A group of more than a dozen Arverne by the Sea homeowners are under investigation for illegally renting out their homes while collecting approximately $1 million in tax exemptions, the Department of Investigation said this week.
A Department of Investigation report, issued Feb. 8, includes 11 recommendations to expand city oversight and prevent violations following the investigation into a 2018 complaint.
The DOI found that there were 15 homeowners in violation of the primary residence requirement; eight used the properties as rentals or investment properties — one as a hotel that was registered with the city to collect occupancy tax — and four who each owned one property and used them as rentals instead of living there.
There were 11 homeowners with multiple Arverne by the Sea deeds.
According to the DOI, they “were in violation of primary residence requirements by illegally renting their properties while being unjustly enriched by tax exemptions meant for owner-occupied homes.”
The apartments were designated in the early 2000’s as an Housing Preservation and Development Urban Development Action Area Project with a 20-year property tax exemption to homeowners requiring they maintain the homes as their primary residences.
You wouldn’t think if you looked at them on first impression, but these beautiful beach front houses are actually government sanctioned public housing…
These Arverne homes are actually impeccably designed, a bulk of them even have patios on the top floors which resemble something like penthouse condos like on Miami and Venice Beaches with gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean and somewhat pleasant views of Jamaica Bay and the poorer parts of Rockaway Beach, where there at least three public housing projects in the same neighborhood.
You don’t have to be much of a detective to figure out why these 15 motherfuckers ook advantage of a government housing program and made millions off it while getting tax breaks and write-offs for nearly a decade. It doesn’t take much sleuthing to figure out why these homes were easily poached for illegal renting and airbnb lodging and why some nefarious scumbags would conspire tto take advantage of this government housing program and try to make massive profits from it.All it took was a casual bike ride around this sunny oasis of pirated housing equity, it’s gets real plain to see why some nefarious scumbags would try to take advantage of this government housing program and try to make massive profits from it. Bookending this HUD financed utopian village are two massive vacant lots, one of which is still a landfill.
And they are slathered with massive ads promoting luxury lifestyle and real estate offers…..for one luxury apartment building. Which is very odd.
This building “The Tides” is the only actual luxury building which for all intents and purposes and ironically doesn’t even stand out. It actually looks more like a government funded building than the HUD houses by the boardwalk, kinda like a Mitchell Lama building. But it’s definitely lux, even the hip cafe, fancy eatery and wine shop are right there in the building too as advertised.
And it’s not just “The Tides” lux building that’s rich around here, the whole vicinity looks like nothing else on Queens only peninsula (well, besides Rikers Island) Just across the street is a row of other high end eateries and big bank branches and hovering right over them and Beach Channel Drive is a massive sign of the name of this area “Arverne By The Sea” as if to mimic the legendary Hollywood sign on the hills over Los Angeles.
The thing about the HUD houses is that even though they are nice, they were built too nice. Which belies the motive to seize all these homes for these greedy predators to grossly monetize from. Plus it wasn’t hard to accomplish, because ever since the peninsula and the boardwalk were renovated and revitalized after Hurricane Sandy, Rockaway Beach has surprisingly become a worldwide tourist attraction and an bigger attraction for high end real estate development and a hotspot for Airbnb opportunists like the guilty parties not named on this motley list of LLC homeowners.
A lot of this has interest has been established in Arverne, which also had the benefit of getting the most shore infrastructure improvements which includes a surfer culture scene that has grown immensely in the last half decade that has attracted visitors from all over the world (despite the pathetic waves in this area that usually leave these wave riding novices and posers waddling on the Atlantic like ducks in a lake for hours).
Which brings us back to the surfer demographic, because it was quite strategic for this surf shop Breakwater Surf Co. (company?) to set up their surfboard rental right under the giant advert sign for the luxury Tides condo building. Coincidentally, the shop Breakwater Surf’s founder started his company in the wave capital and summer hot spot in the nation in Rhode Island(!!)and was courted by the developer mentioned in the DOI’s report Benjamin Beechwood to set up shop at Arverne to bring a surf scene to new neighborhood. It arouses a bit of suspicion that there’s some sort of vertical integration with the marketing for not only the Tides (which advertises three businesses that take up space on the landfill walls) but with the illegal rentals as well.
And all this nefarious malfeasance by this consortium of affordable housing snatchers and the creeping gentrification and overdevelopment on the beach would not be possible without the complicity of the criminal negligence and insouciance of the feckless officials of the Housing, Development and Preservation Department under the crooked mayor and his deputy mayor co-conspirators, which for all intents and purposes according to the DOI study deliberately didn’t set up a regulatory system to monitor the criminal conspiracy at the Arverne By The Sea complex for almost an entire decade.
