Friday, June 24, 2022

War on cars on Queens Boulevard

Smashed car


NY Post 

Dozens of parked cars were left with smashed windows during an overnight seven-block Queens vandalism spree, cops said.

At least one vandal smashed the windows of more than 30 parked, unoccupied vehicles on Queens Boulevard between 51st and 58th streets in Sunnyside either late Wednesday or early Thursday, cops said. 

It’s unclear whether anything was taken from the cars.

Donnie's used redbird car lot

Check it out, Boro Prez Donnie Richards is selling the old redbird next to Queens Borough Hall. 

Jeebus is the city that broke?











 Pawn Pawn Star GIF - Pawn PawnStar 20Bucks - Discover & Share GIFs

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The City Of No rejects Innovation QNS


A Western Queens community board voted Tuesday to reject a developer’s plan to turn a five-block commercial stretch of southeast Astoria into a new 3,000-unit mixed-use neighborhood, citing their concerns over affordability and the impact on local infrastructure.

In a 24-8 vote, Queens Community Board 1 disapproved the plan to rezone a commercial and manufacturing district bound by 37th Street to the west, Northern Boulevard to the east, 35th Avenue to the north and 36th Avenue to the south. Following a lengthy debate, the members agreed to include recommendations on the number of affordable apartments, the impact on local transit, the locations of greenspaces and the proposed heights of the planned towers in a letter to the developers.

The vote marks the first major milestone in the city land use process for the proposed $2 billion project, known as “Innovation QNS,” put forth by Silverstein Properties, BedRock Real Estate Partners and Kaufman Astoria Studios.

The trio of developers already own most of the land and aim to erect at least a dozen towers containing offices, retail space and 2,845 apartments, with about 700 deemed affordable for people earning a percentage of the area median income (AMI) under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program. The developers have chosen Option 1 of the MIH program, which mandates that they reserve 25 percent of the units for people earning an average of 60 percent of AMI—about $56,000 for an individual and $72,000 for a family of three. They say that 300 of the income-restricted units would be priced below $1,000 a month. 

“We are living in an unprecedented housing crisis in our city. We need all types of housing if we’re going to flourish,” said the developers’ land use attorney Jesse Masyr during a presentation to the board. 

The proposed rezoning area “is lovely, but it is not highly-producing property,” Masyr added.

CB1 member Huge Ma, a tech engineer who created the TurboVax vaccine scheduling account, agreed that the city’s affordable housing crisis is “unprecedented,” but said the current proposal would not do enough to address the need for more income-restricted apartments. 

“While I do agree that dense, transit-adjacent housing is how we get out of this crisis, I struggle to vote for a development that provides us the bare minimum 25 percent affordability,” said Ma, who voted to reject the project.

Following a question and answer session with board members, several members of the public sounded off on the proposal, with most describing their opposition. 

“Despite calls for more deeply affordable housing, these deep-pocketed developers have refused to commit any more than the bare minimum affordability required,” said Astoria resident Amy Kenyan. “Upzoning is a gift so let’s demand more from it.” 

Others said the development team had not meaningfully engaged residents, especially non-English-speaking immigrants in the area. Organizer Farihah Akhtar from the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV) said she and her colleagues had talked with hundreds of neighbors living within a mile of the project and found that few had heard of Innovation QNS.

A spokesperson for the developers, Sam Goldstein, said the three firms welcomed the latest feedback from the board members and the public.

“We’re glad to receive that input even as we continue to make the case that New York City—perhaps now more than ever—needs this $2 billion private investment that will create urgently needed mixed-income homes and 5,400 jobs, while generating hundreds of millions of dollars to support infrastructure, public safety, and education,” Goldstein said.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Apathy leads New York primaries


New Yorkers trickled in to polling stations over the weekend to cast their ballots for the first of two primary elections this summer.

Early voting started on Saturday, June 18 for state political offices, such as the governor, lieutenant governor, state assembly members, judges, and party positions.

For the first day, only 10,035 people cast their ballots in the Five Boroughs, according to the city’s Board of Elections, down from 16,867 on the first day of early voting during last year’s primaries for mayor and other city positions.

 June Primary Election – Day 1
New York – 3,400
Bronx – 1,364
Brooklyn – 2,578
Queens – 2,122
Staten Island – 571
Total Number of Early Voting Check-Ins 10,035
*Unofficial as of Close of Polls

Thanks to the state’s redistricting, voters can cast their ballots in two primaries this summer, with another vote coming up on Aug. 23 for the U.S. House of Representatives and the state Senate.

“It’s confusing,” said Manhattanite Caroline Miller after voting at a polling station inside a senior center in Two Bridges. “It seems to be disruptive.” 

 NY Daily News

Early voting in the Big Apple will run through Sunday. Polling places will be shuttered the following Monday and will reopen at about 1,200 sites throughout the city on Tuesday, which is the final day to cast ballots in person.

The city’s Board of Elections provides information about early voting, but Ken Sherrill, professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College, suggested that hasn’t done the trick.

