Tuesday, February 28, 2017

40 hotels in Queens serve as shelters

From NY1:

The mayor is expected to unveil his homelessness plan on Tuesday. But before that, the city gave NY1 data revealing where all of the city's homeless shelters are located and which neighborhoods are more burdened than others.

Queens is a hotbed of hotels turned into homeless shelters.

For the first time, thanks to a Freedom of Information Law request, NY1 is getting a look at where all of the approximately 650 sites that house the homeless actually are.

We uncovered most of the hotels are in Queens.

And de Blasio's solution? Build 90 more permanent shelters throughout the city so his wealthy friends can continue to get rich off poor people's misery. We wouldn't want to actually reduce the number of homeless, now.

"Don't hurt my re-election chances" - de Blasio

From the Wall Street Journal:

In the wake of the presidential election last fall, lawyers for Mr. de Blasio expressed concerns to federal prosecutors about the lengthy nature of their probe and its potential proximity to the mayoral election cycle, requesting that, if possible, prosecutors bring any charges in coming weeks, so the investigation wouldn’t linger into the year of his re-election bid, according to people familiar with the matter.

As part of that effort, Mr. de Blasio’s lawyers urged prosecutors to question the mayor and any relevant aides as soon as possible, these people said.

A spokesman for Mr. Bharara declined to comment.

The probe, of course, has stretched well into Mr. de Blasio’s re-election year, and threatens to extend into campaign season. While public-corruption prosecutors often are mindful that their work may be seen as politicized, many are particularly sensitive to how their decisions might be viewed after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey endured criticism last year for taking public actions concerning the FBI’s investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton days before the November election, people familiar with the office said.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office takes into consideration the electoral context of any investigations and possible charges, said Daniel Stein, who was the office’s chief of the criminal division until November 2016, speaking generally about the office’s practices.

“Prosecutors would not bring a case, or close an investigation, before it makes sense to do so,” Mr. Stein said. “But where they can, prosecutors will try to do their work in a way that does not allow an investigation to cloud a candidate or unfairly affect a campaign.”

Around City Hall, some have suggested that if federal prosecutors decide against charging the mayor or any of his aides or allies, they should say so publicly. Such pronouncements, however, are rare.

Slow is the progress at the Lefferts Blvd station

Good morning,

In light of Andy Cuomo's decision to cut funding to the MTA I posted recent pictures on the super slow progress on the renovation and rebuilding of the Lefferts station.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Ciafone throws BdB under the bus

From the Daily News:

Directly hit up for big-dollar donations by Mayor de Blasio and his associates, the owner of a movie and TV production services company complied for fear that her business would be crippled if she failed to raise money for the mayor’s causes, her husband told the Daily News.

“There was never a threat or anything, but if your boss says you gotta do it, you gotta play ball,” lawyer John Ciafone said of his wife Gina Argento, the power behind Broadway Stages in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

“He’s asked her (for money) and then his minions asked her and Broadway Stages.”

The requests paid off — Argento raised $167,000 for the mayor and his causes, including writing four checks totaling $70,000 from herself and her companies.

“Here’s their concern, which is why they have to play the game of giving,” he said of Broadway Stages. “In the film industry, you have to take over parking on the block for the filming. At different times it was difficult to film because the mayor’s office would arbitrarily issue hot spots.”

He described the “hot spots” as areas “where you can’t film in that area.”

“They get complaints, they say ‘We’ve been oversaturated with complaints. We want a freeze.’ That was done in Long Island City, parts of Brooklyn, Greenpoint. Specifically Broadway Stages, they were given hot spots right outside of where they’re located. They had hot spots right outside their building. No explanation. It’s their discretion. It is what it is,” he said.

Ciafone said if the mayor’s office denied a permit, there was no recourse.

“There’s not much you can do about it. It’s up to the discretion of the mayor's office of film where they’re going to instill those hot spots,” he said. “For TV or movie productions, it can be devastating. Suppose you’re filming and you want the flavor of a brownstone neighborhood or you want the flavor of New York City skyscrapers?”

And then there's the stop work order that de Blasio allegedly had lifted for another of his donor pals.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Let's thank film studios for gentrifying Astoria & LIC

From Crains:

"Studio pioneers, like Silvercup and Kaufman Astoria, clearly provided the impetus to make this area the hub of New York productions," said Matt Dienstag, co-owner of LeNoble. "It's the New York production version of Field of Dreams: They built it and we came."

Today, spurred by a boom in film and TV production, Kaufman Astoria and Silvercup studios have upped their investments in once-forlorn areas of western Queens that have helped attract small businesses, restaurants and arts groups making the neighborhoods more attractive residential destinations. Their influence, combined with the city's rezoning efforts, are causing the communities to be transformed by an influx of young couples and families.

"This neighborhood used to be full of vandalized buildings," said Hal Rosenbluth, president of Kaufman Astoria. "Our goal wasn't just to build a movie studio. It was to revitalize a neighborhood using the studio as a base."

In early February the first Queens branch of the popular Australian café Toby's Estate Coffee opened on Jackson Avenue, a few blocks from Silvercup. And Eleni Goros opened a café called Sweet Scene near Kaufman Astoria in August.

"The studio being here is obviously a huge plus," she said. "There has been a much younger crowd moving into the neighborhood and young families as well."

Those families have been attracted to the area by a seismic change in the residential market that also has benefited the studios. Over the past decade rising real estate prices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have funneled renters, buyers and developers to Long Island City, part of which was rezoned in 2001 to allow for massive apartment towers that could be built more cheaply there than elsewhere.

And built they were. Since 2007 around 11,000 units have been constructed, and 24,000 more are on the way. Astoria's relative cheapness and proximity to Midtown also has made it attractive to residents priced out of other neighborhoods.