But one thing that’s common knowledge especially after de Blasio’s HPD’s notorious affordable housing program, is that the city’s housing policies are always geared and prioritized for the nomadic rich and mostly for the rich that doesn’t exist in NYC. And despite the charges and calls for reform of the HPD (instead of firing everyone and subpoenaing every involved in this housing scandal including de Blasio and deputy mayor’s and HPD commissioners Alicia Glen and Vicki Been) the damage from nearly a decade of ripping off HUD tax dollars has paid dividends for the real estate developers as standard luxury tower and luxury public tower development progressed even further during the Arverne illegal rental heists (despite the ominous land erosion on Rockaway’s shores). Even the community civics are getting more alarmed by the tower pestilence infecting the landscape of the mostly middle class streets of Rockaway Beach And Rockaway Park.
Although HPD’s apparent deliberate negligence enabling millions of tax payer dollars get pissed away for profits leading to the rise of real estate values by weaponizing a federal housing program for profits is even more capricious considering that this was happening literally in the district’s Congress member in the U.S. Capitol Rep. Gregory Meeks, whose office is right in the heart and under the vast sign of Arverne by the Sea. It’s a wonder how Meeks could not have seen this scandal happening right under his nose until you think about his own personal troubles with real estate investments with an indicted developer donor and the fact that he was living as a squatter in a luxury home not long ago.
It doesn’t say in the DOI report if any of these profiteering plunderers of government housing will ever face charges. It’s not even known if anyone from HPD got a piece of the action got rich with them for keeping quiet as the tax free cash rolled in and piled up for these makeshift realtors and landlords (Hell the HPD even gave them fucking money themselves!). It’s also quite surprising that The Tides developers and realtor is not tied to this scheme giving the convenient proximity of their location. Because real estate is all about location location location.
Mostly it was the speculation/fabrication of the real estate market that inspired these criminal actions. During the time these urban housing poachers were making their millions and dodging property taxes, more lux development immediately followed in nearby areas like the Playland and Rockaway Park districts and Edgemere, along with a big boost by former Mayor’s Bill de Blasio’s mandatory inclusionary housing ruse that enables developers to build higher and denser with the flimsy provision to include incremental housing for lower income residents while also hoarding more cash from the city and state’s philanthropic 421a tax break. And just like in Brooklyn by the bridges where the majority of the city’s most luxurious public housing towers have been erected, this consortium of opportunist government welfare realtors in Arverne easily took advantage of frivolous spending transient suckers looking to pay high to dwell or vacation in a town with cache’s and cultural scenes, being dutiful proxies in making the housing and rental market even more enriching for the Gentrification Industrial Complex of real estate and government.
Stumbled upon this eyesore on Greenpoint Ave. while returning to work from a pandemic induced sabbatical. The last time this once opulent catering hall actually had any signs of life in it was when the hipster catering culture entrepreneurs “Brooklyn Night Bazaar” was renting it out for a few years before they got broke again and wound up with a five year contract to bring (and then fail) to bring vibrancy to Riis Park, only to be bailed out by corrupt former mayor Bill de Blasio with a massive multi-decade contract to run concessions on the Rockaway Boardwalk, which apparently had to be prioritized over replenishing the coast line.
But let’s not get distracted with old stories about political patronage and just look at what has become of this establishment since the night bazaar’s departure nearly a decade ago.
Blech. The Polonaise Terrace entire three story facade has been tagged by someone named Girus or Cyrus. I’ve seen massive tags like this before and while it looks revolting its amazing at how an individual can pull this off. It looks like a giant pissed on it.
Looks like there’s other urbane art and messaging on here.
Looks like the service entrance isn’t accessible. But liberal sticker pasting and dumping isn’t such a problem.
Just some more chicken scratch tags, although it looks like someone decided to put some identity politicking agitprop. “Black and POC are not interchangeable terms”. Wow, deep man. That would look so boss on a tweet.
Oh this is good, the owners of this shit building put some portable toilets here, giving the impression that there is work going on and also to provide Greenpoint’s homeless population a place to relieve and bathe themselves. They do appear to be locked but I bet it’s not much of a deterrence for the commode disenfranchised.
Another sign acknowledging that this is an active work site is on display on this window here. More like conveying it’s active, the optics here look like this building hasn’t been touched in four years since it got it’s last construction site plans approved and in two years since the owner Meridian Capital listed this on the real estate market for over $11,000,000.
Although, these signs of COVID safety precautions and protocols do indicate that there might have been some work going on but it was weird seeing no activity just an hour before noon. Maybe the owners or the hired contractor put these signs up obligatorily. But it’s still odd given that this building lacks a long record of violations that would usually keep it in a state of limbo. What’s even more odd is that Meridian would let it fall into such a state of degradation because it’s a landmark building and they still expect some dumb buyer to plunk down 11 million for this dump.
What really grabbed my eye was a bill that was posted somewhat meticulously above the safety reg notices and it undoubtedly nailed not only the motivation for the ludicrous price Meridian is offering for this catering hall but also the status quo of NYC’s new standards of unaffordability.
Guessing this was pasted up during the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 as response to authorities and media outlets that were condemning the unfortunate tactics of the spillover of looting and smash and grab robberies of businesses that followed, which also happened in the Northwest Brooklyn nabes. But this is still a great point and like the rioting blowback from those demonstrations, NYC also enabled the looting of property and air space with massively generous rezonings and upzonings to the developers of the Gentrification Industrial Complex to spread their tower pestilence and ossify rental prices in this neighborhood.
