Thursday, May 31, 2007

Putting the cuffs on realtors

They're getting tough on illegal apartments in Islip:

Law holds Realtors responsible for illegal rentals

Real estate agents are up in arms over a change to the Islip town zoning law that, they say, holds them liable for code violations in properties they list, lease, rent or sell and threatens stiff fines and potential imprisonment.

A first offense can cost up to $2,000 and 15 days in jail according to the code, approved by the town board 5-0 on May 22. Three or more offenses in five years means up to a $5,000 fine.

Two ugly Queens libraries

One ugly new Queens library is about to open, and another is still in its planning stages. Remember when the architecture of NYC municipal buildings was exceptional instead of drab and uninspired?

Update from NY Daily News, 6/5/07: Expanded Elmhurst library on the books

Astoria: more people, less cops

Bring on more development! Pack more people in! So what if we have less cops?

114th Precinct Cop Ranks Keep Shrinking

NYPD May Cut Back Operation Impact

Photo from

AM-NY visits Glendale

The "City Profile" in today's AM-NY is of Glendale, a wonderful, quiet neighborhood in western Queens. See the paper's photo collection and read the report.

Funny thing is, that I just got a complaint letter from a Glendale resident, about this planned bus re-routing:

"See, if you have money and you are a developer, you can do anything. This corner of upper Glendale is being bamboozeled with traffic. They want to re-route the 54 onto Cooper Ave giving us a tremendous amount of traffic, fumes and our quality of life does not seem to count.

We have had that bus on Metropolitan Ave for as long as I can remember. We have a lot of additional traffic on 88th Street and not to mention the 16 school buses for the Yeshiva that travel on this street now. Let's just keep building and make the little tax payer suffer!"

Photo from AM-NY

How not to publish a newspaper, part 1

I couldn't resist posting about this dreck that passes for journalism. Take a look at the cover of the "Guide to Maspeth," published by a local weekly newspaper that people are actually expected to pay for (not many do, though). I see 3 mistakes right off the bat. Can you pick them out?

See also:

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

Destroying old nabes to build new ones

The Department of City Planning's webpage on the downtown Brooklyn redevelopment plan declares that its goal is to "serve the residents, businesses, academic institutions, and cultural institutions of Downtown Brooklyn and its surrounding communities." The city's actual environmental-impact statement for the rezoning plan, though, was more blunt, saying that while current businesses would be displaced, they would not be "significant" losses because "they do not have substantial economic value to the City, they do not define neighborhood character, nor do they belong to a special category of business that is protected by special regulations or publicly adopted plans."

On the Outs in Brooklyn

[Store owner Jeff Gargiulo] recalls the mayor's recent statement on the proposed redevelopment of Willets Point in Queens: "There will always be one person who objects to everything, but I don't think anybody suggests that this society should stay back in the Stone Age and never move ahead."

"I got a thousand signatures in three days," says Gargiulo. "It's not just one person that wants to stop this. It's thousands."

Willets Point wasteland

Drinking With Bob has released this tour of Willets Point (along with a free rant):

WOW! I hope Bob wasn't drinking when he filmed that.

This came via a post from (click below):

Commercial Crap, part 2

Want to erect commercial crap? Tear down a one-family house at 61-09 Utopia Parkway, subdivide the lot to make 61-07 Utopia Parkway, and squeeze in two attached store buildings. Of course, put "community facilities" on the 2nd floors of each so you can stretch them into 3 floors.

And this is very important: Don't protect workers' safety or adjoining properties.

See also Commercial crap, part 1.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Campaign contribution cap

From the NY Sun:

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the two sides of City Hall have agreed that the city will not impose an outright ban on campaign contributions, but will severely restrict the amount that some people could give. Who would the cap apply to? Lobbyists, those who do a certain amount of business with the city (the minimum dollar amount has yet to be determined), and property owners with pending zoning changes and other land-use actions.

City Readies a New Cap on 'Pay To Play'

Crapping just got easier

There's a new phenomenon at Google Maps which allows you to see ground-level views of select streets:

Cool New Thing: Google Maps Street View

Thanks to Google Maps Street View, City Map and Windows Live Local, Crapping has never been easier.

Photo from Curbed

Bayside Donovan's not closing

After 28 years in business, Joseph Donovan has sold his restaurant, Donovan's of Bayside.

It'll be back better than ever, say new Donovan's owners

The Bayside fixture with the homey feel and hearty American fare at 214-16 41st Ave. is undergoing renovations and will reopen under the same name in late summer, according to new owner Martin Picone.

Last week, the Queens Chronicle reported that a new restaurant was replacing the institution, but instead it is just under new ownership.

Photo from Daily News

"Building Boom-Doggle" series concludes

The Daily News' series on construction corruption concludes today with stories of how HPD homes are so shoddy that they are falling apart:

Dream denied

Bloomie is all of a sudden very concerned about the situation, which, of course, he claims he knew nothing about even though civic leaders have complained to him about it for years:

Mayor vows to investigate city's building scofflaws

And the paper is so adamant that the city clean up its act that it wrote not one, but two editorials on the matter:

Cracks in the foundation

Contractor crackdown

Photo from the Daily News

And more on condos...

