From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part III: Homelessness Under The BQE?

May 30, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A person we’ll call “N” writes:

Hi there —

Wanted to pass along some info about the homeless encampment that is starting to stink up the 5 block radius around it – I reported it to 311 and it turns out our police precinct seems to think it’s not under their jurisdiction to disband it. I’ve called the Department of Homeless Services and it seems that are also aware of the problem but have not done anything about it yet. Meanwhile the homeless guys have a BBQ, mattresses, and just tons and tons of shit piling up around there. They’ve been collecting stuff there for months now. It’s getting really disgusting. You should take a walk by there and check it out. Spread awareness and maybe if enough people complain the police or the homeless dept will get them some help. It’s really sad.

Thanks!

This afternoon I went to see this myself. The following photos and video footage pretty much say it all.

(speechless)

New York Shitty Day Starter: Live From The Polish National Home…

The Public Meeting Regarding The Newtown Creek Superfund Site

To preface: My footage/documentation of this hearing is truncated because;

  1. I left the battery for my digital camera at home. (Hey, occasionally shit happens at Chez Shitty!)
  2. This meeting, which was scheduled to last two hours, ended up being more or less redundant. E.g.; More or less the same complaints/concerns were raised followed by more or less the same answers. (Thus, I feel a lot less guilty for forgetting my battery.)

Nonetheless, I got the presentation in its entirety along with a few questions from the audience (which, it should be noted, became much more substantial after the conflicting meeting regarding the Nassau Avenue Reconstruction meeting was dismissed). Without further ado, here we go!

Parts I – VI: Introduction & Presentation

Part VII: The Q & A Session Kicks Off

Part VIII: Laura Hofmann Speaks

Part IX: A Bone Fide Old School Greenpointer (and all-around Garden Spot/environmental badass) Irene Klementowicz Tenders Her Two Cents

Part X: A Resident Of Oak Street Speaks

It was at this point I— and my electronics— gave up. However, I did take notes. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. It was asked by one citizen if they (being the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection) have considered posting notices at local fishing supply shops. They stated they were not aware of any. To wit, he replied:

There’s one two blocks from here.

This was met with surprise by the panel of experts present.

2. It was asked if there are any grants available (via the Department of Health) which would enable community groups to conduct a more comprehensive/focused study. The answer was (essentially) “not that we know of”.

3. It was pointed out by a member of the audience— at the Polish National Home (AKA: The Warsaw)— that little to no outreach has been made by either the Department of Health or the Department of Environmental Protection to the Polish community in Greenpoint, viz a viz, through its local Polish language newspapers. It was agreed by the officials present that this was a sterling idea and solicited information as to whom they could contact. Yours truly helped with this endeavor by giving them the contact information for a reporter at this newspaper.

4. Kate Zidar, Executive Director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, reiterated that these meetings are “repetitive” and advised the civil servants hosting said forum to “take notes” in the hope that— moving forward— these convocations (and health studies regarding the manifold number of toxins manifest in Greenpoint) can move forward. Ms. Zidar was advised notes were, in fact, being taken— and this was pretty awesome given the following:

We do not want a “perfect” health study. We want a health study.

Then she followed this statement up with the following bits of data:

  • In January of 2007 the Newtown Creek Alliance sent a letter to the Department of Health requesting a comprehensive health study of the Greenpoint Oil Spill.
  • After a meeting with the Department of Health in March 2008, the Newtown Creek Alliance (which will henceforth be called the “NCA” — Ed. Note) requested (among many other things) that a skilled Community Liaison be enlisted by the Department of Health. This has not happened.
  • After a meeting with the Department of Health in October of 2008 Ms. Zidar notes the map (and I quote) “does not include features agreed upon at previous meetings”. Which, as I intuit, would include a 1/2 mile radius versus a 1/4 mile radius (from which the Department of Health is operating currently) because…
    • a great deal of residential property is excluded by the current demarcations. Thus this current study is more an occupational/workplace study than one of long-term, consistent exposure.
    • Such a study should include/take into consideration other “hot spots” such as the “Greenpoint oil spill” and “Meeker Avenue Plume”. To date, it does not.

