Saturday, June 30, 2018

Aftermath of deadly fire is another tragedy

From CBS 2:

Trash can be seen on the lawn, over the fence and in a tree around the house on 252nd Street in Bellerose.

“We were expecting it to be gone by like soon, and it’s still sitting there,” neighbor Sandra Cyril told Bauman in an exclusive interview.

The home caught fire 10 days ago. Eight firefighters were hospitalized, and the 82-year-old woman living there alone was killed.

“I feel so bad for her. She had no one,” said resident Jacqueline Pilosi. “But it sucks for us, too.”

Pilosi’s house next door is perfectly manicured up to the dividing line on their shared driveway. She spent the last week and a half pleading with the city for help.

“311, when we found out the front room was filled with fecal matter, said we can’t do anything about it, it’s inside private property,” she told Bauman.

The Pilosis said they have been trying to talk to the person who inherited the property from their neighbor, but he lives out of state and hasn’t told them when it will be cleaned up and what’s taking so long.

It's the skyscrapers, stupid!

Dirty Buildings Report by Alexander Kaufman on Scribd

From Huffington Post:

The 90-floor tower nicknamed the “Oligarch’s Erection” is the gaudy centerpiece of Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row ― a place where a corrupt Nigerian oil tycoon set a $51 million record for the biggest foreclosure in the city’s history in 2017 and a Silicon Valley tech mogul bought the most expensive home ever sold in New York for $100.5 million in 2018.

But 157 West 57th Street is part of another, equally exclusive club that includes Trump Tower, the Trump International Hotel & Tower, the Kushner family’s 666 Fifth Avenue, the ritzy Baccarat Hotel and Residences and 15 Central Park West, where Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein lives.

That club is the biggest contributors to carbon dioxide pollution in New York, where just 2 percent of buildings produce nearly 50 percent of the city’s climate-altering emissions, according to a report released by New York Communities for Change, the People’s Climate Movement NY, the Working Families Party and two other city-based environmental nonprofits.

Friday, June 29, 2018

"Stilt building" loophole to be eliminated

From Crains:

The city is on schedule to regulate so-called excessive mechanical voids by the end of the year, dealing a blow to developers who use a quirk in the building code to boost the height of their luxury apartment towers.

Mechanical voids are essentially floors used to house the heavy equipment that powers a building's systems. However, by raising the ceilings of these spaces to dizzying heights, developers increasingly have been creating hollow pedestals upon which they can stack luxury apartments. Because these upper units can typically command better views than neighboring structures without large voids, they can be sold at premium prices to pay for the additional construction while still boosting profits. An apartment building proposed by Extell Development at 50 W. 66th St., for example, will have only 40 floors, yet it is slated to be 775 feet tall, according to a neighborhood group opposed to the plan.

Cross-sound tunnel plan dropped

From CBS 2:

A proposal to build a tunnel under the Long Island Sound connecting Nassau and Westchester counties has been dropped.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Paul Karas said Thursday they decided not to move forward with the plan. Karas did not reveal further details as to why they are abandoning the plan.

A study previously estimated the tunnel could cost up to $55 billion.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another tall building for Northern Blvd.

From Queens Beans:

A new mixed-use building will shortly arrive to Flushing. The tower will have 17 stories and it will be addressed at 144-49 Northern Boulevard. The necessary permits have been filed and a neighboring building will be demolished in order to make room for this new project.

Behind the applications there is developer CW Northern and the design has been handed to My Architect PC.

Once completed, the tower will feature 132 residential units that will be condos, spanning 116k sf combined and 880 each.

Ocasio-Cortez beat big real estate money, too

From the Real Deal:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old socialist who made New York’s affordable housing crisis a focal point of her Democratic primary campaign for the House of Representatives, defeated Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens by a stunning 15 point margin on Tuesday.

During the 2018 election cycle, Crowley, who represents New York’s 14th Congressional District and has long headed the Queens County Democratic machine, raised more money than he ever had before, bringing in $3.4 million, according to election data analyzed by the nonprofit group Open Secrets. The most generous industry was real estate, which accounted for at least $380,000, or more than 10 percent of the total raised.

Other major donors perhaps not represented in that total are also connected to real estate. Executives from Blackstone Group, the investment firm that is one of New York City’s largest landlords, gave $35,000, making it one of Crowley’s biggest corporate donors. This included donations from Jonathan Gray, the company’s current COO and former head of real estate, who gave $5,400. And Votesane PAC, a political action committee that counts many realtors as contributors, was another of Crowley’s largest donors this cycle, with $76,500 donated, records show.

