From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: Join Us!

Earlier today I noted the meeting regarding crime scheduled for this evening has been cancelled —and a public forum regarding crime has been organized by our city Councilman, Steve Levin, is scheduled for August 27th. Well, it has been brought to my attention the previous evening, August 26th, there will be a sunset “meet and greet” at 475 Kent Avenue, replete with cocktails, on the rooftop!

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A few thoughts/observations:

  • This email blast (which was in turn forwarded to yours truly) was sent to someone who is not a resident of 475 Kent Avenue.
  • However he/she has attended Loft Law workshops publicized by NAG (Neighbors Allied For Good Growth).
  • NAG is a recipient of city funding for activities like Williamsburg Walks.
  • The tenant organizer for NAG also happens to be a member of Community Board 1— and she was appointed by Councilman Levin.
  • The NYC Loft Tenant Group is a city-wide group.  Are they conducting “meet and greets” for all city councilmembers up for reelection this year— or only Steve Levin?

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part III: What To Do About Illegal Hotels?

airbnb239banker1350amonthMore specifically: What do I do when I learn that a fellow tenant is renting out his/her apartment via Airbnb? E.g.; What recourse do I have when some drunken asshat breaks my front door lock at 2:00 a.m. in the morning or simply walks in and hands my husband his luggage?

A tipster writes:

Heather!

Illegal Hotels, formally known as transient occupancy units (TOU’s) are Class “A” residential units that have been converted for short-term stays of 30 days or less without adhering to the fire codes, tax laws, Certificates of Occupancy and zoning restrictions of hotel use. The illegal conversion of residential buildings into hotels presents serious problems for permanent residents, limits the supply of available housing – in particular, rent-regulated and low-income housing. By lacking the necessary fire-safety measures that legal hotels are required to have by law, which are more stringent than multiple dwelling buildings, TOU’s also present substantial safety hazards to permanent, legal residents as well as short-term guests; many are dangerous firetraps.

The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (“OSE”), headed by Kathleen McGee, pulls together the various enforcement agencies to go after TOUs when they are reported. I know people don’t believe it, but for this people need to file 311 Complaints, being sure to tell the operator that they want it to go to OSE. Kathleen has worked to get complaints that are incorrectly taken for HPD or DOB re-routed to her shop (and has been largely successful).

The District Manager or local elected officials can also forward complaints directly to Kathleen, and can even do so anonymously. It can be hard to get OSE out immediately, unless there is a present and imminent fire hazard, but they are very good at going out to problem locations (ie: repeated complaints or severe activity). They have been stepping up their enforcement recently.*

So far, there isn’t much proactive enforcement based off of sites like AirBnB, although with recent changes in the law, which raised the fines for landlords and allows tenants to be fined as well, some landlords have started to patrol the websites to catch tenants and proactively inform OSE.

*No shit.

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From The New York Shitty Inbox: Greetings From 239 Banker Street— Once Again

NYSscSome of you might recall that I recently received a piece of correspondence from an individual who called this place home. He/she was none too happy about it too.   This is why he/she was moving out. As you can imagine, gentle readers, I had a number of questions for this person. WTFsmallToday I am pleased to announce I not only got some answers— but some visuals to accompany them! One is the charming image at right. But I am getting ahead of myself— without further ado, here we go! NOTE: I have excised some material so as to preserve some semblance of anonymity for the parties involved.

Hi Heather, I stupidly did not take any photos of the piss/shit fiasco- I opened the camera to do it but immediately thought “no- this is fucking vile! I’m leaving” and the SMELL! yikes I’m out of there now, but I came to live there because I was moving back to NYC (had been in SF for a year) and my friend who I was looking for a place with had said “hey, I found this spot in Greenpoint with two rooms open”… I went with it… I have some more photos ill send over as well. sorry for so many emails but I can’t attach via the mail app and have no computer access for a couple days. Also made a clip, hope it helps to convey the space better.

bathroom1 bathroom2

…so these first two are the bathroom tub and what is almost certainly mold growing- along w/ Shitpissgate (Apparently the first floor of this building had to be vacated after Hurricane Sandy due to flooding— this included a back-up of raw sewage. Yummy. — Ed. Note), there was an incident with the bathtub backing up dirty water full of black specks up to the brim (last photo- however it only depicts minimal drain, it was a photo I took to send to the super in a “THIS STILL EXISTS HOURS LATER”! message)

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the third is the wood rising up after Shitpissgate, and the fourth is an example of all the arbitrary holes in the deplorable re-flooring job.