Because of all the activity, real estate prices are skyrocketing. The average price per square foot of residential space in the part of Astoria around Kaufman has jumped roughly 35% to $1,050 in the past two years, according to Eric Benaim, chief executive of Modern Spaces, a real estate brokerage and marketer specializing in Long Island City and Astoria. In the Court Square area near Silvercup, the average rent has increased to around $1,300 per square foot from about $1,000 two years ago.

Interesting timing - Rivington house figure fired right after Preet meet

From the Daily News:

The city official who approved lifting deed restrictions that allowed a Lower East Side nursing home to be flipped for luxury condos has been fired.

Ricardo Morales, a deputy commissioner at the Citywide Department of Administrative Services, was let go on Friday — hours after Mayor de Blasio’s highly anticipated sit-down with federal prosecutors, his attorney confirmed Saturday.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the firing.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating the Rivington deal as part of a broader investigation into whether de Blasio’s administration gave special favors to donors.

Guy Oksenhendler, an attorney for Morales, said he found the dismissal — in the context of the day’s events — to be highly problematic. “I find the timing of my client’s firing extremely suspicious,” he said. “Around the time that meeting would have concluded, my client was terminated.”

Oksenhendler added that he believes Morales was targeted by the mayor himself.

Locals concerned about Kosciuszko Bridge implosion

From NY1:

"We look forward to the opening of our new bridge, but we got to make sure that the air quality, and the quality for our communities — again as the borough president said — is our first concern," said Tommy Torres, the district leader, of the 53rd Assembly District.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced last week plans to blow up the old span this summer, after the first phase of the new Kosciuszko opens in the spring.

The controlled implosion is supposed to speed up construction of the second phase by at least seven months.

"We want to save our waterways, we want to save the air quality in this community," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said at a Greenpoint press conference. "We don't want to take the giant steps forward that we have taken just to take three steps back."

Local groups say they also are upset because they heard about the demolition plan through the media, and had no input.

"We've enjoyed a pretty transparent relationship with New York State DOT [department of transportation]," said local activist Laura Hoffman. "And we just don't want that ruined."

"I sit on the area board for the Kosciusko Bridge. I've sat on that board for the past five years," said Gerald Esposito of Brooklyn Community Board 1. "There was no mention of implosion or explosion or any other form of dynamiting the structure."

"If a significant decision is being made about an explosion, the community should be consulted," said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who represents parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Calamus calamity

From QNS:

Maspeth and Woodside residents have been angered over months of delays in the reconstruction of sewers under Calamus Avenue and 69th Street — and they were even more upset on Thursday night, when they learned the project’s completion is still 15 months away.

Nearly 50 concerned residents of the effected neighborhoods filled the parish hall of St. Mary’s of Winfield on Thursday night to hear why the Calamus Avenue Sewer Project — which has left Calamus Avenue and the surrounding areas a virtual mine field of potholes and craters, detoured the Q47 bus for nearly three years, and been a headache for anyone trying to commute in the area — has yet to move forward.

Ali Mallick, assistant commissioner for the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) North Queens Construction, clarified what documents weren’t accurate and why that was such a major problem for the project. The delays have pushed back the projected completion of the project to May of 2018.

“When I took over about a year ago, I found out that this project was dead, nothing was happening on the project,” Mallick said. “And there were problems with the design due to some unforeseen conditions in the ground because the drawings that we had did not match what was in the ground, so we had to do a major redesign with the work.”

Understanding the communities’ frustrations, Mallick and the DDC are looking at ways to work with the contractor to have the workers expand their work day and even work on some weekends to hopefully expedite the construction process and get the job done before the end of this year.

Other members of the DDC, Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Department of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were on hand to listen and respond to the residents’ concerns.

Noticeably absent from the meeting was a representative from the MTA. Several of the local elected officials reached out to the MTA, alerting them of the meeting and asking them to send a representative.

De Blasio releases emails after Preet meeting

From NY1:

Shortly after Mayor Bill de Blasio met with the U.S. Attorney's office Friday morning, City Hall released a trove of documents concerning communications between the de Blasio administration and outside advisors, known as the "Agents of the City." NY1's Bobby Cuza dug through the documents and filed the following report on what he found.

On what turned out to be a bad news day for the mayor, one where reporters were busy reporting on his meeting with federal investigators, City Hall decided it was a good time to dump some documents — about 1,600 pages in all, including correspondence between the mayor's team and a handful of outside advisors.

One email shows the mayor's team meeting at [Jonathan] Rosen's firm.

Another outside advisor, John del Cecato, is told in one email that the mayor "would like to start talking to you daily."

And a third agent of the city, Nick Baldick, told that the mayor wants to get in touch, wrote, "He usually calls my cell."

But it's del Cecato who seems closest to the inner circle. De Blasio himself tells his scheduler, "Chirlane and I need a call with him scheduled for this weekend."

And in many cases, including many emails from the mayor himself, huge portions are redacted to the point where multiple pages are completely blacked out.

A new approach to big development?

From Crains:

Neighborhood groups would get an earlier jump on city development plans under a proposal being advanced by Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who organized a Friday convening of about 100 planners, housing group leaders, community board members and others.

The Bushwick councilman and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer want to build in a community engagement process before the city's formal land-use review process to give the public a stronger hand in determining the details of local real estate projects. Such a change would require a modification of the City Charter, Reynoso said.

This would give neighborhoods a chance to account for new infrastructure needs, according to the borough president.

"The old model, wherein there's no pre-discussion, ends with community stakeholders just chipping away at the impacts of a project or worse, accepting concessions that have little to do with the project's impact. That's why we need to be smart and start early," she said.