NY Magazine asks the question, "Where do you turn if your brand-new condo is falling apart?"

What a Revolting Development

Unfortunately, they don't have an answer.

Photo from NY Magazine

LIC industrial relic

Here is a relic of LIC's industrial past. This location is adjacent to the NY Water Taxi dock at Hunters Point. It is the former Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal railroad float bridge. Railcar barges were loaded and unloaded here. The road that this was closest to had been called Pidgeon Street. Wouldn't it be nice to preserve this piece of the area's history and incorporate it into a waterfront park? I mean, hell, if we can spend hundreds of millions of dollars to save the High Line, then... oh, wait, how silly of me. This is in Queens. Bring on the bulldozers!

More photos here: RR Picture BEDT Pidgeon Street Relic

Photo from Windows Live Local

Spitzer open to traffic plan

According to sources, Gov. Spitzer kind of likes the congestion tax:

Spitzer Open to a Deal on Traffic Tax

Spitzer warming up to congestion pricing plan

It's funny how the limo riders all think it's a great idea.

Condo, condo, condo

A QC reader sent this in:

" 44th Drive (around the corner of 21st Street) manufacturing property being converted into condos."

The Crapper would pass by there on occasion over the past few months and noticed that the industrial property was being advertised by Greiner-Maltz, an industrial realtor, as the perfect spot for new residences.

The sign was perhaps inspired by that famous Latin love song, "Condos, condos, condos."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Daily News tackles worker exploitation

Queens Crap brought you the story of a building collapse in Harlem last December that killed a worker. The Daily News today includes his story in part 3 of their series, "Building Boom-Doggle." They explain that his employer had been barred by the city from taking on more jobs before this tenement collapsed and go on to explore how day laborers are at the mercy of contractors.

Meanwhile, a clueless Bloomie is still defending self-certification:

"We can't be everyplace and hopefully most people when they self-certify are telling the truth, and it's up to us to find those that are not," Bloomberg said.

Bloomie booed in Little Neck

"When Bloomberg and pals passed the ruins of a legendary bar and its fence of doom, they were booed soundly. The band behind them immediately started playing.

The hand-banged out copper bar from Patrick's Pub was from the 1964 World's Fair. It was an icon of Northeast Queens/ North Shore LI for generations. Every bit of it was smashed over a weekend (and the owner just paid a fine as a cost of getting it done). It's slated to become work barracks with retail on the first floor." - Joe

More about Patrick's Pub here: Beloved Queens pub closes (scroll down page)

Blue collar job list

According to Career Builder, 8 of the top 10 blue collar jobs are in the construction industry:

Top 10 Blue-Collar Jobs of the Future

Big brother is watching

Landlords have but one way to legally hike the rent more than a token amount annually: Persuade a tenant to leave, or prove the tenant lives elsewhere. Tenants say the global real-estate firm Tishman Speyer, which bought the complex last year for $5.4 billion, is engaged in a campaign to do both.

Tenants: It's Like They're Spying on Us!

Over the past few months, hundreds of tenants say they received non-renewal notices on their leases over suspicions that they reside elsewhere for at least 183 days a year.

The charges are based on evidence apparently culled by private investigators, from public records, property deeds, and credit applications databases. Leaseholders were stunned by the scope of the information.


Gianaris for city council?

According to the Daily News, Mike wants to make more money and not have to travel so far (sorry, it was Weprin that actually said that):

Queens assemblyman eyes going local

Photo from

Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade Slideshow

Click below to view a slideshow of the Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade:

The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade

Windows Media Player version

Photo from Old Kew Gardens

Goodbye my Coney Island baby

If Thor president and chief executive Joseph Sitt succeeds in his bid to have the property rezoned for residential use, some fear he might then sell the property at a substantial profit to a new developer who might have different ideas for the land.

Sun may set on historic Coney Island

Five years ago, Thor purchased the Albee Square Mall in Brooklyn for $24 million and talked about giving the site a makeover, only to sell it for $125 million after the property was rezoned to allow for a larger development.

Beneath the Speeding Cyclone, a Look Back in Time

Photo from

Damage to public street trees

"Along with the demolition of many classic old homes across Queens comes the damage and destruction of highly valued and productive curbside shade trees. Our communities gain enormously from the environmental and aesthetic benefits provided by shade trees that make up our larger URBAN FOREST.

This contractor at 58th Avenue and 196th Place did not think so. Under full violation of the Department of Park's rules and regulation for protecting street trees, he decided that curbs and sidewalks are more valuable than the life sustaining tree roots, now removed.

The contractor may now pay for the destruction of these public trees but the community again has lost their irreplacable shade trees. These can not be replaced.

To think that none of the neighbors said a word to stop the contractor."

Always Fast again, eh? Did they get the right house this time at least?

See QC's "How to Save Street Trees" for a lesson in protecting urban greenery.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Part 2 of Daily News report on builders

Part 2 of the Daily News' investigative series on builders is in today's paper:

So many ways to beat the system

A rare victory for residents over shameless deception

Sitting helpless as damage continues

...the winner for most notorious is at 162-166 16th St., between Fourth and Fifth Aves.