 5. The previous was not overlooked by our local politicians*:

  • Among them our City Councilman, Steve Levin (as seen above texting), noted:
    • He resides not only atop the “Oil Spill” but the “Plume” as well.
    • A half-mile radius study should be employed.
    • To merely focus on the creek is to focus on one part of a manifold number of environmental (and therefore: health-related) problems in Greenpoint.
  • Lincoln Restler (whose back can be seen at right) added his two cents. They were basically as follows: This is an ongoing problem. At what point will we get an honest, expanded study (and due process) so future generations of Greenpointers do not experience and/or are afflicted with what our predecessors— such as Ms. Hofmann and Ms. Klementowicz— have witnessed?

If the intransigence and “timetable” I witnessed last night— coupled with Ms. Klementowicz’s piquant observation:

By 2023, we (This being the people doing the complaining at last night’s meeting— Ed. Note.) will be dead.

this will be continued…

*It should be noted a representative of Joe Lentol’s office was present as well. I do not recall her name, but the DOH/DEP panel made note of her arrival.

New York Shitty Day Ender: A Couple Community Meetings of Interest

The ever-dedicated lady of our Community board’s Transportation Committee, Karen Nieves, has brought a couple of items to my attention. Items in which I suspect a number of my friends and neighbors will be interested. Without further ado, here they are— bike share enthusiasts and those who still have issues with the Nassau Avenue Reconstruction Project should pay special attention!

Transportation Committee Meeting


Transportation Committee Meeting
May 15, 2012 starting at 6:30 p.m. (NOTE: you have to sign in in order to speak)
Community Board 1 Office
435 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Nassau Avenue Construction Meeting 2.0

Nassau Avenue Construction Meeting
May 24, 2012 starting at 7:00 p.m.
Lutheran Church of the Messiah
129 Russell Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222

Spread the word!

New York Shitty Day Ender: Reader Comment du Jour

May 9, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Asshole, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Calyer Cooze notes (in regards to this post):

And here’s the latest Craigslist ad! Nausea, indeed. http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/abo/3003528111.html (As seen above, for posterity)

On that note, I had a very interesting bit of information brought to my attention. That being:

239 Banker Street does not have an a Certificate of Occupancy for a hotel. Thus the question becomes why are they being taxed as such? Anyone who cares to take up this interesting discrepancy can (and should) do so by clicking here.

Reader Contribution du Jour: Today at Lake McCarren

Well, not exactly a reader contribution per se. This photo was taken by our very own City Councilman, Steve Levin*, and was forwarded to the keeper of the dog (whose name is Ursula) in question . Hey, I like to give credit where it is due!

P.S.: I would be remiss if I did not note that Mr. Levin (and a number of our elected officials, such as Joe Lentol who can be seen at far right) made a brief appearance at today’s Lunch with Lambda!

New York Shitty Day Ender: If At First You Do Not Succeed…

April 30, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Our City Councilman writes to yours truly on April 11, 2012 (regarding this post):

…The Loft Law was designed to protect residential tenants who, knowingly or unknowingly, moved into manufacturing or commercial spaces and it may grant rights for tenants to save and stabilize their housing and avoid the excessive costs associated with being vacated. With regard to 239 Banker Street, I cannot say whether they will be covered by the Loft Law. However, when the building was vacated in 2009, many tenants suddenly lost their living spaces as well as thousands of dollars in rent and security deposits. I do not want to see a repeat of that event. I will work to ensure that all building code issues at 239 Banker are addressed, but I hope to avoid seeing another vacate order if possible…

Cityslicker24 writes on April 8, 2012:

…Furthermore, an application for legalization under the NYC loft law is pending, and indeed the building has undergone modernization, including new windows, floors, and fire sprinklers installed throughout each unit. I was in the units two days ago and saw that there have been significant projects intended to make the building appropriate for dwelling use…

hav writes on March 29, 2012:

non-surprisingly someone decided to complain to the DOB which ordered the building to vacate yesterday. As of today there are some interesting developments but nothing solidified yet. It is however looking like the building has a strong possibility of getting covered by the NYC Loft Law which will protect tenants from being vacated…

Given that 239 Banker has— at long last— overcome their recent brush with vandalism, the above-listed comments; and Mr. Levin’s apparent confusion as to whether or not this rather notorious edifice qualifies for Loft Law protection, I decided to do a little research. First, I perused the Loft Law proper. Then I proceeded to parse through each and every post I have authored about 239 Banker Street. You see, unlike our City Councilman, I actually lived here when this shit show started.

