Tuesday, May 31, 2016

City places trash cans where they said it was a bad idea

From the Times Ledger:

The city Department of Sanitation has placed city trash receptacles at the Prince Street triangle under the “Adopt A Basket” program after forcing the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce to remove trash bins donated by an area company to address the trash problem.

Crown Container Company installed the industrial-strength bins and agreed to empty them daily as a free community service to address the proliferation of trash at the intersection on Prince Street and 37th Avenue in downtown Flushing.

But after the Sanitation Department met with Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), the chamber was forced to remove them. The trash bins each cost more than $600.

Simon Gershon, president of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, reached the agreement Monday with Ignazio Terranova, who was representing the Sanitation commissioner, which was announced at a news conference at the triangle.

So, the logic is that a private company can't put out trash cans because they will attract household garbage, but the DSNY can.

Why doesn't the de Blasio administration just admit that they are pissed at Crown Container for kicking the city's ass at Willets Point and they couldn't stand to be embarrassed by them again?

Astoria Mountain becomes parking lot for LGA

Hello Crapper:

Check out the latest exclusive photos: Astoria Mountain now an active - quite active - parking lot for LaGuardia employees. I've already noticed an uptick in traffic congestion in the immediate area. (The "Steinway Park" warehouses will undoubtedly also contribute to the congestion there as well as the new Caliendo condo crap on 19th Ave. and Steinway):


Your and my previous Astoria Mountain items - btw the "mountain" never was "flattened":

Isn't the "mountain" beautiful?:

At the -crap- front,

Monday, May 30, 2016

Remember the fallen

Neighbor of state-owned zombie property gets vacate order

From CBS 2:

A Staten Island family was ordered to stay off their own property and even threatened with jail time all because of a problem at their neighbor’s home.

“I cannot use my grill. I cannot touch anything back here,” homeowner Keri Mullin told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare.

That includes her swimming pool on Moreland Street in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island. The ban is all because a neighboring house damaged nearly four years ago by Superstorm Sandy was abandoned and is in danger of collapsing onto Mullin’s property.

“I have a vacate order and buildings department violation on my door and I am being threatened with a $5,000 fine if I use my yard at all,” Mullin said. “My own backyard!”

The city Department of Buildings issued a violation on the zombie home at 1178 Mason Avenue on Friday. The chimney is precariously tilting and its roof is in danger of collapsing.

“Now I’m back to that point where the storm is affecting me because somebody else didn’t take care of their property,” she said.

Neighbors like Thea Friscia said they have been trying to get the former owner or the city to do something about the rat and mold infested home for years.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Don't we have enough junk on the sidewalk already?

These streetside mailboxes have been popping up all over the place in front of newly completed development projects. Why are we allowing developers to take over our sidewalks? Why not make them provide a mailbox on their own property?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Parks playing with PEP officer numbers

From the Queens Chronicle:

At a March 3 City Council hearing about the mayor’s planned increase of 67 Parks Enforcement Patrol officers for the fiscal year 2017 budget, Parks Department Commissioner Mitchell Silver spoke about the planned allocation of officers for Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“We have six dedicated to the Flushing Meadows Corona Park; there will be an addition of eight, which will make 14,” he said.

According to a Parks Department spokesman, the park has 12 PEP officers reporting out of it, six of whom are dedicated to patrolling the park.

In addition, a department spokeswoman said, there are four city seasonal aid officers and three urban park rangers assigned to the aquatic center in the park, in addition to five job training participants who are assigned to the Al Oerter Recreation Center.

Behind only Central Park, which has a police precinct dedicated to it, FMCP has the second-highest crime rate out of any park in New York City.

But according to a supervisory officer, the numbers provided by the department are inaccurate.

According to the source, who preferred to speak on the basis of anonymity, there are two CSA officers assigned to the aquatic center and one assigned to the Al Oerter Recreational Center, three UPRs assigned to the aquatic center and three PEPs that report out of the park but don’t patrol it. (Though four normally report there but work elsewhere, the officer said, one has recently been temporarily reassigned to Rockaway Beach.) He also did not challenge the number of JTPs, as he “does not deal with them.”

However, he said that there are no officers whose patrol is focused solely on Flushing Meadows Corona Park as a whole, rather than specific sites inside of it.

“There aren’t any dedicated to the park,” the supervisor said, clarifying that he meant officers dedicated to the park as a whole, rather than the aquatic center or the Al Oerter Recreation Center. “It’s all smoke and mirrors,” he added, referring to the information given to the public by the park agency.

“They’re misrepresenting it,” Parks Enforcement Union Local 983 President Joe Puleo said, referring to the staffing levels claimed by the Parks Department. Elected officials, he added, may be getting the wrong impression of the actual situation.

NYC Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft put it even more bluntly.

“That’s a bold-faced lie,” Croft said, referring to Silver’s City Council testimony about the park and its officer staffing.

Free newspaper hawkers banned from subways

From WNYC:

Earlier this year, the MTA announced an agreement with the publishers of amNY and Metro — both free dailies — that prohibits these modern-day "newsies" from working in the subway, and allows the newspapers to place self-service metal racks stands in stations instead.

The MTA argues that the hawkers contribute to excess trash in the stations, which is a continual struggle for the agency, and contributes to track fires. There were over 1,000 subway fires last year, according to a report from the MTA. This new agreement holds the newspapers accountable for the disposal of leftover papers at the end of each day. Metro has already begun to withdraw hawkers, while amNY is expected to follow, said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. (A spokesman for amNY wouldn't comment.)