Here, developer Isaac Katan is putting up a 12-story condo on a block of four- and five-story houses.

The project has accumulated 28 violations, 10 of them listed as high severity, since November 2004, when a worker fell and was injured. The Buildings Department violation noted that the demolition company, MMG Designs, had no fall-restraining system for workers.

Katan...hmmm...let's see who he gave lots of cash to recently. Wait, there's more. Guess ol' Isaac knows who will help him out!

Anniversary of repeal of Commuter Tax

Michael Schenkler and Henry Stern double-teamed last week in calling out the members of the assembly who voted to repeal the commuter tax years ago, costing NYC billions of dollars:

We’d Still Like To Understand Their Votes

The cost of that vote to the City of New York, was as Henry explains, some $4 billion over the past eight years and will increase by $500,000,000 – that’s $500 million — each and every year.

And oh my god, they did it for politics.

Photo from Queens Tribune

Is QW just a middle class mirage?

The mayor announced in October that the city would create 5,000 new affordable housing units in the borough following the city's purchase of 24 acres along the Queens waterfront from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. But affordable housing advocates said they were concerned that Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff had recently been meeting with the Real Estate Board of New York, the lobbying organization for many of the city's largest landlords and developers, to discuss construction of the Queens units.

LIC leaders rally against large developers

...members of the Real Estate Board, many of whom are luxury developers from Manhattan, are known for buying sites which once included affordable housing, such as Manhattan's Stuyvesant Town, and turning them into high priced apartments.

"This is a beautiful area, but who can afford to live here but the monied class?" said Father Robert Robinson, of the local St. Patrick's RC Church. "I'm told we no longer have segregation. It's going to be a dull, flat city if we do not have ordinary people living here, too. It is immoral, destructive and disheartening."

“West” is Not Best for Queens Community

Dennis the deadbeat

"On Monday May 21, 2007, Councilman Dennis Gallagher held a large fundraiser at Russo's on the Bay. The minimum ticket price was $100 with the entrance fee rising to a hefty $1,000. Gallagher raised thousands of dollars for his campaign coffers. Even though he has told many people he is not running for office, he still keeps feeding his campaign bank account which has grown to well over $100,000.

So why is it that Dennis Gallagher won't pay a local merchant $124.50 for items purchased in June 2005? On June 23, 2005, Kerri Steinmuller, an aide to the councilman, called Harry's Hardware to say that the councilman was purchasing paint supplies for the office. She told Harry's Hardware that she was sending a worker to pick up the materials. Dennis Gallagher's council business card was attached to the invoice.

Months went by and the bill was not paid. Both Harriet Lambros and her daughter, Christina, called Gallagher's office several times over the almost two years since but to no avail. Christina also e-mailed the councilman. Still no response.

Even Eileen Reilly from Maspeth Town Hall said she would try and get Harry's Hardware the money they were owed, yet she too was unsuccessful. This is not the first time this has happened to merchants who trusted Gallagher. But this one particularly smells since over the years Harry Lambros has donated thousands of dollars in materials for neighborhood clean-ups. The last person in the neighborhood Gallagher should cheat is Harry." - a concerned Middle Village resident

(QC finds the fact that the bill is pink to be extremely funny.)

Banker's revenge

Interesting story in today's NY Post. A regular guy who was fed up with pre-dawn construction of a bank near his Manhattan apartment called the bank's CEO at home to complain about it when the construction crews showed up at 5am. In turn, the CEO sent the cops after the guy, even though he did nothing illegal.


Photo from NY Post

Is New York ready for this?

Dubai is set to be the site of the one of the latest architectural feats - rotating buildings. The buildings feature hotel and condo units, as well as office space.
Each floor can slowly rotate based on commands from condo owners. Wind turbines placed between the floors rotate freely, generating power for the building.
The pre-built floors, which will be produced southwest of Dubai, will be stacked around a central core in sections resembling slices of pie.
The Dubai tower will be the first of many rotating buildings. Moscow, Milan, New York, Tokyo and seven other major cities will be home to the moving marvels.

Original articles here and here.

The origins of Memorial Day

The Queens Gazette explains The origins of Memorial Day and asks us to Remember Those Who Died For Peace And Freedom.

Photo from

Playing politics with patriotism

Memorial Day: a time for Queens politicians to shamelessly capitalize on the deaths of American heroes via the buying of political ads in local newspapers under the guise of tributes.

Let's pause to remember the brave men and women who died to preserve democracy... In NYC, "democracy" means the clowns pictured above are practically guaranteed to win whatever office they seek because they either run with a huge built-in monetary advantage or completely unopposed, and newspapers don't question anything they do because they take ads, such as these, out at every opportunity that comes along.

There was a bill introduced in the NYC Council last year which would ban these ads from being paid for with taxpayer money, however, it comes as no surprise that it is stalled in the Committee on Governmental Operations.

Let's contrast this with Iraq:

Here is an American Marine on election day in Iraq. He's holding a ballot. Notice how many names are on it.

Iraq is more democratic today than Queens County is.

God Bless America.