Saturday, October 31, 2015

Groups join forces to stop the insanity

From Brownstoner:

Now, more than 50 neighborhood groups have joined together to fight large-scale development city wide — and the ties between politicians and the real estate industry.

New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City is calling for an end to “the violence that real estate developers have inflicted on our skyline, parks, public areas, and cityscape.” The group has created an online petition that calls for changes to laws, requires regulatory appointees be “free of ties to the real estate industry,” and low-rise development and affordable housing that will protect the historic character of the city.

As for Mayor de Blasio, the group wants a “policy change” from him, said Save the View Now founder Steven Guterman in a letter to members. New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City “calls for an end to the way the real estate lobby has captured our city government and all its regulatory bodies like City Planning and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. As has been often reported in the press, developers are major contributors to the Mayors election campaign and his nonprofit Campaign for One New York,” he said.

You can see the full petition here.

City Council wants to crack down on AirBnB

From CBS:

Proposed legislation aims to rein in landlords who evict tenants in favor of Airbnb renters.

The current fine for renting out an apartment for fewer than 30 days without an owner present is $1,600.

The proposal by City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-6th) would increase that penalty to between $10,000 and $50,000, WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported.

“You’re living in what you thought was a residential community in your building, but now you have a revolving door of suitcases going in and out next door to you, disturbing your quality of life,” Rosenthal told 1010 WINS. “So the law exists for a reason, it’s illegal to rent out your apartment.”

Rosenthal said landlords on the Upper West Side are tossing out tenants and renting out the apartments at a high, daily Airbnb rate.

The law does not apply to owners of single- and two-family homes.

Then there was this priceless quote from Paul Vallone:

“The underlining and continual concern is that Airbnb makes a profit while turning our community into Animal House,” Vallone said.

(I think he meant underlying...)

Worker dies in Manhattan building collapse

From CBS:

One person was killed and another seriously injured when the interior of a building that was being demolished collapsed Friday morning.

The collapse took place at around 10:30 a.m. at 27 West 38th St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

The seriously injured worker from Northeast Service Interiors was trapped in the building’s basement for three hours.

The demolition had the proper permits. Work will stop until the city determines it can restart safely.

Bill to end double-dipping

From the Daily News:

A Queens state senator wants to keep legislators from being able to collect a pension and salary at the same time.

Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens) calls the double-dipping practice "disgraceful" and "highly unethical."

The Daily News reported on Monday how 18 current veteran state lawmakers have filed retirement papers in recent years after being re-elected so they could begin collecting their pensions while still serving.

Avella has a bill that would prohibit a lawmaker from collecting a pension while serving if that pension was earned from an elective public office.

"It would end once and for all this practice of double-dipping," he said. "You want to retire, retire."

Oxy suppliers shut down

From NBC:

A pharmacist, her husband and another man have been accused of hawking oxycodone out of a pair of New York City storefronts in a multi-million dollar drug scheme, authorities say.

The scheme was run out of two pharmacies, both named "Chopin Chemists" in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Ridgewood, Queens, both owned by the pharmacist, sources said. The pharmacist, Lilian Wieckowski, and her husband, Marcin Jakacki, allegedly conspired to sell the drugs out of the two pharmacies "any way they could," according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

"We've shut down one of the largest pill mills in the city," Bharara said.

Authorities say they began investigating Wieckowski's pharmacies after a civil audit revealed that the Brooklyn pharmacy was requesting more oxycodone from drug makers than anywhere else in the zip code -- which included several large, nationwide pharmacy chains. One year, Bharara said, Chopin Chemists in Greenpoint requested more than 250,000 more pills than the next pharmacy.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The end of Whitestone Lanes?

From the Commercial Observer:

Whitestone Lanes, a more than two decade-old beloved Flushing, Queens, bowling alley which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week may be shuttered and pinned for a major development.

Mar Mar Realty, a family business that owns the property and the bowling alley business, has listed the one-story, 37,000-square-foot building at 30-05 Whitestone Expressway and a 43,000-square-foot parking lot for $60 million.

The building, between Linden Place and Farrington Street, sits on an 80,000-square-foot site. Pending a Department of City Planning zoning change from manufacturing to commercial and residential use, the site could accommodate a 386,000-square-foot mixed-use development, according to Cushman & Wakefield, which is marketing the property. The bowling alley was once called the “holy grail of bowling” in a New York Times article. It was also featured in an episode of the Netflix show Daredevil, according to IMDb.

The $60 million figure is based on a price of $155 per buildable square foot, listing broker Stephen Preuss of C&W told CO. He added that that is a bargain considering that Long Island City, Queens, sites are asking $250 per square foot.

As for why Mar Mar Realty is selling the site, Mr. Preuss said: It “is a private family that has owned it for decades. They are looking to exit that market and cash out.” A representative of Mar Mar Realty declined to speak to the Commercial Observer.

Building collapses in Astoria

From DNA Info:

A construction worker was injured after a building partially collapsed in Queens Thursday morning, according to the FDNY.

The man was sent to Mount Sinai Hospital with minor injuries, officials said.

The roofing gave way in the two-story building under construction at 25-26 Broadway between Crescent and 29th streets just after 10 a.m.

It was not immediately clear what caused the collapse and the Department of Buildings said it was still investigating the incident.

More than half of the existing building is being demolished to build a new, 6-story apartment building at the site, DOB records show.