Crowley’s most prominent real estate donors over the last 18 months included Related Companies executives, members of the Rudin real estate family, Rob Speyer, Jed Walentas, William Mack, Joseph Simone, Frederick Elghanayan, Scott Rechler, John Catsimatidis, Jeff Gural, landlord SL Green Realty and Washington lobbying group the Real Estate Roundtable.

Ocasio-Cortez campaigned against the influence of real estate money in New York City politics. “It’s time we stand up to the luxury developer lobby. Every official is too scared to do it – except me,” she tweeted in April. As of June 6, she had raised $301,000 for her campaign from 180 donors, federal elections records show. About a quarter of that came from Democratic candidate-supporting fundraising platform ActBlue.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Congressional primary roundup

Not mentioned here is a pretty interesting race in Brooklyn. Yvette Clarke vs. Adam Bunkeddeko. She won. But barely.

Change is in the air.

Queens condo boom

From The Real Deal:

For the second time this year, monthly condominium plan filings in Queens have reached levels not seen since 2008. After reaching a nine-year high in January with nine new condo plans submitted to the New York Attorney General’s office, filings reached yet another new high last month with 12 new plans.

An analysis of data from the AG’s real estate finance bureau found that 37 new condo plans have been submitted for Queens from January through May 2018, already surpassing the year-long totals for both 2016 and 2017, which each saw 35 submissions.

May’s batch of condo plans centered around Long Island City, with seven out of 12 plans located in LIC proper, plus two in Hunters Point and one in Astoria. Other neighborhoods have contributed to the early-2018 Queens condo boom as well – from January through May, Flushing saw eight new condo plans filed, Corona had three, and six other filings were scattered across other parts of the borough, from Woodside to the Rockaways.

The largest single Queens condo filing last month was the Alexandra Condominium in Astoria, a Danzig Realty property at 23-43 31st Road with 25 residential units.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Congratulations, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!

Bye, asshole!

Landlord sued over illegal converting apartments into AirBnB rentals

From AMNY:

An “unscrupulous” Airbnb host is being sued by the city after he allegedly converted four apartments into illegal hotel listings that misled renters, placing them in hazardous living conditions, according to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE).

The lawsuit was brought against David Schuchter De Oliveira by OSE on behalf of 10 unnamed plaintiffs who detailed horror stories of being duped into staying in illegally converted apartments in Manhattan, sometimes with dozens of other guests at the same time. Schuchter De Oliveira rents, but does not own the apartments, three of which are located in rent-stabilized buildings, per a city spokeswoman.

One plaintiff, David, said he was led to believe he was renting a room in a young couple’s guest bedroom with quality amenities and access to a shared living space, bathroom and kitchen.

“I first sensed something dubious about the host/listing when the key pick-up instructions sent me on a clandestine mission, several blocks from the apartment, to pick up keys from inside a small lockbox attached to a public telephone booth,” he said, adding that he realized it was an illegal Airbnb as soon as he walked into the apartment.

David said the two-bedroom unit had been converted into a hostel-like hotel with five bedrooms, each with their own lock, one bathroom and no common areas.

“Each bedroom was furnished to sleep up to six people, except for the kitchen which had been converted into a bedroom with a single bed,” he added.

Cuomo signs legislation authorizing AirTrain

From CBS 2:

A new plan to build an AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport has been given the green light and should be ready within four years.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the new measure approved last week by the New York State legislature advancing the AirTrain link project.

The Port Authority says a new AirTrain will link to the Long Island Rail Road and the subway system.

Air travelers could get from midtown Manhattan to the airport in 30 minutes.

The bill authoritizes the Port Authority to conduct an environmental impact study this summer for the $1.5 billion project. The Air Train will run from Willets Point in Queens, making two stops at the airport; East Station and Central Hall.

The plan is to have the Long Island Rail Road run express trains from both Penn Station and Grand Central to Willets Point, where there will be a seamless transfer.

Construction could begin in 2020 and is expected to be completed by 2022.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Tweeding at its finest!

From The Intercept:

THE RISE OF Congressman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., has coincided with lucrative lobbying contracts for his younger brother, John Crowley, an attorney who goes by the first name Sean, and previously specialized in wills and estate law.

Sean Crowley serves as a partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, a powerhouse law firm with offices in Albany, New York City, and Washington, D.C., that advertises its ability to connect clients with congressional leadership.

Over the last decade, clients with interests before Congress have retained Sean Crowley through his lobbying firm, paying more than $4.5 million to influence and monitor government policies, according to a review of contracts by The Intercept.

Clients in recent years have included Oracle, AbbVie, NBCUniversal, Juniper Systems, New York Community Bancorp, Abbott Labs, and Elections Systems & Software.

