Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Now the MTA does this



The MTA plans to boost service on various express bus lines in a bid to spur drivers to switch to mass transit as congestion pricing takes effect in New York City.

Express buses with the highest weekday ridership will see additional trips per day starting in June should the plan be approved by the MTA Board this week, according to a document posted on the MTA’s website. The routes take riders from outer borough neighborhoods with comparatively scant train access, or none at all, to the heart of Manhattan.

The routes that will get beefed up service are the BM2 and BM5, both of which run between southeastern Brooklyn and Midtown Manhattan, as well as the SIM1C, SIM4C, SIM23, and SIM24 between Staten Island and Midtown.

The MTA says the intention of the boost is to incentivize drivers to switch over to mass transit as it prepares to implement congestion pricing on June 30.

“This is belt and suspenders,” said Richard Davey, president of New York City Transit, at the MTA Board meeting on Monday. “You’ve often heard us say that we have capacity in the subway system and the bus system, largely because of COVID. But this is an opportunity for us to continue to improve express bus service in these corridors.”

The plan will be funded with $883,000 per year from the state’s Outer Borough Transportation Account, which is funded by a surcharge on taxi and for-hire vehicle trips. The OBTA also funds toll rebates on outer-borough bridges and will fund a new monthly discount for city riders of the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North.

Congestion pricing is expected to take effect in Manhattan below 60th Street on June 30, with a $15 toll charged to most motorists and a higher toll for trucks. The plan has survived numerous rounds of public review but could still be derailed if any of a number of lawsuits are successful.

 Still way too little and much too late. 

"Affordable" nature



 City officials, elected leaders, developers and community members gathered at the location of a formerly vacant illegal dumping ground on Beach 44th Street Wednesday to cut the ribbon at the new 35-acre Arverne East Nature Preserve and Welcome Center along the Rockaway waterfront in Edgemere.

 he preserve represents phase one of an ambitious Arverne East development project, which will transform more than 100 acres of underutilized space between Beach 32nd Street and Beach 56th Place into 1,650 units of housing — 80% of which will be affordable, serving low-income and middle-income individuals and families — in addition to retail and community space, a hotel and a tap room and brewery.

“The Rockaway renaissance takes another historic step forward,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “What was once a vacant, overgrown illegal dumping ground for decades is now a stunning hub of wildlife and a successful example of what community-centered sustainability looks like. I could not be prouder of this project or of the Arverne East development as a whole, which represents transformational change for a community that had previously been ignored for generations.”

 Richards added that future generations would benefit from resources he never had while growing up at the nearby Ocean Villages apartments staring at the blighted oceanfront parcel of land. Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson, who grew up in Far Rockaway, said he looks forward to the completion of the preserve and called the Arverne East development a once-in-a-generation investment.

 The community can have affordable housing and environmental sustainability while enjoying local flora and fauna,” Anderson said. “The welcome center will be a fitting centerpiece of this relationship our neighbors will share with the environment. I hope this model of the first net-zero community in New York City will be an example emulated by others.”



Man shot to death in front of nite club



Queens police are investigating an early-morning shooting on Monday outside a nightclub that left a man dead.

Officers from the 106th Precinct responded to the scene of a male shot at approximately 1:04 a.m. on April 29 near the Caribbean Fest Lounge at the intersection of 117th Street and Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park.

When officers arrived, they found a male covered in blood after being shot multiple times throughout his body, including his head, chest, leg and abdomen, law enforcement sources said.  

 EMS were on scene and transported the victim to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. 

Six unknown caliber shell casings were recovered on scene, according to police sources. No arrests have been made, and the investigation remains ongoing. 

The name of the victim is being held pending family notification, police said.  

 Actually there were 23 shells found

A little more unaffordable housing in Queens


 Queens Post

A total of 1,412 units across six upcoming luxury buildings are expected to transform the Queens Plaza area in Long Island City by creating much-needed housing in the area.

All six projects are expected to be completed as early as this year and no later than 2026. As each project nears completion, the housing units will be put on the market.

One of the projects anticipated to be completed this year is the Noble, at 27-09 40th Ave. This luxury condominium building will consist of 46 units across six floors. Among the amenities for homeowners are indoor parking, bike storage, a residents lounge, a fitness center, rooftop terraces and personal storage lockers. The building is also pet-friendly. This project was developed by Gus Vorillas and Tony Raouf, and the architect is HCN Architect.

The other project expected to be completed in 2024 is the Mason, at 40-46 24th St. Another luxury condominium building, the Mason, will consist of 42 units across six floors. Amenities for each unit include washers and dryers and Latch keyless entry doors. A majority of the homes there will have private outdoor spaces. Jasper Wu is the developer of this project and the architect is My Architect P.C..

You can feel the rent trickle down already.


Friday, April 26, 2024

MTA honors President Biden at incomplete Woodhaven Blvd Station renovation




I don't recall ever seeing infrastructure upgrades honoring a president before. This looks like a campaign ad for The Big Guy.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Department of Transportation suggests transportation alternatives to avoid rigged bus cameras to disabled and elderly churchgoers


 Queens Chronicle

For months, members of Grace Episcopal Church in Jamaica have complained of being hit with traffic tickets when they drop off elderly people and those with limited mobility in front of the church on Jamaica Avenue, where the city’s Department of Transportation installed a busway in late 2021. Since then, parishioners have been working with area elected officials and the DOT to find a solution.

With tickets starting at $50 for parking in the busway and increasing up to $500 after several offenses, the cost has weighed on churchgoers. But part of the problem, says church vestry member Annette Manigault, was the lack of clarity on how the street and bus cameras ticketing drivers worked.

“We’re trying to make sure we can get the parishioners, especially our elderly or disabled, into the church, because no one was in knowledge of how the cameras are working, as well as the location being not accessible for cars coming down Jamaica Avenue,” she said.

She added that the nearest parking lots are several blocks away, making the need to drop off those with limited mobility all the more vital.

Under busway rules, no through traffic is allowed on Jamaica Avenue from Sutphin Boulevard to 168th Street, seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; cars on the avenue must make the first available turn off of it.