Meeting attendees decried what they consider superficial community engagement processes and the city's project-by-project approach to development.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Today's the day

From CBS 2:

Mayor Bill de Blasio will be questioned by federal prosecutors and the FBI on Friday, CBS2 has confirmed.

CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer confirmed through multiple sources Thursday night that de Blasio will be interviewed about the fundraising scandal that has swirled around the Mayor’s office for nearly a year.

The meeting will take place at the office of de Blasio’s attorney, Barry H. Berke of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel, Kramer confirmed.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, sources said de Blasio’s team has agreed to meet with prosecutors for four hours tomorrow to answer questions.

CBS2 is told the interview was set originally set for two weeks ago, but was postponed until Friday.

Queens realtors opposed to mansion tax

From the Queens Chronicle:

Some Queens realtors are not supportive of Mayor de Blasio’s proposed mansion tax, a policy City Hall is once again pushing that would create a 2.5 percent marginal surcharge on residences that sell for more than $2 million.

The mayor has said that the tax would raise more than $330 million in revenue yearly to fund rent subsidies for 25,000 low-income seniors. It would be a marginal surcharge paid by the buyer that would add to the existing 1 percent fee on sales reaching $1 million or above. Unlike the 1 percent tax, it would only be applied to the value over $2 million. (For example, a $3 million sale would have a $25,000 tax under de Blasio’s proposal in addition to the $30,000 required by the 1 percent tax.)

Long Island Board of Realtors President David Legaz called the mayor’s intention to fund low-income senior housing “laudable” but said that the cost should be borne “equally among New York City citizens.”

According to de Blasio spokeswoman Melissa Grace, the average price of a residence reaching the proposal’s threshold is $4.5 million.

“At a time when many of those buyers are likely to receive a significant federal tax cut, we believe it’s urgent they contribute more to help seniors in need,” she said.

Eight percent of New York City sales between 2014 and 2016 exceeded the proposed tax’s threshold, according to a report last week from the Independent Budget Office.
Most places that pricey are in Manhattan, although several Queens neighborhoods had sales north of $2 million last year: Forest Hills Gardens, Douglaston, Whitestone, Flushing and Astoria.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gov's gonna blow up the bridge

From CBS 2:

Cuomo met with the team building the new Kosciuszko Bridge, an outdated 78-year-old span that gives new meaning to the term traffic tie-ups. Yet as the $555 million first phase nears completion, the Governor tells CBS2 that blowing up parts of the bridge is exactly what he’s going to do at some point this summer.

The governor says the demolition will save seven to nine months.

When the project is completed in 2020, it will actually be two bridges connecting Brooklyn and Queens — one in each direction. Luckily for commuters, their relief comes in April because when the first bridge is done, traffic will be rerouted and the old bridge will go up in smoke.

50-unit building planned for Woodside

From Sunnyside Post:

A local developer is looking to put up a new building in Woodside that will include nearly 50 residential units as well as a supermarket, daycare facility, and other commercial spaces.

According to a permit filed with the building department last week, Queens-based developer Cheung Kiu plans to build a four-story, 64,472 square foot building at 31-19 56th Street in Woodside.

The plans show that the development would have 40,099 square feet of residential space, 18,711 square feet of commercial space, and 5,662 square feet of community space, with 47 apartments on the upper floors and retail and offices on the lower levels.

Kiu plans to build an attended below ground parking garage with 68 spots on the site, according to the plans.

Well, I don't think that drawing quite depicts a 50-unit building but what do I know?

You've been warned!

From the Daily News:

Airbnb hosts and their neighbors are about to get an education in New York’s new law cracking down on the advertising of illegal short-term rentals.

Share Better, an anti-Airbnb coalition that includes politicians and the hotel industry, is launching a new ad campaign and website Tuesday warning about the new law and the costs of violating it.

Ads will also encourage neighbors who suspect illegal rentals in their building to alert the city.

“AIRBNB HOSTS: KNOW THE LAW,” the headline on one ad reads. “YOU COULD FACE FINES UP TO $7,500 & EVICTION.”

Another ad reads: “If your neighbor is renting an entire apartment for less than 30 days, they are BREAKING THE LAW.”

The ads will run on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other websites.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

De Blasio wanted to keep gang member

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio lashed out Tuesday at Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials after their agents scooped up a 19-year-old Salvadoran immigrant in Queens.

ICE officials issued a detainer order to the city Department of Correction in May, telling them to place a federal hold on Velasquez. But the city released Velasquez from Rikers Island on Thursday after he served nearly five months for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

Later that day, ICE agents busted Velasquez, whom they described as a gang member and a potential threat to public safety. Velasquez was in the midst of being deported late Tuesday.

De Blasio cried foul.

“The detainee was released after he pled guilty and served his time for an offense that does not qualify as a violent or serious felony under the city’s local laws,” said Rosemary Boeglin, a mayoral spokeswoman.

ICE officials said Velasquez admitted to agents he was a member of the MS-13 gang. He was one of at least 41 people the agency detained around the city in the last month.

Velasquez entered the U.S. illegally, ICE officials said. And in November 2015, a judge ordered he be deported. His criminal history in the U.S. includes reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, and disorderly conduct, ICE officials said.

Mayoral candidate makes some good points

From CBS 2:

“How can de Blasio think it’s okay to go into debt with a law firm that frequently does business with the city?” mayoral candidate Paul Massey said. “No ordinary person can get legal services with no plan to pay for them.”

Massey wants to unseat de Blasio — he has the independent party endorsement and is seeking the Republican Party line as well. He sent letters to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and US Attorney Preet Bharara demanding an investigation into the mayor’s dealings, questioning whether the legal defense fund violates criminal law, the city charter, or ethics laws.