But it doesn’t matter, because the delirious speculations and fabrications of the real estate market will continue regardless. It managed to survive the pandemic and it’s still out of control despite the rampant rise in crime, which went up over 30% this January. And of course there will be one dumb buyer for the Polonaise and whether it will be one major corporation or a LLC consortium of nameless investors, and they will build some monolith above this heinous mess, assuring New York City’s terminal stasis of unattainable housing for all, developing for a demographic populace that doesn’t exist.
There’s plenty of time for them to make reservations.
On the day after the six-alarm fire that destroyed the homes above storefronts in Richmond Hill and taking pics of the charred windows on the buildings, strolling about 8 blocks east by Lefferts Blvd. there exists this unsightly gated wall protruding on the sidewalk next to a barber shop and a ministry. I call it a gated wall because it’s secured with a lock and chain.
Unfortunately the wall itself wasn’t as resilient. As evident by this unsightly and hazardous profusion. Which is easily accessible to passerby, especially children.
It wasn’t hard to deduce what happened here. Apparently a bunch of graffiti artists were looking for a convenient venue to bomb and also are coming strapped with axes along with their aerosol paint cans.
Just some standard tagging, no offense to the artists oevure. Also standard but more varietal was the detritus strewn on the platform of the spacious lot, with a piece of the breached wall lying askew on a shoddily structured fence.
I wish I can recall what used to be here, most likely a mixed use building probably with a restaurant. It also looks like it was recently razed because there are no indicators of new development being done here going by the absence of NYC Department of Building placards. It also looks like this wall has been in this condition for a few weeks now, including that gaping jaggered maw.
The only indication that this pit belongs to anyone is the one sign affixed to the wall on it’s east side. A company named Signature Premier Properties is advertising their company and website on this open and blighted space.
With some sleuthing on the duckduckgo and that monopoly search engine, this premier property with quite the sordid history was put up for sale about 3 weeks ago a few days before Thanksgiving. And Signature PP is asking $999,000 for it.
I cannot fathom why they decided to cut a grand off the price more than how they came to this ostentatious value. Maybe it’s because of it’s current status as an “unimproved land” that didn’t qualify for the rounded out million. But advertising the property as “convenient to all!” certainly exacerbated it’s unimproved condition of the lot with all that vandalism and pollution.
Apparently as the recent picture shows, they had to improve and fortify the property post haste and it shows with this incredibly cheap upgrade. Which includes a new “gate”. This looks like the handiwork of dustheads squatting in an foreclosed home and is not up to the standards of anthropomorphic cartoon animals.
Conspicuously absent from the repurposed wall is Signature’s ad sign…
And if Signature PP or whoever owns this pit think this is going to stop rival taggers from getting in they are sadly mistaken. A crowbar or even a $1.99 Trisonic flathead screwdriver that you can get from the nearest 99 cent stores can easily pry those planks down or even a good rain to loosen them up for a tae kwon do superkick.
Usually the default reaction/response to scenes like this is to refer it as another definitive sign to what a shitty year 2020 is (and it is the worst year in this young century); but this is Queens and scenes like this have been always been manifest. And none more than on the southern and eastern sides of the borough far from tony Brooklyn and Manhattan and the interests of elected officials, which includes even the ones who represent the districts here.
It’s only amplified even more because of the pandemic and people either have no time to care or using as an excuse not to be concerned. But the thing that makes this blighted eyesore worse is that it actually has a value on it. Urban decay is being marketed and sold as a luxury product.
Recent available testing for COVID-19 has revealed that over 10,000 people were infected with the disease in just the past week. It also brought upon a general moment of clarity and surely an everlasting fury regarding New York City’s stunning low amount of hospitals to house and care for everyone that will test positive for the disease and certainly for the amount of people that are going through the worst of it.
As the NY Post reported last week when Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio were apoplectic about the low amount of beds that will take for the dramatic rise of cases that have just unfolded over the weekend.
Now everyone pretty much knows that the reason why New York City is was grossly, criminally unprepared for this outbreak; because a lot of them went broke and the state and the city not only didn’t adequately fund them but actually enabled their closings with budget cuts and chummy pay to play land deals which led to crucial health care services getting terminated and replaced with high-end condo towers and housing. Even the rats that burrow in the lots during the nascent stages of development even know this.
A grand example of this devastation and deprivation resulting in this harried urgency to save thousands of lives is the notorious closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, Manhattan which was the biggest MASH unit on 9/11/2001- the previous greatest attack on the U.S.A. this century. What remains of St. Vincent’s now is ultra-luxury condominiums, even though it still looks like a hospital.
St. Johns was unceremoniously shut down back in 2009 and left hundreds of people out of work and a vast community without to go for urgent health services in case of sudden illness or injury. In 2011, Fun Size Mayor Bloomberg’s Department Of Buildings zoned the property for a mixed-used building to include a mall and a parking lot (even though there the Queens Center Mall is across the street and another mall is two blocks away west).