Projects produce lots of trash

From Crains:

The true population served by the New York City Housing Authority has always been hard to pin down because the customary tally of more than 620,000 people overlooks multitudes who have been welcomed into legal residents' units but aren’t named on a lease or otherwise listed in authority records. But indisputable evidence of their existence is collected each week by the city’s Department of Sanitation. In trucks.

The waste-collection data suggest the Housing Authority's actual ranks are at least 100,000 larger than the official number.

Last Friday, NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye was speaking at an annual summit hosted by the Municipal Art Society when she mentioned Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and the informal, rubbish-based census.

“She can tell [our population] based on our tonnage,” Olatoye said.

Specifically, the authority estimates that the city’s Strongest collect 380 million pounds of refuse each year from NYCHA developments. If the average New Yorker each piles 756 pounds of trash into garbage trucks annually, as data from the latest Mayor’s Management Report indicates, then accordingly about 502,600 people are living in NYCHA projects.

Unique Kew Gardens house finally sold

From DNA Info:

A historic house in Kew Gardens, which has been falling into disrepair for more than a decade, was sold last month for nearly $1 million.

The house, at 84-62 Beverly Road, constructed in the 1920s, is described as being built in an Anglo-Japanese style. It combines architectural elements of an English cottage with curved lines typical of Japanese rooftops, and is the only one of its kind in Queens, according to local historians.

Its previous owner, listed in public records as Mun Chang, moved out about 15 years ago and the house began to deteriorate, locals said. Chang could not be reached for comment.

In 2009, the Department of Buildings declared the house unsafe after a building inspector found it vacant and its front door and garage door left open, according to the DOB.

The agency then obtained a court order to seal the building by pouring concrete over the ground floor windows, according to the agency.

But despite its decrepit shape, the 3-story house was purchased on Sept. 10 for $990,000, according to Mitra Hakimi of Mitra Hakimi Realty Group, which closed the deal.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pod living in Flushing!

Here's the original link.

Kind of reminds me of this:

AirBnB hostess arrested?

The Queens Gazette has reported the following:

"The owner of the Bayside home where two young men were shot during a party has been arrested."

But they didn't elaborate and I can't find this in any other news source.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Big sports gambling bust

From the NY Times:

An illegal gambling ring with more than 2,000 bettors in the United States moved millions of dollars through banks and credit card companies and used an overseas website to place the wagers and keep the accounts, the office of the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said on Wednesday.

A Queens County grand jury indicted 17 people in the case, and all but three are in custody. The arrests were made by law enforcement officials in New York, Nevada and California, where most of the bookmakers and accountants for the ring were based, the office said. The head of the operation was identified as Cyrus Irani, 37, of Santa Clarita, Calif.

Mr. Brown said the ring had collected $32 million in illegal bets on football, basketball, baseball, hockey and other sports. He said Internet gambling was “a multibillion-dollar, worldwide industry.”

“Internet gambling has been compared by some to the crack cocaine epidemic of the late ’80s and early ’90s,” Mr. Brown said in a statement. “It is highly addictive.”

DOB says yeshiva dorm is not kosher


The dormitories at Glendale’s Yeshiva Godolah Seminary exceed legal limits, according to one city agency.

After Community Board 5 (CB 5) voted to recommend denying the yeshiva’s request for a zoning variance earlier this month, the school was hit with a violation from the Department of Buildings (DOB) for violating current zoning regulations by housing students within the school.

The yeshiva is located within an M1-1 zone, which does not allow for dorm facilities. The violation, issued on Oct. 16, is for the illegal conversion of the school to have dormitories outside of the zoning regulation.

“Based upon a recent audit, there is an intent to revoke issued,” a representative from the DOB told the Ridgewood Times. “The audit determined that the space used was nonconforming for a Use Group 9 facility. The legality of the use of the dormitory space is currently under review.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Homeless taking over Penn Station

From CBS:

Commuters say the homeless situation underground at Penn Station has grown out of control, and with cooler temperatures on their way, they expect to see even more move in.

CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez demanded answers Monday from city, state, and railroad officials.

CBS2 has found Penn Station has become a very popular homeless haven — and many commuters said they want to know how the situation has been allowed seemingly to spiral out of control.

Crackdown on fake OSHA cards

From the Daily News:

With the number of construction-related deaths on the rise, city investigators are quietly showing up at job sites and arresting workers with fake safety training cards, the Daily News has learned.

Workers are required to take safety courses run by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to reduce accidents at job sites, but over the years there's been a growing problem with workers blowing off the courses and using fraudulent OSHA cards to claim they're trained.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 20 workers with allegedly bogus OSHA cards have been busted at city construction sites, sources familiar with the crackdown said.

The sweep — carried out by the Department of Investigation and the Buildings Department — comes as construction fatalities in New York City jumped to 18 in the last federal fiscal year, up from 12 the year before.

The latest arrests took place Oct. 17 with five workers led away in handcuffs at two sites where housing is going up in Queens and the Bronx.

Members of DOI, the Buildings Department and NYPD detectives arrested the five for possessing what they say are fake OSHA cards. Another 19 workers were pulled off the two job sites because they had no OSHA cards at all.

LIC residents freaked out by waterfront rats

From DNA Info:

The city is working to clear Hunters Point South Park of rats, following complaints from park-goers who say they've spotted rodents scurrying through the waterfront green space.

Locals said they've noticed more of the unwelcome visitors in the park in recent months.

Jamaica: hotels! hotels! hotels!