“Mayor de Blasio often likes to say that we’re living in a tale of two cities,” Massey said. “He’s right, he believes there’s one set of rules for Bill de Blasio and one set for everybody else.”

A subdivision that should be a crime

"This is the property that is adjacent to the 4 properties developed by Tommy Huang’s son in Weeks Woodland. They’re selling it as two subdivided plots of land - one will have to destroy the house and the other will have to dig up the swimming pool? Anyway it’s such a shame it’s being sold like this!

ML# 2914967 and ML# 2914969" - anonymous

Steinway Mansion has gotten a new roof

Courtesy of George the Atheist

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

If you can't tax them, ban them

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio said he's "very open" to banning plastic bags outright after the state legislature and Gov. Cuomo blocked a city law to impose a five cent fee on the bags.

Albany intervened to stop the city for at least a year from requiring stores to charge five cents for plastic and paper bags. City pols say they wanted to encourage shoppers to ditch the environmentally harmful bags for reusable ones.

"That was one way of doing it. A ban is another option, which I'd be very open to," de Blasio said Monday night on NY1. "The one thing I know is the worst possible outcome is what we have right now. Vast number of plastic bags are just harming the earth. It's not good for any of us."

Are DOT's plaza projects misguided?

From QNS:

Local businesses in Ridgewood are feeling the pain during a months-long project to make the 71st Avenue Plaza a permanent site.

Much like their Glendale counterparts — who are facing plaza construction issues of their own — several businesses that abut the ongoing construction site along Myrtle Avenue are seeing a decrease in customers, and in turn, a decrease in profits.

Although businesses are hurting right now, Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), asks business owners to look at the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

“Once the sewer project is complete, then work will be going on in the plaza itself,” Renz said. “Vincent Arcuri (chair of Community Board 5) and I met with the contractor with DDC (Department of Design and Construction) on [Feb. 16] and he expects the sewer project, with the big gray sewer connections, to be completed in three weeks. Then work will be commencing in the plaza itself and the visibility will be greatly improved.”

Renz also mentioned that once construction is completed — scheduled for September of this year, according to the contract — that the new permanent plaza will be a major boon to the same businesses that are suffering right now.

Defective cables cause frightening explosions

From CBS 2:

A series of manhole explosions rocked a Queens neighborhood Monday, damaging several cars parked cars and leaving dozens without power.

Just before 11 p.m., an electrical fire shot blue flames out of a manhole on Queens Boulevard between 67th and 68th avenues in Forest Hills.

Some people who live nearby captured one of the blasts on video. In a matter of minutes, two more explosions sent smoke billowing into the air.

Con Edison officials told CBS2 the blasts were caused by defective cables underground.

“Then all of a sudden I saw huge pieces, I couldn’t tell if they were — if they were metal or concrete, but I saw three huge pieces fly,” said Ben Benyamin.

That airborne debris landed on parked cars, cracking windshields and crushing hoods. It took the FDNY nearly two hours to extinguish the raging flames underground.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bronx parking garage collapses

From CBS 2:

Dozens of cars were damaged when a parking garage in the Bronx suddenly collapsed on Sunday morning.

Collapsed concrete crushed cars inside a two-story parking garage, with the wheels of one vehicle clearly visible coming down through the roof of 3000 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.

Firefighters got the call just after 6 a.m. Sunday when part of the second story loaded with cars came crashing down on vehicles below.

One employee was inside at the time, but wasn’t injured.

The Department of Buildings ordered the structure to be vacated and issued the owner a violation for failing to properly maintain the building.

De Blasio jobs prediction is full of crap

From the Observer:

Nearly everyone noticed the lack of detail in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City proposal to create 100,000 “good-paying jobs”—and it appears that’s because it’s simply an extension of what the city’s mayoral-controlled Economic Development Corporation has done for the past 15 years.

The jobs proposal was the centerpiece of the State of the City address de Blasio delivered at the Apollo Theater in Harlem last Monday night. De Blasio vowed his policies would produce 100,000 positions over 10 years in a variety of sectors throughout the city, with salaries ranging anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 a year or more.

The mayor promised work in film and TV, technology, life sciences and “advanced manufacturing,” though declined to offer much in the way of an explanation of how the city would generate these jobs.

“This new addition, this new focus on creating more and more good-paying jobs, this will be the new frontline in keeping New York City affordable,” he said.

For the mayor’s emphasis on what a “new” and ambitious undertaking this is, a 2016 report from the New York City Industrial Development Agency, a public benefit corporation that the EDC runs, credited its combination of tax incentives and bond financing with the creation and preservation of approximately 146,000 jobs since 2002. That would average roughly 10,428 jobs a year.

This would suggest that the mayor’s plan for 100,000 jobs between Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal Year 2028 is merely a projection of a pattern of growth the IDA and EDC established over the past decade and a half.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Brooklyn house hole

Just wanted to point out that a construction fence around the side yard is not very effective for a house demolition...

Not sure what happened here; an application for mechanical demo was approved in 2014, yet this is what the building looks like today, vacate order and all. They want to replace it with an 8-unit building.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Stink trains also a problem in Bayside

From the Queens Chronicle:

Sleeping while engines idle at the Long Island Rail Road’s yard in Bayside between 215th and 220th streets is not easy, some say.

“Our lives continue to be gravely affected by the Long Island Rail Road’s work yard, construction site junkyard and dump site,” neighborhood resident James Lollo said at last week’s Community Board 11 meeting.

“The stench” is so bad, he said, that it results in “eyes and sinuses irritated [and] throats sore.”

Lollo added that the LIRR officials responsible for the yard should be ashamed of themselves.