And like St. Vincents, it still looks like a fucking hospital. For some reason the new owners decided to let the building remain as is.
It took 11 years and as our city does not have the beds to put the sick and chronically ill on and nurses and doctors are frighteningly lacking medical supplies like face masks and respirators, it should be absolutely not heartening to know that dwellings are now available.
Yes, they are NOW LEASING apartments at the fucking hospital, even while scaffolding is still surrounding the building. Oh, but don’t dare call them apartments, the appropriate nomenclature for the building known as “QB” are “lofts”. I find it curious why they are advertising them as such, even with the kitschy faux bespoke label up their on the banner on that filthy garage.
Now these “lofts” could have been on the market already even as the mayor’s big dumb mouth was talking about instituting a “shelter-in-place” rule and as Cuomo already declared shutting down the schools and was mulling shutting down New York State with the exception of essential services, but these photos were taken on Thursday 3/21. And the owners decided to put a cute little Open House stand by the curb cut going into ramp where the ambulances used to go.
What’s darkly humorous is that this is that this isn’t a heavy pedestrian area, made worse with the barren streets right now. And those rusty scaffolds don’t make the building look hospitable at all (pun intended)
Now with the whole damn state of New York officially shut down at sun down and with military vehicles roaming the streets and more aggressive orders to commit to social distancing, it’s fucking pointless to be even looking for a new place right now with views of the boulevard viaduct, shopping malls, the Grand Central Parkway and barely used bike lanes and even including the eviction moratorium bestowed upon the citizenry by our benevolent friends at REBNY.
Although there would be a moment when this would warrant derisive laughter, that is dead and gone. Just like this building which would have been an immense help for the victims of COVID-19 and government officials careless stupidity and their obeisance to their developer overlords and their never ending unsatiated greed for to monetize every crack on the sidewalk.
And just imagine a barely functional and safe transit system and mobile daily commutes. 72nd Street Station surface upgrade by Yoko Ono Lennon. Not ADA compliant.
New York, N.Y.
2019 has and will become quite an historic year for New York City transit. But most definitely not in a good way. For the future of it looks fucking bleak despite all the optimism being expressed by elected and appointed officials about all the moolah for infrastructure improvements coming.
Now that it has been decided to keep the base fare of a subway/bus ride at 2.75 while eliminating the bonus charges and raising the cost of unlimited weekly and monthly cards, this would be a good time make a layman’s assessment about the current state of the New York City Transit System run by the MTA, the worst fucking transit system in the universe. Because recent incidents and decisions have given sunlight to the crisis below, as well as above and at ground level regarding our mass transit options, which will also have a deleterious effect on traffic on the island of Manhattan and on the streets and highways that will surely continue to deteriorate and the commutes regarding the and safety by all dependent on the buses and trains (not ferries, fucking please). And it’s also shown that no one is truly capable of being assertive, proactive and having independent or rational thoughts or ideas at MTA. It surely isn’t the board whose dithering members are appointed by the mayor and governor, despite it’s alleged independence and expertise.
But it’s clear who is and always was in charge and that’s our third go-round and self-christened progressive Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose very wrong hands and demented disruptor mind has determined the fate of the MTA transit imbroglio. Apparently, the governor is under the borderline mental delusion that he doesn’t have enough control and has divined himself the autocrat savior of the transit system. This is not even as ego driven like his overzealous order to get the 2nd avenue line finished so he can throw a new years party, this is Andy’s id taking control now with this idiotic and dangerous plan to keep the L train running on time. Even Moussilini would’ve shown more restraint and self-awareness.
But how did we get to this current lowly state of mass transit and the commuting crisis in general? It all began back in January, when the decrepit saltwater hurricane Sandy corroded Canarsie Tunnel was about to be shut down in a mere 3.2 months away. After three years of meticulous research and planning by the MTA board and recently installed transit president Andy Byford along with efforts by the D.O.T. to redesign the streets of the L’s path to remediate traffic with bike lanes and improve bus service on 14th st. (despite the haphazard designs), the Governor suddenly had an epiphany induced by a dubious recollection of being grabbed by a stranger who yelled at him, which led to a visit to the tunnel when he last looked longingly at things in there, and bemused to himself that the commute could still be saved.
So Mario’s son looked and pointed at things with an entourage of hoity-toity college academic officials with absolutely no experience assessing mass transit infrastructure, and decided to scrap the 15 month thorough renovation of the tunnel and rely on an earlier rejected plan to rearrange and restructure the infrastructure’s power supplies on top of the tunnel instead. Instead of fixing and fortifying the corrosion and cracks with good old concrete and mortar, the governor and his new egghead crew decided to go with a polymer glass coating instead. During this new surface coating, the L train will continue to run as scheduled on the weekdays while running on one track on the weekend and on nights after 8 p.m. in 20 minute intervals during the two year (or more) reconstruction.