From DNA Info:

Downtown Jamaica is turning into the borough’s epicenter of hotels.

Kaushik Patel, a Queens-based developer, filed an application last week with the Department of Buildings to build a new massive complex consisting of three adjacent hotels, joining a long list of lodging projects planned for the area.

The new complex, at the intersection of 146th Street, Sutphin Boulevard and 101st Avenue will bring nearly 400 rooms to the area, as first reported by The Real Deal.

One of the hotels, at 97-46 146th St., will consist of 108 rooms. Another, at 97-34 Sutphin Blvd., will feature 148 rooms, and the third one, at 145-01 101st Ave., will have 142 rooms, according to the DOB's website. All three buildings are slated to be 9-stories high and will offer 51 parking spaces.

Patel said that three different hotel chains will operate the complex — Wyndham Garden, Country Inns & Suites and La Quinta Inns & Suites.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A new story regarding Bayside AirBnB shooting

From the Daily News:

Mother and daughter were dozing in a bedroom when bullets began flying in the basement of the Queens mansion they had rented out for a party through Airbnb.

That’s the story homeowner Daisy Shahnaz told her angry neighbors in Bayside on Monday after two men were wounded by gunfire during a wild party at her home.

But Shahnaz’s daughter evidently did not get her mother’s memo.

“I wasn’t there,” Sarah Bhuiya said after a Daily News reporter told her about the account her mother gave neighbors. “Yeah, well, my neighbors were misinformed.”

Grave robbing at Maple Grove

From DNA Info:

Thieves have been stealing bronze vases attached to memorial markers from Maple Grove Cemetery to sell them as scrap.

The problem at the Kew Gardens resting place started a little more than five years ago, as first reported by the New York Post. About 500 vases have been stolen so far, according to Bonnie Dixon, general manager at the cemetery.

“It’s just so disturbing,” Dixon said. “I can’t imagine how anybody would do that but people do and it's sad.”

The vases, which are engraved with the letters "MG" for Maple Grove, cost about $250 each and weigh about 2.5 pounds, Dixon said.

A pound of bronze sells for about $1.20 to $1.50, according to local scrap metal buyers.

Van Bramer backs congestion pricing

From the Daily News:

A congestion pricing plan that would toll the free East River bridges got key support from Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, the Democratic majority leader from Queens.

Van Bramer told the Daily News on Monday he’s fed up with the traffic-choked roads around the Queensboro Bridge and the cramped No. 7 train in his Long Island City district.

The estimated $1.5 billion that could be raised under the MoveNY plan from traffic guru “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz would cut down on traffic and fasttrack much needed repairs to stations on the No. 7 line, some of the worst in the system, Van Bramer said.

“We’ve seen massive congestion problems both on the subway cars and platforms themselves, and then in addition to that, in the run up to the (Queensboro Bridge),” Van Bramer said. “That’s why I am saying now we need to focus on this investment into our mass transit. The MoveNY plan is the best and most responsible way to get us there.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

More details about Bayside house party gone wrong

From CBS New York:

A man and woman were arrested in front of the home later that day, but it was unclear as to why they were taken in, CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported. Neighbors said the woman lives at the home with her mother.

From the Daily News:

A man who gave his name as Joel said he rented the home out for the night on Airbnb and posted an invite on Instagram to the 9 p.m. birthday party.

Neighbor Lori Somekh, 56, said the “mob” of young people overran the neighborhood.

“You give kids alcohol and a gun and bad things happen,” said Somekh. “I always think weird things happen in the house. I’m always creeped out.”

Frankie Marchione, 20, was at the party and said most of the festivities were in the basement — where the shooting occurred.

People paid between $15 and $25 to get in, he said. Alcohol was served on the first floor of the house — but only those 21 and older got to go upstairs from the basement.

Diner deathwatch

From Crains:

Historians devoted to the study of diners—yes, that's a thing—estimate there were 1,000 diners in the city a generation ago. There are now only 398 establishments that describe themselves as diners or coffee shops, according to city Department of Health records. Recent casualties include Soup Burg on the Upper East Side, the CafĂ© Edison in midtown and the El Greco Diner in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. (See sidebar below for our explanation of exactly what a diner is.)

The star-shaped, 1962-vintage Market Diner in midtown figures to be next. In July, The Real Deal reported that developer Moinian Group had filed with the city to demolish the 11th Avenue building and replace it with a 13-story condominium.

Indeed, something of a diner deathwatch exists among New Yorkers concerned about losing their favorite places for affordable comfort food. Earlier this year, a rumor surfaced on Reddit and Twitter that the popular Neptune Diner in Queens would close, which owner George Katsihtis denies. The clock is also ticking for the Evergreen Diner, which occupies part of the first floor of a parking garage on West 47th Street, just off Times Square. The Evergreen generates about $1.5 million in annual revenue, but barely makes a profit. "One day they will raise my rent and I will close," said co-owner Ilias "Lou" Argena, who pays about $25,000 a month.

"To me, it's not surprising that diners are closing in New York," said Jan Whitaker, a historian in Amherst, Mass., who writes a blog called Restauranting Through History. "Given how expensive everything is in New York, the wonder is they survive at all."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bayside McMansion rented out on AirBnB for house party; 2 men shot

From Eyewitness News:

Two men were shot as they were leaving a house party overnight Saturday.

Around midnight on 28th Avenue in Bayside, following an argument with a man at the party, the first victim, 27, was shot in the torso. He was taken to New York Hospital Queens and is in critical condition.

