From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: Angry At Alma

Today was designated by yours truly to be a quiet day at Chez Shitty doing housework. As is usually the case, this has been rendered totally asunder by a proliferation of very angry emails from my fellow citizens. Take this missive from D, for example. He writes:

Heather,

As a regular reader of your blog, I’ve have noticed that you’re in touch with the north Brooklyn neighborhood happenings.

I’m writing on behalf of the residents who live directly above the Alma lounge (229 Roebling / South 3rd st). To keep this email succinct I’ll say that we have had problems since their opening in April, 2010. Our primary concern is the chronic noise/bass levels that shake our apartments (Wed-Sun, 11:00pm-5:00am).  However, despite ongoing police intervention we have ample evidence of loitering, fights, violence…

and Alma’s promotion of illegal-unlicensed exotic dancers, valet parking, hookah smoking. But to be clear, we’re only concerned with the noise/bass.

What’s Happening? For more than 10 months we’ve tried to diplomatically navigate multiple mediation channels:

1) Asking Alma’s owner to simply turn it down. Alma’s management has been unsurprisingly uncooperative.

2) Asking our landlord (S&C Management) to comply with the habitability clause of our lease and intervene. S&C has been unsurprisingly silent.

3) Calling 311 on a nightly basis – All 5 tenants suffering from alma have submitted weekly complaints and surprisingly the 90th precinct’s registered responses conflict with our experiences of watching the officer cars stop in front of the club, speak to the bouncer, drive away (e.g “The Police Department responded to the complaint and took action to fix the condition.”). This has been completely ineffective.

4) Attending the 90th precinct’s monthly community affairs and pleading directly with Deputy Inspector Michael Kemper and Detective Bruno Vidal. Additionally, we have been in phone contact with both Kemper and Vidal asking for their intervention. Both Kemper and Vidal have been very professional and really do seem like they’re doing all that’s in their power.

5) Attending the Community Board (CB1) public hearing and speaking directly with the public safety chair, Kalita. Additionally, we have been emailing with Maria Viera and although her correspondence has been brief, appears to be facilitating a dialog with the 90th precinct and the DEP. I’ll be attending this month’s public safety (02/03) and public hearing (02/08)

6) Submitting multiple complaints to the NYSLA. We have not received any response.

7) Patiently worked with DEP to schedule a first sound reading and finally in December a summons was issued (NOV# 00266115X) was issued with a 01/25/11 hearing date (See Attached). The irony is that even the DEP inspectors noticed Alma trying to turn the music down as they arrived. On 01/26/11 we were informed that Alma’s hearing was adjourned and rescheduled 03/22/11. DEP is recommending not to schedule a second sound reading until after the  postponed hearing (two more months?) WTF?

What’s Next? If the March hearing happens as scheduled, it will basically be a full year of suffering and bureaucrazy just to protect our rights to live in our homes (vs. a sub-woofer). After every phone call/meeting/email, it becomes increasingly unclear to us laymen-advocates who is accountable.  While our apartment’s shake us into lucid insomnia, we ask ourselves questions like: Why did the landlord allow a dance club to open below residential apartments? Does the Alma dance club even have a Cabaret license? What’s the point of 311? Why does it take so long to address a clearly chronic violation? Are we being irrational?

As a long time resident of north Brooklyn, we’ve seen several clubs shut down (triple crown, studio b, sound fix) and Alma’s noise/bass is just as problematic (if not worse). I’m reaching out to you because we don’t know what else to do. If you have any thoughts or encouragement I’d love to buy you coffee / lunch for your troubles.

Thanks for the offer of coffee and/or lunch, D, it is truly appreciated— but not necessary! By all appearances you have gone through all the proper channels and have demonstrated an admirable amount of due diligence. I have forwarded your missive to a few folks and I am quite interested to see what they have to say on the matter. In the meantime, if anyone has advice— or would care to commiserate with/corraborate the above testament by D please share via comments or via email at missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. Your identity will remain anonymous if you so desire. Thanks.

Update, 3:09 p.m.: Here’s what my building code/use wizard friend has to say:

They missed the most egregious violation: it’s not a restaurant and there’s certainly no PA there (not sure how big it is).  There’s a self certified ALT 2 they just filed to convert it to “eating and drinking” but this is so very wrong.  It has to be filed as an ALT 1.  I would start lobbing complaints regarding their ANSUL  system (not filed nor approved), illegal commercial kitchen, and possible PA to the FD.  Complaints to the DOB for occupancy contrary to the certificate of occupancy AND I would write a letter to the Brooklyn borough commissioner of the DOB requesting an audit of the application I linked to.  They’d have to have a pretty serious life safety violation to get a vacate, so I doubt that happens, but that’s a good start to some serious nut twisting.  If it should be a PA, I’d go directly to the FD PA unit instead of 311…

Oh, and I wouldn’t wait to make more noise complaints.  If I’m repping the restaurant, I’m going to adjourn that shit again for another 2-3 months.  You’re allowed up to 3 adjournments before it will default… Lastly, if memory serves me, this is the same architect that filed the Studio B CO amendment.

Miss Heather

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