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Now let’s proceed to the “bedroom”, shall we?

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photo 2nys

photo 1nys

Yeah, the photos do not do much to describe this space. As the video footage makes all too clear: this is because there isn’t really much space to describe!

I know what you’re thinking:

How much does such a closet room cost?

Well, prepare to be amazed. I certainly was.

$925. And the bigger rooms (slightly, but you know as well as I do how sometimes that extra six inches of a room helps) with windows were $925. Again, against my better judgment, shame on me, etc. but I’m glad I found the legal hurdle.

Those of you who are wondering what this hurdle/loophole was— or simply care about such trivial matters as fire code— will undoubtedly find the following passage from the “Loft Law” (Thanks NAG!) quite illuminating:

…Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (i), (iii) and (iv) of subdivision two of this section, but subject to paragraphs (i) and (ii) of subdivision one of this section and paragraph (ii) of subdivision two of this section, the term “interim multiple dwelling” shall include buildings, structures or portions thereof that are located in a city of more than one million persons which were occupied for residential purposes as the residence or home of any three or more families living independently from one another for a period of twelve consecutive months during the period commencing January first, two thousand eight, and ending December thirty-first, two thousand nine, provided that the unit: is not located in a basement or cellar and has at least one entrance that does not require passage through another residential unit to obtain access to the unit, has at least one window opening onto a street or a lawful yard or court as defined in the zoning resolution for such municipality…

Whoops. Now if you don’t mind I have some bunk beds to install in my tool shed… 

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Greetings From 239 Banker Street

May 29, 2013 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A person we’ll “X” writes:

Hello Heather,

I love and applaud your coverage of 239 Banker Street. I have been living in this dump for the past five months and am eagerly awaiting my leave next week. I share your disdain for the illegal occupation of this building, and the complete disregard of the laws and stop work order violations by the management company. Perhaps you’re already aware but I figured I’d share a couple things with you-

Windowless rooms are being rented as bedrooms, which is a fire hazard/illegal.

Secondly, there was recently a backup of plumbing on the first floor, and several apartments were flooded in the bathrooms out to the kitchen area, this water containing REAL HUMAN SHIT AND PISS (Emphasis mine— Ed. Note). Sorry, but it was atrocious. As a result the floor has buckled up and I can say with certainty that since the post-Sandy re-flooring job was done lazily (spaces as large as 3/16″ in certain parts of it), I am positive there is mold growing. I’m feeling extra spiteful of the building today so figured I’d shoot you an email.

Thanks— I honestly do not know what else to say (that I haven’t said many times before)…

Today In Real Estate Insanity: How To Live In Greenpoint For Under $1,000/Month

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umnothanksYours truly has developed quite a fixation on AirBnb lately. This is not simply due to the lawsuit unfolding either. Rather, the Mister and I had the pleasure of having a trio of miscreants walk into our apartment at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The leader of this group announced that they were here from AirBnb and tried to hand his luggage to the Mister (who was still in his pajamas). The landlord (who had no knowledge this was going on) was called. I searched AirBnb for the listing, found it, took screengrabs and sent them to landlord. Let’s just say this did not go over well.

In any case, parsing through ~450 listings for Greenpoint (and being awakened by one’s husband rolling out more f-bombs in 2 minutes than I have ever heard him utter— much less yell— in 10+ years will motivate one to do this kind of thing) made me aware that this is a pervasive practice. I am surprised? No, not really. Still, it is wretchedly comical on occasion— especially when compared to the solicitation which graces the beginning of this post. CASE IN POINT:

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But wait folks— there’s more…

COZY!

Much more— like what the fuck is up with the slide?