Though banned from the subway, the hawkers will continue to physically distribute newspapers in NJ Transit, LIRR and Metro- North stations, according to Metro's media kit.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pols ask for some common sense

From the Queens Chronicle:

Three elected officials representing a large stretch of Woodhaven Boulevard have asked the Department of Transportation to go back to an alternative plan for its Select Bus Service proposal.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) in a May 2 letter urged DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to utilize what is called Concept 1 for SBS from Rockaway Boulevard to Park Lane South.

The DOT originally proposed three concepts for SBS and last March announced it is going ahead with Concept 2, much to the chagrin of some residents who oppose the plan. Others, however, support it.

Concept 1 would have the dedicated bus lanes along the corridor be placed along the service road of Woodhaven Boulevard, rather than along revamped medians, as is being proposed by the agency.

The stretch of Woodhaven Boulevard from Park Lane South to Rockaway Boulevard will be the only part of the corridor that has the median lanes, which also will require commuters to wait in the middle of the road on redesigned bus stops.

Why not Neir's?

From the NY Times:

For most of its history, Neir’s notoriety was largely limited to the working class of Woodhaven. It is a friendly den of chatter, where neighbors are regulars, and camaraderie is enjoyed over cold pints of beer. On the outside, nestled on a quiet corner of a residential neighborhood, the place looks more like an aging two-floor townhouse than a tavern.

Daniel Goderich tends bar during a gathering of supporters for the tavern’s landmark status. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
But longtime patrons say that Neir’s does not get the recognition it deserves. Now they are campaigning for the tavern to be declared a New York City landmark because, they note, some historians believe that it is, in fact, the city’s oldest bar.

Neir’s, its patrons say, deserves the historical status of McSorley’s Old Ale House, which, its manager argues, is the oldest in operation, having served customers since 1854, and Fraunces Tavern, from 1762, which burned down and was rebuilt several times.

In 1829, when Queens was mostly farmland — and livestock, not the J train, rumbled down what became Jamaica Avenue — the manager of a racetrack called the Union Course opened a nearby tavern, the Blue Pump Room. It offered a drink to bettors before and after the races, years before McSorley’s served its first light or dark ale in Manhattan.

Over time, the Blue Pump Room went by different names — The Old Abbey, The Union Course Tavern, and finally, Neir’s Tavern — and had different owners, including the Neir family, who had immigrated to Woodhaven from Germany, the current owners say. The family bought the bar after the racetrack closed in 1898, and added a one-lane bowling alley, a ballroom and a hotel over the tavern. It was renamed “Neir’s Social Hall,” and a sign with that name is on display by a stage in the back room.

So, on a recent Saturday, a rally was held to try to win landmark designation for Neir’s. Standing in front of a cutout of Mae West, Mr. Gordon urged patrons to fill out postcards he had addressed to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The commission rejected the bar’s application last year.

When Mr. Gordon applied for the designation last August, he cited Neir’s history and interior decorations, including its artifacts and antiquated ice-coil tap system. The tavern needed protection, he said, even if the commission could not prevent someone from buying it.

But the commission, a spokeswoman said, did not believe the bar rose “to the level of an interior landmark” because it “contains standard commercial finishes,’’ making it difficult, without proper documentation, to prove the tavern’s age.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What's an extra $1/2 billion?

From Crains:

Taxpayers could end up paying an extra half-billion dollars to build a streetcar connecting Brooklyn and Queens under current financing plans, according to a watch dog group's estimate.

In February, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans for a 16-mile streetcar, known as the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or the BQX, which would run from Sunset Park along Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront to Astoria, in Queens. Typically, the city would pay for an infrastructure project this big by issuing a municipal bond, which requires the government to pay off the debt, plus interest, over a certain time period. But to fund the tram line, the mayor will likely create a nonprofit development corporation that will float the bonds instead, according to a recent article in Gotham Gazette.

Funding the entire project using that arrangement could add an estimated $400 million to $500 million in interest to the total cost over a 40-year period, according to the Citizens Budget Commission. The commission came up with its estimate by looking at 2011 bonds issued for the Hudson Yards project, which used a similar financing setup to the one proposed for the streetcar. Mayor Bill de Blasio has pegged the cost of the streetcar's construction at $2.5 billion, though that figure does not include interest payments.

Another Ciafone canopy makes its debut

So, being that these have all been installed on rent stabilized buildings, could this be part of a way to raise the rent by charging for "improvements"?

2-year beer beach suddenly becomes 4 months

From PIX11:

The lease for the pop-up beach is expected to run from June through September. In September, the owners of the lot will break ground, as planned, on a new residential building that will have affordable housing units.

Oh? That's interesting since they told the community board that they have a 2-year lease:

According to CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano, Rockaway Brewing Company has secured a two-year lease with the owners of the Woodward Avenue corner property.

Maybe next year, instead of a sand beach they'll make a concrete foundation beach!

"The owners seem like they want to be respectful to the neighborhood, even though their idea seems quite out there and inventive," said Giordano.

(As evidenced by the fence behind you collapsing onto the sidewalk.)

Ridgewood can still take solace in the fact that a guy who rides his bike on the sidewalk and is threatening to wear a Speedo thinks this is a great idea.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Installing light rail is a fool's errand

From Forbes:

What would happen if your city, in the name of progress, started giving poorer residents vouchers for landline telephones rather than smartphones? Or if, rather than stocking public libraries with computers, so that people could write emails, your city installed fax machines? You would consider these unnecessary expenditures on outdated technologies. Yet when it comes to public transit, many cities splurge on modes designed for a different time and place—namely light rail.

Rail transit, such as streetcars, widely spurred America’s urban growth during the industrial era, when automobiles hadn’t yet been invented, and settlement patterns were dense. There are still a handful of dense legacy cities—New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC—that wouldn’t function without passenger rail. But rail isn’t convenient or practical in sprawling cities, although many have built entire systems nonetheless.

