Dutch Kills Not “Saved” By Rezoning

June 15, 2010

Recently approved contruction site for yet another hotel in Dutch Kills

The Queens Chronicle reported on June 10 that contruction of a 9 story hotel at 39-35 27th St. in Dutch Kills has been approved by the Board of Standards and Appeals despite the strong opposition of community member expressed at the last regular monthly meeting of the Long Island City Alliance on Tuesday, June 8.

“They are a bunch of crooks over there,” said Barbara Lorinz, president of the Dutch Kills Advocacy League and a life-long resident of the area, regarding the BSA’s decision to allow Manhattan developer, Steven Bahar, to continue construction. All of the top-ranking commissioners on the board are appointed by the mayor. Behar is quoted as saying that new zoning rules “make no sense” and that local politicians are “wimps” succumbing to pressure from residents in order to secure their votes. He further pointed out that there are over a dozen hotels in the area already and that the only reason there are complaints is that his construction is on a residential block.

Megan Dees Friedman, vice-president of the Dutch Kills Advocacy League denied Bahar’s allegations. She said the character of the community was a concern, as was residential proprty values and damage to nearby homes from the contruction site.

Lorinz stressed that Dutch Kills residents are not against all forms of development and that progress must go on. But residents also say they do not want large commercial structures overtaking their two and three family homes.


LICA Member Speaks Up at NYC Charter Revision Commission Hearing

April 22, 2010

On Monday April 19, the New York City Charter Review Commission held a public hearing at La Guardia Community College in Long Island City. Below is a portion of the testimony given by LICA member Dan Jacoby. A full videotaped record of the proceedings is also available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/charter/html/home/home.shtml

I will submit specific policy proposals later; tonight I want to focus on process. This charter is our city’s constitution, and therefore should not be changed for light or transient causes. Nor should it be changed without serious deliberation and open debate.

Unfortunately, any significant changes that you may propose in September will require us to vote on them without time for serious deliberation or sufficient debate. Two months isn’t long enough to sift through any substantial proposal, especially when most votersare focused on state and federal elections.

Questions abound regarding term limits, the Public Advocate, Borough Presidents, and Community Boards. But there is a lot more.

What about the budget process? Should the duties of the Administration for Children’s Services be changed, and if so, how? How should public complaints against the police department be handled? What about the appointment, and the practices, of the Board of Standards and Appeals? They have huge power to grant all sorts of variances, yet they are answerable only to the Mayor. Did you know that there is an “Art Commission” in the City Charter? These are but a few of the myriad issues that should be dealt with by this commission. You don’t have time, and we won’t have time to understand fully your recommendations for this year and make an informed decision in November.

There should be three criteria for any proposed change to go on this year’s ballot:

1. It should be simple and straightforward;

2. It should be unconnected to any other potential change; and

3. It should not be at all controversial.

In other words, it should be a no-brainer.

Two years ago, Mayor Bloomberg tried to push a congestion-pricing plan on us without time for full debate. His plan went down in flames; the same is likely to happen with anything you propose for this year’s ballot that does not meet those three criteria.

There is a better way. Submit your report after Thanksgiving, and we will have plenty of time to debate your recommendations openly. If necessary, a new commission can be appointed next year to amend your proposals whenever that open debate leads to a better solution.

Do this wrong, and your work is likely to go down in flames. Do it right, and your work will lead to a better city government, and a better city, for all of us.

Thank you.