“I don’t know how they’re able to sleep at night,” he said.

Another Bayside resident irked by the idling engines also complained at the meeting.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) sent a letter to LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski two days after the meeting calling his attention to the matter.

“Residents state that diesel trains are left idling for hours during the day and evening hours sometimes until 1:00 a.m.,” the lawmaker wrote. “This has caused several environmental concerns for residents who state that the noise is unbearable and they are unable to open their windows due to the fumes that come from trains idling in the yard.”

The MTA’s LIRR press office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Push continues to legalize basement apartments

From Crains:

There are up to 210,000 basements and cellars across the city that could potentially be converted into legal apartments—enough to move the needle on the city’s housing crisis without pouring a single new building foundation.

But the legalization process is fraught with political and technical pitfalls, which is why a study released Thursday suggests that the de Blasio administration should start with a pilot program to capture the lowest hanging fruit: the roughly 38,000 basements in single-family homes that could be converted without any major changes to city or state law.

Trouble is, an interactive map provided along with the study shows that there is no ideal place to launch the pilot. While the simplest conversions can be found in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx—neighborhoods where homeowners would not be legally required to provide an additional parking space for each additional housing unit—these areas are not flush with suitable basements.

Far more potential exists in Staten Island, southeast Brooklyn, Queens and the eastern portion of the Bronx. These are also areas with high rates of foreclosure, suggesting that homeowners there would benefit from supplemental rental income. The only catch? By law, adding an apartment to a single-family home in many of these areas would require the creation of an additional parking space, posing significant economic and logistical challenges.

The study suggests finding a community that both supports the concept and has the inventory of basements, and calls on the city to provide homeowners with financial incentives, a list of knowledgeable contractors, expedited permits and waivers or modifications for certain building regulations that could be changed without city or state approval.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Addresses will soon need to be posted

From Crains:

Believe it or not, there is no law requiring New York City landlords to post an address near each building entrance. That is set to change today, 13 years after the bill first came before the City Council.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer first penned the legislation in 2004 to help ensure that firefighters and police were not delayed in responding to emergencies due to unmarked buildings—of which there are many. A 2010 study found that nearly half of all buildings along several Manhattan commercial corridors did not have a building number visible from the street.

"For years, New York City's streets have been like something out of a Harry Potter book, with storefronts and whole buildings that are only easy to find if you already know where they are," Brewer said in a statement announcing the bill, which was expected to pass the council Wednesday before heading to the desk of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Current regulations require building owners to post an address only at the front entrance—which has complicated efforts by first responders.

The new law, which was introduced by City Councilman Jumaane Williams, requires an address to be posted at any doorway used by pedestrians, and it increases the initial fine to $250 from $25. If a required address is not posted within 30 days, a $50 fine would accrue for each day afterward.

Troopers giving tickets out left and right

From NY1:

We've obtained the numbers, and they are astounding. State troopers write an average of 50 tickets a year in the city. But already this year, they've written more than 3,000 tickets.

Police who work for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority — part of the MTA — a state agency, have written another 2,200 tickets since January 1.

Many of the tickets are for toll evasion, but drivers complain they are also being cited for violations like broken tail lights.

The ticket blitz follows Governor Cuomo's said state troopers would be posted at TBTA bridges and tunnels to help with the transition to cashless tolls, and to help the city with counterterrorism efforts.

Some questions answered about Fresh Meadows mystery hotel

From the Times Ledger:

Since a permit was given to build a hotel at 186th Street and 64th Avenue in Fresh Meadows about three years ago, there has been no contact with the owners of the hotel.

Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association President Jim Gallagher had been told that the hotel would be used by transient Chinese students. This sparse information did not satisfy the local civic associations.

They were concerned that the owners of the hotel would use it for homeless families as has been done in other areas of Queens.

A regular hotel is definitely not the place for homeless families and other challenged homeless people.

The Liquor License Committee meeting was held on Jan. 10 at the Community Board 8 office. We learned that the Mayflower International Hotel Group owned the hotel and it is a Wyndham franchise and wanted to legalize a liquor bar on the main floor.

Since this was a hearing only for a liquor license, the civic leaders had to carefully phrase their questions to obtain some of this information.

The manager of the Mayflower Hotel, Blossom Ho, answered all questions from the committee and at a quick gathering which the leaders of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, the Utopia Estates Civic Association, the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, and the Meadowlark Tenants Association had with her after the hearing ended.

Ho explained that the hotel planned to serve families of local college students, businessmen visiting companies, tourists and the guests of people who were having events like weddings at nearby places. She did not know anything about the information that we had been given years ago that the hotel would be used for transient Chinese students.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Yet another hotel used for homeless

From the Queens Chronicle:

The Department of Homeless Services recently moved dozens of homeless families into the Comfort Inn in Ozone Park — and a nearby resident says the area has become a hotspot for illicit activity.

“It’s filthy there,” said Dominic, a resident who lives nearby. “There’s food just laying on the windowsills all the time ... people smoking marijuana outside.”

It’s unclear when the families were moved to the hotel, located at 137-30 Redding St., a short distance from PS/MS 202.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Park) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) condemned the use of the hotel as a homeless shelter in a joint statement issued Tuesday.

Dominic said in addition to people smoking marijuana, he’s spotted people he believes to be living in the hotel engaging in sexual activity.

He’s not the only one to report such acts, as other residents have reported them to area politicians.

Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rat pee is killing people

From Fox News:

A rare bacterial disease linked to rats — and normally only seen in animals — has killed one person in The Bronx and left two others fighting for their lives, city officials reported Tuesday.

The three cases of leptospirosis were identified in a one block radius of the Concourse section of the Bronx over the past two months, the Health Department said.