These projects have been championed by everyone from environmentalists, to urban density proponents, to business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, and for numerous reasons. Rail, it is thought, will get people out of cars and into transit; will spur infill growth; and will bring a “sense of place” to strategic corridors.

But it doesn’t seem to do any of this, a conclusion drawn by numerous analysts, most notably Randal O’Toole. For decades, he has written in books, blogs, and as a Cato Institute analyst about the fool’s errands of cities trying to reorient themselves around rail. They spend billions on building and maintaining systems, only to find that their cities largely function as they had before, via car use and fragmented development patterns.

For example, transit ridership rates don’t dramatically increase following rail construction, and sometimes they even decline. O’Toole believes the ridership declines result because rail strips funding from buses, which are cheaper and more flexible.

Rail transit’s role as a catalyst for dense development is also highly questionable—some lines have seen little development go up around them, and experienced high vacancy rates in existing buildings. Others have enjoyed adjacent mid- and high-rise growth. But it’s hard to know, in the latter case, whether it was rail that spurred those developments, or some combination of government subsidies for developers, organic migration back into cities, land use deregulation to allow higher densities, or the construction of other nearby public amenities.

Presented without comment

Photo by Bill Parry/Times Ledger
From Progress Queens:

The sale of a Brooklyn Heights library branch that many flagged as troublesome, but which was nonetheless approved by the New York City Council, has become the subject of a reported Federal corruption investigation, according to news reports.

Now, one leading library advocacy group has expressed criticism of the judgment of a Queens municipal legislator, who has portrayed himself to be a defender of public libraries : Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside).

“Although Councilmember Van Bramer is known as and presents himself to be Mister Library,” said Michael D.D. White, who co-founded the community group Citizens Defending Libraries, which has endeavored to save libraries from closure or sale, “he has not been pro-library. He has been pro-real estate deals.”

Councilmember Van Bramer did not answer a request made by Progress Queens for an interview for this report.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sidewalk cafes causing problems in Astoria

From CBS 2:

“Ditmars Boulevard is evolving into a very, a tourist-attracted area,” said Florence Koulouris, District Manager of Queens Community Board 1.

Koulouris confirmed that more restaurants are opening, and more owners want to accommodate customers in the open air. She expects by year’s end, nearly 200 establishments will be permitted to do so.

The Pomeroy, 36-12 Ditmars Blvd., may be one of them. On Tuesday evening, the board voted in favor of outdoor seating there, with four tables and a total of eight seats.

Some neighbors are not happy about it.

“The community is furious because it’s run like a bar,” said Nicholas Vagenas, owner of American Woodworking next door. “People are on the street till 2, 3 in the morning.”

Vanegas showed CBS2 photos taken outside, with crowds of people hanging out on the sidewalk.

“They really don’t take care of the outside or their patrons,” Vanegas said. “They come out, they vomit on our doorways.”

Vanegas said he was not the only one who felt that way. Owners at Magic Nail Design and Spa, Astoria NY Furniture, and the Fabric Center all signed letters of opposition addressed to the Community Board.

“Plus, we lose the sidewalk,” Vanegas said. “We will not have room to pass.”

The problem is once you allow one sidewalk cafe, you have to allow them all. Too many restaurants are situated in one area.

W train returning

From AM-NY:

The MTA is set to approve the revival of the W train.

After the Transit committee passed the proposal Monday, the MTA’s full board is scheduled to vote on a restoration at its meeting on Wednesday.

The short-lived W would ride again in November as part of service reconfiguration around the Second Avenue subway. W trains would run local, providing weekday service from Whitehall St. to Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard.

W service will supplant the Q, which will temporarily terminate at 57th street. Once the Second Avenue line opens, slated for the end of 2016, Q trains will run from 57th Street up to the new 96th Street and 2nd Avenue station. With W service in place, the MTA will begin running N trains express in Manhattan on weekdays during peak hours, mid-day and evenings.

Now that's what you call a shithouse!

From PIX11:

Instead of a sanctuary, a Queens home is more like a biohazard.

Maria Garcet said her home is sitting on raw sewage but she doesn’t know where it’s coming from or how to clean it up, so she called PIX11 News.

When our crew arrived, we smelled the problem right away. Dirty water and raw sewage was seeping into her front lawn, backyard and beneath her home.

Her neighbor Mo Rahman is beyond angry.

“This whole house is floating on human waste, literally, totally, totally human waste,” Rahman said.

Three families live in the apartment complex, some with small children.

Rahman said he's called every city agency and nothing has been done.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Nope, no conflict here!

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio's Campaign for One New York fund hit a trifecta on May 27, 2015 — courtesy of lobbyist extraordinaire James Capalino.

The group first received a $10,000 check from Capalino. That same day, identical checks arrived from two of the lobbyist’s deep-pocketed clients, RAL Development and Cipriani USA, for a total of $30,000.

And the very next day, Capalino was on the phone with the man himself — Mayor de Blasio.

Not bad for a guy who, as a lobbyist doing business with the city, is barred from giving more than $400 to a candidate per election.

The mayor’s website and Capalino insist the phone chat concerned a proposed (and ultimately failed) helicopter ban, and Capalino says donations to the mayor’s cause never came up.

Whether anything else came up remains a mystery as City Hall refuses to say whether notes of these lobbying chats exist.

Cars pelted with eggs in eastern Queens

From CBS 2:

Queens car owners are waking up to a sticky, slimy mess as their vehicles were the targets of eggings.

CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported residents in Whitestone are getting heated over the destructive spree that has been going on for the past two weeks.

Police said most of the complaints have come from owners of parked cars, but video posted on YouTube can show how dangerous it can be for the driver to be hit by a hurled egg.

