additional violations for not having exit signs, sprinklers and other safety measures required in hotels.

"This law provides the city with the critical information it needs to preserve our housing stock, keep visitors safe, and ensure residents feel secure in their homes and neighborhoods," Christian Klossner, executive director of the Office of Special Enforcement, said in a statement.

The administration is hosting a public hearing on the proposed rules Dec. 18, after which the mayor's office is likely to adopt them in some form. The effort is part of the city's opposition to illegal home sharing, a thorny issue involving a nebulous mix of housing economics, politics and pricey public relations campaigns.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Middle Village construction fence hosts painting & permits

Recently, yours truly came across a painting on a construction fence covered with DOB permits within the friendly confines of Middle Village. Well, this was certainly a new one! So, let's look into it.
The fence stands around what was the former site of a recessed bungalow-style house and a garage which were both torn down.
It's sure looking great now! What a boon to the neighborhood. That fence permit expired about a month ago, but there are no plans filed to do any further work at this site. Surely the local rodent population is grateful for the new habitat provided.

The shoe is on the other foot

From Crains:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is preparing a revised plan to raise money for the troubled New York City Housing Authority by working with private property managers and developers. And a major change to the blueprint involves trimming the amount of affordable housing that will be created—something that would have been anathema to the mayor just three years ago.

The city's plan, which officials said will be released by the end of the year, will be called Nycha 2.0 and will consist of increasing the number of developments managed by private companies, selling air rights and building new apartment towers on vacant or underused land, according to Politico New York, which first reported the initiative. Officials believe they can raise nearly $22 billion, which would take out a significant chunk of the authority's current $32 billion capital needs.

One key element of the plan is developing new apartments on Nycha-owned land that would generate income for the agency, something that was first proposed under the Bloomberg administration. Under that initiative, the buildings would have been 80% market-rate and 20% affordable.

"The idea was to generate money to repair the existing buildings and create significant new affordable housing, though the buildings would not have been 100% affordable," said Fred Harris, a former Nycha executive who helped draft the plan.

However, de Blasio criticized the Bloomberg plan as "a pure giveaway to wealthy elites" and in his NextGen plan proposed buildings that would be entirely affordable or split evenly between affordable and market rate.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

From a Bill de Blasio op ed in the Daily News:

They didn't pick Texas, which trumpets its low taxes.

They didn't pick Maryland with its $8.5 billion in incentives, or even New Jersey with its $7 billion.

In the end, Amazon came to New York.

When I took office, the 20-year knock on New York City's progressives was that our love of big government, the labor movement and high taxes would send businesses running.

We ignored the critics, and went on to pass paid sick leave, a higher living wage, a $15 minimum wage and a fair work week.

And this is where Amazon — the world's biggest online retailer — decided to be: in high tax, pro-union, high-regulation New York City. The 25,000 jobs coming to Long Island City in the coming decade represent the single biggest employment boost in the history of our city or state.

You can continue on and read the rest of this delusional bullshit, but let's point out that the type of workers Amazon is planning to hire will not be subject to anything he mentioned and will not be union. And the only reason you got them to come here was because you gave them tax incentives, a helipad and there is a workforce here that can support what they need. But we enjoy you reveling in the fact that this is a high tax state as if that's a positive.

Cozy relationships may have brought shelter to College Point

From the Times Ledger:

City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) confirmed Thursday that a controversial men’s shelter will open in College Point next year.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) spoke to Vallone Nov. 14 and notified him that they would be moving forward with the proposed shelter at 127-03 20th Ave.

According to the Vallone, the shelter could come as early as next September.

“Our fears were confirmed that 127-03 20th Avenue has been approved for use as a homeless shelter as early as September 2019,” Vallone said. “David Levitan’s greed sold out all of College Point for profit over the needs of our entire community.”

“This is a site that was deliberately purchased and converted for use as a homeless shelter — a despicable act by one owner who has no regard for the communities he infiltrates. We will continue to fight and stand with College Point,” he added.

Despicable act by one owner?

Yes, it was deliberately purchased and converted for use as a homeless shelter by David Levitan and Steven Berger. So who really sold out College Point since everyone knows what those two are all about? Why, it was none other than Gina Argento of Broadway Stages fame, a close friend of the mayor! Let's not forget that her husband, John Ciafone, has organized at least one fundraiser for Peter Vallone, and has been friends with the Vallone family for decades. Hmmm....
Also note that the sale of the property happened more than a year ago (just before the City Council election), but the transfer didn't happen until well after, in March.

Not to worry, we're sure Vallone and the born-again progressive, John Liu, will be right on top of this one. The voters of northeast Queens are to be applauded for their wise choices at the polls.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Parkway Hospital redevelopment approved by CB6

From the Forest Hills Post:

Community Board 6 resoundingly voted to approve plans for a major residential redevelopment of Forest Hill’s abandoned Parkway Hospital.

The board voted 33 to 1 at Wednesday’s meeting in favor of the plan, which includes the construction of a 14-story building at the 70-35 113th St. complex, and the addition of two floors to the existing 6-story hospital building on site. A total of 351 apartments are slated for the project.

The developers, Jasper Venture Group LLC and Auberge Grand Central LLC, had filed an application in September to rezone the property and allow for their towers, taller and denser than allowed under current zoning, to be built. Their application also sought to designate the property under a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) zone, the first in the area.

The proposed plan would turn the existing hospital building, with its two additional floors, into a residential tower with 135 affordable units, with 68 of these apartments for seniors. A 4,000 square foot community facility is also planned for the building, which is likely to be taken up by a medical service provider.