My conclusion is as follows: I can assure cityslicker24, hav and Mr. Levin that 239 Banker Street is in no way, no HOW entitled to Loft Law protection. And the best reason of all can be found on the New York City Loft Board’s own web site:

In June of 2010, the State Legislature expanded the Loft Law to include tenants who lives in a commercial or manufacturing building where three or more families have lived independently from one another for 12 consecutive months from 1/1/08 through 12/21/09, in a building that lacks a residential certificate of occupancy.

So let’s review a (somewhat) concise timeline of 239 Banker Street with the previous data in mind, shall we?

1. For starters, the permit approving the conversion of 239 Banker Street into a “hotel” (as seen at left) was not granted until July 30, 2008. This expired on July 30, 2009 and was not renewed until December 11, 2009.

2. Advertisements shilling apartments at 239 Banker Street were noticed on Craigslist May 28, 2009 (as seen below). In fact, there was a website created for the sole purpose of marketing “The Sweater Factory Lofts”. Alas, this is long gone, but you can view screencaps by clicking here.

3. Individuals were spied moving into 239 Banker Street May 31, 2009 and June 2, 2009. Following me so far? Great!

4. A Stop Work Order was issued shortly thereafter. This was (naturally) disregarded. So complaints were filed July 31, 2009.

5. The Department of Buildings actually saw fit to cite 239 Banker Street for violating a Stop Work Order (at right, which you can view in larger format by clicking here). This came to pass September 8, 2009.

6. And last— but hardly least— the Department of Buildings issued a Vacate Order citing “conditions imminently perilous to life” on September 29, 2009. Among their dismal discoveries were disabled/concealed sprinkler heads and uncapped electrical wires.*

Follows is ABC’s footage of this death trap. Seeing is truly believing folks!

Post-script: as of December 28, 2010 this Vacate Order was still in place.

Let’s review:

  • The Loft Law requires that three or more families reside in a commercial or manufacturing building for twelve consecutive months between January 2008 and December 2009.
  • 239 Banker Street did not have tenants— much less three families living independently of each other— until at least May 31, 2009.
  • 239 Banker Street was vacated by the Department of Buildings September 24, 2009.
  • This makes five months total— not even close to what the law requires.

So why file such a spurious application in the first place? Well, as one commenter noted recently:

they can apply for loft law status, but they will have an almost impossible task of getting coverage. The problem is that once they apply and receive a docket number they are actually protected from any action from DOB, which actually sucks because there is a 2-3 year back up to hear the case with the loft board. So while they will almost certainly lose the hearing they will keep moving people into the space who will get evicted in 2 or 3 years at best…

Unless of course in the meantime someone changes the law**:

Assemblymember Vito Lopez told more than 200 tenants gathered at a meeting last night on his 2010 law protecting their right to live in former industrial spaces that he is their best ally — and suggested that Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez is the one they should throw out of office this year.

“[Councilmember Diana] Reyna and Velazquez wanted the area carved out of the law,” said Lopez, who also heads the Brooklyn Democratic Party, referring to the industrial zone bridging Williamsburg and Bushwick that lies within his district. “They really don’t like you. This was Velazquez’s way of saying you don’t matter.”

Velazquez faces a primary challenge this June from term-limited Councilmember Erik Dilan, a close ally of Lopez who sat at his side onstage at the event. Flanking Lopez on the other side was Williamsburg GREENPOINT Councilmember Stephen Levin, who formerly served as Lopez’ chief of staff…

*Which, it is interesting to note, netted them a paltry $25,000 fine. Not they they have bothered to pay it or the litany of other penalties they have accrued. They haven’t.

**You do not honestly believe Mr. Lopez and Mr. Levin are pushing for an expansion of the Loft Law out of the kindness of their own hearts, gentle readers? No sir. Rather, this is simply an expedient means to use voters so as to rezone by decree and reward landlords/political backers who have no regard for zoning laws— or their tenant’s safety. Landlords like Meserole Factory, LLC.

MONDAY: Transportation Committee Meeting Regarding The Nassau Avenue Reconstruction Project

April 19, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

As promised (and organized by the fabulous co-chair of Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee, Karen Nieves, with BIG help from City Councilman Steve Levin and Assemblyman Joe Lentol), here it is!