In many cases, the interests of Sean Crowley’s clients have overlapped with his elder brother’s legislative and political work.

Wow, you don't say? Now why did the Queens Courier choose to print this 900+ word ass licking piece instead of delving into this shady business?

P.S. The primary is tomorrow.

Shocking news: Parks Dept lacks oversight of contractors

From the Queens Tribune:

A lack of sufficient oversight of construction managers has cost the city millions of dollars and led to long-delayed projects—including several in Queens, according to an audit by the city comptroller’s office.

Comptroller Scott Stringer’s audit found that inadequate oversight by the Parks Department cost the city nearly $5 million and that approximately 40 percent of construction projects managed by private firms were completed late, resulting in delays of up to three years.

Additionally, the city paid an extra 35 percent in management fees for late projects.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Removed trash baskets cause dumpers to trash neighborhoods

This PIX11 story is about a residential area in Harlem having their street corner trash baskets removed, however we're aware that this seems to be happening all over the city, even in commercial areas. There's a backwards logic that removing cans means people won't dump trash, which just is not the case.

Bill would force illegal driveway owners to restore curbs

From Brooklyn Daily:

Local pols are pushing for a bill they say will reclaim on-street parking spaces from greedy property owners who illegally cut curbs in front of their homes to create unauthorized driveways.

The legislation, introduced last month by Councilman Kalman Yeger (D–Bensonhurst) and co-sponsored by Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge), would require property owners to correct curb cuts created without a permit within 30 days. If the curb isn’t fixed, the Department of Transportation must do the work within six months, at the property owner’s expense, similar to a law that requires property owners to maintain sidewalk defects.

“What we’re saying is that if you do not fix the curb, the city will fix it and bill you,” Yeger said. “It requires the government to help the people out a bit.”

The bill is a response to property owners who illegally cut curbs to install driveways in front of their homes, removing on-street parking for fellow drivers. Illegal curb cutting has become rampant throughout Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Bay Ridge recently, leading fed-up neighbors to complain that current laws aren’t doing enough to address the problem.

The Department of Buildings can issue violations to property owners who cut curbs without a permit, but there isn’t a law on the books that requires owners to restore the curbs. Yeger’s bill would change that, giving the city the power it needs to fight back where it currently has little, according to Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Trying to end a pervasive problem

From CBS 2:

The Department of Sanitation said it is illegal to posts signs or ads on poles, boxes, highways, elevated subways or similar public locations. The department said it does give out fines ranging from $75 to $300.

A spokesperson added that research has shown most of the companies use a prepaid phone, which makes it difficult to identify a responsible party. But they do also subpoena phone companies.

Avella said it’s not enough.

“Acknowledging the problem and not fixing it isn’t getting us anywhere. I’m willing to sit down with Sanitation and especially the phone companies,” he said. “We have to end this, because this is out of control.”

Grymes called five of the numbers on various signs, and someone answered at each number.

She got two hang-ups, but three others said they work for legitimate businesses that do offer money for cars and car parts. They would not consent to being recorded and would not give the name of the business or did not know it. Two said the sanitation department does fine them often for the signs, but that doesn’t stop them.

Avella said you shouldn’t take up the offers and the Better Business Bureau also recommends checking with them first to see if the business has any reviews or complains on file. That is, if you know the name.

The sanitation department said a special unit removes illegal signs unless it’s too dangerous or difficult, then the Department of Transportation does it. You can call 311 to report an illegal sign.

88 units of Ridgewood gentrification finally underway

Passed by this recently, and if you recall, a couple of years ago, this was supposed to be a "beer beach" but the community beat that back. The permanent use for the dirty truck lot was yet another luxury condo project. You can read the backstory here. But don't worry, a grand total of 8 "permanently affordable" apartments will be included!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Does Joe Crowley really believe his own bullshit? (part 3)

From The Intercept:

HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS Chair Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., is raising last-minute campaign cash from a corporate lobbying firm famous for its ties to the Republican Party.

Faced with a surprisingly strong challenge from progressive first-time candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s Democratic primary, Crowley, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, is slated to appear at the the offices of BGR Group on 13th Street in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon for a fundraising reception, according to a copy of an invitation obtained by The Intercept.

The fundraiser is at an odd venue for a Democrat who claims to be an avowed opponent of the GOP.

The invitation lists Crowley’s position in leadership of the Democratic Party and as a member of the powerful Ways & Means Committee, which oversees tax policy. The fundraiser, which asks for $500 minimum to attend as an individual and $1,000 to attend for political action committees, is at an odd venue for a Democrat who claims to be an avowed opponent of the GOP.