The second victim, 23, also suffered a gunshot wound to the torso and was taken to North Shore Hospital, also critical.

The nature of the dispute is unknown. There have been no arrests.

The house was rented for the party.

The address? 213-45 28th Avenue.

No shortage of listings in Bayside!

Dogs to combat rats?

From Epoch Times:

In the last two years, the city’s complaint hotline has received a record of more than 48,000 calls reporting rat sightings. But fear not—a diverse group of New Yorkers has found a natural way to combat the disease-laden rodents. Instead of rat poison, they let loose a pack of furry terriers into New York City alleyways.

A terrier smells a rat and leaps into a heap of garbage. A second terrier runs and dives in too. A rat scrambles out. A third terrier catches the rat and bites. The rat’s limp body falls to the ground. The dog owner picks up the dead rat with gloves and drops it into a garbage can.

This appears to be a natural solution since rat-hunting is what terriers do best.

City cleaning up Jamaica Bay

From AP:

Just a few years ago, the tributary, known as Paerdegat Basin, was a fetid mess. The water was murky green, teeming with 1.8 billion gallons of sewage and rainwater that streamed in during storms. The working-class neighborhoods along the waterway stank like an outhouse during hot weather and low tide. The shoreline was strewn with rusted out cars, garbage and broken bottles.

The Paerdegat tributary feeds directly into Jamaica Bay, a body of water and marsh sandwiched between Brooklyn and Queens, and on the shores of which sits Kennedy International Airport. Part of the area is run by the city; the other is Gateway National Recreational Area, which contains a wildlife refuge with one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the Northeast.

And now a decade-long $455 million investment by the city to clean up Paerdegat Basin is nearly complete, including a new sewage overflow retention facility at the head of the 1.3-mile-long channel and 52 restored acres of native grasslands and wetlands.

In older cities like New York, sewer systems are built on one pipe that handles both rainwater and sewage. With considerable concrete and not enough exposed earth to absorb rainwater, the combined runoff often overflows and backs into city waterways.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Silvercup building more condos

From The Real Deal:

Silvercup Properties, the development arm of film and TV production company Silvercup Studios, is planning 120 condo units in Long Island City with a total sellout price of $108 million.

The Edison, located at 27-21 44th Drive between Sunnyside Yard and Jackson Avenue, will also have 6,780 square feet of retail space and 28 parking spots, according to a summary of the offering plan filed with the state Attorney General and reviewed by The Real Deal.

Silvercup, founded by brothers Alan and Stuart Suna with their father, Harry, acquired the site for $21.1 million from Vorea Holdings LLC and Meshburg Capital last year. Apartments will average under 1,000 square feet, according to previously-filed building plans.

The studio is also looking to revive its long-delayed $1 billion expansion project in Long Island City, which includes the development of eight sound studios, a 1,000 unit residential component, an office tower, a parking garage and retail space.

Overhaul of dollar van industry proposed

From AM-NY:

The City Council is considering three bills that would remake the commuter van industry, officials said during a hearing on Thursday.

The vans often work in transit-starved areas in Brooklyn and Queens. Some work legally, others illegally. Many connect immigrant communities via routes that are quicker and cheaper than taking the subway.

"Commuter vans provide true affordable transportation to New Yorkers, mostly in the outer boroughs, but also in Manhattan," said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi during the hearing.

"This is especially true in neighborhoods that have less access to public transit, where commuter vans allow passengers to share rides at minimal costs -- as little as two dollars."

For instance, vans connect riders between Manhattan's Chinatown and Flushing in 35 minutes, when it would be a 70-minute subway ride, she said.

Almost 600 vans are working legally in the city.

The proposed City Council legislation includes a study of safety issues in the industry that would suspend new licenses until the analysis was complete -- such as data on safety violations and illegal vans.

Other bills would let vans operate on routes rather than just do prearranged trips, and raise the civil penalties on vans not licensed by the city.

AirBnB not happy with council bill

From the Daily News:

Airbnb has come out swinging against a bill that would hit homeowners who rent out their pads on home-sharing sites with fines as high as $50,000, saying it’s “bad policy” that could bankrupt New Yorkers looking to make a quick buck.

The company sent a three-page letter to City Councilman Jumaane Williams on Wednesday, a week before the Brooklyn Democrat, who chairs the Housing and Buildings Committee, holds a hearing on the bill.

“A fine of this size being imposed on middle-class families would lead to bankruptcies,” the letter from Christopher Lehane, Airbnb global head of public policy, states.

The $50,000 fine for repeat offenders is larger than fines for other serious infractions — including the $500-a-day penalty for not providing a tenant heat, the $10,000 maximum fine for lead-paint exposure and the $2,000 that landlords pay for rat violations.

The bill appears to be “promoted for only one reason: to scare middle-class people out of their homes,” said Lehane.

He called it the “Freddy Krueger of bills” and said holding the hearing around Halloween was particularly appropriate.

But Williams said it’s Lehane who is trying to frighten people.

He conceded that the $50,000 maximum fine might be a little steep, but said that it wouldn’t be levied against the occasional Airbnb user. “This isn’t about people going on vacation,” he said. “Any time someone gets caught (illegally renting out their apartment), it’s because they are doing it repeatedly.”

Both Williams and City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who is the prime sponsor of the bill, said it’s targeted at greedy landlords who illegally rent out regulated apartments, which exacerbates the city’s housing crisis.