He said low turnout in the city over the weekend shows there’s little to no voter education happening when it comes to early voting.

“The television campaigns for governor and lieutenant governor don’t mention when primary day is, or when early voting begins,” he said. “In other words, there is absolutely no voter education going on by any of the candidates or political parties — or virtually none.”

Rent guidelines board made the rents too damn higher



Confirming a preliminary vote in May, the New York City Rent Guideline Board voted Tuesday to approve a range of increases in rent-stabilized buildings affecting more than 2 million tenants across the city.

Renters with one-year leases can expect a 3.25% jump in their rents, while those with two-year leases will see rents the climb 5%.

The vote of the board — composed of nine mayor-appointed members which include two landlords, two tenants and five are considered public members — disappointed plenty of tenants and rental advocates.

“I waited to see how this allegedly neutral process would unfold and frankly, I’ve seen enough,” said board Tenant Member Ad├ín Soltren, as he expressed his disappointment in the increase vote on June 21. “Despite all our good faith efforts, the public members [of this board] decided that rather than listen, digest and make informed decisions, they’d rather keep moving the goalpost. People on this board today are choosing to continue to uphold a racist, classist system that pushes Black and Brown people and low and moderate income working families into cyclic poverty and out of their homes.”

Board Public Member Christian Gonzalez-Rivera also condemned the vote, and addressed the statements made by fellow board members indicating that the only way for property owners to cover their operating expenses is to increase rent – even if the increase means tenants cannot afford to live in the units.

“Landlord representatives that told us [the Rent Guideline Board] at these hearings that, since the HSTPA (Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019) closed their alternative avenues of raising rents beyond the levels that are voted on by this board, that they now depend on high enough increases from this board in order to keep up with increases in operating expenses,” said Gonzalez-Rivera. “This is simply not true. The only way that this could be true is if you think of the rent-stabilized housing market as a closed system, where the only input is rent.” 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Writing's on the wall against luxury public housing complex Innovation QNS

Jackson Heights Post

A group of activists and artists sent a message to the developers of the proposed Innovation QNS project Sunday night that their development is not wanted.

The artists projected enormous messages on the side of one of the Kaufman Astoria buildings in Astoria that were highly critical of the $2 billion development proposal that would bring 2,800 apartment units, as well as office, retail and community space to the Steinway Street/35th Avenue district.

Some of the messages expressed concern about possible gentrification such as “Mom and pop small businesses can’t afford the rents” and “Immigrants and working-class built Astoria. $4,500 for a one-bedroom will destroy Astoria.” Other messages spotlighted the environmental impact with “Thousands of cars, 27 story buildings, 7,000 residents, and no infrastructure improvements.”

The messages went up two days in advance of Community Board 1’s vote on the project, when the board will make a recommendation as to whether the area should be rezoned so the expansive plans can proceed.

The recommendation is likely to influence the decision Councilmember Julie Won makes as to whether to approve the rezoning or not. She will ultimately determine its fate in the city council.

The developers consisting of Silverstein Properties, Kaufman Astoria Studios and BedRock Real Estate Partners are looking to rezone a 5-block district between 37th Street and Northern Boulevard, bound by 35th and 36th Avenues, so they can move forward with the project.

The proposed development would consist of more than a dozen buildings that would range in height from eight to 27 stories. It would include 711 affordable housings units, in accordance with city requirements, which would be offered at an average of 60 percent of Area Median Income.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Melinda's executive security moving service

 Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz


 NY Post

When it absolutely, positively has to get there … trust your bodyguards!

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz used members of her taxpayer-funded security detail to help her move to her new million-dollar digs — potentially running afoul of ethics rules, The Post has learned.

The borough’s top prosecutor was spotted wearing her gold DA’s badge on her hip last week as she carried four boxes of belongings to a black Ford Expedition parked outside the Forest Hills house where she’s been temporarily living since selling her former childhood home for $1.05 million in February.

She then climbed into the official vehicle and was driven about 1.2 miles by a pair of plainclothes NYPD cops to her new three-bedroom, 2-1/2 bathroom Colonial-style house, which city records show she bought late last month for $1.1 million.

The trip was one of four that The Post saw Katz, 56, and her detail make between her old and new homes Tuesday morning. Later in the day, Katz took part in an online Pride event sponsored by her office and appeared to be sitting behind the driver’s seat in the SUV, which had a row of clothes hanging from a rack visible in the rear.

On Friday morning, The Post also saw members of Katz’s security detail carry various items to the SUV from one of the homes while picking up her and her two kids. One cop made three back-and-forth trips, and the other made two. They carried stuff in their hands and in large black plastic bags.

Sources familiar with Katz’s routine told The Post that members of her security detail also had been hauling flat-screen TVs, groceries and dry cleaning around for her, as well as loading her sons’ bicycles and sports gear into an official SUV, driving the family away and returning several hours later.

Katz also regularly had her security detail show up at her home on weekday​ mornings in time for her to accompany her kids as the​ cops drove them to school, after which she returned home, dressed for work and left around 10 a.m., sources said.