Learning a lesson from Brooklyn

From the DNA Info:

The Department of Transportation has tabled a controversial proposal to add a two-way protected bike lane to Clinton Avenue following fierce backlash from longtime residents uneasy about mounting change in the neighborhood.

At the request of the DOT, Community Board 2’s Transportation and Public Safety Committee removed the proposal from the agenda of a Thursday night meeting — a continuation of Tuesday’s meeting held to accommodate a lengthy list of speakers from the public.

The committee did not vote on the proposal, which would turn Clinton Avenue, now a two-way street, into a one-way northbound street, with one travel lane, two parking lanes, a pedestrian island and the bike lane.

But the withdrawal didn't stop residents from airing out their frustrations — often yelling and booing at the DOT as representatives tried to answer questions.

Several residents faulted the DOT for not consulting community members before drafting the proposal.

The DOT said Thursday it would go back to the drawing board and continue to gather input from local community groups in drafting a revised proposal before returning to the community board next month.

Communities that hold the government accountable by showing up to complain and have no problem voting the bums out get listened to. Meanwhile, Queens Blvd gets bike lanes that the community didn't ask for because everyone here is too busy posing for photos with worthless pols and fighting over a couple of hundred dollars of discretionary funding.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

City prefers that Flushing stay dirty

From the Queens Tribune:

A business-led solution to address illegal dumping and garbage on Flushing streets was canned by the NYC Department of Sanitation on Monday.

Crown Container, a private contractor for commercial garbage pick up, announced on Friday that they would remove trash from a pedestrian triangle at the intersection of 37th Avenue and Prince Street, where illegal dumping is common.

But on Monday, the company was told they had to pack up the five industrial-strength garbage receptacles they had placed on the triangle, or face fines and violations.

Crown had volunteered to empty the bins once a day free of charge, in the hopes that those who were dumping would use the receptacles and therefore keep the area neater.

They had specifically ordered the bins, which cost upwards of $600, from Wisconsin.

But Sanitation believes private containers on public property were against the rules and probably a bad idea.

“Private trash containers cannot be placed out on public property without the City authorization. Placing private trash containers there would more than likely attract more bags and illegal drop offs,” a spokeswoman for the agency said.

(It's more likely that they are planning to give a contract to one of de Blasio's donors to remove the trash.)

City ticketed trucks illegally, now paying them instead

From the Daily News:

The city Law Department has agreed to pay a whopping $14 million to resolve a federal lawsuit alleging that commercial delivery trucks were improperly issued parking tickets, according to court papers.

The money will be deposited in a fund to be divvied up by hundreds of companies that are members of the New York Trucking and Delivery Association, which filed the class action suit nearly five years ago in Brooklyn Federal Court.

The suit alleged that city officials had cooked up a scheme to raise revenue by skirting a little known "Stipulated Fine Program" launched in 2004 that essentially allows trucks to legally double park outside the boundaries of 14th St. to 60th St. and First Ave. to Eighth Ave. while making deliveries.

Under the program, a double parking ticket can only be issued if there is an open parking space within 100 feet of the truck or if it is double parked for more than 30 minutes without visible activity.

But in May 2006, traffic agents began plastering double-parked trucks with more costly tickets for obstructing a traffic lane, which is a violation not covered under the program — and the Trucking and Delivery Association cried foul.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Employers and landlords now forced to use made-up pronouns

From NY1:

Businesses and landlords across the city must now refer to transgender people by their preferred pronouns or risk a big fine.

The guidelines, issued by the city's Commission on Human Rights in December, list some of the acceptable, gender-neutral pronouns.

They include "ze", which stands in for "he" or "she."

Another example is "hir," which is similar to "they".

The city says employers and landlords will violate the guidelines if they repeatedly or intentionally refuse to use someone's preferred pronoun.

They can also face fines as high as $250,000 if the refusal is considered malicious.

It's only a matter of time before not using these weird words will get you charged with a hate crime. When exactly did we lose our collective minds?

Shocking news: Developers head streetcar organization

From LIC post:

Some of the names behind the push for a new streetcar system between Queens and Brooklyn will sound familiar to western Queens residents, due to major projects they are developing here.

The Friend of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) – which has been working on the Connector plan since 2014 – has released its board of directors list (online here).

That list includes some big players in Astoria and Long Island City development.

Tishman Speyer is represented on the Friends of the BQX board by public affairs managing director Michelle Adams, who is also a member of the Long Island City Partnership board. Tishman Speyer is the developer behind 2 Gotham Center at Queens Plaza South and 28th Street and is also working on a two-tower commercial building next door.

Jordan Barowitz of the Durst Organization, which is developing the Hallets Point megaproject on the Astoria Waterfront, also sits on the BQX board. The $1 billion project involves more than 2,000 units of housing, plus a supermarket and a school. The development broke ground in January.

More houses in flood zone

From the Queens Chronicle:

Community Board 10 unanimously gave conditional approval to a developer looking to build a series of homes on a vacant lot in Hamilton Beach, with only one of the members abstaining from the vote.

The group of six houses would be listed as 102-04 to 102-24 Dunton Court and would all be semidetached structures on a block that only has one existing home.

John Calcagnile, the board’s Land Use Committee chairman, said the conditions of the approval hinge on the owner addressing drainage and runoff problems on the lot, as well as seeing if the block closer to the existing house can be widened. An architect representing the owner, listed on city documents as Edward Sze, said at the hearing the block near the proposed developments will be widened from 19 feet to 30, which would allow emergency vehicles to drive around the homes with no difficulty. Sze is under no legal obligation to widen the street near the house there now.

The proposed semidetached homes may face another obstacle, as some Hamilton Beach residents earlier this year voted to support a rezoning initiative that would only allow for detached one- or two-family homes to be built in the neighborhood and prohibit the ones proposed by Sze.

The Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for the rezoning has not yet kicked off. Should Sze want to avoid running into problems with it, he would have to have the foundations in place before any rezoning passes the Council.

So we're continuing to overdevelop in the flood plain? Great work.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Permanently parked vehicles in Jamaica

"When my wife and I moved to this neighborhood (Jamaica) back in '98, we felt that this would be an ideal location to retire. We spent tens of thousands of dollars in making renovations to our home. Now, years later, my blessed wife passed on this past January, and our neighborhood is being taken over by permanently parked vehicles by owners who have no regards for their neighbors' concerns. At present, there are two vehicles parked in front and by my house. The one by my house has been there for at least a year. The one in front, two weeks. These vehicles, who ever owns them, are taking up precious parking spots that my neighbors are sometimes having problems themselves in trying to locate a spot to park.
As for Mayor DeBlasio, well, he'll get his just deserts when election time rolls around. If he wins a second term it's not because the people voted for him en mass, if you get my drift. It's already apparent to me that every so-called politician who runs for mayor for the city of New York does it for one reason and reason only, PERKS. The Mayor can go on TV and talk about this and talk about that, but what he really is doing is talking out of the side of his mouth. Too many corrupt politicians claim to be for the people, but they are really in it for themselves. Every time some lobbyist or constituent with bags of money start dangling the lettuce in front of their eyes they begin to salivate and we the people of New York must suffer for their indiscretions. The guy who owns the 15 passenger van parked by my house is trying to sell it. But in the meantime, it's just sitting there. An eye sore. Worst case scenario is, if a driver happens to be coming up 175th St and can't see around it if a car happens to be coming from 176th. Although, there is a stop sign, you can't depend on the sign if the driver fails to see it or stop in time." - Anonymous

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Astoria strip club causing problems

From PIX11:

Aces New York doesn't open until after 11 p.m. each night but it's closing time at 4 a.m. that's the real problem for the neighbors.

They say customers are puking and urinating on the sidewalks.

And rowdy customers have fights that spill out into the streets.

A patron was shot in the foot this past Saturday morning the wee hours.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DeBlasio: "Nothing to see here"

From NY1:

Critics accuse Mayor de Blasio of setting up a shadow government — comprised of consultants who are not paid by City Hall, but pocket cash from clients, many of whom have business before the city.

The arrangement has long drawn complaints but it is generating a new wave of condemnation, because City Hall is refusing to release emails the consultants exchanged with the mayor and his top aides.

"It's disappointing to see the mayor, whose whole persona in government is about doing it for the people and being transparent about it, and to be relying on a legal analysis from some lawyer about whether this consultant's communications are protected is ridiculous," said Dick Dadey with good government group, Citizens Union. "Just disclose."

More than a year ago, NY1 made an open-records request for emails between a top de Blasio consultant, Jonathan Rosen, and the Mayor and high-ranking administration officials.

The request was denied, even though emails between city officials and people outside government are presumed to be public. In a letter to NY1, a city lawyer referred to Rosen as a consultant to the Mayoralty. He argued the emails were protected by the same exemption that keeps us from seeing many of the e-mails the mayor sends to his City Hall staff only.

FMCP the victim of piss poor event planning

From the Daily News:

Organizers of the Governors Ball are planning a two-day concert outside Citi Field in October, the Daily News has learned.

But the inaugural Meadows Music Festival could cause major headaches in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with the popular World Maker Faire taking place nearby at the New York Hall of Science at the same time.

Both events are scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 1-2. The festival, which would feature an eclectic mix of music and food, would take place in the parking lot of Citi Field.

The annual Maker Faire, which drew more than 85,000 people two years ago, takes place in the Hall of Science parking lot. But drivers are usually shuttled over from the Citi Field lot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hipster "beach" replacing affordable housing project in Ridgewood

From QNS:

Several Ridgewood residents at Wednesday’s Community Board 5 meeting in Middle Village spoke out against the Rockaway Brewing Company’s pop-up urban beach beer garden, La Playa NYC, which is set to open on June 4 at 176 Woodward Ave. on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border.

“We are opposing the pop-up beach and a liquor license,” said one resident who wished to remain anonymous. “We don’t want the noise that’s going to come with this, the traffic, the littering, the smoking and we have a lot of working people who work days and evenings in the neighborhood, the elderly, the physically sick.”

La Playa NYC is being billed as the city’s first pop-up urban beach beer garden and will ship in 140 cubic yards of Long Island sand and be fully decorated in a beach theme with beach chairs, sun umbrellas, a thatched palapa, beach volleyball courts and kiddie pools.

The pop-up beer garden will run from June 4 through September. It will operate Mondays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to midnight, and from noon to midnight on Fridays through Sundays and will feature local talent including DJs, guest chefs, beer talks and special performances.

As a brewery, Rockaway Brewing Company is allowed to have five remote sites where they can conduct business, CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri said. However, Rockaway Brewing Company has not named 176 Woodward Ave. as one of those sites as of yet, he added.

According to CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano, Rockaway Brewing Company has secured a two-year lease with the owners of the Woodward Avenue corner property.

I had to read this several times to fully absorb the abject stupidity of it.

1) We live in a city and on an island surrounded by beaches, yet a bunch of dopes are going to go to a filthy truck lot in Ridgewood, which has no water at all, to grill food and drink beer on a fake beach? And they're going to bring their toddlers?

2) To create this fake beach, they will truck sand in from Long Island, where we're spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars on beach replenishment in an effort to avoid more storm damage. How environmentally and fiscally friendly!

3) Why are the local papers going ga ga over this idea while failing to report the actual news here, which is that the owner of the lot obtained a zoning change in order to construct a mixed use project, and only won the approval of the local council member when affordable housing was included, but now is opening a douchebag paradise for the brahs for at least 2 years? What's going on with the housing? No comment from the council member about the switcheroo?