Friday, October 23, 2015

MASSIVE watermain break on Queens Blvd in Elmhurst

From Eyewitness News:

Construction crews had been operating at 51-35 Reeder Street in Queens when shoring pilings they were installing struck a water main. The work site quickly flooded but all workers were accounted for.

The main is not capped. City Department of Environmental Protection workers were working to stem the water flow. The first stories of five addresses were evacuated due to flooding: 86-55 Broadway; 86-30 Broadway; 86-31 Broadway; 86-32 Broadway; and 86-34 Broadway.

From DNA Info:

The developer — listed as 85-15 Queens Blvd. Realty, LLC — was issued a partial stop work order in August because there was no underpinning at the site, according to Department of Buildings records.

85-15 Queens Blvd. Realty, LLC could not be reached for comment.

Vallone stands alone in support of new school

From QNS:

A meeting with Councilman Paul Vallone and education officials on Monday couldn’t quell the concerns of Bayside residents still adamantly opposed to a school proposed for the former Bayside Jewish Center.

Vallone was only a few minutes into his introductory remarks when the audience interruptions began. The councilman pointed out that, as the Bayside Jewish Center and the School Construction Authority (SCA) had already entered into a contract, he thought it unlikely that plans for the school would be squashed at this point.

“I’m more of a realist than someone who’s going to stand on the corner and say it’s not going to happen,” Vallone said over the grumbling of audience members.

The councilman added that the situation was delicate and would likely draw criticism from residents no matter which site was chosen, and that he believed the SCA site selection process in general should be changed to increase transparency. Vallone also noted that his constituents in Community Board 11 have often commented about a dire need for school seats in the area.

In a joint letter sent to SCA President and Chief Executive Officer Lorraine Grillo on Tuesday, Congresswoman Grace Meng and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein asked that the SCA rescind its contract with the Bayside Jewish Center due to the lack of support from the Bayside community.

“The process that the School Construction Authority (SCA) uses to purchase property for siting new schools is flawed, and does not offer the residents, the community board, or elected officials any opportunity for input until after the contract negotiations have begun,” read the statement.

State Senator Tony Avella previously opposed the plan, holding opposition rallies outside the center in recent months.

From the Queens Tribune:

Addressing his disgruntled constituents, Vallone argued that the proposed school was a deal between two private parties and that it wasn’t in his power or anybody else’s to stop it.

“We go along with this journey as it happens,” he said, “We can’t stop it.”

Chadney Spencer, who opposed the school, said Vallone had taken a different stance when a high school was proposed in Whitestone.

“You ran around defending Whitestone to get the vote,” he said.

The SCA abandoned plans for the Whitestone site, at 150-33 6th Ave, after Vallone and other community members protested and petitioned.

The Queens Tribune reported in April 2014 that “Vallone personally delivered more than 500 signatures against the plan to [SCA CEO Lorraine] Grillo.”

Vallone said in a statement at the time “I never stopped pushing the SCA to commit to abandoning this plan.”

A Vallone staffer said the Whitestone site had not progressed as far in the sales process at the time that Vallone opposed it, and that Vallone had been acting as a private individual to protest the site, as he was not an elected official at the time. The staffer also said the Whitestone site had been a more inappropriate site than the Bayside one.

Isn't it interesting that this Vallone staffer is anonymous in this story and that he/she doesn't seem to know that Vallone assumed power on January 1, 2014 and the school was nixed April 2014?

Abandoned Fresh Meadows house a major eyesore

From the Queens Chronicle:

The house seen above, located at 50-19 175 Place in Fresh Meadows, has been abandoned for more than 10 years, according to those who live near it.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) stood outside the house last Friday and said the site is at least “much better” than it was when he first heard about it, adding that it had overgrown weeds in the front and backyards.

“There’s a shack back there,” Avella said. “You couldn’t even see that before.”

He wasn’t sure which city agency cleaned up the house, but said more work needs to be done to remove the blight from the community.

According to Avella, the registered homeowner has been dead for more than 10 years and her son is nowhere to be found.

LIC hotel alleged to have bedbugs

From the Queens Tribune:

The Ramada Hotel in Long Island City has bed bugs in Room 303, at least two guests who stayed there said.

On Sept. 19, a couple experienced exactly this when staying at Ramada Hotel in Long Island City. Gym teacher Steven McCarthy of Jamaica and his girlfriend were savagely bitten more than 40 times in room 303 by the tiny insects.

“We were horrified,” McCarthy said. “We immediately went to complain.”

He said he called 311 to report the problem and was even more shocked at the response he got.

“They told me I had to schedule an appointment to investigate the hotel room,” McCarthy explained with a laugh. “I told them I wasn’t there anymore. I didn’t live there.”

The couple reached out to the Department of Housing and Preservation inspectors, they responded, but the hotel refused inspectors to be allowed to enter the premises after four attempts to do so.

“Are they still renting out that room?” McCarthy wondered aloud. “I just think people should know about this.”

- See more at:

City planning thinks seniors don't drive

From the Times Ledger:

Borough community board heads were outraged over the potential loss of parking spaces Tuesday at the city’s Department of City Planning presentation on the proposed zoning text amendments needed to push forward the mayor’s affordable housing plan for seniors.

City Planning requires changes to zoning regulations in order to meet the goals of the mayor’s affordable housing plan. The presentation on zoning for quality and affordability and mandatory inclusionary housing focused on new senior housing across the borough.

