Friday, November 17, 2017

SBS negatively impacting local businesses

Photo from Queens Chronicle
From the Queens Chronicle:

Rose, a manager at the C-Town Supermarket on Cross Bay Blvd. in Ozone Park, is usually busy helping her customers find what they’re looking for.

But lately, she’s been talking about the bus lanes right outside her business rather than what’s on sale.

“I was speaking to a customer just now about it,” said Rose, who didn’t want her last name published. “Nobody knows what to do right now. The customers are getting confused. They don’t know when they can park or when they’re going to get a ticket.”

Not only that, but the curbside bus lanes — installed as part of the Select Bus Service project for Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards — have led to a decline in the number of people shopping at the supermarket, located at 107-66 Cross Bay Blvd.

And that’s impacting the bottom line.

Giant hotel coming to LIC

From the Queens Gazette:

The owner of two lots located at 38-22/38-26 11th Street in Long Island City has filed plans to develop a hotel a the site.

The two properties feature a combined 48,640-square-feet of commercial space for the hotel – 85 rooms that feature direct access to the hotel lobby, reception and business center.

The plans also call for seven parking spaces in an area filled with hotels, near the 21st Street/Queensbridge “F” subway station and the Queens Plaza transportation hub.

The history of often overlooked Blissville

From Brick Underground:

Blissville, a slice of Long Island City bordered by Calvary Cemetery, the Long Island Expressway, and Newtown Creek, is a rough-hewn, mostly forgotten outpost of New York City.

Once a bustling industrial hub, most of Blissville today is occupied by warehouses, auto repair shops, and yes, there are still some factories. There is also a light sprinkling of homes and storefronts, and much of the building stock dates back to the 19th century. Calvary Cemetery looms along the length of Greenpoint Avenue, the main drag of the neighborhood. The walls surrounding the cemetery, and some of the nearby streets, are littered with broken bottles and other trash, giving today's Blissville an unloved look. The gated cemetery is the only swath of green in the neighborhood—there are no parks or playgrounds.

In the neighborhood’s odoriferous glory days in the 19th century, its location on the banks of Newtown Creek is what made Blissville a place to know. By the 1850s, the creek’s banks were lined with glue factories, smelting and fat-rendering plants, refineries, foundries, and other heavy industries, connected to the rest of the country by trains that ran through the area. Now, not coincidentally, the creek is among the most polluted bodies of water in the country.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Huge project proposed for Anable Basin

From Curbed:

A longtime Long Island City property owner is seeking a waterfront rezoning that will allow it to bring a 5.8 million gross square foot mixed-use development to the area surrounding Anable Basin, just north of the Hunter’s Point South redevelopment.

Under the proposal by Plaxall Realty, 14.7 acres would be rezoned to accommodate 5,000 condos and rentals, 335,000 square feet of creative production and light manufacturing space, 3.1 acres of public waterfront esplanade, and up to 30,000 square feet of community space. It would also bring a 700-plus seat public school to the neighborhood, outside of the rezoning area.

2 Queens slumlords make PA's top 10 list of bad landlords

From the Queens Tribune:

Public Advocate Letitia James ranked two city landlords with properties in Ridgewood among the city’s 10 worst in her annual Worst Landlords Watchlist, which was released on Tuesday.

James’ list is a database that ranks the worst landlords in the city based on monthly updates of open violations. Silvershore Properties’ Jonathan Cohen—who owns a property at 17-08 Summerfield St. in Ridgewood, which has a total of 116 violations—was ranked as the city’s worst, while Meir Fried—who owns a property at 16-45 Summerfield St. in Ridgewood, which has a total of 28 violations—came in at number eight. Both landlords primarily own buildings in Brooklyn.

Queens properties with the most violations included Hillside House Management Co.’s site at 87-40 165th St. in Jamaica—which ranked first and had 383 violations—and Nada Gracin’s property at 150-15 Sanford Ave. in Flushing, which had 244 violations.

Holden's ballot lead stands

From NY1:

City Councilman Elizabeth Crowley acknowledged Wednesday night that her opponent's margin of victory held during a tally of absentee ballots Wednesday in a very close Queens city council race.