In a recent walk-through of the site, which was attended by Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia, the DOT clarified to parishioners that the busway does not prevent cars from accessing a given block of Jamaica Avenue — it tickets drivers from continuing down it for more than a block. Therefore, there are several ways churchgoers can drop off their loved ones in front of the church without facing tickets, as detailed in a DOT pamphlet the agency said it handed out at the walk-through.

If traveling south on Parsons Boulevard, drivers can turn right onto Jamaica Avenue, stop in front of the church, then turn right onto 153rd Street. Drivers coming from the east on Archer Avenue can turn right onto Parsons Boulevard before turning left onto Jamaica and making their drop off, then continuing onto 153rd Street. From the west, drivers on Archer Avenue can turn left onto 153rd Street and then right onto Jamaica Avenue. After stopping, they can turn right onto Parsons Boulevard and then right onto Archer again. The latter does, however, require churchgoers to cross the street.


Sneaky Shelter

 Cambria Hts. folks do not want a shelter 1
Queens Chronicle

During a Cambria Heights Civic Association Zoom meeting last Thursday, many residents aired their concerns about what will become of a defunct area Rite Aid, located at 222-14 Linden Blvd.

Throughout the online forum, several people said they had heard rumors that the new owner of the former pharmacy’s lot intends to transform the space into a transient shelter and worried that could destroy property values and create safety problems.

Under the city Department of Buildings certificate of occupancy, or CofO, Comments section, it was noted that “the facility shall be operated by a philanthropic or non-profit institution, sponsored by [the Department of Homeless Services] ... This certificate shall expire when the ownership operation and use by an institution or public agency ... ceases. The Class B multiple dwelling classification of this building is lodging house.”

DOB’s job filing data says there are no work permits filed, but the zoning information, scope of work and cost affidavit sections have proposals for a transient lodging house, which would include a community facility, a cafeteria and eight dwelling units for 120 beds. If the proposal were to go through, the project is expected to cost $607,170 in property alterations.

Bryan Block, the president of CHCA, said there were about 60 objections to the proposed project as of April 11.

Some of the objections to converting the space include a lack of egress, the parking layout, the elevation of the lot, the noncombustible rooftop hatch and whether the property was in a flood zone, according to DOB.

“The civic was not notified about this and nothing came to the community board,” said Block, “Yes, there was a rumor going around, but there was nothing filed until a couple weeks ago. So, when we said it was a rumor, it was because we didn’t have anything in writing from about three weeks ago. We don’t go on rumors, we go on what we get from the city and we still haven’t gotten anything from the city.”

The lot is zoned R3-2, which in general denotes residential districts that allow a variety of housing types, including low-rise attached houses, small multifamily apartment houses, and detached and semidetached one- and two-family residences. It is the lowest-density zoning district in which multiple dwellings are permitted in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx, according to the Department of City Planning.

“The site where the building is located is ... zoned residential, but it has a commercial overlay, which allowed the Rite Aid commercial use there,” said Steven Taylor, a CHCA board member. “The point I’m making is, they have the ability to make this for residential use even though we’ve always looked at it as a commercial use.”

The lot is 20,460 square feet, including the 10,000-square-foot commercial building and 30 parking spots. It is a six- to 11-minute drive from five Long Island Rail Road stations, the E,F, J and Z subway stations and the JFK AirTrain. It was put up for sale on Dec. 12, 2023 and sold for $5 million on Feb. 16, according to several real estate websites.

State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said seeking an injunction against the DOB to prevent a shelter from being erected in the space could be a possibility.

“I’m going to check with the councilmember if one has not been filed,” Comrie said.


BP Richards Creedmoor of Yes gets resistance.


Queens Chronicle

Seventeen Eastern Queens civic leaders reiterated their opposition to the state’s redevelopment plan for much of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center property last week after Borough President Donovan Richards touted it as a “community-led effort” in a newsletter.

Area civic groups oppose the plan because, they say, it will be too dense for the region, with buildings that are too tall and lack adequate parking, and that it will be too great a strain on existing infrastructure including roads and sewers.

Richards, who regularly speaks of the need for more housing in Queens and touts the projects slated to produce it, included an item headlined “A New Day is Dawning at Creedmoor” in a newsletter his office said was mailed to tens of thousands of homes across Queens last week. The missive was timed to follow his April 12 State of the Borough address.

“The largest community development project in the history of Eastern Queens is on the horizon in the form of Borough President Richards and Empire State Development’s draft Creedmoor Community Master Plan,” the piece says. “The community-led effort aims to redevelop 50 vacant acres of state land through the creation of more than 2,000 units of housing, with 55 percent being designated for homeownership.”

Empire State Development, the agency planning the project, has proposed 2,873 units of housing on 58 acres of the Creedmoor campus. The plan includes 813 elevator co-ops in buildings of six to eight stories, 536 walk-up co-ops in buildings of three to four stories, 186 triplexes in three-story structures and 98 semidetached two-family homes of two stories. There would be 377 senior homes, 431 supportive housing units and 432 apartments deemed affordable and granted by lottery, in buildings of six to eight stories.

The civic leaders said in a letter emailed to Richards on April 19 that they object to his calling the project “community-led,” since area neighborhood organizations do not support the plan and saw their own proposals for the property overridden.

They want a maximum of 1,000 units of two to three stories, and note that Community Board 13 passed a resolution to that effect.

“The plan by Empire State Development is not acceptable,” the civics’ letter says. “The layout is primarily four story, six story and eight story buildings, which are not compatible with our communities. In fact, except for one six story apartment building at 259th Street you will not find anything on the Hillside Avenue corridor from Winchester Boulevard to the city line higher than two stories.”


Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Requiem of a rain garden

The majority hates congestion pricing

NY Post

New York voters overwhelmingly reject having to pay a new $15 “congestion” toll to enter Midtown Manhattan, a statewide poll released Monday shows.

The Siena College survey finds that 63% of voters throughout the Empire State oppose the toll, while only 25% support the pricing scheme promoted by Gov. Kathy Hochul and the MTA to curb congestion and generate nearly $1 billion a year to fund mass transit.