But in those changes, parking space in Queens, the transit wasteland, would disappear from city-owned affordable housing for seniors.

“I want you to drive through the Liberty Avenue corridor late at night and tell me if there is a need for parking or not,” Elizabeth Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10, said.

The board pointed out the lack of transit hubs across the borough and the difficulties seniors face during the winter. Board members said for seniors having their own vehicle gave them a sense of independence and it was cruel to take that away.

“You don’t have to go far. Why don’t you just try parking outside of Borough Hall tonight?” George Stamatiades, vice chairman of Community Board 1, asked the City Planning officials.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Concannon & Grodenchik debate on NY1

Click photo for video.

Construction fatalities on the rise

From Huffington Post:

2015 has been deadly in the construction sector with 11 construction site fatalities in New York City's past fiscal year, according to data compiled by the City of New York. This does not include the three devastating fatalities in the last two months that all occurred on construction worksites not up to code or lacking safety equipment, according to numerous complaints filed to the City.

That deadly sum exceeds New York City construction fatalities in all recent years and is up 83 percent over FY2014 and 120 percent since FY2013 (the city's fiscal calendar runs July 1 - June 30), representing the highest total since the current construction expansion began in 2008. While construction is a huge economic engine for New York City, it accounts for less than 4 percent of all New York State employment, yet an astounding 20 percent of all of the state's on-the-job deaths.

What's more, the Mayor's Management Report has identified that with hundreds of serious construction related accidents, injuries increased 34 percent in FY 2015, up 51 percent from both FY2013 and FY2012. So what is the cause of this and how can it be rectified?

Two trends are leading the increase. One is the obvious surge of new construction New York City has encountered, as the Department of Buildings issued 52,618 residential building permits in FY2015, up 156 percent from FY2014 and up a staggering 749 percent from FY2010.

The second is that data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows that nonunion worksites also accounted for 75 percent of construction fatalities in 2014 and 72 percent between 2012-2013.

Ridgewood dog abuser arrested

From the Daily News:

A Queens man who let his pet Boxer get skeletally thin and suffer huge sores all over his body after months of neglect was arrested Monday, police said.

The pooch, named Brewster by rescuers, weighed just 25 pounds — half of his target body weight — when he was discovered by a good Samaritan curled up in a Ridgewood field last week, officials said.

Owner Anthony Esteves, 25, who lives in the neighborhood, allegedly deprived the dog of food, water and veterinary care between July 1 and Oct. 13, cops said.

Brewster has been recovering with a foster family since the leaving the vet.

Paul Vallone takes credit where credit is not due

You can read the whole sordid tale by clicking the photo.

(They took down the above link but this one is still active.)

BTW, Paulie, this house is NOT in Broadway-Flushing as you claim...

Response from Bill Leahy, whose photo was used to boost Vallone:

From: Bil Leahy
Date: Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 3:54 PM
To: "QGazette@AOL.COM"


It's come to my attention that my copyrighted photo is being used to promote a story about Paul Vallone. (

This photo was never approved for use by your publication.

Additionally, praising Paul Vallone, who did absolutely nothing to stop this work, is pretty shoddy "reporting". You should be ashamed of your partisanship and lack of actual reporting. Next time Mr. Vallone and his lackeys try to spin any story in their favor, please do more research.

In this case, the credit for bringing the attention of this violation belongs to the QueensCrap blog, Paul Graziano and the Flushing Community. Without them, there is no picture...without them, there are no complaints and without them, another violation is swept under the rug.

Please ensure that the photo and story and removed by close of business today.


Bill Leahy

And here's how the site really got shut down:

From: "Paul Graziano"
To: "Anthony Iuliano (Buildings)", "Rebecca Sheehan"
Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 4:37:03 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: Bill Leahy @BillLeahy1) mentioned you in conversation on Twitter!

Thanks Anthony - I really hope there will be significant financial and other penalties on this one and make an example of this owner / contractor and architect. From what I understand, the owner IS the GC on the job, so he certainly knows what a SWO means.

And as you know, this property is not the only one that DOB seems to be behind the curve on (86-35 Sancho Street, 149-15 33rd Avenue, 138-10 Northern Boulevard all come to mind).


On Wednesday, October 14, 2015 4:28 PM, Anthony Iuliano (Buildings) wrote:


An Inspector went there yesterday, but there wasn’t any activity and couldn’t gain access into the building. They went back there today, and we’ll see what the disposition is and get back to you.



From: Anthony Iuliano (Buildings)
Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 4:39 PM
To: 'Paul Graziano'; Rebecca Sheehan
Subject: RE: Fwd: Bill Leahy @BillLeahy1) mentioned you in conversation on Twitter!


We’ve made the request to have this inspected.



From: Paul Graziano
Sent: Monday, October 12, 2015 4:27 PM
To: Rebecca Sheehan; Anthony Iuliano (Buildings)
Subject: Fw: Fwd: Bill Leahy @BillLeahy1) mentioned you in conversation on Twitter!

Rebecca / Anthony -

This is a total - and continued - violation of the Stop Work Order at 30-35 150th Street. Complaints have been sent in all weekend and I'm sure that the owner / architect / contractor knew that no one would bust them over Columbus Day weekend.

I just sent another to 311, reference # below.