BGR is named for its founding partners, all of whom are Republican: Haley Barbour, the former Republican National Committee chair; Ed Rogers, a former aide to President Ronald Reagan; and Lanny Griffith, a former education official in President George H.W. Bush’s administration.

What fantastic "progressive" values! Champion of the Democratic Party! Our next House Speaker! Hip, hip, hooray!

Paris Hotel expanding

As seen from the Long Island Expressway. An expansion of the Paris Hotel. It doesn't seem like they're gaining all that much rentable space. Kind of surprised this place is still in business but there you go. Draw your own conclusions.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

AirTrain will chip away more land from FMCP

From NBC:

Residents in northern Queens are crying foul over a plan to create an AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport. Roseanne Colletti reports.

Does Joe Crowley really believe his own bullshit? (part 2)

Above is a link to the debate between Joe Crowley, 20 year incumbent, and newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

During this debate, a stuttering Crowley was so nervous that he used the term "meat & butter" instead of "meat & potatoes" or "bread & butter", which is what it appeared he was trying to say.

He repeatedly lied about living in Woodside, and said his family lives in Virginia because raising a family was "hard". (Her comeback on this was priceless.)

He's head and shoulders above anyone else because he grew up in Woodside, because it's so diverse! (Yet when he grew up there, it was like 85% Irish.)

He also claims that the controversial Jackson Heights project that he and his puppets Katz & Moya supported against the wishes of the community was approved by the community board, when it actually went down in flames there.

He also has convinced himself that he has a history of electing "progressive" candidates although he supported the likes of Christine Quinn and Paul Vallone and had several non-compete agreements with Republicans.

I'll tell you right now that the lady came out looking like a champ in this one, with well thought out responses and revealing a distinct platform.

The Queens Machine boss then doubled down on his BS by skipping out on a debate in the Bronx. From City & State:

At a congressional primary debate between Rep. Joseph Crowley and his Democratic challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, there was a notable absence: Crowley.

The debate, hosted by The Parkchester Times in the Bronx and moderated by reporter Robert Press, instead featured a surrogate on the part of Crowley. Debating Ocasio-Cortez in his place was former New York City Councilwoman Annabel Palma.

Palma, who was term-limited out of office at the end of 2017, now serves as the deputy commissioner of strategic initiatives at the city Department of Social Services. She was ranked by City & State as one of the five worst city councilmembers in 2016.

According to journalist Robert Press, who moderated the debate, Palma began discussing her record as a New York City councilwoman. Press said he had to remind her that she was there to represent Crowley and discuss congressional issues. Palma told City & State that she focused on her joint work with Crowley while she was in the City Council and what she witnessed him doing for her community.

Was his cousin Elizabeth too busy for this? Or did he just want one of his Hispanic minions to represent him in a debate against another Hispanic person? Whatever the case is, it speaks volumes about the type of elected this guy is if nothing else we have brought you does.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Does Joe Crowley really believe his own bullshit? (part 1)

Someone brought this to my attention. Mr. Crowley sat for a video that not only assails Donald Trump but also the fact that he lived in a semi-suburban community that had big houses and lots of trees. This describes a nice chunk of Crowley's district, so one has to wonder why he doesn't call out his own constituents for being white supremacists as he believes this is what led to Trump becoming an asshole?

Video is here.

CAC's working on 32nd Ave...

The great work that CAC has done in Woodside and Middle Village is now in Flushing, just south of Bowne Park.
They sure have a lot of crap out on the street.
Anyone want to place a bet on when the work actually gets done and how much it will end up costing? People have been kind of quiet about this one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Just when you thought you'd seen everything Flushing has to offer

Not sure who did this (Frank Lloyd Crap?) or why they thought it was a good idea but it's freaking hideous! Here's the view as you enter Flushing from the Northern Blvd Bridge:

Bowne Park ain't what it used to be

Ah, a lovely stroll through one of Queens' premier parks on Sunday afternoon. But there's literally trouble in the air and water.
So the pond is contaminated and you should avoid exposure to it, yet the mist from the fountain was hitting yours truly in the face for a good 1/4 of the looped path around the body of water.
Dead turtles were seen floating on the surface.
This guy was still alive and kicking but with the shape that water's in, it might not be for long.
This cool stand of trees caught my eye but the grass is in serious need of cutting. The lawn is unkempt.
The pond walls have issues as well.
Hopefully these little guys sprout wing feathers soon and get the hell out of this mess!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Katz looking to run for Brown's seat

From the Queens Chronicle:

Multiple sources have told the Chronicle that Borough President Melinda Katz would be interested in running for District Attorney should DA Richard Brown opt not to seek re-election in 2019; or in an appointment to the post should he choose to retire.

