Tuesday, October 6, 2015

About those scooter cabs...

From WPIX:

There's a new cab service in the city but it may be illegal.

"Motoconcho" is the city's only known Vespa taxi service.

Customers can order a ride through an app, then a message is sent to a Vespa driver – who arrives within minutes.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission says such vehicles cannot be used as cabs and the company's owner may be violating city rules.

Dustin Rodriguez says the Taxi and Limousine licenses only apply for cars not scooters.

As seen previously.

Meng wants the EPA to take over plane noise issue

From DNA Info:

A lawmaker wants a federal environmental agency to take over efforts to fight airplane noise because the current overseer is "doing virtually nothing" to deal with it.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng first introduced legislation in July that calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to take over work being done to mitigate noise in neighborhoods close to airports.

She's been vocal about the EPA stepping up its monitoring of noise for months, but now wants it to take over the whole process, currently handled by the Federal Aviation Administration.

"The FAA has failed the residents of Queens," she said, adding that the EPA is "better suited to handle the problem."

Her bill, the Quiet Communities Act of 2015, would bring back the EPA's Office of Noise Abatement and Control — which monitored noise issues until President Ronald Reagan defunded it in 1981, Meng said.

Airplane noise in Queens isn't new, the congresswoman pointed out.

But it's gotten worse since 2012, when the FAA implemented new flight paths.

More people living in overcrowded conditions

From the Daily News:

The last few years have seen a huge surge in the number of apartments and homes deemed to be “overcrowded,” a new report by Controller Scott Stringer has found.

There were 272,000 overcrowded units in New York City housing nearly 1.5 million residents as of 2013, census data show. That’s a spike of nearly 20% from 2005.

Not surprisingly, nearly 70% of these overcrowded homes and apartments — those with more than one occupant per room — are occupied by an immigrant head of household.

Stringer said the growing trend toward cramped living makes for unhealthy conditions by exacerbating asthma, creates dangerous illegal apartments, and sometimes forces families into homeless shelters.

Congestion pricing DOA in Albany

From Capital New York:

Shortly after Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez called on the City Council to pass a resolution supportive of congestion pricing, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while he's open to the idea, Albany isn't.

"I’ve said it’s something that is worth looking at, but as you’ve heard right now in Albany there’s no appetite for it," he said, following an unrelated press conference.

The MTA is facing a multi-billion-dollar hole in its $30 billion plan to fix up the region's subway and mass transit system.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the mayor are engaged in an ugly battle over who should fill the gap.

One proposal that's been around, in various iterations, for years now, would put tolls on the East River bridges and along 60th Street and reduce them on inter-borough crossings, like the Verrazano Bridge.

Transportation experts like the idea. De Blasio has declared himself open to it. Rodriguez, who chairs the Council's transportation committee, supports it.

But the idea also appears to be dead on arrival in Albany.

Eyesore at Alley Pond

Hi Crappie, please post this photo and help me get some support for both a garbage corral and a better location for this garbage dumpster at the park. Presently the dumpster is located at 79-20 Winchester Blvd at the entrance to Alley Pond Park. It's the first thing you see when you enter the park. Why would the Parks Department want their garbage dumpster located within feet from the main entrance to the park? This dumpster has been an ongoing issue for years. It's an easy fix. They just have to spend a small amount of our money and build a corral to hide the overflowing garbage can. Thank you.

Bellerose, NY

Monday, October 5, 2015

"Minor interior alterations" shut down in Flushing

This past Thursday at 30-35 150th Street.
DOB responded that day and issued a Stop Work Order.

City enters Supreme Court fight re: voting district lines

From the Daily News:

The de Blasio administration has joined a Supreme Court fight that could change the way voting districts are carved up to exclude residents like immigrants and felons from the population count, the Daily News has learned.

If successful, Evenwel vs. Abbott would dramatically change the political landscape in immigrant-rich communities like New York, because it would draw districts to include only eligible voters.

Immigrants, felons who have lost the right to vote and children would be excluded.

In court papers filed last week, the city’s Law Department said rewriting the rules would punish New York City for its diverse population.

It would “effectively wipe millions of individual residents and entire families off the map, rendering those residents and their unique needs invisible to our local democracy,” the brief read.

The brief argues that the city’s use of total population in apportioning districts “conforms with fundamental tenets of representational democracy.”

It ensures that “all residents are entitled to equal representation, a principle of particular importance given the nation’s historic commitment to diversity, inclusion and robust civic involvement and debate,” the brief adds.

Zachary Carter, head of the city Law Department, said that counting everyone in an electoral district is important because all residents use city services, not just those eligible to vote.

6 months of destruction at the Steinway Mansion site

From George the Atheist:


What the politicians wrought.  Almost 6 months since the start of construction.  This could have been a park.  Now see what you have.

