Lawsuit claims housing discrimination at Sunnyside building

New York Times

In February, according to a lawsuit, when Lisa Darden went to a building in Sunnyside, Queens, and inquired about a one-bedroom apartment, the superintendent told her there were none available, and that he did not know when one might be.

Just over an hour later, the lawsuit states, another woman made the same inquiry. This time, the superintendent showed her a vacant apartment, told her he’d knock $100 off the rent because she was “nice people,” and handed her a rental application, according to the suit.

Ms. Darden is African-American, the other woman is white. The race-dependent availability of apartments was a pattern at the 107-unit apartment building at 41-41 46th Street, according to the Fair Housing Justice Center, a nonprofit group that sent both women out as discrimination “testers.”

For the full article, please click here.

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18 Responses to Lawsuit claims housing discrimination at Sunnyside building

  1. Moneyside

    Don't blame the hipsters Ruben, blame the superintendents!

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  2. Sue

    I’m saddened to read this. As a new resident of the area, who is also white, it is very likely that my race was a factor that eased my ability to rent. Although I was not aware of the discriminatory practices of some buildings in this area, (probably not just the one named,) I almost certainly benefited from it. As tenants, what are ways that we can work to combat this type of discrimination?

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  3. Oppressed Masses

    Please keep in mind the NYT story is only reporting on allegations made in a lawsuit which have not yet been answered by the building owner or the super. Also note that the existence of the lawsuit was brought to the attention of the Times by the organization that started the lawsuit as a strategy to get the owner to settle early by giving the organization money and to gain publicity for the organization.

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  4. sycamore

    @Oppressed Masses All you say may be true. Yet how do you explain the racial proportions in the eight block radius quoted in the article? By the way, my skin is very light. My apartment complex has been increasing the number of families of color for quite a while now, to such an extent that many white people who applied were turned away. In a moment of frankness the rental agent said to me, "I don't want white people. They complain too much!" It later turned out he was accepting payoffs from many new immigrant applicants who don't know it is against the law to ask for a "rental fee." When several light skinned people I know said they tried to get an apartment by sliding an envelope across the desk, it was returned. The rental agent has dark skin. Anything and everything happens in NY. Go figure.

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  5. skillmanite

    When I moved into the hood I paid a rental fee. A months rent. Is it really illegal?

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  6. true dat

    i can show you many eight block radius in nyc (including the upper east and west side where most ny times people live,also park slope ,caroll gardens,astoria ,woodside and on and on that has a less than 2% african american ).typical times limousine liberal piece!

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  7. choco-bot the chocolate robot

    Damn, at my store I give discounts to hot chicks all the time!!

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  8. O'shea

    a black person gets discriminated against in sunnyside. This is very normal. next article please.

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  9. Oppressed Masses

    Skillmanite, depends on who you paid the month fee to. If to a real estate agent it is not illegal. Sycamore, I don't think the racial breakdown of an 8 block area means that housing discrimination is taking place. There are many 8 block areas in Jamaica and St. Albans where less than 2% white people live; does that mean that racial discrimination is taking place in those locations? I don't know if housing discrimination occurred in the building cited in the Times article. My beef is that the Times did not report that the organization files many of these lawsuits, a number are dismissed because the "tester" stories are based on fraud and/or turn out not to be true, but a lot are settled because building owners find it easier to pay off the organization rather than litigate the claims.

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  10. Local Hamburgler

    This is nothing new. Racial zoning and racially restrictive covenants WERE legal common practice for a very long time, including when this area was developed. What's going on here though is a form of redlining which happens all over the city to this day. Go try and get an apartment in the middle of Chinatown if you're not Asian, good luck. This isn't an issue solely hosted by the white population of this area. In regards to the 2% figure of diversity? Way to cloud the true there without explanation, NYT. 46th st and 41/Skillman Ave??? Really? Is that not essentially one block from the center of the Sunnyside Gardens Historical district? The 2% figure doesn't account for the fact that most of these homes have been in a family from before zoning laws were overturned. There's a lot of complaints about young people moving in around here, changing the face of the neighborhood, etc. This is because a large portion of the community is over 60 and has been living here for 20-40 years. Things were very different FORTY YEARS AGO.