Transit crisis averted? Not exactly, because this plan was previously and soundly rejected by Cuomo’s board because of the deadly risk of spreading and exposure of cancer causing silica dust that would be released during the construction as transit service re-opened. And the GIF NYC transit provided the public with showing how the trains will flow in one tube underwater looks scary as fuck. But Andy’s id was not going to let potential environmental hazard get in the way of slaying the Lpocalypse. This mentally ill megalomaniac decision is already causing reverberations to commutes and literally the environment along the L train’s tunnels path in the niche towns of Williamsburg and Bushwick.
Exactly a month after Andy’s L plan, the Graham Ave. Station in East Williamsburg (or Bushwick as it used to be called) had to be shut down because of an overwhelming pungent gas smell that sickened a few commuters on the train when it was stalled on the tracks and then nauseated the rest of the passengers as it was slow crawling to the ground zero station. In spite of this incident, an MTA official somehow discerned that the air was safe and the L train resume it’s schedule despite the peculiar appearance of high-powered fans laid on the gratings above the tunnel to extract the noxious fuel odors out.
The following day after this announcement, three MTA workers got violently ill from the fumes that were alleged to be gone as other workers took the precaution of pulling their sweaters over their mouths until they received protective face masks.
The source of the fumes had become an evolving mystery but for some bizarre reason, MTA chief safety officer Pat Warren still claimed that the air at Graham Ave. was still safe to breathe. According to lifestyle and occasional actual news blog Gothamist and the NY Daily News, the MTA attributions of the source of the toxic entity changed during the first 48 hours. First it was determined that it was fuel that was accidentally spilled from diesel trains being used during weekend work construction; then it was blamed on an abandoned fuel tank underneath an abandoned gas station; and finally and absurdly, the MTA tried to pin the blame on superfund site Newtown Creek from a Greenpoint refinery spill from the 70’s. Of all those theories, the one that makes the most sense is the first one, being that weekend work has already begun. The other two theories are asinine considering that both of them were unfounded given that there was no evidence the station tank leaked, which probably led to conjuring up some ooze from Newtown Creek that suddenly migrated to the subway tunnels. It seems the MTA is coming up with these theories not to be more transparent but to obviously gaslight commuters and the press from finding out what the fuck is actually going on.
Or maybe the MTA is feigning ignorance. Because when the FDNY showed up in full Hazmat suits to determine the toxic levels of the leak, they did not bother to measure it on orders from the city and state environmental boards.
That’s not the only gaslighting by our servants of mass transit. A month following the gassing of Graham Ave., as the pungent toxicity rose from the crisis below and spread into the ether above permeating apartment buildings and stores in the area, evidence of the error of Cuomo’s Id and his crack Ivy league team’s L revival decision manifested at Bedford Avenue station in Greenpoint, as a cloud of thick dust inundated the station on another Monday morning rush hour.
Well, guess what was the contents of the contamination that scared the shit out of commuters, it was the presence of the predicted silica dust that was prophesized. But the MTA spokesman wasn’t divulging much but did proclaim that despite evidence of the thickness and noxious odor of the particles and the sight of workers and police with protective face masks on the platform, that the air was still safe to breathe! It evidently seems that the MTA is utilizing the same spin control that Christie Todd Whitman utilized to assuage the public back in 2001 that the air was safe to breathe at Ground Zero weeks after 9/11/2001 so the traumatized city service workers could resume excavating remains at the destroyed WTC site.
Evidently, the MTA is clearly trying to distract their worried commuters from the fact that the weekend work that was approved by Cuomo’s id is causing the environmental hazard it was expected to cause. Which is why this plan that was revived was rejected in the first place. And the MTA’s crass denials of the air quality should cause immediate pause to anyone that what if these were attempts by terrorists to poison the tunnels instead of just causations from worker incompetence.
Another little problem with Cuomo/MTA tunnel surface remediation plan? Well, last summer on the Jersey Transit, a PATH tunnel with similar infrastructure with overhead wiring exploded causing a metal bracket to pierce through a train’s ceiling like a spear, causing 700 passengers to evacuate awaiting a rescue train and another 350 remaining stuck on a train behind it from the sharpnel and debris on the tracks . Fortunately for them, they were near Penn Station. What’s going to happen when this happens on the L train when they are done moving that wiring on the Canarsie roof and putting that polymer balm on the cracks and crevices around the walls and the floor bed?
With the frightening prospect of taking the L as construction continues for the next 20 months (but certainly more than that). Mayor de Blasio, while nowhere to be found during those two toxic transit disasters as well as four recent incidents of transit debris falling from the elevated tracks in Woodside and Richmond Hill, continues to push his stupid and expensive NYC Ferry transportation option as well as funding another study for the loathed and loathsome BQX trolley.
As was expected of anything de Blasio promotes and focusing his attention on, the NYC Ferry has turned into a disastrously expensive boondoggle. For the subsidized costs for each $2.75 ride amounts to $10.73, which went up four and change from the 6 buck estimate from last year and went up two bucks from estimates a few months ago. As the costs of the new ferries on the way is going to cost another $369 million. The timing of this report coincides de Blasio’s announcement of the ferry’s expansion of new stops in Staten Island and Coney Island, which will not be ready till 2020 and 2021 respectively and another one at the Brooklyn Navy Yard which will be ready to launch this May. The launching of the Coney Island one next year is expected to balloon the already high subsidy costs to $24.75 for every fare.