In New York City, 64% of voters are against the first-in-the-nation congestion pricing plan to enter the Manhattan business district south of 60th Street compared to just 33% who back it.

An even higher 72% of voters who reside in the suburbs surrounding the Big Apple — more likely to drive than take mass transit into Manhattan — oppose the controversial toll that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could implement as early as June.

Opposition to the toll is one of the few issues that unifies all cross-segments of New York voters.

The new toll is opposed by 72% of blacks, 62% of Latinos, 62% of union households, 75% of Republicans, 69% of independent or unaffiliated voters, 75% of Republicans and even a majority 54% of Democrats.

Congestion pricing is being implemented because of a state law championed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat-controlled legislature in 2019 — yet only 34% of Democrats support it.

Hochul, Cuomo’s successor, has defended congestion pricing as a good thing amid a plethora of lawsuits to block it.

“A majority of Democrats, two-thirds of independents and three-quarters of Republicans oppose the soon-expected congestion pricing toll plan, as do approximately two-thirds of downstaters and a majority of upstaters,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

One in seven voters — 14% of respondents — said they would travel less to Manhattan to avoid the toll, while 17% said they would find another way to get to Midtown that could include mass transit.

Another 14% of respondents said the toll would have no effect on their travel patterns while 44% said they don’t go to Manhattan. The poll queried upstaters who rarely venture into the Big Apple.

Congestion pricing imposes a $15 toll on cars traveling anywhere below 60th Street between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

Overnight, the toll drops to $3.25.            

Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Squatter's Borough



 PIX News 

 Unwanted visitors are residing in the long-closed Triple Crown Diner in Bellerose, according to members of the local business community.

Joe, who runs a restaurant across the street, told PIX11 News the squatters enter at night via a rear staircase that leads to the roof: “You’ll see people just randomly walking out of there. I pay close attention. You’ll see a lot of garbage stacked up right there.”

 Behind the diner, there’s a shed with a mattress on the ground. The identity of the alleged squatters remained unclear as of Friday afternoon. 

 “I know it has been reported to the 105th Precinct and it’s been reported by them that they’ve come and located an opening in the ceiling, the roof, that they’ve covered with plywood,” said Richard Hellenbrecht, the treasurer of the Bellerose Civic Association. “For anyone to get inside and squat in the diner is really terrible.

Another business owner, Jack, told PIX11 the neighborhood has recently seen some changes for the worse.

“Well, they shouldn’t be living there. They’re vagrants. It ruins our business – it runs the businesses in the area. Sure, it bothers you, but what can you do about it?”


PIX News

 Construction of a new community center in Queens serving young adults with special needs is well underway – and long delayed, says property owner Young Seh Bae.

It’s all thanks to a squatter identified by the Sheriff’s Office as Sean Johnson.

Investigators said he set up camp in the now demolished home that once stood on a lot in the fall of 2022, and then illegally claimed residence after being there for more than 30 days.

 “They just broke into the house using the back door,” said Bae.

The Sheriff’s Office also confirmed marshals recovered a gun from inside the home where Johnson was squatting, adding he was not present to be taken into custody.

“They caused a nightmare for us. There were people coming and going. They would come on to our side of the sidewalk to intimidate us,” said Angela, who lives across the street.

Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday said he supports updating squatters’ rights, which were originally enacted to help protect against bad landlords.

“There was a reason that squatters’ law was put in place. And I think people are starting to exploit what some of those reasons are,” said Adams.

Under current New York State law, squatters are considered tenants if they have had possession for 30 consecutive days or longer.

Bae said it ultimately took more than six months and six-figures in legal fees to finally reclaim the property her family rightfully owns.

“It was very frustrating, not only mentally but financially. I have to say about $100,000,” said Bae.

State Sen. John Liu acknowledged his newly proposed legislation may not be useful to responding police officers, but he added it will help homeowners in a courtroom.

Liu’s bill clearly defines a squatter as someone who enters onto a property or building without title, right, or permission…”

The bill bans them from accessing a tenant’s rights and protections under the law, and states squatters do not get any rights, even after 30 days of possession.

““New York State law, as it pertains to housing and property, it’s not the easiest thing — no question. We need to erase any kind of ambiguity in our state laws, and this bill will do just that,” said Liu.

PIX News

Queens residents spoke out with frustrations Wednesday about a run-down property in their neighborhood that they say is attracting squatters.

“Sometimes the front door is actually creeped open. For years, people have just been coming in, dumping garbage,” said Kamran, describing the neglected house next to the home he’s lived in since childhood.

When Kamran says “years,” he means more than a decade. During that time, he and his neighbors say there have been squatters coming in and out of the run-down home.  

The home, located at 245-04 Union Turnpike in Bellerose, is barely visible behind the tall brush. Lydia lives within eyeshot of what she says is an eyesore.

 “When I see people there that I know are squatters, or they don’t belong there because it’s been empty so long, I just call 911,” said Lydia.

This is the third time in the last week PIX11 News has reported about a suspected squatting situation in Queens, from a now torn-down home in Bayside, to squatters who allegedly entered through the roof of the closed Triple Crown Diner – also in Bellerose.

 PIX11 News took Queens Borough President Donovan Richards on a virtual tour of the property Wednesday.

The tour included a growing collection of New York City Department of Sanitation tickets issued to the registered owner – Jan Robert Fortin – who has no listed number and whose son did not answer PIX11 News’ phone call requesting comment.  

“So how do we resolve this issue? We need a change at the state law. Yes, enforcement is one key piece of it. OK, they are going to end up on Rikers on a trespass charge possibly. I also have to allude to the fact that we are in a housing crisis, and people are squatting largely because we are in this crisis,” said Richards.

The good news? About an hour after PIX11 News started reaching out to multiple agencies, including the health department, Housing Preservation and Development, and the buildings and sanitation departments, a sanitation supervisor arrived at the house to assess the situation.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Dirtbike track of Yes

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GLadKTCX0AArxmS?format=png&name=smallNY Post

Hundreds of freshly-planted trees have been ripped out of a Queens park by vandals to clear the greenspace for their DIY dirt bike track — and angry locals are calling on authorities to track down the “very selfish” bikers.