The Board of Elections said it will not certify the result until it certifies all the races, as it does every election.

Sources from Crowley's opponent, Republican Robert Holden, have told NY1 that he has won the race for the 30th city council district.

Holden declared victory on Election Day, even though he was ahead by only 133 votes.

It appears his lead has grown by four votes, although the total has not been confirmed.

Well this is getting very interesting. And check these quotes from Holden in the Times Ledger:
“This mayor wants a one party socialist Marxist regime and anyone who thinks differently than him is the enemy,” Holden said. “He judges people based on labels and that is something he should be against. Instead he bad mouths the Republican Party as no good and that’s the type of approach that put this country in such a divisive mess. Did I run on the Republican line? Yeah. Am I a registered Democrat? Yeah, but the bottom line is I’m apolitical. I’m a civic leader and I’m going to work with anyone that can help my community and my constituen­ts.”

Holden added the mayor was wrong to launch the 14.7 mile Select Bus Service route on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards Monday.

“It’s such a disaster. People are sitting in traffic jams for hours. It’s just another bad policy from this administration, and one of the reasons I got so many votes,” Holden said. “He wants to take away our cars, he doesn’t understand Queens at all. The traffic is crippling all over the borough and all we get is more bike lanes and more SBS lanes. The administration is taking away one of our basic rights — the freedom of movement — you can’t just get in your car and go anymore.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Woodhaven Blvd at a standstill due to new bus lane

From CBS:

A new bus lane on Woodhaven Boulevard is causing a traffic nightmare.

Drivers said their rush hour commutes have nearly doubled since the change.

Cars were backed up for miles on Woodhaven Boulevard on Tuesday night, and drivers say it’s being caused by the select new bus service.

One lane of traffic is now for buses only — no cars allowed.

Trottenberg said the DOT redesigned the pinch points and corridors in the hope of creating three lanes of traffic that move. The problem is in rush hour it doesn’t.

There are people who say it has added an hour to their commute.

DOC commish made personal trips on city time

From the Daily News:

Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann and eight top staffers have reached settlements in the wake of a damning probe that found they used city cars for personal travel.

The city Conflicts of Interest Board revealed the agreements six months after former commissioner Joseph Ponte resigned over his role in the scandal.

Brann paid a $6,000 fine after she was found to have used her city car to make 13 trips to shopping malls and three to Kennedy Airport at a time when she was a deputy commissioner.

"At the time, I erroneously believed that I was allowed to use my DOC (Department of Correction) take-home vehicle for all personal travel in case a DOC emergency required my immediate response and travel to a DOC facility,” she said, according to a disposition released Tuesday.

Brann ran afoul of the Conflicts of Interest Board again when she enlisted a subordinate to help her pay the fine.

The Queens-based Brann complained to an underling that it was difficult for her to obtain a certified check or money order because she didn’t have a New York bank account.

The pair came up with a way around the problem — she would write him a personal check for the amount of the fine, and he would obtain a cashier’s check drawn from his personal account.

But Brann later acknowledged that such an agreement violated a conflicts of interest law prohibiting public servants from using their positions to obtain a personal favor from a subordinate.

NYCHA lied about inspecting for lead paint

From PIX11:

The New York City Housing Authority failed to conduct lead paint safety inspections for four years beginning in 2013, according to a new report by the city’s Department of Investigation. The DOI further alleges NYCHA then lied about the inspections to Federal housing authorities.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

ICE cracking down on DUI offenders

From PIX11:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested more than two dozen undocumented immigrants during an operation cracking down on those with convictions for driving under the influence.

All but one of the 25 arrested in November had a previous DUI-related conviction, officials said. The other individual was arrested for immigration violations.

One of the men arrested, a 35-year-old previously removed Honduran man, also had been convicted of assault. A 40-year-old Salvadoran national has been identified as an alleged MS-13 gang member.

Lancman wants taxpayer-supported journalism

Op=ed by Rory Lancman from the Daily News:

Obviously, the private marketplace hasn’t figured out a way to do local journalism and make money at the same time. Since the rise of the internet, it’s a devilishly difficult code to crack.