Katz would not dignify the question when asked Wednesday by the Chronicle. “Judge Brown is a great DA, and there’s no indication he intends to retire,” she said.

A source with knowledge of Queens politics partially confirmed both other sources’ accounts and that of the borough president, saying Katz, an attorney, would be interested in the top prosecutor’s office under either scenario.

“But there’s no vacancy; and Brown’s not going anywhere,” the source said.

Brown himself was first appointed to the post in 1991 by then-Gov. Mario Cuomo — district attorney is a state position — and has been repeatedly re-elected with few serious challengers. But he does have health issues.

Katz, who is term-limited out of the Borough President’s Office after 2021, has said in the past that she wants to have a leadership role on matters of importance to the city when her term ends.

Time to drop the dead weight

From the NY Times:

Despite a high-profile effort by Mayor Bill de Blasio to reduce the number of city teachers without permanent jobs who draw full pay and benefits, the city spent $136 million this school year to keep them on the payroll, according to a study released Thursday.

The unassigned employees are part of a pool known as the Absent Teacher Reserve, and there were 1,202 teachers and other staff in it at the start of the school year, according to the report by the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission. Despite buyouts, mandatory placements in schools and a rule that all unassigned teachers must look for permanent posts, there were still 756 teachers in the pool in April.

Like teachers with full-time classroom assignments, those in the pool are entitled to regular pay raises, step increases and longevity increases, providing “no incentive for unmotivated or unsuitable teachers to secure new permanent placements,” the report notes.

Teachers in the pool have an average of 18 years on the job, and an average salary of $98,126. With a 3 percent raise for all city teachers going into effect on Saturday, combined with a 2 percent raise teachers received in May, senior teachers in the pool could now earn up to $119,472, the report found.

Teachers land in the reserve pool because their schools have been closed, or their budgets cut, or because they were the subject of unsatisfactory performance evaluations or disciplinary actions. They can stay in the pool indefinitely.

The United Federation of Teachers contract with the city expires in November, and the budget commission urged the city to use the contract negotiations to cap the time teachers can spend in the pool at six months.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

BDB caught off guard by raid

From the NY Times:

Two days after Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a sweeping civil settlement with the federal government over New York City’s public housing system, federal and local investigators seized documents and other items Wednesday from a Queens office of the city’s housing authority.

The investigators questioned housing officials, cloned computer hard drives and took the city-issued cellphone of a senior manager overseeing lead abatement, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Then they returned on Thursday.

The surprise visit rattled officials and pierced the veneer of common purpose presented by Mayor de Blasio on Monday when he announced that the city would commit at least $1.2 billion in extra funding for needed repairs in New York City Housing Authority buildings. With the agreement with the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, the city avoided a civil trial that would have examined longstanding problems at the authority, including failure to test for hazardous lead paint over several years.

“We agreed to create a common game plan,” Mr. de Blasio said.

The searches were conducted by the city’s Department of Investigation, the inspector general for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency, and they appeared to catch top officials at the housing authority off-guard. The investigators arrived at the building on 49th Avenue in Long Island City without a search warrant, relying instead on the city agency’s power to directly access city records without a warrant, according to one of the people briefed on the raid.

Riveting story from Jackson Heights

From CBS 2:

Across from his window that morning, and for days leading up to this, workers were making repairs to the transit infrastructure, Carlin reported. The first few workers he questioned denied the projectile came from their site. Then, he said another worker confessed to the accident and gave him an explanation.

“They use a high-powered device to shoot the rivets out. Now, there’s supposed to be another worker on the other end of the rivet to catch the rivet. He said they’re called a muffler. I guess like a baseball catcher would catch a fastball. Except in this case, there was no catcher at the other side,” said Siegel.

CBS2 asked the MTA about safety protocols and why, in this case, they apparently failed. The agency said it’s looking into it.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Ridgewood getting a hotel

From Queens Beans:

The hotel boom that seems to have taken over Queens is not stopping any time soon, since a new hotel is in the works. This new construction will have four stories and will be addressed at 1616 Summerfield Street, in Ridgewood. Behind the applications is the Loketch Group, and J Frankl and C. Mallea Architects. When it comes to location, the Halsey Street subway station in Bushwick is just four blocks away, a station which is serviced by the L train.

Once completed, the hotel will be 54-foot tall and the structure will yield over 62k sf. Besides creating 132 guest rooms, developers will include a commercial area spanning 38,600 square feet. There will be twenty-something rooms per floor, starting at the cellar and guests will be able to access bike storage room and a lobby.

