Friday, December 2, 2022

Citibike cancelled

 Citi Bike installation on pause for input 1

 Queens Chronicle

The city — make that Mayor Adams’ Office — has agreed to delay the installation of Citi Bike docking stations that are coming to Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village.

The delay, or “pause” as some are telling the Chronicle, came after a meeting two weeks ago at the district office of Councilman Bob Holden (D-Maspeth) that included civic and community leaders, city Department of Transportation officials and Mayor Adams’ Senior Advisor Tiffany Raspberry.

Community members have argued that the locations of between 50 and 60 docks were made without adequate community participation, particularly those that would be placed in the street at the expense of residential and business on-street parking.

The DOT ruffled many feathers in November upon announcing that installations would begin in December. Now that has been put off until January.

“When Mayor Adams heard that the community was upset that input wasn’t considered, he sent top officials from the DOT and his own staff,” said Eric Butkiewicz, chairman of the Transportation Committee of Community Board 5.

“I give him credit for this.”

Butkiewicz and Tony Nunziato, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said the community had offered a number of alternatives, including a report prepared by Christina Wilkinson of the JPCA and Newtown Historical Society that proponents said would have greatly reduced the number of street stations with only minor alterations to the DOT plan. Butkiewicz placed blame for the problems on the de Blasio administration

“It’s on pause pending community feedback,” Butkiewicz said. “We were pleased to hear that, because that’s all we wanted. We understand that contracts had been entered into a number of years ago, putting everyone into a situation that’s hard to get out of. What we want is the maximum benefit for the community while eliminating potential problems downstream.”

A DOT spokesman said in an email that the agency will be ready.

“Citi Bike has proven to be a wildly popular transportation option with ridership soaring since the pandemic,” he said. “DOT continues to thoughtfully incorporate community feedback and we’re excited to roll out new stations in January.” (STFU already, it's clearly not popular-JQ LLC)

Nunziato said the loss of parking spaces would be a hardship for many seniors who rely on cars to get around. A third-generation businessman, he said it could destroy small businesses still reeling from the pandemic.

“They’re pitting businesses against each other,” he said. “Citi Bike is a business. They’d be taking parking spaces from small businesses and giving them to a competing business. Small businesses built this city. Take parking away from small business and you close small businesses.”


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Mayor Adams orders involuntary removal of mentally disturbed people from public places and the subway

New York Times

Acting to address “a crisis we see all around us” toward the end of a year that has seen a string of high-profile crimes involving homeless people, Mayor Eric Adams announced a major push on Tuesday to remove people with severe, untreated mental illness from the city’s streets and subways.

Mr. Adams, who has made clearing homeless encampments a priority since taking office in January, said the effort would require involuntarily hospitalizing people who were a danger to themselves, even if they posed no risk of harm to others, arguing the city had a “moral obligation” to help them.

“The common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent,” Mr. Adams said in an address at City Hall. “Going forward, we will make every effort to assist those who are suffering from mental illness.”

The mayor’s announcement comes at a heated moment in the national debate about rising crime and the role of the police, especially in dealing with people who are already in fragile mental health. Republicans, as well as tough-on-crime Democrats like Mr. Adams, a former police captain, have argued that growing disorder calls for more aggressive measures. Left-leaning advocates and officials who dominate New York politics say that deploying the police as auxiliary social workers may do more harm than good.

Other large cities have struggled with how to help homeless people, in particular those dealing with mental illness. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a law that could force some homeless people with disorders like schizophrenia into treatment. Many states have laws that allow for involuntary outpatient treatment, and Washington State allows people to be committed to hospitals if a judge finds that they pose a threat to themselves or others.

Officials in New York said the city would roll out training immediately to police officers, Emergency Medical Services staff and other medical personnel to “ensure compassionate care.” But the city’s new directive on the policy acknowledges that “case law does not provide extensive guidance regarding removals for mental health evaluations based on short interactions in the field.”

The policy immediately raised questions about who, exactly, would be swept up in it, and some advocates for people with mental illness warned it could face legal challenges.

Existing state laws allow both the police and medical workers to authorize involuntary hospitalization of people whose behavior poses a threat of “serious harm” to themselves or others. Brendan McGuire, chief counsel to the mayor, said on Tuesday that workers would assess people in public spaces “case by case” to see whether they were able to provide basic needs such as food, shelter and health care for themselves.

The city directive states that “unawareness or delusional misapprehension of surroundings” or “delusional misapprehension of physical condition or health” could be grounds for hospitalization.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

This would be 17 million cheaper to fix than building a fake park in Jackson Heights

Queens Chronicle

Nearly three years after the Flushing Meadows Corona Aquatic Center’s Olympic-caliber pool closed for what was supposed to be “at least six weeks” for an emergency roof repair, it remains off limits to the public as the Department of Parks and Recreation struggles to repair its unique movable floor.