“Human leptospirosis cases are very rare in New York City,” explained Demetre Daskalakis, acting deputy commissioner of the Health Department.

“This is the first time a cluster of cases has been identified,” he said. “All three cases had severe illness and were hospitalized with acute renal [kidney]and hepatic [liver] failure. Two cases developed pulmonary hemorrhage and one died as a result of infection.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's skunk seems oddly appropriate

From NBC:

Pepe the Love Skunk will spend this Valentine's Day in a safe, secluded part of Forest Park in Queens after he made a surprise appearance at a greenhouse, according to NYC Parks Rangers.

The skunk, affectionately named for the famous cartoon character, was captured in the Forest Park Greenhouse in Queens on Tuesday.

Parks wildlife experts said that the skunk is in good health and has been humanely relocated elsewhere in the park.

De Blasio redeveloping Bush Terminal

From DNA Info:

The city will spend $136 million to renovate two rundown buildings at Bush Terminal, creating a campus where textiles will be created, movie and television shows filmed and food manufactured.

The plan, which Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed as part of his 2017 State of the City speech Monday, is expected to create a 100,000 square foot film and television production studio and 200,000 square foot garment production space that will support 1,800 permanent and good-paying jobs.

The project, called the Made in NY campus, is part of de Blasio's pledge to create 40,000 jobs that pay $50,000 and up over the next four years, and to eventually create 100,000 such jobs over the next decade to help New Yorkers struggling to afford one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

The mayor, who is running for re-election this year, has pegged the plan as the natural extension of his affordable housing plan.

"Folks got used to struggling just to get by. We want something better for people," said de Blasio.

Details on where the 40,000 jobs will come from are still sketchy.

And who will run this? And creating jobs is great, so long as you aren't importing the employees from elsehwere. Then it defeats the purpose.

Aluminaire House is west coast bound

From the NY Post:

The Aluminaire House, a 1,200-square-foot structure billed as the first all-metal home built in the United States, has been called one of “the pivotal works of modern architecture in America” by respected critic Paul Goldberger.

The 1931 masterpiece was even highlighted in a MoMA exhibit on modern architecture.

It also may be the most hated house in New York.

After rankling a Queens historic district, the aluminum building has languished inside a storage facility since 2012. Before that, it had been subjected to vandals on Long Island.

And so, on Wednesday, the house’s disassembled panels, pipes and beams began a 2,800-mile trek from Ronkonkoma to Palm Springs, Calif., inside a 45-foot-long trailer at a cost of $15,000.

The desert resort city, some 100 miles from downtown Los Angeles and celebrated for its stock of modern properties, will become its new permanent home. The city plans to reassemble it in a planned park and open it to the public in 2018.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Crappy building materials can't withstand wind

From DNA Info:

Strong winds tore pieces of the facade off a luxury building that opened to renters just three years ago on Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street on Monday afternoon, the FDNY said.

Several FDNY companies responded to a 2:56 p.m. report of "Styrofoam-like debris" raining down from 278 Sixth St., which is right next door to FDNY Engine Company 239's firehouse, an FDNY spokesman said.

In addition, a Fresh Meadows gas station collapsed and trees came down:

Illegal truck parking causes a hazard in South Ozone Park

"Look how dangerous this is. Trucks obstructing drivers views of traffic coming west on busy south conduit ave, the trucks are here daily and sometimes don't move for days. Their are about three of them, they also parked on the south conduit intersection and block fire hydrants, NYPD reported no evidence of a violation in regards to my 311 complaints. Address for this location is 125-20 125th street and south conduit."
"Another complaint i did Saturday night at 9pm, I put commercial overnight parking is prohibited on city streets from 9pm to 5am and officer Clarke waited till 5:00 on the dot Sunday morning to respond to the complaint, done it purposely too." - anonymous

Happy Valentine's Day from Tommy Huang

From today's BSA calendar:

Akerman Senterfitt, LLP
39-39 223rd Street & 223-01/15/19 Mia Drive, Queens
Variance (§72-21) to legalize four single family homes which do not comply with the rear yard requirements, ZR §23-47. R1-2 zoning district. Community Board #11Q

You can read the entire backstory on these houses here.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Gianaris behind protests of IDC members

I had to laugh when I saw this. Avella just got re-elected by a gigantic margin after being in the IDC for 2 years and there were zero protests before the election. His constituents seem to be content with his decision. But Gianaris got some heat recently for tweeding, so this is the reaction.

Stay safe out there!

From PIX11:

A wind advisory is in effect throughout the tri-state area, where wind gusts could reach up to 50 miles per hour or higher and cause power outages Monday.

Winds blowing down limbs, trees and power lines are among the chief of concerns listed in the advisory, as well as isolated power outages. These winds will also make driving difficult, and light-weight outdoor objects such as patio furniture should be properly secured.

The New York City Department of Buildings issued a warning to builders, contractors, crane operators and property owners to secure their construction sites, buildings and equipment due to the high-powered winds. They will performing spot-check inspections of construction sites around the city. If sites are not secured, the department will issue violations and stop work orders.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Bank lobby is home to homeless

"The homeless are now banking at Carver Saving Bank to shelter them from the coldness. This is yet another health hazard in the black neighbourhood. Blacks face all sorts of suffering at the hands of black political bandits, aka political leaders.

They ignore every form of suffering perpetrated against black people. Now homeless occupants are using the ATM area as their quarters at nights; when the bank is closed. After, hearing much complaints, I tried using the ATM myself last week. The bank is located at 159-02 Archer Avenue, Jamaica Queens, near the e-train station.