What a great location for a hotel!

Friday, June 15, 2018

State made unnecessary Medicaid payouts

From Crain's:

Thanks to a lack of oversight, the state Health Department doled out $1.3 billion in six years in Medicaid premiums for people who were already enrolled in other comprehensive health plans, according to a new report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The report found that the state Health Department is not quick enough to disenroll people when they sign up for coverage with another insurer. The overwhelming majority of those funds—about $1.2 billion—are not recoverable.

"Glitches in the state Department of Health's payment system and other problems led to over a billion dollars in unnecessary spending," DiNapoli said. "The department needs to improve its procedures and stop this waste of taxpayer money."

City will build senior apartments amidst housing projects

From the Wall Street Journal:

New York City has committed $500 million to build up to a thousand of affordable apartments for low-income senior citizens on vacant public-housing land, a move advocates say would help reduce the wait list for apartments.

The plan, first pushed in the proposed new budget by New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, will construct new apartment buildings on lawns, parking lots and unused land at New York City Housing Authority developments and other public locations. The units will be set aside for low-income senior citizens, many of whom already live in public housing.

“If you can get seniors living now in two-, three-bedroom apartments in NYCHA to move into new apartments, you make room for folks who are on the waiting list,” said the Rev. David Brawley, pastor at St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn’s East New York section and member of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation.

There are 207,000 families on the wait list for public housing, and addressing that number could help reduce homelessness, Mr. Brawley said. There are currently more than 58,700 people living in shelters across the city, according to the latest data.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ozone Park comes out in force against shelter

From PIX11:

On Tuesday night, an incoming homeless shelter, reportedly designed to house more than 100 men, possibly classified as mentally ill, sat high on the meeting’s agenda.

“We are asking this board to put out a strongly worded letter, putting the city on notice, that we the community, we the residents, we the parents, we the constituents, we the homeowners, and we the business owners, do not want this type of shelter where they’re planning on putting it,” Esposito said.

The Administration has already given its “notice” to this neighborhood of plans to bring the shelter.

But Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks did not show up to face his detractors – as he has in the past.

So these residents were basically left to shout into the wind, venting if you will, perhaps, on some level, reluctantly accepting the inevitable.

State protecting shady real estate brokers

From The Real Deal:

Like many New Yorkers who have had bad experiences with real estate agents, Tanya Mejia took to Yelp in September 2014 to give brokerage Chrome Residential a one-star review. “Not only are these guys unprofessional, but they are crooks,” she wrote. “Do yourself a favor and stay clear of this company.”

To retrieve a $2,000 security deposit from her broker, she then went to Small Claims Court and obtained a judgment against Chrome, which the broker refused to pay unless she removed her Yelp review, according to a New York Department of State investigation. Mejia then filed a consumer complaint with the DOS, and finally, more than two years after the initial incident, an administrative law judge revoked the real estate broker’s license in September 2016.

But as far as the state’s public database of licensing decisions is concerned, this never happened. A search for the agent’s name (“Jacob Benchlouch”) only turns up two duplicate files for an earlier dismissed complaint, omitting any record that he was sanctioned for “engaging in deceptive acts and practices.” (Benchlouch could not be reached for comment and Chrome Residential is no longer in operation.)

To protect the interests of New York’s consumers, the DOS’ Division of Licensing Services regulates a number of professions, including real estate brokers and salespersons, by handing down fines, suspensions and revoking licenses as it deems necessary. But because the agency uses rudimentary public disclosure tools that are difficult to navigate and often incomplete, it is difficult for consumers to identify sanctioned brokers, leaving open the possibility that they will harm another consumer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

City to pony up in federal NYCHA settlement

From Crains:

New York City will likely pay $2 billion to settle claims that the nation's largest public housing agency has too often left tenants to contend with lead paint, malfunctioning elevators and rats.

The city agreed in a consent decree in Manhattan federal court to pay $1 billion over four years and $200 million annually until problems are overcome. The deal also calls for the appointment of a monitor to oversee the city-run public housing authority during the 10-year span of the agreement.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the settlement a "dramatic step" and a "turning point for our public housing system."

NYCHA Consent Decree by Anonymous 80as6U on Scribd

421-a rule change causes dip in regulated apartments

From AM-NY:

This spring, the city announced it had given hundreds of property owners one last chance to recoup the 421-a tax benefit by complying with provisions of a perk that aims to encourage the creation of affordable homes.

Now that the May 1 compliance deadline has passed, 730 of the 1,788 targeted properties lost the benefit, according to data provided by the city Department of Finance last month. Collectively, the properties lost about $22.38 million, according to the Department of Finance.