As if de Blasio’s prioritizing of the ferry over the dilapidated condition of the subway and roads and the snails pace speed of the city buses wasn’t crass enough, somehow he couldn’t placate residents of the town of Canarsie with a ferry stop of their own, even though they compiled 6,000 signatures and actually have a dock ready for renovation. Which unsurprisingly validates the fact this ferry are basically ersatz yachts and is only beneficial and necessary for the wealthy and tourists and not meant for the commuting needs of the proletariat masses. Which the ready made stop at hipster frequented Brooklyn Navy yard as well as all the luxury development stops on the East River in Manhattan proves the inequitable treatment against the more frequented subway and bus services in spades (or anchors?). Besides, Canarsie didn’t have a chance because those real estate gentrification enabling porch monkeys at the city’s Economic Development Corporation didn’t put the town on the feasibility list, even though the Bronx town of Soundview never even had a pier before and they were declared feasible by the EDC. Amazing what becoming a real estate speculative hot bed with looming parasitic tower hyperdevelopment can do for an selective area. But despite being a reverse revenue generator, de Blasio’s inducement of the NYC ferry is a city taxpayer funded investment now even though the only benefit to come from this seasonal leisure service will go straight into the bank account of EDC board member Mark Patricof who has a conflicted invested interest he holds in Hornblower from previously working in private equity firm with holdings in the transit yacht provider.
But these are not the only transit offenses against the citizenry he swore to serve these last 6 long years, especially the poor he pandered to get elected in 2013. After much cajoling by house speaker Corey Johnson, Da Mayor relented and implemented the Fair Fares program to begin at the start of 2019 to be available to 700,000 struggling citizens. And what came naturally from the notoriously tardy and slow mayor, the program took nearly a month to send the discounts out and limited the distribution to 30,000 applicants. Expectedly from the two-faced liar, it was nothing but a half-measure because the cards were sent out as unlimited weekly or monthly cards instead of day to day purchases which these commuters usually spend, being that they don’t have 20 or 60 dollars to plunk down right away or even have the cash at all if they are without a job. The expected diminished result is barely over hundred people are using these Fair Fares. Why couldn’t the city tell the MTA to arrange the card like its done with the school and senior citizen reduced cards. But being helpful to the most financially burdened has never been much of concern for the notorious Mayor Big Slow.
Of course, forgotten in this whole MTA mess is the man who was assigned to save it while stressing transparency and credibility for the agency, Transit President Andy Byford who arrived last year with such great fanfare and who was recently featured on 60 minutes last autumn, whose nfluence, authority and plans now been undermined and virtually eliminated by Andy’s id . His absence from the L train aborted shutdown announcement and his lack of input of the decision to sugarcoat the cracked tunnel walls and floorboards with polymer, which the initial contractor rightfully thought was a stupid and dangerous idea 2 years ago, was majorly conspicuous. Compounded with Gov. Stugots autocratic decision to junk Andy’s proven idea to upgrade the anachronistic signal system with a computer based CBTC that has been used successfully when he ran the tube in London and the subway in Toronto and has been effective since it’s been applied to the L line (figures) with some ultraband radio wave bullshit idea that Andy’s id got from Elon Musk, while Byford’s thoroughly detailed Fast Foward plan has not gotten one penny for its funding to this day since it was announced with great fanfare and widespread media coverage.
And it was looking very certain that he and FF will never get it, and recent and current history validates that horrendous fact according to NYS Comptroller Thomas de Napoli’s report as surmounting debts are going to interfere with all other moderation and renovations of the subways infrastructure. The Fast Forward plan as devolved into the Flying Fuck, meaning that Governor Stugots doesn’t give one about it at all. These two have not been in the same photo op together since I don’t know fuck when.
And Byford’s plan to make 50 stations handicap accessible was about to get chopped to 36 because of these looming debts, which derived from the blowback of the underfunding for the accessibility retrofits over a decade ago when just 1.8% was allocated for it and with the funding about to dry up as the final days of the current five year transit plan is about to end this year If this wasn’t horrendous enough consider that 6 stations were shut down for months for surface and aesthetic modernizations like self-indulgent art and led screens flashing MTA bulletins and maps. The 72nd St B/C Station and the 23rd Street Station comes to mind.
With these dubious upgrades, Andy’s id’s MTA proves that the only subway improvements are designed for tourists to navigate through the city and niche parts of Brooklyn and Queens (and even the Bronx) on nice screens like the theme park this city has turned into. And all this art being installed is just there for the Instagram addicted. Supposedly the funding is only a morsel of budgetary spending, that morsel could have been allocated for initial funding on an elevator that could have been installed at a station where a mother killed herself falling down the steps while carrying a full stroller and her toddler daughter.