Some 300 shrubs and saplings, planted by volunteers last year not far from a cycling velodrome, were reported to have been uprooted at Kissena Park in Flushing on April 7, the Parks Department said.

“It makes me angry because I love this park. I have been living here for many years. It’s very selfish because this is for the public. They’re only thinking about their own pleasure,” Jane, a Flushing substitute teacher who declined to give her last name, told The Post.

The teacher, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, said she was worried that reckless off-road bikers could potentially hurt her dog, who she regularly walks in the park.“It can be dangerous if they’re going to be riding their dirt bikes here. They usually ride fast. They could run over my dog,” she added.

Photos of the destruction, which will cost the city approximately $15,000 to fix, show overturned soil near paths filled with deep tire tracks. The paths, which appear to have been used by off-road bikes, are littered with broken branches from trees above and plant roots.

Officials said the vandals dug up recently planted trees and cut down portions of other, more mature trees that were part of a larger reforestation effort across 5,000 square feet of the park.

The city’s parks department is working with the NYPD to investigate the crime, Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said in a statement.

“Trees are so essential to our city – not just for beautifying our neighborhoods but also for cleaning our air, providing much-needed shade, and absorbing stormwater. That’s why it’s so unthinkable that someone would do this,” Donoghue said.

Gobind Singh Negi, 55, a former cab driver who takes daily walks through the park, was also angered by the destruction and slammed it as selfish.


Update by Queens Chronicle

Volunteers planting trees last Wednesday, April 10, in Flushing’s Kissena Park for a reforestation project were shocked to discover that 300 others they had put in the ground over the last two years, worth almost $15,000 according to the Department of Parks and Recreation, had been pulled out, tossed aside and clipped to make way for a new dirt trail.

Members of the volunteer group Kissena Synergy were joined at the same spot by Parks officials, NYPD officers and area elected officials Monday to denounce the vandalism and ask for help in finding those responsible. Leona Chin, a community activist leading efforts to plant more trees in the park, said the arborcide felt like “a betrayal.”

“It was devastating, it’s personal; our investment is our time,” Chin said at the event.

The trail cuts through land where 2,000 new trees had been planted as a part of a reforestation effort in the park by the Parks Department and Kissena Synergy that began in 2022. Though the purpose of the trail is unconfirmed, it appears to have been made to accommodate ATVs, dirt bikes or mountain bikes, as the path features a jump and a U-shaped turn common on bike trails. Tire marks could be found in the dirt on Monday.

Volunteers with Kissena Synergy, founded by Chin, work in the area five days a week, between Tuesday and Saturday. NYPD Assistant Chief Christine Bastedenbeck, the Queens Patrol Borough North commander, said at Monday’s press conference that the incident most likely happened sometime over the previous weekend. Chin said she believes the vandalism occurred sometime on Sunday, April 7, when the volunteers weren’t there.

Chin said volunteers had added branches, logs, rocks and other debris across the trail on Wednesday, April 10, to deter riders from using it. However, the debris was cleared up overnight when the volunteers returned to the site last Thursday to discover fresh bike tracks and a cleared trail. Chin said this felt particularly insulting.

“We’re just angry they thought it was their property to destroy,” she said in an interview. “And then, like I said, to come back and re-clear trails again ... We’re just pleading with the community [to report any new vandalism] because they were the ones that actually noticed, and we’ve had community members reach out to us to tell us things that they have seen.”

Bastedenbeck said law enforcement is looking into the incident. Specifically, she said, additional officers were deployed to the area and detectives were interviewing people in the park and the surrounding perimeter to gather more information on the incident. Bastedenbeck urged Kissena Park visitors and community members to report any illegal motor vehicles in the area.

“We were alerted to the damage in this park on Wednesday, this past week, and believe that the destruction may have happened the prior weekend. Our detectives are currently investigating this incident,” Bastedenbeck said. She encouraged residents to contact the police if they see anyone operating an ATV, dirt bike or moped in city parks.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

City Council approves soccer stadium, small turnout for the team's season home opener in Citifield



Willets Point’s long-awaited transformation from industrial wasteland to Queens’ newest neighborhood got the green light from the City Council Thursday.

The legislature approved on Apr. 11 a massive redevelopment that includes a brand new soccer stadium for the New York City Football Club (NYCFC), which has played home games at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field since its inception, and a 100% 2,500-unit affordable housing project that is the city’s largest in four decades.

Mayor Eric Adams called the plan “the goal of the decade” that will generate billions of dollars in new economic activity, and tens of thousands of jobs, through not only the new soccer stadium and housing, but also more than 20,000 square feet of retail and a 250-room hotel.

“We’re building a brand-new community out of the ‘Valley of Ashes’, and we couldn’t have done it without all our partners, including Councilmember [Francisco] Moya and the rest of the City Council, [Queens] Borough President [Donovan] Richards, NYCFC, Queens Development Group, our union members, and everyone living in Willets Point who made their voices heard and demanded a new future for themselves,” the mayor said on Thursday. “After today’s vote, we’re one step closer to delivering that future.”

For years, the city and the Queens community has debated the fate of Willets Point, which for decades has been home to junkyards, auto repair shops and light industry. Even as Shea Stadium rose and was eventually replaced by Citi Field, the industry in the “Valley of Ashes” persisted beyond the Mets outfield while visions for redevelopment never seemed to get off the ground.


Thousands of New York City Football Club (NYCFC) fans packed Citi Field on Saturday, Apr. 6, for the team’s first home game in Queens this season, playing against Atlanta United FC. This match marked the beginning of a series of five straight home games, equaling the club’s all-time record for consecutive home matches.

Fans from across the five boroughs packed Citi Field to support their “Boys in Blue” for an eventful night. Kick-off was scheduled for 7 p.m., but fans, especially from NYCFC’s official supporter groups, arrived early for pregame celebrations outside the stadium.

The match started with NYCFC’s early possession of the ball to mount almost-immediate pressure, including a header from center back Thiago Martins that was parried away by the Atlanta United keeper.

NYCFC goalkeeper Matt Freese was impressive in his own right, saving multiple attempts from Atlanta. In the tenth minute, he showed the breadth of his skills, catching a header directed toward his goal comfortably.