We're now expected to fawn over the thought of a bunch of lame millenials getting skin cancer and dancing around a polluted former garbage dump? What the hell happened to journalism in this town?

BSA grants variance for 17-story QB hotel

From LIC Post:

Defying the wishes of Community Board 2 and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, the Board of Standards and Appeals has given the all clear to a developer to construct a 17-story hotel building at 32-45 Queens Blvd.

The BSA’s approval stems from the YMCA’s application to transfer commercial air rights to Fongtar, a Bronx-based developer that owns a 10,000 square foot lot next door to the YMCA’s Long Island City facility, which intends to construct a hotel.

The YMCA needed the approval of the BSA to modify its existing variance in order for it to sell its air rights. The BSA had to weigh in on the variance since the Queens Boulevard facility was only allowed to be built in the first place as a result of a zoning waiver.

The April 5 approval by the BSA now permits Fongtar to build a hotel three times the size of what would have been allowed on the site without the air rights transfer.

The five BSA board members unanimously approved the YMCA’s application to modify its variance. Meanwhile, in March, every Community Board 2 member rejected it.

Vallone, Katz boot school opponent from CB11

From the Queens Chronicle:

After 16 years of serving on Community Board 11, Melvyn Meer’s application for reappointment was turned down in April. And nobody has told him why.

“Nobody has given me a reason for nonappointment,” Meer, the board’s former Education Committee chairman, told the Chronicle. “The only thing I have is a letter from the borough president and it says ‘Unfortunately, at this time I am not able to appoint you for the next term.’”

When applying for reappointment, community board members submit a form to their local Council member. The borough president ultimately decides whether they are appointed and is not required to provide an explanation for her action.

In Meer’s case, the Council member with whose consultation the appointment was made is Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside). Last year, Vallone supported a controversial proposal to create a high school where the Bayside Jewish Center currently is. The plan was abandoned after community outcry forced Vallone to ultimately oppose it.

Ah, ok.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Get ready to be pissed on more

From the NY Post:

In January, the City Council voted to reclassify low-level crimes such as public urination, public consumption of alcohol, littering, subway fare evasion and taking up multiple seats on the subway from criminal to civil offenses.

But if California is any indication, it may not have been a smart move.

Retail giants with locations in the Golden State, including Safeway, Target, Rite Aid and CVS pharmacies, say they have seen at least a 15 percent increase in shoplifting since California voters opted to reduce theft penalties in 2014, The Associated Press reports. Shoplifting reports in LA increased 25 percent in the year after Proposition 47 passed.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

City not responsible for filing fraudulent deed

From the Daily News:

An elderly Manhattan woman whose family homestead in Queens was stolen through deed fraud has no right to sue the city or the City Registrar for damages, a Queens judge ruled Friday.

Supreme Court Justice Kevin Kerrigan said that Jennifer Merin, 72, cannot sue for negligence because the City Registrar has no obligation and no authority under law to make sure that the deeds it accepts for filing in all five boroughs are legitimate.

Merin's lawyer, Christopher Campbell, whose law firm DLA Piper is representing Merin for free, said they will appeal.

"The judge seems not to acknowledge our (argument) that the city failed to follow its own rules in processing this deed,” he said.

“Deeds are supposed to have metes and bounds. This deed was completely blank on that. The previous owner is supposed to be the seller. This had a different name entirely. And this house was given away for free. All of these things should have been red flags,” he said.

Flushing couple pleads guilty to sex trafficking

From PIX11:

A couple from Queens and massage parlor manager have pleaded guilty in a “cross-county sex trafficking ring” after two women were forced to perform lewd acts on customers for several months, the Nassau County District Attorney said Friday.

Zhaowei Yin 49, and his wife Shuwen Ai, 47, of Flushing, pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of sex trafficking, a felony, and two counts of promoting prostitution in the second degree.

Parlor manager Li Fei Leng, a 33-year-old also from Flushing, pleaded guilty to the same charges Tuesday.

Friday, May 13, 2016

CB7 suspicious about builder's plans

From the Queens Tribune:

Attorney Michael Michnias came to speak regarding the construction of two three-story, two-family dwelling on a mapped but unbuilt portion of Ash Avenue, with the addresses 42-29 and 42-31 149th Street. The project needed to face a vote from CB 7 because it was being built on an unmapped street.

The vote to approve the project might have been relatively routine, but board members quickly expressed suspicion that the houses were intended to be used as a boarding house rather than kept as two-family units as the application stated.

In all, each two-family house would have nine bedrooms, with two on the first floor, four on the second floor, and three on the third floor. There would also be a boiler and bathroom on each floor.

For many, that was another sign that the owner had intentions to further subdivide the property. They also noted that the number of rooms was large in proportion to the size of the lots, which are 25 feet.

The final vote regarding the construction of the dwellings was 35 to zero, one abstention because of conflict of interest and zero to allow.

Ulrich may run for mayor

From the Daily News:

A fiscally conservative, socially liberal Republican lawmaker from Queens is taking the first step toward running against Mayor de Blasio in 2017, the Daily News has learned.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich — who has been a critic of de Blasio — is filing paperwork with the Board of Elections to form an exploratory committee ahead of a run, according to sources.

The Howard Beach resident mailed in forms to create the “Ulrich 2017” committee on Wednesday, and earlier this week spoke with GOP leadership — including state chairman Ed Cox — and said he wanted to run, sources said.

“It’s too soon to rule anything out,” Ulrich, 31, said when asked of his plans. “I think it’s clear we can’t have Bill de Blasio for four more years.”