Too bad and too little too late that a federal judge recently decided that the MTA had to require all station renovations must be ADA compliant. The problem of course is where to get the funding again to honor the judge’s decision, because Mario’s son’s MTA burned through all the money that was to upgrade other stations, which would have also went into art that nobody asked for instead of signal and infrastructure upgrades, unsightly dilapidation of the ceilings, walls and stairs and of course elevators for the disabled as well for the elderly and children’s strollers. The latter which recently got tragic attention when a woman died trying to carry her stroller with child down along with shopping bags as she fell down the stairs when there was no escalator available in the city’s 7th avenue station.
But all is not lost for these looming and practically insurmountable expenses, for Governor Stugots budget passed with the ratification of congestion pricing to supposedly fix the MTA once and for all. Expected to accrue funding for the subway, a tolling system will be put in place to charge regular car drivers $11 and commercial truck drivers $25 to enter Manhattan below 60th street to downtown. Because that’s the way to derive funding for mass transit and levy it on people who choose to own a vehicle so they never use it and also to people that are just in town to do their jobs.
The thing is this tax levy on car owning commuters and delivery workers (a glut of them who don’t make a living wage) won’t be implemented until 2020, conveniently after the next election for Albany’s assembly and senate.
The only saving grace for car owners is that the congestion fees/taxes for driving in Manhattan will not be implemented until December 2020 (conveniently after the next election) and won’t go into effect in another two years, or maybe more being that there will have to be a system to take all the congestion tolls. Probably something like those ugly ass LINKNYC data succubi kiosks.
Of course there were more reliable and faster ways to come up with the billions to fix the crisis below; like the long overdue, sensible and fiscally responsible legalization of marijuana. But the arguments among all officials (mostly paranoid) about how it will be distributed and who should profit from it first and also expected resistance from rigid Republican elected officials and the upper echelons of law enforcement. But it got nixed from consideration in the budget hearings, so New York is going to continue to lag behind other states like Colorado, Massachusettes, California and the nation of Canada and lose billions in tax dollars from the manufacturing and selling of it.
And the big dirty obscene open secret of the minuscule taxes oligarchs pay for pied-e-terres in supertall dark luxury towers. But that immediately got crushed when REBNY sent their wormtongue minions to inundate news sites with developer agitprop and to Albany and persuaded the Assembly that these investor citizens ossified personal wealth absolutely can’t be sacrificed for the transit needs and safety of daily commuters. Despite recent heinous news of a billionaire hedge fund owner who paid $238 million for a sky high home on Central Park South and Jeff Bezos looking to purchase another multi-million dollar abode in the same building along with the four other ones he owns nearby on Central Park West. Hundreds of millions of dollars that would have been extracted from these welfare oligarchs and also from other American and foreign billion and hundred millionaire sloths who purchased these tax shelters in various luxury monoliths that have sprouted in Manhattan as well as the East River coasts of towns in Brooklyn and Queens are now gone. Gone with all the money that was never accounted for prior to this proposal.
You think the feckless Albany cowards would have debunked whatever bullshit REBNY’s wormtongues were spewing when all they had to do is look at Hudson Yards, where a train station built there before the gilded age girder and glass beanstalks were planted. While the developers, city and state were gerrymandering districts (and including Central Park) to pilfer billions from areas that needed it for affordable housing to fund it’s manifestation, the station flooded every time it rained and the escalators consistently break down even to this day. In a way, it looks like having people walk up almost 3 flights from the subway is a good way to train for the useless shawarma art staircase that you first see coming out of the station.
Which leads to the obvious conclusion that our elected leaders, appointed officials and the fucking MTA are relying on the neoliberal doctrine of using austerity measures to rebuild and improve mass transit. What usually happens with cutting costs for government projects and the abject refusal from officials to accrue funding from the wealthiest individuals, austerity always devastates the livelihoods of the lower tiers of the income ladder. Because with congestion pricing, the needs of the few (or the one) outweigh the needs of the many.
Like the taxi drivers, who currently contribute $2.50 to add on to the base fare while tech corporations like Uber and Lyft only charge an extra quarter even though there are five times more of those app-hail cars on the streets that’s actually is at fault for all the congestion. Because of cab and livery drivers taking their own lives in the past year, this has been dubbed as the “suicide surcharge” by taxi veterans and representatives.
And everyone else will also be levied with this tax when you go to any store that sells goods, from supermarkets to department stores, because those costs are going to be added right to your purchases, adding to the prices that are already rising because of onerous state and city taxes and rent ossification. Even all you pious non-driving, bike, scooter and skateboard riding dependent on your butler apps for Amazon to deliver shit to your shiftless asses, you will be seeing costs escalate for your online consuming too and y’all know Bezos is not above gouging his customers as you’re transit commutes get more chaotic.