In the 39th minute, NYCFC was awarded a penalty. Santiago Rodriguez put the hosts in front from the spot for his third goal of the season in the 42nd minute.

Tensions were rising in the second half and Atlanta pressure paid off in the 66th minute when Jamal Thiare found an equalizer that ultimately rescued a point for the visitors — the match ending in a 1-1 draw.

Rodriguez was awarded the Man of the Match honors, but NYCFC’s slow start to the season continued as they have taken just five points (1-2-4) from their first seven games of the 2024 MLS season.

Uh, oh...

Friday, April 12, 2024

Caption Mayor Adams


AOC electioneers on the Late Show, her primary opponent calls for equal campaign time on the program


NY Post

The Democratic primary challenger to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired off a letter to CBS demanding equal time after “Late Night” host Stephen Colbert’s fawning interview with the three-term lefty incumbent on Monday.

Candidate Martin Dolan, who is squaring off against AOC in the June 25  primary for the 14th congressional district encompassing parts of Queens and The Bronx, accused CBS of giving the incumbent free air time to promote her reelection bid.

“CBS just gave $300,000 in free air time to AOC. We want equal time,” Dolan told The Post Wednesday.

 “Give us a fair fight,” Dolan, a 66-year-old former Wall Street banker and Westchester County native, said later in a letter to CBS.

Dolan claimed that under Federal Communication Commission rules covering broadcast networks, he’s entitled to equal air time.

“Section 315(a) of the FCC rules requires stations that allow candidates to use their facilities to give equal opportunities to all other candidates,” reads the letter, obtained by The Post. “There are exceptions for news, not for entertainment shows, or the result can be what you see around the world: incumbent regimes dominating their press.”

During the more than 10-minute interview, Colbert joked with AOC about the eclipse and her interest in becoming a scientist as a student.

He then gave her time to explain her positions including calling Israel’s retaliatory response in Gaza “genocide” and discuss her thoughts on Democrats who voted blank or uncommitted in the primary in protest of President Biden’s response. AOC also claimed credit for Biden’s move to cancel student loan debt

There were no hard-hitting follow-up questions.

Colbert did ask one softball question, whether the democratic socialist would back Biden’s re-election. She said she would.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Yes (not yes)




City Council members on Monday voiced several concerns over Mayor Eric Adams’ sweeping “City of Yes” zoning amendment designed to make it easier for Big Apple businesses to operate and expand.

Legislators grilled Department of City Planning (DCP) officials over certain components of the 18-point plan, known as the “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,” during a Monday hearing. The proceeding followed the City Planning Commission’s (CPC) approving the measure last month.

Dan Garodnick, who serves as both DCP commissioner and CPC chair, said the proposal is aimed at modernizing zoning rules that were written over 60 years ago, which he described as “too complex, restricted and outdated.” It seeks to fill the nearly 17,000 storefronts across the five boroughs, while allowing businesses to open and expand into spaces where they are not currently permitted.

“It will help revitalize commercial corridors, fill vacant storefronts and boost our economic recovery across the board,” the mayor said at a rally preceding the hearing.

Bronx City Council Member Kevin Riley, chair of the council’s Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee, said he is concerned the plan does not address the concentration of “last mile” large package distribution warehouses — utilized by e-commerce companies like Amazon — in some corners of the city. The problem is particularly acute in areas like Red Hook, Brooklyn, and Hunts Point in the Bronx, Riley said.

“The city needs to rethink comprehensively how packages are being delivered to our homes and the concentration of large packaging warehouses in certain neighborhoods,” Riley said. 

The council member also raised the alarm about the city Department of Buildings’ (DOB) ability to enforce the rule changes with its current resources and staffing levels.

“The Department of Buildings does not have the needed staff or resources to address violations of the zoning resolution,” he added. “The administration needs to pledge to increase DOB’s resources so that our quality of life concerns that our communities are rightfully raising are fully addressed.”

The plan would allow “clean manufacturing” — like 3-D printers and jewelry makers — to operate in commercial districts, make it so more businesses can operate on upper floors of buildings and authorize new corner businesses like bodegas to open in residential zones. Additionally, the changes would clear the way for life sciences labs to open near hospitals and allow for activities like dancing that are currently barred in some commercial zones.

Council Member Alexa Aviles (D-Brooklyn) who represents Red Hook, said there was a “full omission” of proposals to address the concentration of last mile facilities in the plan.

“We know the climate impacts, the polluting impacts, the thousands of additional diesel trucks in our community and yet no portion of this has addressed that in earnest,” Aviles said, referring to the pollution from trucks picking up packages from the facilities.

Garodnick said regulating the facilities is a “challenging topic,” but noted that zoning changes might not be the best way to address what is partially a transportation issue.

“We can certainly commit to turning over all land use possibilities [and] working with our partners at the city and state,” he said. “You have my commitment to continue to work with you on that.”

City Hall spokesperson William Fowler later insisted, in a statement, that adding a requirement for companies to seek a “special permit” for citing last-mile warehouses, as Aviles seeks to do, would be out of the legal scope of the plan.

“While we urge the City Council to adopt ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ as we continue to craft policy for last-mile warehouses and logistics in New York City more broadly, a special permit is not legally allowed to be added to the proposal,” Fowler said.

In a separate line of questioning, Council Member Lynn Schulmann (D-Queens), asked how DOB will manage enforcing the zoning changes with limited staff and resources. Garodnick insisted that the zoning changes will actually lighten the workload for DOB enforcers by “clarifying” the rules.

“This proposal is designed to make it easier for them to read, respond to and enforce the rules that we’re putting on the books,” Garodnick said. 


Squatters rejoice!




Queens accounted for the most foreclosures among the New York City boroughs in the first quarter of 2024, with 191, according to a report by the real estate agency PropertyShark.

These 191 foreclosures accounted for 45% of the 424 cases that occurred in New York City this quarter. Its volume was equivalent to the amount of first-time filings in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island combined. This amount of foreclosures also marked the most in Queens since there were 294 in the first quarter of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The 11377 zip code, which covers parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside and South Astoria, earned the designation as the foreclosure epicenter of New York City. There were a total of 31 foreclosures that occurred within that zip code for the first quarter this year.