Parks said in a City Council oversight hearing last December that the pool at the 14-year-old, $67 million facility — built as part of New York City’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2012 Olympics — would reopen by January or February 2022. But while the emergency roof repair was completed in July 2021, the pool remains closed with the department’s site now reporting that the closure is “due to needed repairs to the movable floor” that’s designed to move up and down to accommodate diving as well as swimming.

Whirling machine sounds reverberated from the direction of the pool when THE CITY visited the center on Tuesday as a father rushed in looking for a swim meet for his two children waiting in the car — only to be told he was at the wrong location.

“This part of the building is closed, that’s why we have this thing here,” Ashley Bernal, the facility’s deputy director, told THE CITY as she pointed to a black belt cordoning off a section of the chlorine-scented lobby.

Construction work on the floor began this September. Yet the Parks Department capital project tracker shows the $500,000 fix marked as “0% complete.”

Parks spokesperson Dan Kastanis told THE CITY the department plans to reopen the pool around January 2023, before closing it again for 12 to 18 months starting in the summer of 2024 for a complete reconstruction of its roof along with its HVAC and dehumidification systems. In the meantime, safety netting installed onto the ceiling in early 2020 would remain in place to catch concrete shedding from the roof.

Progress on repairing the movable floor has been slow, one source familiar with the project said, because it’s a custom item that does not exist in any other Parks-run aquatic facility and requires specialized materials that are not widely available. The parts are expected to arrive in December and be installed shortly after, the source said.

Queens Chronicle 

More than two years after its transformation began, the 26-block stretch of 34th Avenue between 69th Street and Junction Boulevard in Jackson Heights remains a source of joy to many and angst to others.

The 1.3-mile section of roadway has been part of the city’s Open Streets initiative since May 2020. The longest open street in the Big Apple, it’s considered the “gold standard” of the program. On Oct. 24, the New York City Department of Transportation’s major redesign of the corridor, a project called “Paseo Park,” was officially completed.

The new design includes more “shared streets,” where cars can travel at slow speeds and are directed by diverters and other road treatments, as well as eight traffic-restricted, fully pedestrian plazas. The stretch of the avenue serves as an open street between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week.

“We are very happy with this space and design,” says Jim Burke, co-founder of the 34th Avenue Open Streets Coalition, which had helped bring Open Streets to Jackson Heights and push for subsequent improvements. “And I think it’s a pretty fair compromise.”

Not everyone agrees. Cassandra Langer, a resident of Jackson Heights for the past 35 years, believes both the open street and new design have blighted 34th Avenue and the neighborhood in general. She wants the route returned to a standard, functioning street.

“This new design ignores the needs of the retired elderly population, handicapped people and others,” laments Langer, a community activist who works closely with the Jackson Heights Coops Alliance — which holds an anti-Paseo Park stance. “The changes might have made sense at the beginning of the pandemic, but not anymore.” 

Langer stresses that the Paseo Park design negatively impacts parking and the ability to get deliveries, and is “not pragmatic” for older citizens who cannot solely rely on biking or walking to get around. She also points out that barriers aren’t always removed when open-street hours have ended.

“The politicians are not listening to our side or even looking for a compromise,” Langer complains. “They just want a top-down approach. We’re the grassroots taking on the powers that be.”

She said more community meetings about the situation will be held and a lawsuit is possible. And she believes the upcoming winter months “will show how unworkable the Paseo Park design is.”

Jim Burke, unlike Langer, is satisfied with the open-streets format, which he had helped fight to establish. He notes the various family-friendly activities held on 34th Avenue: everything from gardening to arts and crafts to dance classes.

The longtime safe-streets activist also emphasizes that Paseo Park “is a way to get to other thoroughfares without a car,” which is important to many in Jackson Heights. Burke believes the new level of accessibility, along with the chairs and tables peppered throughout the 34th Avenue corridor, is partly responsible for the economic resurgence of some “mom-and-pop stores and vendors” in the area.

In response to those who criticize Paseo Park for being ill-suited to the needs of older citizens, Burke cites his mother: “She has been using Access-A-Ride without an issue.” (Jim Burke's mom lives in Rockaway Beach)

Councilman Shekar Krishnan (D-Jackson Heights), who was instrumental in bringing Paseo Park to the community, is proud to have such a space in his district.