Paul Graziano

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

DOB determines that 16-unit building is a 2-family house

From Cleanup Jamaica Queens:

With so many incompetent and corrupt NYC agencies, none deserves to be at the top of the list than the Department of Buildings, just because when they are incompetent or taking bribes, loss of life can happen. Back in February, 50 people were arrested in the DOB on bribery schemes.

Just to prove their incompetency, I recently filed a complaint with DOB in regards to an apartment building (16 units) at 89-28 170th Street going up on my block and doing illegal work on a Saturday without a variance permit. This happened before but of course when I filed that complaint, DOB eventually went out on a Saturday, saw no work being done and closed the case (how about going out when the damn complaint is filed). Well with the recent complaint (10.17.15), I took photos, described what was going on and here was the status from DOB (no variance permit required for 1-2 family dwelling):
Now does this look even remotely like a fucking 1-2 family house? From the above overview, it seems the lazy inspector did not even bother to go out, but just looked at their own site and saw that 1-2 family house classification from Department of Finance (which was never updated) even though that 1-2 family house had been torn down over 10 years ago.

The loophole here is that this lot has been subdivided and the 16 units are considered individually as eight 2-family homes, not a 16 unit apartment building, by the DOB. Why it's ok to work on a 2-family house without a variance permit, is a good question.

DeBlasio a no show for murdered cop's street renaming

From PIX 11:

44-year-old Todd Cardillo flew up from Florida for a second, NYPD ceremony honoring his slain father this year — and, for a second time, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did not attend an event designed to “right a wrong” from more than 43 years ago when former Mayor John Lindsey failed to attend the 1972 funeral for Patrolman Phillip Cardillo, who was fatally shot in a racially-charged incident at a Harlem mosque.

Mayor de Blasio was traveling in Israel this past weekend, and when PIX11 asked Commissioner Bratton about the current mayor’s absence, Bratton responded, “You’ll have to ask the mayor that, he received an invitation.”

The mayor's office issued the following statement on his absence at the renaming:

“The Mayor is grateful to Patrolman Phillip Cardillo and his family for giving the ultimate sacrifice to New York City in his efforts to protect our city’s residents. The Mayor has also been honored to attend street renamings for officers who have died in the line of duty during his administration."

Commissioner Bratton took pains to apologize for a climate, on April 14, 1972, that led police officials to let 16 suspects leave the mosque, as the crime scene where Cardillo’s blood was spilled was cleaned up by Nation of Islam mosque members.

“It was a shame then, and it’s a shame now,” Bratton said, standing at a podium outside the NYPD’s new Police Academy in College Point, Queens, where a portion of 28th Avenue was about to be renamed Patrolman Phillip Cardillo Way. “It was wrong to give politics jurisdiction over an active crime scene. It was wrong that neither the then-mayor nor police commissioner attended Phil’s funeral. It was wrong to let political pressure interfere with a murder investigation.”

Homeless to be booted from subway

From CBS:

New York City’s top cop has a tough strategy for dealing with the homeless who try to catch some shut-eye on trains, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

“Subways are not for sleeping, and I wish we could have people understand that,” Bratton said.

As the mercury plummets and the homeless find it might be just a tad too cold to bathe in the fountains in Columbus Circle — as was seen in photos that surfaced in July — or sleep on the streets, the police commissioner wants the homeless to know they should go to city shelters, not the subway.

“Subways are not homeless shelters, and the homeless will not be allowed to congregate in them,” Bratton said. “The city has more than adequate shelters in other facilities.”

As the NYPD begins training thousands of cops to deal with the homeless, Bratton made it clear he doesn’t even want the homeless on station platforms.

“The homeless will not be allowed to take up residence on the platforms or on the subway cars,” he said.

The city said it’s doing all it can to find places for the homeless who want to take up residence on the city’s mass transit system.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said that since July 2014, the city has “moved 773 chronically homeless individuals from the subway into transitional and permanent housing as well as to shelter and other programs. We continue to add case managers and clinicians to assist those on our streets.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Skeptical about DEP plans

"On Sept.30th there was a presentation by DEP in Flushing Meadow Park on their long term control plans for CSO's in Flushing Bay and Creek.Mainly the plan is to construct bioswales along city streets to capture water before it hits the sewers and also to create surfaces that absorb water in areas like school yards and green roofs.They also talked about treating sewage with chlorine before discharging it into the bay and creek.

In the room was a small crowd of about 30 concerned citizens,some environmental activists and people from the Dragon boat teams.Just about everyone in the audience were skeptical of the plans and didn't think it would be sufficient because of the building boom that will be coming along the creek in Flushing and Willets Point. Some were alarmed of the idea of all the chlorine entering the ecosystem and it's effect on wildlife. One elderly man who lived his whole life in Flushing told how yards are being paved over for parking and apartment houses green spaces have been turned to concrete and there seems to be a lack of concern by the city to prevent it.

It was ironic that the meeting was held in a building that was built in the park over what was to be the largest underground tank in the world and at a similar DEP meeting not that many years ago we were told that it would be the answer to prevent sewage from entering the bay and creek.

Can NYC ever get a handle on all it's infrastructures issues if the population keeps increasing and this is especially a concern in Flushing.Just seems like bad city planning to me." - Rich

Take a look at the upcoming dredging meeting taking place:

Transportation geared toward millenials?

From Capital New York:

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley thinks her Queens district deserves some of the light rail transit benefits that Jersey City, Hoboken and Bayonne — just across the Hudson River — have been enjoying in recent years.