Saturday, April 6, 2024

Judge orders squatters to GTFO


  NY Post

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a pair of alleged squatters who sued the owners of a $930,000 Queens home after cops escorted them off the property last month.

“The case is over,” the couple’s attorney Rizpah Morrow told reporters outside Queens Civil Court Friday, shortly after Judge Vijay Kitson discontinued the case with prejudice, meaning the claim cannot be refiled.

“The landlords, the owners, own the house, they have possession. The people who said they were locked out have walked away from the situation. They are no longer requesting to be restored to possession and we still have their stuff,” she said.

The two men did not show up for their scheduled court appearance.

One of the home’s owners, Juliya Fulman, told reporters that although they prevailed in the case, the systemic issues it highlights remain, making it a hollow victory.

“Right now, there is a very big problem with these criminals and these squatters. Lawmakers need to make laws in order to protect the people, the citizens,” she told The Post outside the courtroom.

“These criminals are trying to drive people out of New York, and that is not going to happen,” she continued.

“I still don’t feel like I have the full justice in this case because there are people who broke into my house. They claimed they had property there. I would like to know how they got property there.”

The couple had spent over half a million dollars renovating the Jamaica residence as an investment property. Fulman told The Post last week that she incurred thousands of dollars in legal fees defending the ownership of her home.

“I want justice. I want these people to come forward. I want them to say how they got into the house, how their belongings got there, and yeah, it would be very good for them to reimburse us for all of our time and legal fees, so coming here today I don’t know if we accomplished much,” she said.

The suit, filed March 14, had claimed the men were unlawfully removed from the residence, which they said they were legally renting from Fulman and her partner Denis Kurlyand since January.

City of Yes this plan sucks



A resounding NO for the “City of Yes” echoed throughout the halls of the Ridgewood Presbyterian Church during a Ridgewood property owners meeting early last month, as urban planner Paul Graziano presented his argument against Mayor Eric Adams’ initiative.

The Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, comprised of dozens of Ridgewood denizens, expressed concerns about the economic and housing aspects of the plan. They are worried about how these changes could affect a neighborhood known for its rich city history and numerous small businesses, especially given the existing challenges related to multi-family housing.

Graziano, who continues to present his findings on the City of Yes to civic groups across the city, gave Ridgewood natives a unique look at how the potential changes to zoning text amendments across the city could specifically impact Ridgewood’s quality-of-life.

Dozens of property owners at the civic meeting each took pen and paper to share their concerns in letters to the Mayor and City Council, motivated by Graziano’s presentation.

Ahead of a detailed report specifically looking at Ridgewood neighborhoods, Graziano said the impact of the City of Yes could change the neighborhood more than expected.

“This is an apocalypse, a nuclear bomb, whatever you want to call it,” said Graziano, while emphasizing that if this is approved in any form, communities will become unrecognizable.

The City of Yes plans to modernize and update the city’s zoning regulations to support small businesses, create affordable housing, and promote sustainability, as it’s written on the New York City Department of City Planning website.

The three step plan listed on the DCP’s website, and as part of the Mayor’s initiative, is to turn the city into a modern hub for businesses- allowing for a growing push for renewable energy, providing legislative changes for more building spaces, and focusing on building housing in a seamless way.

Within the city’s plans, Graziano claims that there are greater changes to what Ridgewood natives know as city life if the City of Yes is approved without further considerations. One particular change involves the conversion of multi-family dwellings into apartment style complexes on residential neighborhoods.

“The department of city planning and the Mayor have stated publicly that lower density neighborhoods are the cause of the housing crisis and therefore must be eliminated,” Graziano said, adding that the purpose of the zoning changes are to allow developers to build without limitations.

Graziano states that the construction of additional apartment complexes would be particularly noticeable in areas of Ridgewood characterized by multi-family homes that stand alone, not attached to other buildings. Furthermore, the City of Yes initiative aims to allow the creation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) — small, separate living spaces — which could be constructed in a property owner’s backyard.

Graziano has estimated that, if the City of Yes proposal is approved without any modifications, a site that currently has two detached singe family homes could be replaced by an apartment complex with 43 units. In his presentation, Graziano says the two houses make up slightly under 40,000 square feet, which could make space for a 43 unit building.

“Why would you want to allow this in residential areas?” Graziano asked.

More rejection blowback to the bus routes of yes



 With the MTA’s Queens Bus Network Redesign project in its final stages, Community Board 11 in Northeast Queens voted down a motion endorsing the proposal as it currently stands.

At their meeting on Monday, Apr. 1, board members and local residents said their main problem is with the changes to the Q13 and Q31 bus routes in Bayside. In particular, Bell Boulevard, a popular commercial corridor for shopping and dining which is part of the bus routes, would see a significant reduction in bus service if the plan goes into effect as is. 

Despite the concerns, the board’s transportation committee decided to approve the plan given the vast improvements that the MTA made based on community input from initial drafts. 

But at the end of the meeting, where issues with the bus redesign plan were one of the main topics of discussion, the motion to recommend the plan failed to pass in a vote of 19-14. 

The MTA’s initiative to rehaul the city’s largest bus system first launched in 2019 with the goal of providing faster and more convenient service to see an increase in ridership. The process was paused due to the pandemic until it was restarted in 2021. After rounds of drafts based on community input, the final plan was published in Dec. 2023. 

Throughout the review process, community boards have analyzed the proposed route adjustments within their districts, attended detailed presentations by MTA representatives, and voiced their concerns.

“We’ve been working on this… for years,” said CB11 Transportation Committee Chair Victor Dadras. “I will say that we had lots of issues. The MTA to their credit, did extensive work based upon the comments they received, not just from us, but from the community.”

However, the board members were unable to overlook their two primary concerns and thus could not align their vote with the transportation committee’s recommendation. Their concerns were reinforced by members of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District, local civic groups and transportation advocates.

They collectively cited their disapproval with the reduction in service along Bell Boulevard, which could hurt both local businesses and the consumers. They also cite the proposed increase in distance between stops as a major drawback of the plan overall. 