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No worries, the “host” of these digs gives full disclosure:

Hello Traveler,

I’m an Artist living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I share my 3 bedroom Classic Artist’s Loft with travelers from Airbnb. I am respectful, kind and accommodating. I am seeking the same out of you! This is a fairly large apartment, it’s spacious feeling even when everyone is home. I have been very lucky and met amazing people through this service. Much of my furniture was custom made by the artist Jean-Marie Mauclet of JEMA Design and all my lighting is eco-friendly LED’s.

You are welcome to stay in my guest loft. This is a great short-term space for the budget traveler that does not require much privacy. If this space is booked, you are looking for a longer stay or need more privacy check out my “Private Room in Classic Loft” or “Brite Room in Classic Artist’s Loft.” Both are just as cool, better for long stays and have more privacy! The “Cozy Loft” is built above the door in the main living area. When at home, I tend to hang out in my bedroom on my computer or on the roof when the weather is nice. The weekends can be a bit livelier, but not by much! I will provide clean sheets for your double-bed and warm blankets if needed. I also have plenty of storage space if you should need it. Under the loft I have a wardrobe just for your use with plenty of drawers and a place to lock up your computer or other small valuables if you are concerned. The loft is relatively private, comfortable and clean. However, it is not great for couples seeking a romantic vacation or anyone who needs absolute silence to sleep. It has the unusual entrance and exit of an industrial slide. It is not particularly challenging to use, but can be a problem If you are a bit tipsy from going on a pub crawl in the neighborhood, uncoordinated or tired.

My Artist’s Loft is located on the top floor on a quiet street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This is a very safe and friendly part of Brooklyn to visit. I have a manually operated freight elevator that is off limits (* Ed. note) but can be used to transport heavy items if you require. I have fantastic roof access with beautiful views of the New York Skyline. Bring your lap top computer and connect to my WiFi. If you sit in the right space you can enjoy the WiFi in the open air on the roof.

The Franklin Ave (Street — Ed. Note) shops, restaurants and bars are just around the corner. The closest Subway station is the Greenpoint Ave G, also in walking distance is the Bedford Ave L and the Vernon Blvd 7. By subway, I am located 25 minutes from Union Square, 26 minutes from Times Square, 30 minutes from Central Park, 38 minutes from Tribeca and 25 minutes from the East Village. The B61 and B43 bus stop is only a block away and very helpful when weather is uncomfortable. JFK is one hour away by public transport and LGA is 25 minutes away by Cab. Get Ready for your “morning slide!”  I look forward to meeting you. – (excised)

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So what do members of AirBnb’s “community” have to say? See for yourself. Reading is believing!

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By all appearances —and until recently yours truly lived on the block in question for ten years— these cozy accommodations appear to hail from 125 Green Street. What’s more, Google backs me up!

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The funny thing is NAG (formerly Neighbors Allied Against Garbage, now Neighbors Allied For Good Growth) tried to organize this building. Under the pretext that such industrial spaces cum artists space preserved the “artistic integrity” of the community.

Confused About The Loft Law?

One year later, there is neither a Loft Law application— nor Certificate of Occupancy for this property for that matter. But it has a cozy loft available for $975.00 a month. 

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Slide on!

P.S.: The front door of this artists’ abode has Freddy Mercury on it.

freddymercury

Awesome. Totally awesome.

Greenpoint Photo Du Jour: Moving Day

February 10, 2013 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

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I was unable to ascertain whether this moving truck was in the hire of a new or soon-to-be former resident. Nonetheless, it serves as a good opportunity as any to note someone has lodged a complaint regarding the elevator at this residence…

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45 days ago. Fascinating…

New York Shitty Day Ender: Moving Day

October 23, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Just another day at 239 Banker Street (taken today, October 23, 2012)*

*For those of you who are wondering, “Mike” is still advertising this very-much-illegal bit of residential space on Craigslist.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Dispatch From 239 Banker Street

October 23, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A person we’ll call “J” writes:

Hello!

It’s been great reading about 239 Banker Street after I had moved in from your blog. Already planning my move out.
Work restarted this morning: lots of workers all over the building working on apartments. Of particular interest were the bags of cement in the lobby ready to be turned into concrete, and a work permit that expired in July explicitly prohibiting concrete work. So they took down a STOP WORK order to put in an expired work permit that doesn’t even permit them to do what they’re doing in the building.