It was that easy

From DNA Info:

Two former advisers to Mayor Bill de Blasio who left City Hall for a political consulting firm were granted permission to continue working with the mayor on behalf of his nonprofit, which is now under federal investigation, despite a one-year ban on doing so, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Rebecca Katz, a special adviser to de Blasio, left in April 2015 to work for Hilltop Public Solutions. Hayley Prim, a policy analyst for Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, left City Hall in March 2015, also to join Hilltop.

They received a June 10, 2015, Conflict of Interests Board waiver to work for the Campaign for One New York, de Blasio's nonprofit focused on promoting his political agenda, before the city's one-year prohibition expired.

Good government groups and political experts say the arrangement shows how easily paid consultants and advisers move in and out of de Blasio's City Hall.

"Weiner": the film

Van Bramer bills target sidewalk blockers

From the Times Ledger:

Majority Leader Van Bramer’s bills will hit businesses where it hurts by increasing fines and allowing the Department of Consumer Affairs to revoke the business licenses of repeat offenders.

The first bill, Intro 1179-2016, makes parking vehicles in a sidewalk or crosswalk a violation for the following types of DCA-licensed businesses: used car dealers, parking garages and lots, tow companies, and car washes. The bill states the commissioner will suspend or revoke the license of businesses found to be in violation more than twice in one year. The second bill, Intro 1180-2016, directs the commissioner of Finance to implement increasing penalties for repeat violators.

This is all well and good, but have you ever tried to get DCA to inspect a business? You'd be better off calling NYPD.

Tool created by city to help develop the waterfront

From Crains:

Applicants for construction permits on waterfront property can end up waist-deep in bureaucracy, but a new website will help them navigate.

The Waterfront Navigator website, funded by the Empire State Development Corp. and the city, aims to be a one-stop shop for users to figure out which permits they need from which agencies, and how to get them.

The city, state and federal government all have jurisdiction over the coastline and local landowners sometimes need sign-off on environmental compliance from all three levels of government before beginning normal city buildings permit processes.

"New York City has long been a global maritime hub for waterfront business owners and development, yet it has been a perennial challenge to navigate the complicated waterfront permit application process," said Maria Torres-Springer, president of the city's Economic Development Corp., in a statement. "This is largely because of the multiple layers of federal, state, and local entities with jurisdictional responsibility for waterfront construction permitting.”

More development. Less public access. NOW.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Developer making quite a mess in Court Square

"Hello Crapper.

The rockrose site at court square (just north of 44th drive and the Citibank building) has become something of a neighborhood safety and cleanliness disaster and no media outlets have covered it (why would they? no one wants to take on the all mighty Rockrose).

When the exterior panels of the building were installed, they were covered in temporary plastic wrap, which was then allowed to peel off and blow into the window and streets below.

There have been several 'falling debris' events at this building over the last 2-3 months. The fire department has shown up numerous times.

Just last week, I was told debris hit a car driving on 44th drive, resulting in a large emergency response (no injuries that I know of fortunately).

How long before some of this debris hits a bus? Many people wait on this street for the Q39 bus.

On Monday at 5:30, there was an accident of some sort where a construction worker was taken to the hospital - again, this drew a large fire department rescue response. I saw no mention of this incident in the news, and work continued at the site the next day as if nothing happened.

The street surrounding this Rockrose site is also a filthy mess. I've complained to 311 and Van Bramer, and of course nothing has happened. Department of Sanitation doesn't even regularly run a street sweeper past here.

I'm hoping if you post this maybe something will be done about this fiasco, since 311 and van do-nothing obviously do not care how many people get hurt so long as the campaign contributions keep rolling in.


NYPD handing out tickets for legal parking

From the Village Voice:

The NYPD has issued illegal parking summonses to thousands of New Yorkers over the past seven years, the department admitted on Friday, extracting as much as $12 million from drivers who had broken no laws, mostly in lower-income neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.

The $165 tickets were handed out to drivers who parked in front of pedestrian ramps at “T” intersections, a practice that has been perfectly legal since a rule change in 2009 designed to improve pedestrian safety and open up more parking.

The illegal tickets were discovered by Ben Wellington, a statistics professor in the City & Regional Planning program at the Pratt Institute. Wellington analyzed ticketing data publicly available through NYC Open Data, a city-run portal that disseminates datasets collected by a raft of city agencies — the site pumps out spreadsheets detailing everything from restaurant inspection results to the city’s most popular baby names. In this case Wellington, who also runs the well-known data blog IQuantNewYork, started crunching numbers earlier this year and found that the department’s mistake was widespread.

AirBnB fights to continue renting out illegal units

From the Daily News:

Airbnb is formally opposing a bill to ban the advertising of illegal units.

Airbnb and its supporters [traveled] to Albany Tuesday to lobby against the bill, which would prohibit advertising of home sharing in multi-family units in New York City for less than 30 days would carry fines of up to $7,500 for multiple violations.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) has support from developers and tenant activists.

Pigs bring rats

From NY1:

People are used to seeing rats, but not like this: dozens of them darting back and forth inside the gated section of Corona Plaza.

It's a popular hangout for residents and their children, but on Monday, the rats seemed excited to be here, too.

It's not uncommon to see rats in this community, but people were surprised to see them so brazenly out in the open.

The Parks Department referred the matter to the Department of Health, where a spokesperson said the problem would be addressed.

On Wednesday, there were inspectors and exterminators on hand for an emergency baiting.

The Health Department says it takes the infestation "very seriously." In a statement, the agency added, "In partnership with NYC Parks we have been baiting Corona Plaza regularly; the most recent baitings at this location were conducted on April 30, May 1 and yesterday."

It also said that workers would "continue to bait and monitor the area.

Some residents also want the city to crack down on people who litter.

"The people eat over here on the street. They throw inside," said one man who help plug up the holes.