Forget what you heard about the economic benefits of the film industry and recycling

From the Wall Street Journal:

Proponents argue that film tax credits create well-paying jobs for local residents. Some even suggest that the incentives pay for themselves by boosting the economy and increasing government revenues. The Motion Picture Association of America claims: “Pure and simple: film and tax incentives create jobs, expand revenue pools and stimulate local economies.”

But real life is no Hollywood dream. Nearly every independent study has found that these arguments are more fiction than fact. The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put it best in a 2010 report: “State film subsidies are a wasteful, ineffective, and unfair instrument of economic development.”

From the NY Times:

In New York City, the net cost of recycling a ton of trash is now $300 more than it would cost to bury the trash instead. That adds up to millions of extra dollars per year — about half the budget of the parks department — that New Yorkers are spending for the privilege of recycling. That money could buy far more valuable benefits, including more significant reductions in greenhouse emissions.

It would take legions of garbage police to enforce a zero-waste society, but true believers insist that’s the future. When Mayor de Blasio promised to eliminate garbage in New York, he said it was “ludicrous” and “outdated” to keep sending garbage to landfills. Recycling, he declared, was the only way for New York to become “a truly sustainable city.”

But cities have been burying garbage for thousands of years, and it’s still the easiest and cheapest solution for trash. The recycling movement is floundering, and its survival depends on continual subsidies, sermons and policing. How can you build a sustainable city with a strategy that can’t even sustain itself?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fresh Pond Road Staples closing

I had to pick up some supplies this weekend at Staples on Fresh Pond Road, and when I returned home, I noticed this in the bag. So is it a permanent closure or are they doing an inventory?
The deed changed hands last year, and when I searched their online directory, the Maspeth location doesn't come up as a choice anymore. So it looks like it's permanent.
Now the question is what is coming to this super large lot...

Air rights an issue

From Brick Underground:

PropertyShark's air rights map, published recently on the Real Deal, may very well be your tool for decoding where developers may be headed next. It shows where there's still lots of air rights available—important if you're a real estate investor looking to build the next high-rise. A quick primer: Air rights are developable assets that exist above a building if it isn't as tall as what the neighborhood's maximum heights are. According to the website Air Rights New York, "if a building adjacent to a construction site is lower than neighborhood zoning laws allow, the developer can acquire the building’s unused air space, add it to his or her project, and erect a taller building."

Forest Hills business scene changing rapidly

From DNA Info:

A number of popular Forest Hills stores and restaurants have shuttered recently, prompting some residents to worry their neighborhood may be losing its unique character along with its mom-and-pop stores.

“I feel that Forest Hills is losing its class and distinctive nature and becoming a more predictable and generic community,” said Michael Perlman, a local resident and historian.

Danny Brown Wine Bar and Kitchen on Metropolitan Avenue, which was awarded a coveted star in the Michelin Guide, was unable to renew its lease and will close by the end of the year.

It will follow several other longtime restaurants in the area, including Pasta Del Giorno on Austin Street, as well as Uno Pizzeria and Santa Fe steakhouse on the so-called Restaurant Row on 70th Road, between Austin Street and Queens Boulevard — all of which closed after decades in business.

Brandon Cinemas, a two-screen movie theater on Austin Street, closed last year, as did the nearby Strawberry clothing store earlier this year. Barnes & Noble is set to close in January.

Some venues are replaced quickly with similar types of establishments, like Mexican eatery El Coyote which took over for Garcia’s Mexican Cafe on Austin Street. The new restaurant Rove is also replacing Bonfire Grill, which closed earlier this year.

But in some cases, like Santa Fe, storefronts remain empty for months. Other venues, including Brandon Cinemas and Pasta Del Giorno, have been taken over by banks and walk-in medical facilities. Barnes & Noble, on Austin Street, will be replaced by a Target.

Moldy Sandy foreclosure still not cleaned up

From CBS2:

A Queens family is still trying to recover from Superstorm Sandy.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, cancer survivor Joyce Zoller said she’s devastated after being ordered by her doctors and attorneys to move from her Queens home to Florida.

Not because her house is unsafe, but because she said the abandoned home next door is hazardous to her health.

“The mold, the smell, the vermin inside, birds flying all over, it’s a disaster,” said Zoller. “I don’t know how much more I can take. It’s my home and I can’t even live in my own home.”

CBS2 met with the Zollers in June of 2014 and learned their neighbor at 145-08 Neponsit Ave. had abandoned the property after Superstorm Sandy.

Black mold had been growing inside the home.

City records show HSBC Mortgage took ownership after it went into foreclosure, but as owners did nothing to clean up the mold.

A Department of Buildings inspector stopped by the house Thursday morning, slapping HSBC with another violation for failing to maintain the building, Sanchez reported.

HSBC has been issued multiple building code violations since Superstorm Sandy and faces more than $20,000 in fines.