The property tax benefit was launched in the 1970s to spur residential construction. Over the years, it has been extended to co-ops, condos, two- to three-family homes and rental developments.

Although the city yanked 421-a from properties for a variety of concerns, advocates have focused their attentions on rental properties, since they must abide by rent stabilization rules while receiving 421-a.

Earlier this year, at least 367 developments with rental units had 421-a suspended for undisclosed reasons. The new city data shows 175 of these lots have had the benefit reinstated by fulfilling all of the 421-a requirements by May 1.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How Chirlaine gets away with stuff

From the NY Post:

First lady Chirlane McCray has raised between $13 million and $28 million in donations for a City Hall-aligned nonprofit from people and entities with business before her hubby Mayor de Blasio, The Post found.

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City raised the cash during McCray’s four-year tenure as chairwoman from big Wall Street banks, developers, lobbyists, nonprofits and others. The Post analyzed donations made between April 2014 and September 2017 found in disclosures filed with the city Conflicts of Interest Board, along with data from the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.

In January 2014 de Blasio got approval from COIB to appoint his wife chair of the Mayor’s Fund. As chairwoman, McCray is the “lead fund-raiser” for the fund, which was created in 1994 under former Mayor Giuliani to promote City Hall’s agenda.

Conflict of interest rules bar civil servants from fundraising on the city’s behalf from people with business before their agencies unless “firewalls” exist between those officials and decisions that could impact the donors.

But because McCray is an unpaid volunteer and not a city employee, the rule doesn’t apply to her — even though the mayor often calls her his “closest confidante” and “No. 1 adviser.”

As boss of the mayor’s fund, McCray has the freedom to not only fundraise from anyone with business before the city, but discuss the donors or issues and policies impacting them with her husband.

Familiar excuses from DSNY

From CBS 2:

A Brooklyn block has been turned into a junkyard where public parking spaces are filled with wrecked and damaged cars.

Calls to 311 went unanswered. So CBS2 demanded answers and got action.

A frustrated Sheepshead Bay resident took CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer on a tour of his block. He said he and his neighbors have been unable to park in public spaces for years because they’re filled with junked cars, like one with no motor and no doors. He said more than 40 to 50 calls to the city for help have fallen on deaf ears.

“They say they’re going to send somebody out… but no one shows up,” he said.

The block was filled with damaged cars and apparent attempts to beat the system by leaving cars on the streets with no license plates or registrations scraped off.

Kramer demanded answers from the owners of the nearby auto body shops and called both the Department of Sanitation and the NYPD. There were a lot of excuses, she reported.

This happens in EVERY neighborhood where there is an auto body shop. It would seem that Sanitation would make a gold mine off this issue but they'd rather send out bogus tickets to homeowners for gum wrappers that blow onto residential property. What a shame.

Monday, June 11, 2018

CB2 tells megadeveloper to shove it

From Sunnyside Post:

Community Board 2 voted Thursday to reject a developer’s bid to be granted a zoning variance in order to build a two-tower, 561-unit development along Queens Boulevard in Woodside.

The rejection represents another blow for the developer, Madison Realty Capital, in its quest to get a zoning change that would permit two buildings—one 17 stories and the other 14 stories–to rise at 69-02 Queens Boulevard.

The board vote, while advisory, follows Council Member Robert Holden’s announcement last month that he is opposed to the rezoning. The property is in Holden’s council district and his opinion will have enormous influence when the proposal is up for a vote in the city council.

Madison, under the existing zoning, is able to build a 12 story building that would consist of 289 units, 58 of which could be affordable.

The company, however, is looking to build much higher and obtain the right to build 561 units. In exchange, 30 percent of the units—or 168 apartments- would be affordable, meeting the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) zoning rules. Those rules require developers to construct between 25 and 30 percent of their units as “affordable” when a rezoning takes place.

Madison argues that there is a shortage of affordable housing in Queens and that the city should take advantage of its plan to bring workforce housing to the borough.

"workforce housing" LOL

Bike lane stupidity claims 73-year old business

From Forest Hills Post:

Ben’s Best, the Kosher deli that has been located in Rego Park for nearly 75 years, is closing.

The owner of the 96-40 Queens Blvd. establishment made the announcement on the restaurant’s website yesterday.

“Regretfully, after seventy-three wonderful years, Ben’s Best will be closing its doors on Saturday June 30,” the deli announced. “We are very grateful to everyone who has supported us and we hope to see you one last time.”

The deli is owned by Jay Parker, whose father Benjamin opened the famed deli in 1945. The deli is known for its old-fashioned pastrami, matzo ball soup and fresh rye bread.