The existing Q31 runs between Bay Terrace and Jamaica along Utopia Parkway. And under the new plan, 84 stops will be removed along Bell Boulevard, 47th Avenue, 48th Avenue. While the route will be extended by slightly more than a mile, the average distance between stops is increasing from 762 feet to 1,224 feet. 

Increased spacing between stops under that new plan has been a chief concern among critics of the plan who say it would be a burden for those with mobility issues such as elderly and disabled riders. But the MTA says that it will allow them to speed up service by cutting out stops they say are underutilized. 

The Q13, which goes from Fort Totten to Flushing, will still run along Bell Boulevard but 6 stops in each direction will be removed. Along the entire route, the average distance between stops will almost double from 688 feet to 1,146 feet under the new proposal. 

“We’ll have no way to get to the shopping and restaurants on Bell,” said board member Jena Lanzetta, who is also President of the Northwest Bayside Civic Association. “We need to go back to the drawing board and I will not be voting for this.”

Thursday, April 4, 2024

NYC Crapbot



Associated Press

 An artificial intelligence-powered chatbot created by New York City to help small business owners is under criticism for dispensing bizarre advice that misstates local policies and advises companies to violate the law.

But days after the issues were first reported last week by tech news outlet The Markup, the city has opted to leave the tool on its official government website. Mayor Eric Adams defended the decision this week even as he acknowledged the chatbot’s answers were “wrong in some areas.”

Launched in October as a “one-stop shop” for business owners, the chatbot offers users algorithmically generated text responses to questions about navigating the city’s bureaucratic maze.

It includes a disclaimer that it may “occasionally produce incorrect, harmful or biased” information and the caveat, since-strengthened, that its answers are not legal advice.

It continues to dole out false guidance, troubling experts who say the buggy system highlights the dangers of governments embracing AI-powered systems without sufficient guardrails.

“They’re rolling out software that is unproven without oversight,” said Julia Stoyanovich, a computer science professor and director of the Center for Responsible AI at New York University. “It’s clear they have no intention of doing what’s responsible.”

In responses to questions posed Wednesday, the chatbot falsely suggested it is legal for an employer to fire a worker who complains about sexual harassment, doesn’t disclose a pregnancy or refuses to cut their dreadlocks. Contradicting two of the city’s signature waste initiatives, it claimed that businesses can put their trash in black garbage bags and are not required to compost.

At times, the bot’s answers veered into the absurd. Asked if a restaurant could serve cheese nibbled on by a rodent, it responded: “Yes, you can still serve the cheese to customers if it has rat bites,” before adding that it was important to assess the “the extent of the damage caused by the rat” and to “inform customers about the situation.”

A spokesperson for Microsoft, which powers the bot through its Azure AI services, said the company was working with city employees “to improve the service and ensure the outputs are accurate and grounded on the city’s official documentation.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Adams, a Democrat, suggested that allowing users to find issues is just part of ironing out kinks in new technology.

“Anyone that knows technology knows this is how it’s done,” he said. “Only those who are fearful sit down and say, ‘Oh, it is not working the way we want, now we have to run away from it all together.’ I don’t live that way.”

Stoyanovich called that approach “reckless and irresponsible.”An artificial intelligence-powered chatbot created by New York City to help small business owners is under criticism for dispensing bizarre advice that misstates local policies and advises companies to violate the law.

But days after the issues were first reported last week by tech news outlet The Markup, the city has opted to leave the tool on its official government website. Mayor Eric Adams defended the decision this week even as he acknowledged the chatbot’s answers were “wrong in some areas.”

Launched in October as a “one-stop shop” for business owners, the chatbot offers users algorithmically generated text responses to questions about navigating the city’s bureaucratic maze.

It includes a disclaimer that it may “occasionally produce incorrect, harmful or biased” information and the caveat, since-strengthened, that its answers are not legal advice.

It continues to dole out false guidance, troubling experts who say the buggy system highlights the dangers of governments embracing AI-powered systems without sufficient guardrails.

“They’re rolling out software that is unproven without oversight,” said Julia Stoyanovich, a computer science professor and director of the Center for Responsible AI at New York University. “It’s clear they have no intention of doing what’s responsible.”

In responses to questions posed Wednesday, the chatbot falsely suggested it is legal for an employer to fire a worker who complains about sexual harassment, doesn’t disclose a pregnancy or refuses to cut their dreadlocks. Contradicting two of the city’s signature waste initiatives, it claimed that businesses can put their trash in black garbage bags and are not required to compost.

At times, the bot’s answers veered into the absurd. Asked if a restaurant could serve cheese nibbled on by a rodent, it responded: “Yes, you can still serve the cheese to customers if it has rat bites,” before adding that it was important to assess the “the extent of the damage caused by the rat” and to “inform customers about the situation.”

A spokesperson for Microsoft, which powers the bot through its Azure AI services, said the company was working with city employees “to improve the service and ensure the outputs are accurate and grounded on the city’s official documentation.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Adams, a Democrat, suggested that allowing users to find issues is just part of ironing out kinks in new technology.

“Anyone that knows technology knows this is how it’s done,” he said. “Only those who are fearful sit down and say, ‘Oh, it is not working the way we want, now we have to run away from it all together.’ I don’t live that way.”

Stoyanovich called that approach “reckless and irresponsible.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Anthony's Song 2024


NY Post 

 Four of New York City’s five boroughs have lost a higher percentage of residents since COVID than any of the 40 largest counties in the country, a startling new review of US Census data shows.

Topping the list is The Bronx — with a 7.2% drop in the past three years, according to the analysis of county-level population estimates.

“It’s been good for us — we get more work — but it’s sad,” said Manny Gomez, a 42-year-old Bronx resident and employee of Morgan and Brothers Manhattan, a storage and moving company, in the borough’s Mount Eden section.

 Rent is way higher. It’s going up. People move out of state because their apartments of 10, 20 years get too expensive,” Gomez told The Post on Monday.

“The little guy is getting screwed over. It’s not worth it to stay in the city.”

 The Bronx had 1,356,476 residents last year, according to the Census data — down from the 1,461,151 recorded in 2020.