In order to provide additional public transportation options, Crowley is proposing to use already-existing railroad tracks in her district to build a light rail line between Glendale and Long Island City along the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch.

“It’s a railroad that is in excellent condition that has no rail cars on it, so it’s a waste of track. It has no real use and there is potential for park-and-rides and development around the rail,” Crowley told POLITICO New York.

Joan Byron, policy director at the Pratt Center for Community Development, said the fascination with light rail has a lot to do with perceptions of bus service, which she said works just as well, if not better.

"Poor people and people of color ride the bus," said Byron. "But we want something shiny and new that young white millennials will ride."

Byron said light rail tends to work best in cities that are trying to get people out of their cars and that don't already have lots of mass transit.

"You have to do something really shiny to get them not to drive," she said.

Please concentrate on improving surface transit in your district. It's already here, and it sucks.

She never met a tax she didn't like

From Crains:

Memo to City Council Finance Committee Chairwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland: Guest speakers at Citizens Budget Commission breakfasts should expect a question from Alair Townsend, the former deputy mayor and retired Crain’s New York Business publisher.

And that question will be: What two taxes would you cut to make the city’s businesses more competitive?

The Townsend test is something of a rite of passage for city policymakers. For Ferreras-Copeland, it came Wednesday at an event in midtown.

She did not pass.

The councilwoman, queried at the podium by Townsend, was unable to name even one tax she would cut.

After a brief silence, Ferreras-Copeland recovered a bit. “I’m going to take your question as a challenge,” she said, and promised to have an answer the next time the Citizens Budget Commission invites her to speak.

Asked for her reaction to Ferreras-Copeland’s answer, Townsend said she was “disappointed but not surprised.”

The former Koch administration budget director and deputy mayor explained, “Council members rarely think about cutting taxes. They are all about spending. They mostly respond to tax cuts initiated by the mayor, and these have not been forthcoming.”

Monday, October 19, 2015

F*cked up Flushing house finally shut down by DOB

NYPD cop charged with stealing house

From NBC:

A 45-year-old NYPD officer has been indicted on multiple felony counts, including grand larceny, for allegedly forging a deed to a home in Brooklyn and stealing the property from the rightful owner.

Blanche O'Neal, 45, assigned to the 83rd precinct, allegedly submitted a deed in July 2012 indicating she had bought a property on Vernon Avenue for $10,000. The deed said she purchased the property from Colie Gallman, Jr., the sole heir of Lillian Hudson, who had owned the property before she died.

About three years later, O'Neal called authorities to report someone had transferred her property to a corporate entity without her permission and alleged she was the victim of deed fraud. O'Neal told detectives she had won a $5,000,000 lawsuits against the estate and was awarded the home as part of a settlement from the person she claimed was the sole heir, Colie Gallman.

As part of their investigation into O'Neal's allegation, detectives began looking into the deed transfers on the property going back to the ownership of Lillian Hudson. They determined the deed filed by O'Neal was fraudulent, according to prosecutors.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A matter of priorities

From George the Atheist:

$1 Million for a Dog Run in Astoria. $1.5 Million for a Dog Run in East Elmhurst.

In Your Dreams: that $2.5 Million Fantasy Funding Moving Along Nicely Provided by the On-The-Ball Queens Political Establishment for the Construction of the Dog Run at the Steinway Mansion. A State-of-the-Art Facility with Spacious Room for Queens Dogs to Enjoy.

What that $ 2.5 million could have bought: a dog run, a public park, and preservation of historical legacy. Now this:

Message to those of us here to actually remember the first round of Dinkins from deBlasio: Let go of the past! Notice how Aubry mentions that the park space upgrade is meant for the homeless moving into the area's new shelters.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

CB5 says no to yeshiva dorm

From the Queens Courier:

After months of deliberation, Community Board 5 (CB 5) voted to recommend denying the Glendale yeshiva’s application for a zoning variance to expand the building during the monthly community board meeting on Wednesday night at Christ the King High School in Middle Village.

The board’s Land Use Committee met last month to hear the yeshiva’s proposal on the need for the school’s expansion from 360 dormitory beds, to 710 beds and the addition of a four-story building on the site located at 74-10 88th St.

Questions over the yeshiva’s original Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) raised community concerns with how the dorms were allowed to be placed in the building, which is in an M1-1 zone, where sleeping accommodations are not permitted.

$1B spent on NYC homeless

From the Daily News:

Spending on the city homeless shelters rose a whopping 62% in the past eight years, with the total expected to reach close to $1 billion this year, according to a new report.

The staggering number includes all money spent on the city’s 271 shelters from city, state and federal funds, according to the Independent Budget Office report released Thursday.

In 2007, the three government entities spent a total of $604 million on Big Apple shelters.

That will rise to an estimated $976 million this year.

Don't believe the affordable housing hype

Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development

From DNA Info:

Approximately 3,000 of the 20,000 affordable apartments the de Blasio administration preserved or built last year will be permanently affordable — leaving the rest to eventually become market rate — according to the city housing department.

The city created 3,031 new homes under its inclusionary housing program, which ensures they will remain permanently affordable, while the other 5,453 affordable units being built under the city's watch will transition to market-rate rentals in as soon as 30 years, officials said.

The remaining 11,000 or so already-built units that are being preserved by the de Blasio administration as affordable were slated to become market-rate units as a result of earlier mayors' affordable housing agreements — the same temporary conditions the de Blasio administration is now using, critics say.