As for the #LpocalypseProject’s schedule, Northeast Brooklyn’s millenial urban professionals (hey, Muppies!) who will not tolerate waiting for 20 minutes or more or even the risk of getting poisoned from silica wafting in the air, they will predictably press their little apps and take pricey trips in those Ubers, Lyfts and all their imitators (and certainly more to come) to the city. While the added fees will get accrued for MTA funding it will predictably cause more congestion. No wonder Uber spent 2 million dollars lobbying to get this austerity measure ratified. They are going to make huge bank in the next year and no wonder the city rushed to get the suicide surcharge approved for just the cabs and apphails. That actually makes fiscal sense despite the levies it’s placing on their customers. But if they can afford 1700 to live in an SRO or 2200 for an “affordable” studio, the Muppies can deal with this hardship. But it still going to be a pain in the ass commute for everyone from the not yet gentrified towns of East New York, Brownsville and the ferry-less Canarsie.
As for the Canarsie Tunnel, that also is an austerity measure with inequitable results between the affluent and the working class grinders. Because this polymer coating is just a half-measured temporary fix that is going to have disastrous consequences when the next hurricane hits this city (remember that bitch Sandy was just a cat. 1, what’s going to happen when it’s a cat. 3 or even 2?), and this infrastructure donut glaze coating of the walls and floorboards is just as cheap and effective as treating a wall with mold and grime on it by painting over it, which the MTA actually did at Union Square last winter.
Or covering it up with a nice poster
While service will continue to lag behind in the borough’s towns without niche, the city provided frequent bus transfers for L project sufferers so they can get to the J/M and G trains across town. Which will certainly be busier on the evenings and weekends than the rest of the borough’s long bus routes that are still suffering from slow speeds and late arrivals caused by…traffic congestion.
The appalling inequities that are present with the Lpocalypse Project I base on the fact that the MTA should have fixed this and shut down this tunnel immediately after the flood waters emptied out back in 2011. But that would have thrown a wrench on the over-luxury-hyper-development and fabrication-speculation market rate values of Williamsburg and then onward to neighboring Bushwick and Greenpoint and the Gentrification Industrial Complex of real estate, venture capital, private equity and the government they bought and now own were not going to let something like the safety of millions of commuters get in the way of the demographic they want that are willing to spend frivolously and mindlessly to live in proximity of the dreaded L line.
The coddling of the moneyed hipster demo that overspends and resides along the L train line fearing that they won’t make any readjustments to their morning and evening commutes or routines. More essential to the Guvner and the Hotel and Hospitality overlords is that this L train fakeout will keep service still convenient for tourists residing in high end flophouse hotels and airbnbs in the Meatpacking district, Chelsea, LES, East Village and Williamsburg to continue frequenting all those theme bars, beer gardens, restaurants and cache take out joints in those areas being that they only need to travel a few stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn
And even the MTA is cognizant of this, because they are going head on to phase out the metrocard and replace it with a stylish but lamely named access card called OMNY, which operates as a worker I.D. card which will be used to tap a screen to pay instead of swiping. And it also will be app-accessible so you can use your cellphone to pay. Even though the brainiacs behind this stupid tech bullshit method refuse to reveal how this will effect people who pay cash (and people that will still prefer to pay cash). These type of transactions have proved to be discriminatory and the prospects for unwanted data extraction will be (hopefully) met with universal anger from commuters. Of course, the officials pushing this pay method (including Byford) responded with the tone-deaf default excuse that everyone already is distributing their data with their cellphone social media and app purchasing habits, so what does the right to privacy and individuality matter when convenience takes precedence over constitutional rights.
But like Moussilli, Andy’s Id still kept the trains running (assuming on time is pure conjecture at this point) despite all the ominous toxic signs from the two incidents in February in March. Further evidence of Governor Stugots austerity measures for the MTA is assigning his Ivy league team who convinced him to keep the L running during the tunnel reconstruction for every other remediation and renovation projects, which includes the upgrading of the signals thus superseding and undermining Andy Byford in the same manner that former Mayor Giuliani projected his seething jealousy on former Commissioner Bratton for his accomplishments in bringing down crime.
Cuomo’s adamant megalomania and de Blasio’s spineless indifference will add to the risks and dangers of the continued exacerbation of the subway. In the midst of this MTA manic depression breakdown, at least one of their board members reassured the reality of their transit surroundings by admitting and actually apologizing for the existential lousiness of the subway.
Now it’s day two of the Lpocalypse Project and as expected shit went wrong on the L with delays lasting up to 40 minutes. It looks like the folks at NYC Transit thought the GIF they provided of the trains navigating the single tube passage looked easier than they thought. But at least they deployed MTA workers to act as commuting ushers to help the critical masses of people to get on board the trains.
But tomorrow is Monday and that’s when shit gets real. Because there is still the menacing prospect of particle pollution that will surely appear again on Bedford Ave if the MTA doesn’t contain it, some of the workers moving commuters were already wearing masks as a precaution. And the shit’s gonna hit the fan now that it’s May and it’s almost summer. Will Governor Stugots Cuomo whoosh down from Albany to look at the results of his manic change of mind when the crisis below exacerbates?
Wait with abated breath. Which actually would prudent to do if you still are taking the L all the way through.
Good luck L commuters. You’re gonna really need it. But you’re gonna need a chemical mask even more.