What a goddamn mess.

New York Shitty analysis: I suppose posting a permit (even an invalid one) is a(n albeit deceptive) step in the right direction. Hilarious.

Highlights From Community Board 1: Let’s Talk Trash

One of the more provocative parts of last week’s convocation— and there were quite a few, I assure you— were two ladies speaking on the subject of illegal garbage can holders.

More specifically: these garbage can holders. Behold the Community Board 1 action regarding them for yourselves, gentle readers (start at 7:28).

New York Shitty analysis:

1. Exactly what constitutes a “beautiful” garbage can holder? If there is in fact such a thing, it in the eye of the beholder.
2. While certainly nice, they are placed on public property (READ: the sidewalk). This is a big no-no.

As these ladies noted, their neighbor is obeying the law:

3. This is not to suggest I am not sympathetic to these ladies’s plight. I am. They brought up a very salient point: the developer of their respective properties did not consider trash collection when designing their respective condominiums. This is clearly a problem. One which should have been prevented at the “planning stage”. Which brings me to…

Yesterday I decided to see how 239 Banker Street’s illegal garbage fixture cum bicycle rack was faring.

Not only is it still there, but among the assorted detritus I found something of interest.

Not one but two boxes which formerly contained stoves. (For those of you who are not in the know, “estufa” means stove in Spanish. Somewhere my high school Spanish teacher is smiling!)  As you can see the powers that be behind this illegal conversion are scarcely concerned about getting caught. What’s more, I learned at last week’s proceedings why.

So there have you: fines are simply part and parcel of “doing business”. Given the “lofts” at 239 Banker Street are going for anywhere between $2,700 – $3,400 for 700 square foot (if that) of “living space” nowadays, well, it has become all too clear how effective these “penalties” have been as a deterrent against this landlord continuing to illegal legally lease out this property as residential space.

Yup.

In closing I will leave you, gentle readers, with the latest bit of “immaculate construction” I spied at 239 Banker Street.

As the screencap of a video I shot on June 3rd of this year indicates, what is now an “apartment” used to be a doorway.* But don’t take my word for it: view the video for yourself.

*For those of you who are wondering, this is perfectly in keeping with the plans for this “hotel”…

Plans: This is what a "hotel" looks like at 239 Banker Street

in 2009.

239 Banker Street: $15,000 in Stop Work Order Fines & Counting!

October 3, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

I know what some of you are asking:

Why do you have such a big problem with 239 Banker Street?

Well, among other things:

1. Using the pretext of “Loft Law” protection (which was ostensibly put in place to preserve “our” artistic community) for “lofts” sporting stainless steel appliances and $2,700+ rent is laughable— and hypocritical.

2. Claiming that this measure protects “families” from being displaced, and the “Community Organizer” seemingly responsible for this loft law application seems to be under this impression, is wretchedly comical. From what I have been told, families are actually being steered away from this property (which is in and of itself illegal). What’s more, windows upon windows of identical “loft beds” do not exactly inspire confidence that this is a family friendly place.

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Rather, it screams “college dormitory”.

3. Let us consider this complaint, shall we?

Had these fellows simply perused Craigslist they would know there’s plenty going on. No inspection required!

Methinks the better questions are:

  • Why was the above-listed advertisement for the former “Sweater Factory Lofts” listed as 245 Banker Street  as opposed to 239 Banker Street?
  • Why so many others have had a problem with 239 Banker Street?

(Those of you have patience and wherewithal can view the rest of this litany of complaints by clicking here.)

  • And why our City Councilman, who did not even reside in Greenpoint (or the 33rd City Council District for that matter) when this shit show started, saw fit to email me about it?

In closing, and for everyone’s edification, I have complied a photo set highlighting the immaculate construction of 239 Banker Street. Without further ado, here it is. Enjoy!

  • NYS Flickr Pool

    Adorn MeGowanusDSCF5006GowanusWhat Is Art?The Crabby ShackPink Work LocomotiveCOLOR MY WORLD
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