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  11. Local Hamburgler

    **In regard...

    Ugh.

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  12. Sue

    @Oppressed Masses- it's a very good point that the building owner hasn't yet had the chance to respond. I hope that Sunnyside Post will report on the case after it concludes, as well. I'm not opposed to non-profits that use litigation as a strategic tool to bring attention to social problems, although you're right that I shouldn't immediately conclude that the allegations are true. Yet many folks in the comments section have said "This is nothing new. No surprise," which seems to suggest that it could be a somewhat common practice. In any case, the lawsuit is raising awareness and maybe some conversation. Which is, of course, part of the point.

    As for whether Jamaica and St. Albans are experiencing discriminatory practices since they have such low %'s of white people- to a degree, yes. If there are unofficial discrimination policies and market forces that exclude a group of people from many areas in the city, then chances are there will be corresponding places that have a higher population of the excluded group.

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  13. Ted

    When I was looking for an apartment a few years ago, I was advised that to avoid paying a huge fee to some scummy broker, I should cut out the 'middle man' and seek out Supers of buildings for information about available apartments.

    As in other neighborhoods I looked in, in Sunnyside I'd say 19 out of 20 supers did nothing but direct me to brokers anyway. It is almost impossible in this city to find a place to live without paying these broker/extortion fees.

    When reading this article, I was astonished that this organization managed to find a building with a super who did NOT direct apartment hunters to brokers and seemingly did not ask for a kickback.

    Not to excuse the discrimination element, but I wonder exactly how this nonprofit group managed to find this particular building, and wonder if there is not some other motive behind the 'investigation' - such as some larger real estate concern wanting to buy up the property. Being that the New York Times real estate section is in bed with big developers, they might have a questionable motive for pushing this story as well.

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  14. Oppressed Masses

    Ted - You make a very good point, most building owners use real estate agents to rent apartments because building superintendents are ill suited to handle the process. A building superintendent may not give an application because the super thinks the individual is not really interested in renting an apartment, like the testers employed by the non-profit advocacy group that started the lawsuit in the Times story, and the super may not realize he/she is being set up for litigation and the payment of money to the advocacy group.

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  15. Sycamore

    My building takes up an entire block and has its own rental agent. She is not an independent real estate agent, she works for management. And she only took fees from people who didn't know it was illegal, new immigrants, many though not all of color. On another track, I've noticed that people tend to segregate themselves. Many seem to want to live with people of similar background and outlook.

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  16. Marilyn

    While there are some interesting points made here the possibility that white people are being discriminated against in Jamaica is not one of them. Nobody is going to stop white people from moving into mostly African American neighborhoods. Look at Harlem as an example. White people don't want to move to these neighborhoods.

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  17. svjo

    im sorry Marilyn , but Harlem has plenty of white people, sunnyside is half white half Hispanic, and long island city is a pretty wide African American neighborhood. There are a lot of things why people may be rejected from a building and here in sunnyside is nothing new.

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  18. Bionic

    I grew up in this building with the same management. I am of Hispanic race but nonetheless an American and I wish I could have been a witness to this case.
    These people (which are all family and lived in the building) are the most racist SOB's I have ever met.

    My mother was a single parent with 2 kids. We were left without heat, hot water, etc plenty of times purposely and singled out. My mother worked 2 jobs and couldn't give herself the luxury of taking off to spend countless hours in the courtrooms of Housing Court filing complaints and I was underage to file it for her. She used to just keep it moving...
    If "Hispanic" or "Dominican" looking people entered the building, they were stopped and asked if they were specifically going to our apartment when in fact we were not the only "Hispanic" family in the building. There were many tenants from Colombia and Ecuador, as well. We lived on this property for over 10yrs. I can't say that it was a pleasant place. I was a teenager and perhaps didn't understand much of what was going on or didn't care at the time. It doesn't surprised me that they are in this type of mess.
    We were harassed, humiliated in front of "Europeans" tenants by calling my 6yrs old brother and I derogatory names. The super's kids used to steal our Holiday door decals right in front of us with no shame. The super was constantly creating bogus excuses to enter our apartment while I was home alone with my brother after school. If I wouldn't open the door for him to check that "leak" that never was... he would call my mother (who would be at her second shift) making up stories till one day he accused me of doing drugs in one of the staircases. My mother had it with these people. She stopped paying them rent and we moved. Finding this article just proves that “Karma” does exist. Their “nephew” was the one really doing drugs in the staircase, is that crooked cop (all over the news) that was selling guns in the black market. He is now serving his prison term and will be deported after, since they are the ones that are 1st generation immigrants, yet treat others as if they own Sunnyside. I am actually a successful drug free property owner and fair landlord.