"The 34th Avenue Open Street was designed by DOT, FDNY and NYPD to improve safety and accessibility for our community," Krishnan told the Chronicle. “It is a family-focused oasis on what was once a car-centric corridor, bringing together neighbors of all backgrounds and ages. ” He declined to speculate about future plans.

Really would like to hear what the NYPD and FDNY have to say about their role in the open streets that has impeded accessibility of ambulances, fire engines and patrol cars. And who actually from those departments approved this? This one mile of new fake park land is going to cost us 84 million dollars too, so this dumb experiment is going to leave that Flushing pool high and dry.

Mentally disturbed woman got rental aid and wound up stabbing another tenant.

NY Post

A Queens woman who allegedly spent months harassing her neighbor and landlord was arrested Saturday for stabbing her fellow tenant, police and witnesses told The Post.

The alleged attacker and the victim each rented separate units in the multi-family home in South Ozone Park, where the landlord lived downstairs.

The bloody assault unfolded just before 8 a.m. when Najia M. Vaughn allegedly knocked on her neighbor’s door, began arguing with the woman inside, then pulled out a knife and cut the 31-year-old victim on the forehead, chest and leg, residents and authorities said.

Vaughn, 28, fled and was arrested about a block away, police said. She was charged with felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

The accused attacker, who receives rental assistance from the city, moved into the 127th Street home in May, and was referred to the property by the city’s Human Resources Administration, said her terrified landlord, who did not want to be named.

Caption Commissioner Sewell



NY Post 

City straphangers have been more likely to be victims of crime in the last two-and-a-half years compared to before the pandemic, The Post previously reported.

Killings in the subway system since 2020 have also skyrocketed to the highest annual levels in 25 years as the city grapples with an overall spike in random violence, NYPD stats show.

The system had seen nine murders so far this year as of Oct. 31, compared to six during that time period last year, according to the newly released data, according to the newly released data.

The transit violence that has prompted officials to deploy more police officers underground, with the state footing the bill for overtime.

But noteworthy and heinous crimes have persisted, including back-to-back stabbings last Tuesday night that left three people injured including a good Samaritan. 

Usually I just post a picture and just leave it there, but this capture came from the presser announcing this new deployment and that look Commissoner Sewell was giving Adams while he was reading from a script claiming subway crime was down was just too perfect. 

Also from the same press conference, this picture of Mayor Adams presenting honors to two hero cops is just inexplicable.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving from the regulatory captured New York City Council



Once again, Fontas Advisors traversed the five boroughs identifying the City Council's top Thanksgiving chefs, hearing about their favorite dishes, and learning much about their families in the process. The result is our third annual collection of Thanksgiving recipes, the 2022 edition of Thanksgiving with the NYC Council. We love showcasing the diverse cultures and flavors of our great city and curating a Thanksgiving feast fit for the Big Apple!

Fontas advisors is a real estate lobbyist firm that's pushing for the shut down of Rikers Island. Betcha expected that shit. Happy Thanksgiving, your city of yes is fucked.



Wednesday, November 23, 2022

State Constitution Evoked in Lawsuit Against Two Bridges Luxury Public Housing Mega-Development 

Luxury Public Housing



A controversial development that has been tied up in court for more than six years ago is now facing yet another lawsuit from residents of the Lower East Side and Chinatown — this time arguing that the Two Bridges mega-project will infringe upon the new constitutional right to clean air and water in a low-income community of color that already suffers from high rates of asthma.

The latest lawsuit was filed last month by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of 12 plaintiffs from the Lower East Side and Chinatown, and Council Member Christopher Marte, who represents the area.

Marte says his constituents face enough pollution and exhaust from the FDR Drive, and that construction of the planned towers along the East River would result in more fumes, while also unearthing toxic chemicals from old petroleum tanks that sit under one of the development lots. 

“This construction is gonna really hurt a lot of the people who historically have health issues. This area is an environmental justice neighborhood that’s already had to bear the brunt of development,” said Marte. “Their whole livelihood, where they go to school, where they go for a walk is going to be a construction site.”

But is a super-dense development atop an already toxic site what the so-called “green amendment” to the state constitution was meant to block … or to allow?

Just one year ago, environmental attorneys and activists pushed hard for Proposition 2 — also known as the Green Amendment — on the November ballot, arguing that it would give New Yorkers legal standing to stop the environmental harms caused by highway expansions or the placement of waste transfer stations. The referendum passed overwhelmingly, supported by 69 percent of state voters.

For many, the purpose was obvious: stop environmental degradation.