The experience was stink and scary; two homeless persons were present. One was wrapped in a blanket; with his or her back turned away from the ATM. The other was sitting up straight with his head covered. His eyes were darting, then staring directly at me. The atmosphere was shitty."

"The quality-of-life abuse seems to be non-stop. Hopefully, these political bandits would come to a tragic end; by means of prison or what ever else; they are useless. Yes, Blacks live in hell. Keep wondering why Trump is our president?

Depression and unemployment in the black neighbourhood are at an all time high. Yet, Borough President, Katz claims that she is building on her success. Sadly, blacks cannot count on black leaders; who have recluse them self from the plight. Worst yet, the Blacks keep voting for the public bandits.

I called Carver today at (718)230-2900. After a few transfers; I spoke to Mr. Williams/ manager. He said that he will contact the appropriate person to resolve the problem. I asked him to please remove the homeless encampment. It is unsafe and unhealthy."

P. Hazel: Social Media Journalist for Justice.

P. S : Let's see if I have to resort to twitter.

Giving low income tenants a right to counsel

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio and the City Council will announce a new initiative Sunday giving low-income tenants in housing court access to an attorney, according to sources.

Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan), among others, has been fighting for a so-called “Right to Counsel” bill that would provide New Yorkers facing eviction with legal representation since 2014.

The movement hopes to lessen the chances that those unable to afford an attorney will end up in the homeless shelter system.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Developer decides not to build huge project on restaurant row

From DNA Info:

The owner of a Forest Hills building housing several restaurants on the neighborhood's “Restaurant Row” has halted his controversial plan to replace it with a new 12-story mixed-use development, according to his lawyer.

The plan, which would have replaced the current 1-story complex at 107-18 70th Road that is home to several popular restaurants, including The Grill, Cabana and MoCA Asian Cafe, sparked numerous protests among locals and business owners including an online petition on Change.org started last year.

Adam Rothkrug, an attorney for the developer, confirmed on Friday through his secretary that “he is not proceeding with the application at the present time.”

Several restaurant owners said that they were recently told by the developer that he decided to halt the project because of the strong community opposition to the plan.

DOT work causes flooding

From the Queens Chronicle:

When Michael Hannibal and his wife paid for the reconstruction of their driveway along with the curb and sidewalk in front of their house to stop rain from getting into their basement, they didn’t expect a bureaucratic nightmare to follow.

According to the homeowner, the DOT raised the height of Eton Street in Jamaica Estates, where their house is, as part of a citywide resurfacing and milling initiative in July 2015, the year after the reconstruction. With the street in places above the curb, the agency effectively undid the fix. Their work also created a parking problem: Without the curb high enough above the road, a car parking on the street in front of Hannibal’s home will easily go onto the curb.

Hannibal and his wife filed a formal complaint with the agency that month “with the understanding that the Queens Borough Commissioner and Operational Unit would provide recommendations by August 20,” according to the homeowner.

He is a member of Community Board 8, and he worked with the board and the office of Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) to communicate with the DOT, emails show.

DOT official Richard Gippetti visited the site and said that it would be resolved, but did not follow up with the homeowner, Hannibal said.

In August 2015, the Queens Street Maintenance team found that no damage was done to the curb by city work; Hannibal was informed of their inspection last September.

After the office of City Comptroller Scott Stringer disallowed Hannibal’s claim and said that the city was not responsible, he filed a civil lawsuit against the city.

The homeowner is suing for $5,750 — an estimate given to him by a contractor — to have the sidewalk redone.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ridgewood Reservoir nominated for National Register

From Save Ridgewood Reservoir:

NYC H2O has applied to the State and National Historic Registers for the Ridgewood Reservoir. You can write a letter of support and address it to the State Historic Preservation Office. Here's a link to a suggested letter.

New York State Division for Historic Preservation
Peebles Island State Park
P.O. Box 189
Waterford, NY 12188-0189

Ridgewood Reservoir Nomination by ridgewoodreservoir on Scribd

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Unwanted real estate ads foisted upon homeowners

From the Queens Chronicle:

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association receives numerous complaints of offers landing in homeowners’ mailboxes and some getting an agent walking straight up to their door.

The offers all have the same theme — agents can sell your home for cash, a lot of it. Some of the pamphlets, copies of which were provided to the Chronicle, show comparative sales in the neighborhood.

One such ad, given to the WRBA on Jan. 18, said the realtor had closed 15 deals in five months in Woodhaven and surrounding neighborhoods.

It also reads, “Your house will be next,” seemingly assuming the sale.

Another was simply a white piece of paper with the words “I am interested in buying your house ALL CASH,” with the agent’s name and phone number on it.

Such unsolicited offers were once barred in Queens, as homeowners could list their homes as properties where solicitation was not allowed.

That ended in 2014 and realtors were once again free to solicit whomever they wanted.

Now, such cease-and-desist zones can only be established for certain neighborhoods that show it’s a prevalent issue.

Human bones found at Kissena Park

From NBC:

Decaying body parts were discovered in a Flushing park, a grisly find that has neighbors on edge and police combing the area.

The badly decomposing body parts were found in a wooded area near a bike path in Kissena Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Bones were strewn about the woods along with tattered clothing and a skull, sources said.

An investigation is underway — the Office of Chief Medical Examiner was sent to the scene and a forensic anthropologist is also working on the case.

Authorities said the remains have been in the park for some time, making it hard to tell the age, race, sex or any other identifying details about the person they belonged to.

BdB investigation halts sale of prison to film studio

From SI Live:

The sale of the old Arthur Kill prison site to Broadway Stages was rejected by the state comptroller's office because of the company's ties to investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio's political fundraising.

The office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli returned the sale contract to state agencies unapproved for "lingering vendor responsibility issues" and questions over the public's investment in the land deal.