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Latest News

Sunnyside Restaurant Week kicks off Monday
Salt & Fat

Salt & Fat

Oct. 19, By Christian Murray

Sunnyside’s second annual restaurant week kicks off Monday and 33 restaurants have signed up to participate.

The event, organized by Sunnyside Shines, aims to showcase Sunnyside as a destination for high-quality cuisine. Its goal is tempt residents to try new places and draw foodies from other parts of New York City.

Furthermore, there will also be artwork on display at five participating restaurant—with three of those pieces coming from Sunnyside artists.

On Monday, there will be a reception held at 7pm at Salt and Fat (41-16 Queens Boulevard) to mark restaurant week. The reception will include a guided tour of the five art installations as well as a movie screening at Dazies.

The art is being curated by No Longer Empty, a Manhattan-based contemporary art organization. The work will be on display at Bucharest Restaurant, Los Verdes, PJ Horgan’s, Salt & Fat and Venturo.

However, for many, the main attraction won’t be the art—it will be the food.

Each restaurant will serve a three course dinner menu for $25—from lunchtime Monday through Friday Oct. 24.

The participating restaurants span the globe. There will be Japanese, Turkish, Irish, Italian, Romanian, Mexican, Peruvian, French, Colombian, Filipino, Paraguayan, Tibetan, Thai, and Seasonal American food on offer.

Restaurants from Skillman Avenue through 47th Avenue have signed up this year. Last November, when Sunnyside Restaurant Week was launched, 17 restaurants took part.

“Last year’s event was a big success for neighborhood restaurants,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director, of Sunnyside Shines. “I am proud that we have doubled the number.”

Participating restaurants will also include newcomers to the Sunnyside scene—such as Tibetan Dumpling Café and Blu Orchid. Venturo and Salt & Fat, which were recently recognized as Michelin “Bib Gourmands,” will be participating again this year.

Sunnyside Shines has listed the 33 restaurants on its website. Most have put together a special menu just for Sunnyside Restaurant Week.

All this for $25.

Takesushi: All this for $25.

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Parking costs might rise in Sunnyside/Woodside, as DOT has preliminary plans to introduce ‘Park Smart’

meters

Oct. 17, By Christian Murray

Representatives from the Department of Transportation attended a Community Board 2 meeting last week and introduced a preliminary plan to introduce “Park Smart”– a program that aims to free up parking spaces–in Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.

The program attempts to reduce the time it takes for motorists to find parking in business districts– by changing meter rates, extending park hours and modifying commercial parking zones.

The program was first introduced in Queens in 2013, with the implementation of a pilot program in Jackson Heights.

The program typically focuses on changing the meter rates to encourage short-term parking through “progressive” rates.

For instance on certain streets in Jackson Heights, it now costs 50 cents to park for 30 minutes, $1:50 for an hour, $2:50 for 90 minutes and $4 for 2 hours.

However, in some cases, the parking period has been extended on certain streets. For instance, one hour limits have been increased to two.

Park Smart typically aims to change the commercial parking and delivery zones. “Early Morning Delivery Zones” are often established to provide loading space before the meters turn on at 10 a.m., and “Paid Commercial Parking Zones” reserve daytime metered spaces for commercial uses.

The Department of Transportation will not introduce the system unless business owners opt into the program. The DOT representatives told the Community Board 2 that it will reach out to Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, the Long Island City Partnership and Woodside on the Move to get their feedback. Those groups are likely to conduct a survey of local businesses to get their feedback.