Which is why, as taxpayers and citizens, we owe it to ourselves to step in and fund organizations capable of providing this vital civic resource: call it a tote bag in every pot.

Government support for quality journalism is not a new or radical idea. Its role in distributing the mail, providing health care, and offering free book-lending and museums is taken for granted.

We badly need more good local journalism. If the market can’t provide it, taxpayers must step up.

Considering that the local papers are still around and are printing holiday ads and press releases by pols verbatim, it appears we already have taxpayer-funded journalism.

Audit reveals that BOE is a mess

From the Times Ledger:

A report from city Comptroller Scott Stringer exposed massive dysfunction within the Board of Elections in a report which audited its performance over the course of three elections in 2016.

The city, which has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation, has disenfranchised the public through dumped voter rolls and widespread inefficiency at over 53 percent of the poll sites reviewed where state and federal election laws were broken, according to the audit promised by Stringer in April 2016.

The report revealed that out of 156 polling sites, 14 percent had mishandled affidavit ballots for people eligible to vote but who may not on the rolls. One site failed to inform voters of the option to vote via affidavit, a violation of federal law, and thus “disenfranc­hising” individuals.

Up to 10 percent of poll sites showed many voters went unassisted when issues arose. One example given by the report said a scanner had rejected a ballot and the distracted poll site worker did not notice until the person had already left. Staff at the site were forced to void the ballot and the person’s vote was not counted.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Suspension-busting pothole on Northern Blvd next to new bike lane

De Blasio not a developer's dream (but still pretty bad)

From Commercial Observer:

Gone are the grand visions of urban redevelopment that rose Athena-like from the City Hall bullpen under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. De Blasio has retained lofty language to describe his ideas—adding adjectives like “transcendent” and “historic” when presenting proposals. But his attempts to remake swaths of the city in a Bloombergian manner have sputtered.

Sunnyside Yards in Queens, where the mayor hopes to build an 11,000-unit affordable housing complex on top of a platform, is a years-long dream that may never be realized. His transit plans, including a $2.5 billion streetcar project along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront and a new subway line through Utica Avenue, haven’t gotten past preliminary stages. And his administration has equivocated over the future of Willets Point, where the courts blocked plans to build a mall and 2,500 units of housing on the blighted site next to Citi Field.

Instead, de Blasio made affordable housing the centerpiece of his agenda and touted pro-tenant measures, including rent freezes for rent-stabilized units.

“The real estate community, like any other business sector, prefers certainty,” explained Ken Fisher, a Cozen O’Conner attorney and former councilman. “After four years of working with Bill de Blasio and his team, people have a pretty good idea of expectations. He has a strong preference for affordable housing, but the mayor has taken a very clear position that he’s for many different kinds of housing development, not just low-income housing.”

De Blasio made that clear in his 2015 State of the City address when he proclaimed that the other successes of his administration would be at risk if the city and developers didn’t build enough housing for residents of all income levels.

Lefferts Blvd station repairs still incomplete

From Impunity City:

The renovation and modernization of the Lefferts Blvd. Station remains incomplete and nearly 2 years behind schedule. This was supposed to be complete in September 2016.

When I last wrote about this, it was with great relief that the staircase was repaired and accessible again. Also the encrusted vile, unsanitary and health hazardous pigeon shit that piled up on the turnstiles and the partition walls was finally scoured somewhat. I attribute this to an actual televised report way back in late May by CBS New York’s Reena Roy.

Now when I wrote that I would write back in a month, being July, was around the time when Mario’s Son, Governor Andrew Cuomo proclaimed commuting on your city’s subway was in the midst of a summer of hell and ordered a fast tracking of repairs all over our lousy transit system. An encouraging sign appeared at this station promising the station’s completion, including the monstrous elevator which hogs half the sidewalk on the corner by September 16 or the end of the 3rd quarter.

Look how they creatively fixed the date on the sign with the sophistication of a little scamp changing D-'s to A+'s on a report card.