Nassau Avenue Reconstruction Community Meeting
Monday, April 23, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.
Lutheran Church of the Messiah
129 Russell Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222

From The New York Shitty Inbox: And Now A Word From Our City Councilman

April 11, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

It would appear, at long last, my coverage of 239 Banker Street (which is clearly being followed by real estate notables such as Brownstoner and Curbed, real estate agents and ostensible tenants of said space) has gotten the attention of our City Councilman! Steve Levin writes:

Heather,

I have noticed your posts and am glad you continue to bring light to the issue of lofts in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The Loft Law was designed to protect residential tenants who, knowingly or unknowingly, moved into manufacturing or commercial spaces and it may grant rights for tenants to save and stabilize their housing and avoid the excessive costs associated with being vacated.  With regard to 239 Banker Street, I cannot say whether they will be covered by the Loft Law.  However, when the building was vacated in 2009, many tenants suddenly lost their living spaces as well as thousands of dollars in rent and security deposits.  I do not want to see a repeat of that event.  I will work to ensure that all building code issues at 239 Banker are addressed, but I hope to avoid seeing another vacate order if possible.  All I can do is try to spread the word about the Loft Law so that tenants in such spaces can apply for coverage that they may be legally entitled to.  Of course, the Loft Board will make final determinations about each application individually.

Sincerely yours,
Stephen Levin
Councilmember

To wit I replied (sans visual aides):

Hey,

First off I appreciate the email— and I agree that the loft law (which is much-needed) may or may not applicable in this case. What really upsets me is we are for all intents and purposes seeing the exact same situation (as 2009) play itself out again, e.g.; a commercial building—without the applicable permits I’ll add— is being converted into residential space, this space is being willfully and deliberately marketed/presented as residential space;

people are moving in under the illusion it is legally inhabitable space, etc.

This would suggest that lessons were not learned (bye it by the owner of this property, our enforcement agencies, etc.) the first time around and/or whatever consequences borne by the owner of this space were not a sufficient deterrent from engaging in this (illegal) behavior again. Or to put it differently: the “system” we have in place is not working. I have a very big problem with this. What is the point of having laws on the books, agencies deemed with the enforcement of said laws and due process if they can be bypassed, quite flagrantly I’ll note, in such a manner?

Do I want to see people thrown out on the street again? No, not really. But I am also getting very tired of this building’s owners total disregard for the law— and the fact they have been basically enabled by the upholders of said laws to do so. No matter how you cut it, this is appalling. They tried via the Department of Buildings to have this space reclassified as residential. It was refused.

They could (theoretically) go through our Community Board and get a zoning variance— but have seen fit not to do so. Why should they? There are for all intents and purposes no consequences for their actions, thus they do whatever they want.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t add in closing that real estate agents are seemingly eager participants in this fraud. Each and every one of them (in my opinion) should be reported to the Department of State and have their licenses revoked.

Thanks again!

H

With all due respect, what seems to be lost by our City Councilman is he can, in fact, stop another “repeat” of this event. By simply asking the Department of Buildings to do its job. Months ago.

Photo Credits: All taken today, April 11, 2012, by yours truly.

New York Shitty Day Starter: Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

A commenter, hav, writes on March 29, 2012 (regarding this post about 239 Banker Street):

non-surprisingly someone decided to complain to the DOB which ordered the building to vacate yesterday. As of today there are some interesting developments but nothing solidified yet. It is however looking like the building has a strong possibility of getting covered by the NYC Loft Law which will protect tenants from being vacated.

Here’s the deal: while complaints have been placed, this building has most assuredly NOT been vacated. I know this because I saw another person move in March 30th. His (or her) personal effects included the box at top left.

Nonetheless, I perused the Department of Buildings Building Information System anyway.

Nary a Vacate Order was to be found— but there are plenty of complaints!

Let’s go to the latest: 3407084

So now we have to look at Complaint #3403837 for “closure”.

Hmm.

Given all the previous, I find the following missive (as found on the Broadway stop of the G train and thus out of the 33rd City Council District’s— and 239 Banker Street’s— jurisdiction) fascinating to say the least:

Those of you who have questions (as I do) as to why 239 Banker Street has, once again, been allowed to be illegally employed as residential property despite this— or simply have questions about the loft law should make it a point to attend. Be sure to ask our City Councilman why he is conducting a “loft law” workshop outside his own district while you’re at there!

Panel Discussion on the State of the Loft Law
Co-Conductors: Assemblyman Vito Lopez and Steve Levin, City Councilman, 33rd District (which includes 239 Banker Street)
Invited guests: The Department of Buildings & New York City Loft Board
Date: April 24, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.
Location: Our Lady of Pompeii, Community Room
225 Seigel Street
Brooklyn, New York 11206

Otherwise those who find all the previous disconcerting can send Mr. Levin an email via his web page.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: How Do I Complain?