Park Smart is not a program that typically goes into effect overnight as the DOT typically evaluates each street to determine whether the parking times and rates need to be modified.

Furthermore it is typically implemented as a pilot program before becoming permanent.

The programs were made permanent in Park Slope and Greenwich Village, after they were deemed effective, according to the DOT.

However, the pilot program on Madison Avenue and East 86th Street was brought to a halt after it was viewed as being ineffective, according to published reports.

For more information on Park Smart click here

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Sunnyside building winds up on ‘Worst Landlord Watch List’
 43-15 46th Street

43-15 46th Street

Oct. 16, By Christian Murray

New York’s annual “Worst Landlord Watch List” was released last week and it included a poorly-run building in Sunnyside and one in Woodside.

The list, released by Public Advocate Letitia James, reported that the third worst building in Queens—in terms of violations—is located at 43-15 46th Street.

The building, which is a 6-story 88-unit complex, has 271 outstanding violations, according to the report. While the building is a coop, it has several renters—although the exact number is not known.

The original landlord, who took the building coop about 25 years ago, rents several units, according to published reports.

The violations, which have been filed with HPD, deal with water leaks, missing smoke detectors, loose bathroom tiles, mold and defective faucets.

The managing agent of the building is Aras Properties, which is located in Cedarhurst. The head officer is Kevin Kane, who could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the landlord who runs a Woodside building has the fifth worst record in Queens, with 223 violations.

The building, located at 39-30 59th Street, is a 6-story 78 unit complex.

The violations include complaint about roaches, defective plastered surfaces, broken stoves, mold and missing smoke detectors.

The owner of the building is Harry Silverstein. Silverstein could not be reached for comment.

Click here for the Worst Landlord List

Click here to look up the violations in any building

 43-15 46th Street.

43-15 46th Street.

 

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Application period for Hunters Point South has begun

Hunters Point South building

Oct. 15, By Christian Murray

The application period for the apartments at the Hunters Point South Development in Long Island City went live today.

The application forms can be filled out on line at New York Housing Connect, which requires applicants to provide details such as their income and apartment sought.

Those interested have until December 15 to submit an application.

There are 925 apartments up for grabs, with 186 apartments available to those applicants who fall into the “low income” bracket. To qualify as low income, an applicant seeking a studio cannot make more than $30,000—while a family seeking a 3 bedroom unit must earn less than $50,000 per year.

For those who qualify for the “low income” bracket, the rents would range in price from $494 per month for a studio to as high as $959 for a three bedroom.

However, the limits are significantly higher for the 738 “moderate income” apartments on offer. The maximum income permitted to be eligible for a studio is a little over $130,000, while the maximum household income for a 3 bedroom unit is about $225,000.

The rents for “moderate income” earners will range from $1,561-$1997 for a studio, $1,965-2,509 for a one bedroom, $2,366-$3,300 for a 2 bedroom and $2,729-$4,346 for a three bedroom.

Preference will be given to applicants who live within the Community Board 2 district, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.

affordablerents

affordablehousingmoderate income

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Village Voice declares Salt & Fat Sunnyside’s best restaurant

saltfat-350x263

Oct 15, Staff Report

The Village Voice has just named Salt & Fat as the best restaurant in Sunnyside.

The write up starts as follows:

“Salt & Fat looks like it could be in Brooklyn — reclaimed wood for the storefront sign, artfully arranged small plates that feature New American decadence — but owner Daniel Yi is a local boy. Born in Seoul and raised in Sunnyside, Yi has crafted a nation-hopping menu that reflects the area’s diversity. A meal begins with a complimentary starter — popcorn cooked in bacon fat, as American as can be — and finishes with little bottles of Yakult, a tangy-sweet Japanese yogurt drink.”

For the rest of the Village Voice Article, please click here.

 

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Dumplings & Noodle eatery to open on 46th Street

Noodles

By Christian Murray

A dumplings and noodles eatery will be opening on 46th Street next door to Pio Pio Riko.