The $7 million sale price may be as much as $45 million below market value.

Charlotte Davis, the comptroller's director of contracts, detailed reasons for rejecting the sale in a letter to Frank Pallante of the state Office of General Services on Dec. 21, 2016.

"As discussed," Davis wrote, "Broadway Stages and its owner and president, Gina Argento, appear to be involved parties in State and Federal investigations into campaign contributions to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio."

While the state can resubmit the contract, the rejection further stalls plans for a new production studio at the closed Arthur Kill Correctional Facility in Charleston.

Three years after the state selected Broadway Stages to develop the land, concerns have been raised over political contributions, tax issues, business integrity and the property's value.

Exactly when the new studio will open is still unclear.

Homeless removed from hotels featured in DHS' race-baiting videos

"Ok, here is the latest update directly from the operators of the hotels. As of 1/3/17 homeless residents were no longer being housed in the Quality Inn Hotel on Jericho Tpke. As of 1/10/17 homeless residents were no longer being housed at the Bellerose Inn Hotel on Jericho Tpke.

Even though the DHS has agreed to no longer house homeless in these two hotels, the owners are still being pressured and getting occasional calls from DHS contractors requesting to house homeless families. This type of pressure and putting these hotel owners in this position is unfair and contrary to the agreement in which DHS was informed about.

Let me also provide background on this entire episode so that everyone understands how our community succeeded in fighting back deBlasio homeless housing overreach. Back in November, I received a call from one of the owners of these hotels who asked for my help in terminating the use of these hotels for homeless individuals. These hotels had signed NO contract with DHS and never agreed to house homeless for an extended period of time, but had been continually pressured by DHS and its vendors to do so.

The reason the hotel owner called me is that as President of Glen Oaks Village Co-op I have known him from the community and he has a trusting and amicable relationship with me. I urged him to meet with members of the local civics in which I am an active participant to work out a plan with the local community to extricate these hotels from housing homeless individuals and families. These hotels were not in appropriate locations (no subways, limited bus service, no job sites) to house homeless individuals. When I approached the civics I was met with very strong opposition which came from their distrust of the hotel owners. I urged them to meet as we had an opportunity to finally resolve this issue and we shouldn't let this opportunity slip away. I told my fellow civic leaders that even if we did not succeed, we would be in no worse position. They were not convinced.

I did not want to lose this opportunity to finally resolve this homeless hotel problem on Jericho Tpke and contacted Councilmember Grodenchik who I know well and explained to him the situation in detail and asked if he would be willing to host a meeting between the hotel operators and the civics. I felt the civic leaders would be more inclined to participate if the Councilman hosted the meeting. He agreed to do so and he urged the Civic leaders who strongly opposed the meeting to attend. My strategy succeeded and a meeting was held between a number of civics, elected officials and the hotel owners. We all agreed that it was in the best interest of all to terminate the relationship with DHS (Dept of Homeless Services).

The parties agreed that by 12/31/16 all homeless being housed in these hotels would be out. Due to DHS delays, it took about a week after the 12/31/16 timetable for DHS to find alternate living arrangements for the few that were still in the hotels. That is the complete and accurate story to date of this chapter. I am proud that we were all able to finally work together and resolve a perplexing problem that many communities have been unable to resolve."

Thank you.
Bob Friedrich
President, Glen Oaks Village

Take a lesson from these folks. They did great work by sticking together. The fact that they actually have electeds who support them instead of just paying lip service to them helped as well. These hotels were where the DHS made 2 videos, one of which shows shots of black homeless children dubbed over with someone yelling "white lives matter". They craftily blamed Maspeth for this despite it allegedly happening in Bellerose. Aja Worthy-Davis was moved over to ACS (which must be the de Blasio administration's version of a punishment) and the "f*ck whiteness" guru Lincoln Restler is still in hiding as BdB prepares to meet Preet. - QC

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Coney Island still looks like crap, but getting more amusements

From the Brooklyn Paper:

The city is asking amusement-park operators to pitch rides and games for the empty lots between the Cyclone roller coaster and MCU Park — part of a long-running redevelopment plan to expand the amusement area.

It’s another step toward the new Coney Island envisioned under a 2009 rezoning, but officials say they will pick proposals that harken to the area’s glory days as a “publicly-accessible, affordable amusement park, a place for experimentation, innovation, whimsy and surprise.”

A stretch of W. 16th Street between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk could become a concession­aires’ row, while the empty lot between the ballpark and the Thunderbolt roller coaster may become a new thrill-ride hub, according to a request for proposals the city issued on Feb. 6.

What happened to the luxury condos and affordable housing?

De Blasio gets a concession from Preet

From the NY Times:

Mayor Bill de Blasio will probably be on familiar ground when he is questioned by federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents in New York as part of a sweeping criminal investigation into his campaign fund-raising.

It was unclear when exactly the interview would take place, but it was expected to be conducted in a conference room at offices of Mr. de Blasio’s lawyer’s firm in Midtown Manhattan, people with knowledge of the matter have said, not in the offices of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan. It was expected that the interview would last about four hours, the people said.

The parameters of the session took shape after extensive negotiations between prosecutors and the mayor’s lawyer, Barry H. Berke, the people said, and it was possible that some details could change.

It is unusual for federal prosecutors to question a subject of a criminal investigation in the offices of the subject’s lawyer. Such sessions, which can become contentious, are almost always conducted in the prosecutor’s offices. It was unclear why the federal prosecutors agreed to hold the meeting at the Kramer Levin offices.

Let's hope it's because the case against him is so good that it doesn't matter where the inquiry is held. In the meantime, Emma Wolfe is absent and a lot of people at City Hall are shitting a brick.