September 26, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Criminal Activity, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A lady we’ll called “Grumpy” (who sent me this delightful image) writes:

Hello Miss Heather.

Happy Sunday!

I wanted to share a lovely photo of what my entrance way (I live on Manhattan Ave. at Meserole)looked like when I returned home around 1:30 AM last night. There were super intoxicated, sluttily dressed, LOUD girls/ladies all up and down my block, sitting on stoops, texting, screetching about men who had ignored them and I am sure one of them was responsible for the disgusting mess all over my stoop. The puke was not only on the street and in my doorway but also in the vestibule into my building!
DISGUSTING.

Every Saturday night, around 4 AM it sounds like a friggin’ riot is happening, right under my window. Men fighting over ladies, men just fighting other men because they are drunk and stupid, people screaming, threatening each other, car doors being slammed, car tires peeling out, glass breaking, etc… it is NUTS! And although the police station is NEXT DOOR to Europa the police cannot seem to control these techno-loving, inebriated maniacs! The ruckus is really crazy and seems to be getting worse, week to week. I have lived in the same apt. for 7 years and although I have been woken up on occasion over the past 7 years, the past 2 months have been intolerable, I get woken up EVERY Saturday night (and some Friday nights) by what I now refer to as the 4 AM riots!

I stopped a police officer when I was getting home last Saturday, around 2 AM, to ask her what to do about the increased craziness of Europa’s patrons and she told me all that I could do was go to a community board meeting to express my unhappiness about the current situation of the streets when the club lets out. I certainly don’t want to be the old crank who wants the kids locked down with nowhere to go but I also feel like this has become SO ridiculous that I should do something! My friend and neighbor (who I think you know) also has similar stories of being awoken by these drunk dummies, who puke in front of her house, and sit on her stoop blabbing incoherently to each other, keeping her up all Saturday night as well.

Her and I think we should go to a meeting, she said that you attend all of them… if we were to go, should we bring evidence of the out of control shit that is happening weekly?

Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated!!!!!

I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

-grumpy in Greenpoint

First off, there’s no way I could possibly attend “all the meetings” which come to pass here. This is simply not humanly possible— but thanks! Secondly, as some of you might recall there was a rather nasty incident which came to pass at Club Europa weekend before last which culminated in (among other things) two police officers getting injured. This was expounded upon at the last 94th Precinct Community Council meeting by Deputy Inspector Hurson. Those of you who are not in the know can get his take on what happened by clicking here.

The previous having been written, the police officer’s advice is correct. Somewhat. Although I have written more posts about the subject of nightclubs, nuisances they can present; and how to go about complaining more than I care admit I’m going to do it one more time. Please pay attention, folks!

1. You know how the slogan for the MTA goes: If you see something, say something! The same applies when it comes to reporting bars and/or nightclubs which are proving not to be good neighbors. When you see (or in this case: hear) disorderly behavior call 311 and complain. At the end of the call you will be given a complaint number. Be sure to write this down as you will need it to…

2. Email it along with a general description of what happened to your local Community Board. In this case, Community Board 1 Brooklyn: bk01 (at) cb (dot) nyc (dot) gov
3. Meetings: these are an excellent way to follow up on your 311 complaint! Here are a few relevant ones to consider:

Public Safety Committee, Community Board 1 (this body oversees liquor license applications and criminal activity)
Next Meeting: Tuesday, September 27, starting at 6:30 p.m. (That’s tomorrow! NOTE: You must sign up to speak by 6:15 p.m.)
Community Board 1 Main Office
435 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Community Board 1 Combined Hearing & Public Meeting
October 5, 2011 starting at 6:30 p.m. (NOTE: once again, you must sign up to speak by 6:15 p.m. This rule is enforced with great vigilance)
Swinging 60’s Seniors Center
211 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

And last, but hardly least: 94th Precinct Community Council Meetings! The schedule for these has been changed to the second Tuesday of every month starting at 7:00 p.m. This would make the next meeting October 11th.

94th Precinct Community Council Meeting
October 11, 2011 starting at 7:00 p.m.
Church of the Ascension, back room
127 Kent Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222

NOTE: You must gain entrance via Java Street!!!

This is how to get started, W. You can (and should) also bring your complaints to the attention of your local elected officials. Here are a few to get you started!

1. Assemblyman Joseph Lentol
2. City Councilman Steve Levin
3. Lincoln Restler; State Committee, 50th Assembly District

I hope this has been helpful. Good luck!

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