"There are food vendors who shouldn't really be on the street because once they're done selling everything that they brought, they throw all the litter on the floor," San Martin said.

After NY1 reached out to the Sanitation Department, they told us they would send an officer to the area as well.

CB4 votes no on Queens Blvd bike lanes, mayor putting them in anyway

From the Times Ledger:

Mayor Bill de Blasio told officials at the city DOT Wednesday to ignore Community Board 4 and to include bike lanes when the $100 million reconstruction project for Queens Boulevard begins Phase Two in July. On Tuesday night, CB4 Chairman Louis Walker pushed a motion to vote on the plan without including the bike lanes and it passed by a 31-1 vote.

Following a DOT presentation of the plan, board members questioned the loss of 88 parking spots along the commercial to make way for the bike lanes, one questioned if there had been enough outreach to Elmhurst’s large immigrant community, and District Manager Christian Cassagnol pointed out that there had been “zero bicycle death” on the boulevard from 74th Strret to Eliot Avenue where Phase Two will be implemented.

That’s when Walker dropped his bombshell.

“I don’t think Queens Boulevard is necessarily the place for a bike lane. Put it on Woodside Avenue or Grand Avenue” he said. “This is not a park, this is a heavily traveled vehicular roadway.”

That set off a chaotic scene inside the ballroom of Italian Charities of America where the vote was held. Cycling and street safety advocates, who had been shouted down by board members all evening, erupted in anger as several members of the board who supported the bikes lane stormed out of the meeting. Some didn’t notice the vote taking place.

Less than a day later, the mayor put his foot down.

“I respect those who disagree with us, but in the end, the safety of our neighbors and our children is the most fundamental responsibility we have in this work,” de Blasio said. “Today, I have instructed the Department of Transportation to move forward on the next phase of safety enhancements to Queens Boulevard, including a protected lane for cyclists. Achieving Vision Zero means protecting the lives of everyone on our streets, whether they are walking, in a wheelchair, in a car or a bike. We are committed to ending the senseless loss of life on our streets, and there is no more potent symbol of that transformation than Queens Boulevard. Working together, we will close the book on the Boulevard of Death and make this roadway a Boulevard of Life.”

Why ask for a vote if the outcome doesn't matter? How are these lanes considered "protected" when there's nothing but some collapsible plastic bollards between the motorists and the cyclists?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's all about the revenue

From AM-NY:

Transit advocates and local politicians rallied on the steps of City Hall Monday in support of bringing more school-zone speed cameras to New York City.

“We should not have to worry about a child crossing a street. That shouldn’t be matter of life or death,” said Public Advocate Letitia James at the rally. “And we know what the answers are. We have solutions.”

Safe streets advocates are pushing for the state Assembly to pass the “Every School Speed Safety Camera Act,” which would allow the city to install thousands of additional cameras near schools.

Under current state law, the city can place a maximum of 140 speed cameras near schools. Those cameras must be located within a quarter mile of a school entrance. And they can only be operational during school days for 12 hours each day.

The new bill, introduced by Manhattan Assemblywoman Deborah Glick this April, would remove the restrictions on the number of cameras and those hours of operation in New York City.

JCOPE goes to court to force de Blasio to cooperate

From the Daily News:

The state’s top ethics enforcement agency went to court Monday to force Mayor de Blasio’s now-defunct Committee for One New York to cooperate with its probe, the Daily News has learned.

Attorneys for the Joint Commission on Public Ethics filed a motion in state Supreme Court in Albany seeking to have the nonprofit created to push de Blasio’s agenda comply with a “lawfully issued subpoena” seeking information about the group’s lobbying activities, a source with knowledge of the motion said. A JCOPE spokesman declined to comment.

The motion comes after an attorney for the nonprofit, Laurence Laufer, sent a scathing letter to JCOPE last week declaring that it would no longer cooperate with the investigation, calling it a “blatantly political exercise.”

Build It Back still hasn't built in Rockaway

From DNA Info:

In a sign that his administration meant business, the city moved roughly 150 families in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island out of their homes in the weeks before the Oct. 29 anniversary so the homes could be elevated. City contractors put up fences around the houses in preparation for expedited work.

But most of those homes have since sat untouched for months, according to homeowners and sources involved in the Build It Back program.

“We forced people out of their homes just to get fences up and make it look like there was construction going on,” one source within the program said last month. “We were not even close. Only now is construction beginning. It was all a lie.”

The source and others said the mayor’s push last fall was all about optics and boosting Build It Back’s numbers — even though, at the time, the city hadn’t approved permits for the work and its contractors weren’t ready.

Homeowners who were moved out told DNAinfo New York that the Build It Back program hasn’t improved under de Blasio. Many said they had difficulty getting in touch with program representatives. Others said they waited months to be reimbursed for rent while they were out of their homes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Streetcar a developer's fantasy

From Patch:

City officials held a public “visioning session” on the proposed Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar in Astoria Monday night — the first of what they promised would be many outreach efforts to gather feedback on the $2.5 billion proposal.

Bus lanes might be cheaper to implement, the head of the EDC said, but a streetcar could carry twice as many passengers — a critical perk for a system that would transport an estimated 50,000 riders on weekdays.

Torres-Spring also argued a rail system would increase property values along its route. This, she said, would allow the city to fund the BQX using a cut of rising property values along the rail line.

[AHA! I think we're on to something here.]

Also present at the meeting was Ya-Ting Liu, recently named executive director of Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector. Liu's organization was behind the project’s first feasibility study, and is currently advocating for its construction.

While developers like Two Trees are well-represented in the Friends group, Liu noted that many non-developers are also members — including Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, and Thomas Wright, president of the Regional Plan Association think tank.

[Oh, you mean reps of groups funded by developers?]