The problem of overdevelopment, particularly in the Pelham Bay and Waterbury-LaSalle areas, has been a topic of concern for several years now. It seems that when the majority of Community Board 10 was down zoned several years ago, this action did not cover certain streets in the Pelham Bay and Waterbury-LaSalle areas. As a result, these areas were targeted by developers for multiple dwellings. These multiple dwellings were neither wanted, nor fit into the character of the existing community. Worst of all, many of these building are being built as condominiums, and are not marketable, because of the national and regional economic downturn. This board, joined with Councilman Vacca in requesting that the City Planning Commission review the zoning standards in the aforementioned communities, with an eye towards reforming them. The City Planning Commission did just that, and approved a Low Density Growth Management Amendment, which will require developers to commit to constructing a certain number of parking spaces, per 10,000 square feet of building space in the R6 and R7-1 areas. The amendment also reduces the exemptions that developers enjoyed, where they would sub-divide lots and avoid providing parking spaces.
At a meeting of the board’s Housing and Zoning Committee and the full board, this amendment received enthusiastic support. CB 10 was proud to support this amendment and thanks Council member Vacca for his efforts. The matter now goes before the City Council, where its passage is expected. After which, all future developments will require a parking plan, and the neighborhoods that comprise the board’s service area will enjoy protection from large and unwarranted development.
In the coming months all property owners should be receiving information from the New York City Department of Finance on your tax assessments. The New York City Department of Finance maintains two specific forms for those property owners, wishing to challenge the assessment. For owners of Class 1 properties-1-3 family homes, vacant land, in the Bronx, that is zoned for residential usage and for condominiums that are less than three stories, owners may submit a Request to Update Property Data form, if they wish to update information, disagree with the Notice of Property Value (NOPV), or if they know that area sales information indicates that the market value is too high. For those owners of apartment buildings, offices, warehouses condominiums, cooperatives and other commercial properties, disagreeing with the agency’s determination of the market value of the property or other related issues, these owners should file a Request For Review of Property Tax Assessment form. These forms are available on line at nyc.gov/finance or by contacting 311.
The problem of illegal conversions of housing units is endemic in every neighborhood in our City. Illegal conversions tax the integrity of the property, in that room dividers and electrical, plumbing, heating systems that are not at Building Code level, are installed. Often people are doubled or tripled up in inadequate spaces that are not safe. One only has to review press reports of the immense loss of life, when a fire occurs at a property that has been illegally converted. The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has embarked upon an initiative designed to heighten the awareness of the public concerning this issue. The agency’s new flyer entitled “Living Safely” asks a series of questions such as, Is your bedroom in the cellar; Do you live in an attic; Do you get electricity with an extension cord; Do you lock your room with a padlock? If the answers to these questions are yes, you may be in an illegal apartment. The flyer advises that illegal apartments are dangerous and that tenants must have two ways to exit the dwelling, that the apartment must have a carbon monoxide and smoke detector with good batteries and that space heaters should be turned off periodically, so that they can cool down. The DOB can vacate an illegal apartment and fine the landlord with severe economic penalties. To request an inspection of a possible illegal apartment, please contact 311.
Recently, Mayor Bloomberg announced an initiative to combat human trafficking. Human trafficking is the illegal practice of enslaving women and children, often from other countries who have entered the United States illegally, and even more disturbing from our own country, who have been enslaved to work in the sex industry. Human trafficking is one of the most odious practices in today’s world. The victims of this crime are women and children who are humiliated and brutalized. In essence, their basic humanity is denied.
The City established the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force in 2006, under the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Coordinator’s office. The ensuing years saw the city partnering with social service and human rights entities to ensure that the victims of this practice are protected. This resulted in the passage of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Law in 2007, creating a registry of services, which for New York City, can be accessed by 311.
In the coming weeks there will be a public service campaign, designed to heighten the awareness of the human trafficking in our City. This has special interest for our community board in that three massage parlors were shut down in our area earlier this year. CB 10 is proud to state that it immediately reported information brought to us by residents, to the 45th Precinct, who in turn shut them down. It is important to report any massage parlor or any suspicious entity in your neighborhood to the community board, the 45th Precinct, the elected officials and 311 or 911.
The city is offering free flu vaccines and treatment at a variety of centers to people falling into the following categories: pregnant women; anyone 4 to 24 years of age; anyone from 25 to 64 years of age with conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart and lung disease; kidney failure or a compromised immune system; anyone who lives or cares for children 6 months old or less and health care workers who have direct contact with patients and are not able to receive the vaccines from their employers. Additional information on vaccine dispensing and treatment can be obtained by contacting 311 or accessing the website, under New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on NYC.GOV.
The city’s 311 Call Center will now be able to handle education related calls. By accessing the education desk, parents and guardians can now speak with an education specialist on a variety of topics. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) offers multi-lingual assistance to students and parents with homework assignments through its Dial-A-Teacher Program. The Dial-A-Teacher Program can be reached at (212) 777-3380. The program is in operation on Monday to Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m.
The New York City Police Department is looking for a few good people to serve as School Crossing Guards. These are city jobs with competitive salaries and benefits. Interested parties can contact PO Rhonda Morris-Davern at (718) 822-5422. Metro North Railroad is offering a variety of positions. All of the positions are good jobs offering excellent benefits. Please go to www.mta.info for a more comprehensive analysis.
CB 10 is available to assist you with your concerns, please feel free to contact us at (718) 892-1161 or BX10@cb.nyc.gov. Please feel free to visit our office at 3165 E. Tremont Avenue. We are open five days a week between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.