Brooklyn’s Kings County came in at No. 2, suffering a 5.8% drop, and Queens County followed closely behind with a 5.7% decline in residents, according to the review carried out by ResiClub, a news and research outlet that covers the US housing market.

Manhattan’s New York County ranked fourth among the 40 largest counties in the US losing residents, with its population declining 4.8% since 2020, the analysis showed.

“It’s getting harder to live in New York,” said the owner of a U-Haul franchise in Sunnyside, Queens, who only gave her first name, Renna, to The Post — echoing what New Yorkers have been saying for several years.

 The cost of living in the city — whether it be soaring prices, rampant crime or the general rat race — is just too damn high for many people, while work-from-home options have made it easier to move out to cheaper, more spacious regions.

And the exodus is apparently continuing.

Frank Lloyd Crap 101

  Welcome to our newest neighbors on 101st ave.
This attempt at brutalism architecture is in Ozone Park on 92nd St. and it's also on the NYC Housing connect program.
I really don't know what these amenities are supposed to be. They appear to be patio lounge areas. 

The developer must have really liked the sliding door theme, the cages in front of them kind of looks like an afterthought. 

The commercial spaces would be hard to see, which makes these perfect for unlicensed and unregistered weed and ebike shops.

50 blocks away in South Jamaica, we have this stylish mixed used behemoth. It even has the checkerboard/Purina cat food design aesthetic.This previously was a building materials shop that got destroyed in a massive fire a few years ago. Still unsolved but I bet it involved a lithium ion battery being charged.

The building is more garage than residential. 

This mammoth mixed use cube annexed whatever space and natural light the next house once had.

No matter how much they deny it, the city of yes was always with us. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

More invasion of the house squatters


Daily Mail

These are the latest victims of New York's 'insane' housing laws that have given way to a wave of absurd squatting incidents where homeowners find themselves forced to go to court to kick out brazen would-be tenants. 

Denis and Juliya are a married couple who invested $530,000 in a property in Jamaica, Queens, several years ago. 

On March 5, a broker they were working with visited the property for a site check before allowing tenants to move in and found the locks had been changed. 

Inside the property was Lance Hunt Jr. and Rondie L. Francis, who had set up mattresses, a flat screen TV and a massage table. The men claimed to have legally leased the property months earlier and refused to leave. 

Now, the homeowners are locked in a legal battle with the pair after the alleged squatters hired an attorney to sue them. 

An emergency lockout hearing was held on Friday March 22 at Queens County Civil Court after the squatters' attorney, Dennis Harris served the couple, the realtor and the real estate company. 

During the 1pm hearing, Rizpah Morrow, who is representing the homeowners asked Judge Vijay M. Kitson for a trial on the grounds that the two men acted in an unlawful manner.

'They perpetrated a fraud,' Morrow told the judge.

The judge told her that she is entitled to a trial, and said 'let them come to court and testify.'

But when the judge asked their attorney where his clients were, Harris told the judge one of them 'had to go to work.'

At this point Ejona Bardhi, the real estate broker with Top Nest Properties, who was also representing the homeowners in court, intervened and told the judge, 'he left because he did not want to get arrested.' 

Denis and Juliya asked the judge if their new tenants could move in before the next court date. The judge agreed but warned them it may complicate the case. The next court date is April 5. 

After the hearing was adjourned and the chambers doors were closed, Lance Hunt, Sr., the father of the second alleged squatter Lance Hunt, Jr., who told DailyMail.com his name was Michael, walked into the court house. 

He tried to enter the judge's chambers but the court officers told him the session had ended for the day. 

Denis told DailyMail.com he is outraged by what is taking place. He said that he and his wife had to take off a day of work and spend $4,000 on an attorney fees.

'I'm being sued for illegal lock out, and for damages. They uploaded fake documents and they have an attorney and notary that are working with them to scam innocent homeowners in Queens,' he said.

'They are targeting empty homes especially the ones listed on the market and the home owners are not protected. 

'I intend to pursue them criminally as well as start a class action lawsuit against the city for failing to protect us.' 

He added: 'This has to be stopped.'

Denis on the phone waiting for the court hearing to start as Rondie L. Francis, one of the alleged squatters, stands behind him 

Bardhi said she first noticed that one of the locks had been changed on the doors on March 1. At first she assumed it may have been done by the former management company, until they told her they did not touch the locks,

When Bardhi went back to the property on March 4, she noticed the other set of door locks had also been changed, and then saw a dark figure in the window.

'I saw a man wearing a black hoodie holding a drill in his hand,' Bardhi recalled.

Alarmed she called police and the homeowners and waited in her car for officers to arrive. While she waited, she noticed more men emerge. She said they started circling her car that was parked in front of the Lakewood Avenue property.

‘They were trying to intimidate me,' she said. 'It was bizarre.'

When police arrived the men told them it was their property and they had been living there since January. Bardhi disputed their claims and said she was just at the home a day prior with a housing inspector.

When officers asked the men for proof of residency, they did not have anything to show, but told the cops they were YouTubers, and left peacefully.

Once they were out, Bardhi and the homeowners were going to place new locks on the door, but the officers told them if they do they will get arrested. 

Upon learning that Bardhi and the homeowners said they were 'enraged' 

She told DailyMail.com: 'The police tells us that they have rights that was the ridiculous part.'


Man kills woman inside bar where she worked at.



A man fatally stabbed a woman to death at a Queens bar on Saturday night before turning the knife on himself in an apparent domestic assault, police sources said.

The shocking incident unfolded at The Ceili House, located at 69-56 Grand Ave. in Maspeth, at around 6:34 p.m. on March 30, authorities said.

Officers from the 104th Precinct rushed to the bar after they received a 911 call describing a brutal assault.

Upon arrival, the cops found 41-year-old Sarah Mcnally with a knife wound to her neck, and the male suspect nearby with wounds to his neck and back. Following a preliminary investigation, police believe the male’s wounds were self-inflicted.

EMS rushed both individuals to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition Mcnally later died of her injuries.

The pair are known to one another, and the attack is believed to be domestic in nature, according to police sources.