The deli has struggled in recent times, with Parker attributing much of the decline to the Department of Transportation’s installation of protected bicycle lanes on Queens Boulevard, which required the reduction of parking spaces.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Would this work for the homeless?

From the Commercial Observer:

In 2002, I had an idea to take vacant city-owned land and have developers and various trades donate their services to build a multifamily building, housing only destitute tenants in rent-free units. It was a utopian vision but the building did indeed get built with the collective genius of Helen Ng, Lance Brown, Mark Ginsberg, Tara Siegel, Rex Curry, Rick Bell, Karen Kubey, the late Margaret Helf and and countless other volunteers. Shaun Donovan of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development shared our vision and found us a site in the Bronx for us to build on. The architects on our team changed the vision and decided that a “green space, sustainability and replicable, affordable design” competition would be a more achievable theme. After being on the initial steering committee, I opted to fade into the background after the goals changed, but I was pleased that so many professionals took the call to action. Rose Associates ended up winning the competition, Via Verde was built in 2006 and thrives today. The process was known as the New Housing New York Legacy Project. However, the recession of 2008 derailed replicating it in scale.

Fast-forward to 2016. Bill de Blasio unveiled the Turning the Tide program to revamp the shelter system to help the homeless. The administration was saying the right things, vowing to build 90 new shelters. Muzzy Rosenblatt of the Bowery Residents’ Committee gets high marks for taking the initiative and building Landing Road as a model project, combining a 200-bed shelter subsidized by 100 low-income apartments. However, since it is privately owned, the numbers don’t work for the city to replicate it in bulk without simultaneously overburdening taxpayers.

Here’s a refined idea:

Have the city identify existing owned multifamily buildings that are abandoned or foreclosed or commercial buildings that can easily be converted to multifamily buildings. Since they aren’t yielding tax revenues anyway, a 10-year moratorium on property taxes won’t impact the budget.

Have developers take on the project pro bono with regard to fees. This might seem Pollyanna, but I have faith that the Real Estate Board of New York could get our members to step forward and take this on. The PR effect, goodwill and intangibles would be invaluable to said developer.

Ask contractors with excess capacity to reduce their rates to aid on the project. This is clearly a big ask. The city could barter other services to partially offset the reduction while getting neighboring restaurants and retailers to further donate to these trades.

The only tenants eligible for the building have to demonstrate extreme need. Start with those that are chronically homeless. Get referrals from the local soup kitchens and shelters. Convince retailers to furnish the apartments. Get clergy, social workers, job counselors and medical workers to help the tenants after they move in.

Hope for Lefferts Ave Bridge?

From the Queens Chronicle:

The battle to save the Lefferts Boulevard bridge — and the handful of small businesses atop it — has been raging for more than a year now.

But at no point in that fight has Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing) been more optimistic that Kew Gardens residents and leaders alike will win in the end.

“Their attitude has changed to, ‘How can we save the bridge?’” Rosenthal said of the MTA. “There are a lot of obstacles ahead, but things are looking up.”

His optimism stems from a May 24 Borough Hall meeting hosted by Borough President Melinda Katz and attended by a laundry list of officials, including new Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng, state Sens. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), Rosenthal, aides to Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), MTA State Legislative Affairs Director Tim Ellis, Community Board 9 Chairman J. Richard Smith and a handful of Kew Gardens civic activists.

At the gathering, Eng expressed a willingness — even a desire — to save the bridge that no one else at the MTA or LIRR had done with similar vigor, according to multiple attendees who spoke with the Chronicle this week.

“We’re all on the same page. We all want to save the bridge,” Addabbo said. “We’re starting from common ground.”

According to Kew Gardens Improvement Association President Sylvia Hack, Eng told the crowd that he will take about four weeks to look over internal engineering reports before coming back to the community with a more informed opinion about how, or if, the bridge can be salvaged.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

MS-13 set Flushing fire

From CBS 2:

A suspected MS-13 gang member faces charges after he allegedly set a fire in Queens that left two other members in critical condition, police sources tell CBS2.

Crews were called to the two-alarm house fire around 2 a.m. Monday on 41st Avenue in Flushing.

Investigators later determined a flammable liquid was used to fuel the flames.

Two men, ages 29 and 48, were hospitalized in critical condition.

Sources say they were both MS-13 members squatting inside the vacant residence.

The suspect, 20-year-old Melvin Gongora, had also been staying there, sources say. He was caught on camera fleeing the fire.

Sources say he told arresting officers something to the effect of “I have to get them before they get me.”

Gongora was charged with arson, attempted murder and assault, among others.