“Say there was a defined pollution hotspot with a heavy volume of diesel-truck traffic — the community could petition to the City Council to ask for relief,” Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates NY, told Streetsblog at the time. “The government would then have to weigh [the] individual right to breathe air that doesn’t cut lives short or make people sick. If they ignore the plea, people can say, ‘I’m taking you to court. I think you’re violating my right to clean air.’”

The lawsuit against the Two Bridges project is the first in the five boroughs to cite the green amendment, though others have already been filed upstate, including against the permitting of a waste transfer station in upstate Cayuta.

Similar green amendments exist now only in Pennsylvania and Montana, but there’s been no parallel suit against a development project in those states, according to Maya van Rossum, founder of the Pennsylvania-based Green Amendments For The Generations, which helped write and pass New York’s law.

As such, there’s no way to know if courts will rule against urban development — which by definition is far more polluting than, say, an open field of trees — or rule in favor of urban development on the grounds that dense housing with limited parking is far better for the environment than suburban sprawl, over which there is very little environmental oversight.

To lawyer Jack Lester, who is representing the plaintiffs, the green amendment is clear.

“It enshrines in law the right to every citizen of New York State to have environmental justice,” said Lester, who is also suing on behalf of plaintiffs hoping to stop the SoHo/NoHo rezoning. “The development at that location will destroy both air quality and statutory mandates for air and sunshine. It will set a precedent that developers must abide by constitutional rights.”

But others are pushing back, saying the lawsuit is part of a kitchen-sink effort to defeat an affordable housing project and, worse, could set a dangerous precedent for other much-needed projects. And as feared, that it’s a perversion of the amendment by NIMBYs who are not invoking it in good faith. 

Words from Tenantnet who sent this here:

Jack Lester? Is he even still alive?
Guess where DSA is on this? (I'm blocked so I can't see it-JQ) What about Lincoln Restler? What about Cea?
Of course, this BS is in TA's Streetsblog

Correction: Streetsblog is run by Open Plans. And it's hilarious and also very expected that this yellow journalism digital rag (since when did they do stories about real estate, oh wait, this is also about the parked car menace they bloviate about) and the Demorcat Fauxcialists of America would support something like this that's highly antithetical to what their alleged environmental platforms are about. Didn't know the Green New Deal included cloud piercing iron and glass luxury beanstalks.-JQ LLC


Julie Loser!/format/webp/quality/90/?


A rezoning allowing for a massive new real estate development in East New York that would include 11 residential buildings with more than 2,000 apartments passed a key City Council test Thursday, with support from a local representative best known for his oppositional stances.  

Councilmember Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), an avowed socialist and frequent opponent of rezonings, backed the plan for Innovative Urban Village after years of negotiations with the developers — an unyielding stance that he says resulted in a project with solely affordable units for the overwhelmingly Black and Latino, working-class neighborhood.

The plan, as initially envisioned by Gotham Organization and the Christian Cultural Center, a megachurch in Starrett City that owns the land, originally proposed rentals for residents making between 30% and 120% of the New York City region’s area median income — currently anywhere from $40,000 to $160,000 for a household of four.

But after community feedback and negotiations with Barron’s office, the developer brought the income limits down to between 30% and 80% of the median income, or between $40,000 and $106,000 for a family of four. According to 2019 data compiled by the Furman Center, the local community district’s median household income was $48,000 and more than half of the area’s households earned incomes that would qualify.

Barron, a former Black Panther and a longtime adversary of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party establishment, said the project should set an example for other City Council members with proposals for large developments in their districts, as well as the Adams administration, about how to get to “yes” without rubber-stamping projects with rents beyond what local residents can afford.

The same Council committee also unanimously approved another large rezoning, known as Innovation QNS, following lengthy negotiations with local Astoria Councilmember Julie Won (D-Queens), who had initially raised objections to what she called insufficient affordable housing.

The $2 billion project is slated to bring nearly 3,000 apartments to an area near Northern Boulevard, about one-third of which are categorized as affordable.  

The project is backed by building workers’ union 32BJ SEIU and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who ridiculed Won as she held out, citing concerns that the arrival of luxury units will exacerbate gentrification in the area.

In a statement, Won explained her apparent change of heart by pointing to “wins” including an increase in affordable units that her team had secured — though those modifications appeared to fall short of the 55% affordable threshold she had initially demanded.

 We’ve been negotiating daily to secure unprecedented levels of affordability for my immigrant and working-class community,” Won said, adding that she was “finalizing negotiations for commitments from the developer and the Mayoral administration.”

In effect, she let the project proceed through the subcommittee, which is where other lawmakers usually defer to the desires of the local council member, prior to receiving a firm, written commitment.  

“As the council member, I will utilize every accountability measure to ensure that our community wins are actualized,” Won continued.