The 14-story tower, meanwhile, would be built in the vacant parking lot of the former hospital and house 216 market-rate units. The majority of the apartments here are studios and one-bedrooms, with 44 two-bedroom units.

DeBlasio fires guy that was investigating him

From the NY Post:

The mayor’s official pretext is that Peters had behaved “in a manner indicating a lack of concern for following the law” by improperly trying to replace the special schools investigator and supposedly lying to a de Blasio aide.

The real issue is surely that he’d done his job too well — better than the mayor expected when he installed his former campaign treasurer at the Investigations Department.

Peters exposed rampant mismanagement and systemic dishonesty at the Housing Authority, uncovered significant scandals at the Administration for Children’s Services and blew the whistle on how top mayoral aides lifted deed restrictions so that a Lower East Side nursing home could be sold to a real-estate developer for luxury condo.

And the firing comes as DOI has been investigating political interference in the Department of Education’s “probe” of Jewish religious schools that don’t teach their students non-religious subjects.

In that and other “matters now being pursued by DOI,” Peters told City Hall last month, “the mayor himself and/or his staff, are potentially a subject of investigation.”

Talk about fishy timing.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Metrocard scammers at Sutphin

From PIX11:

A daily commuter who moves through the Sutphin Boulevard transit hub told PIX11 a troubling situation has been going on there for at least three years.

“Gangs control the front of the turnstiles,” the woman told us. “They don’t let tourists out of the station until they give up their MetroCards.”

The hustlers want the cards to “swipe through” other tourists arriving in the United States, who want to get into the subway system. A guy named Lavell said he’s seen the swipers in action and knows the fee.

“Two dollars, and they give you a transfer.”

When PIX11 decided to investigate on two recent weekdays, we saw several people—men and women—soliciting MetroCards from travelers who were leaving the subway system, pushing their luggage along, on their way to the AirTrain that would take them to JFK airport.

Plaxall to develop site alongside Amazon

From The Real Deal:

Plaxall isn’t completely handing over its large Long Island City project to Amazon.

The family-run plastics company, which last year developed a 15-acre plan that appears to have been the key to luring Amazon’s HQ2 to New York, will retain a site just to the south of the tech company’s planned campus where it can develop its own commercial building, according to a memorandum of understanding between the company and the state and city’s respective economic development arms.

Plaxall... will retain the southernmost block of the larger project: a group of properties that sit on the block between 46th Road and 46th Avenue. The six property lots, which cover nearly the entire block, would allow Plaxall to build a mixed-use building slightly larger than 800,000 square feet, or a residential building of nearly 566,000 square feet.

Under the residential plan, the new building would be subject to the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirements, and under either scenario, Plaxall would set aside 5 percent of the space for light industrial use.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bad roads are to blame for added costs

From CBS 2:

A new report finds they cost drivers in our area an average of $2,800 a year.

Part of that $2,800 is spent at car mechanics, reported CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.

Drivers consider it a necessary evil to get to work, but traffic backups and potholes are an all-too familiar site in our area.

The cost of wear and tear adds up. A new report from TRIP – a national transportation research group – found drivers in the New York City area spend nearly $2,800 a year. It’s more money spent on car repairs, wasted gas by sitting in traffic and being late for work, all because the roads are so bad.

“It’s distressing to see that here in the metro area 2/3 of pavements are in poor condition,” said Carolyn Bonifas Kelly of TRIP. “That means two out of every three miles you’re driving on you’re hitting potholes, you’re hitting rough roads.”

The larger concern is that the deteriorating infrastructure could keep more jobs from coming to the area.

Experts say the solution is more transportation funding from the state and federal government.

Judge says "no deal" on public housing plan

From the NY Times:

A federal judge rejected a sweeping settlement on Wednesday that would have appointed a monitor to oversee the troubled New York City Housing Authority and required the city to pump at least $1.2 billion into repairs.

The judge, William H. Pauley III, also strongly suggested that the federal government should take over the authority instead.

In a scathing opinion, Judge Pauley deplored the “breathtaking scope” of the squalid living conditions in the city’s public housing complexes. He rebuked the city for its mismanagement of the agency, and said the federal government had abdicated its legal responsibility to overhaul the nation’s largest stock of public housing that is home to about 400,000 vulnerable New Yorkers.

The unexpected ruling threw the future of the Housing Authority into doubt and unraveled a deal that Mayor Bill de Blasio had staked his reputation on as a champion of public housing tenants.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bland Houses host fighting vermin

From PIX11:

Melba Nazario lives at the Bland Houses in Flushing says she saw rats fighting raccoons for trash.

Nazario said when she tries to complain to the management office, it’s always closed.

A spokesperson for NYCHA said exterminators are treating the area every two weeks for any rodent issues, with the last treatment on Oct. 29. They are scheduling to address any raccoons at the development. The animals will be safely relocated. Also, all the garbage and trash around Senior Center have already been removed by staff, a spokesperson promised.

The Bland Houses’ office has been closed briefly due to a staffing shortage, a spokespersons aid. It will be reopening Dec. 4.

Is it time for panic buttons at bodegas?

From PIX11:

Several bodega owners rallied in the Bronx on Tuesday, calling for panic buttons to help them reach police during emergencies.

The rally was held outside Wascar Guerrero’s deli on Shakespeare Avenue. Two weeks ago he chased away a group of teenagers with a metal pipe. Guerrero believes they were trying to rob his store.

“I have to protect me and my customers too," he said.

Guerrero says it took police more than half an hour to respond.