The restaurant, which will be located at 45-24 46th Street, is expected to open in late December, according to its owner, who was reluctant to provide too many details at this point.

The eatery will consist of about 30 seats and there will not be table service. The owner described it as “fast casual.”

The menu will consist of soup, baos (steamed buns filled with pork/beef/vegetables), and a wide selection of noodles and dumplings (both steamed and fried). The food will include a mix of Chinese and other Asian flavors. There are also plans to get a liquor license.

The owner has another restaurant—offering the same style of food—in Park Slope.

The business owner was attracted to Sunnyside due to its diverse population.  “I like the mixed neighborhood and there are few [restaurants] like this in the area.”

The restaurant is moving into a portion of the space that was once occupied by Grand 99 Cent Store, which left about 2 years ago. The other portion of the site was leased to  Signature Paint & Home Center, which opened this summer.

Grand 99 Cent Store (2012)

Grand 99 Cent Store (2012)

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Cathy Nolan’s opponent for Assembly a long shot

JohnKwilsonThis November’s election for Assembly District 37 is practically a formality.

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D), who has been in office representing a large portion of Western Queens since 1984, faces a contender who has run against her twice before and was thumped each time.

Nolan has name recognition, the benefit of incumbency, strong party backing and has raised more than $130,000 in campaign funds since 2010 (Friends of Catherine Nolan and Nolan for Assembly). She has moved up the ranks over the years, where she has chaired the Banking as well as Labor committees. She is currently the chair of the Education Committee.

Meanwhile, her challenger John K. Wilson, a Sunnyside barman/actor, has raised $10,000 in campaign funds (Committee to elect John K Wilson) since 2010 and has virtually no name recognition. His best effort against Nolan came in 2010 when he generated 16% of the vote, after he ran a confrontational—and at times—negative campaign (see website).

Wilson said he is running in order to introduce term limits and bring an end to the Queens Democratic machine. “There is too much power in too few hands,” he said.

“Six years in office should be the limit,” Wilson said. “I want to put an end to career politicians.”

“The longer someone is in power the less work they do for the people,” he said. “They take the job for granted and focus on moving up within the party.”

Wilson, who ran as a Republican in his past two campaigns, is running for office as a Libertarian this year. He switched parties, he said, so people would listen to his positions.

“When I ran as a Republican [in 2010 and 2012], people would shut the door in my face and not even listen to my ideas,” he said. “People associate you as Dick Cheney, which is not the case. This time, some people might tell me they are Cathy [Nolan] supporters but at least they will listen to me.”

His platform is based around free market economics. He said businesses are over regulated, over taxed and subject to too much bureaucracy. “New York State is very unfriendly to business and that is why many are leaving to go to other states.”

He cited the battle in Long Island City over the use of back yard space as an example of unnecessary bureaucracy.

“Local restaurants hire people, want to do what is right by the community and are losing revenue,” he said. “These owners don’t want to be bad neighbors,” he said. “It is not in their interest to have loud noise at night. Why not a compromise?”

He said that he opposes the concept of affordable housing, which he views as a “buzzword” to make it appear as though elected officials are “helping the little people.” He said the term “affordable” has never been defined and believes that market forces are the answer.

Wilson, who supports gay marriage and is pro-choice, said that he wants the number of charter schools to be expanded. He said charter schools benefit poor and minority students and many parents want to send their children to these schools since they provide the best chance these children have for success.

He also said that the state needs to cut spending and focus more on reducing taxes.”Lower taxes equal more jobs,” he said.

Most of all, Wilson said that voters need a choice come Election Day (Nov. 4) and said it is disappointing that many legislators are running unopposed.

“Without a choice we enter into Soviet style government,” he said.

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Police Precinct 108 takes to the streets

Hennessy
Oct. 12, By Christian Murray

Captain Brian Hennessy, the commanding officer of the 108 Police Precinct, aims to forge closer ties with the community.

Earlier this month, he started a new initiative called “Community Friday,” where he and a group of officers (many off duty) go to a neighborhood to clean graffiti, pick up garbage and address quality-of-life issues.

While the 108 Precinct has been doing cleanups periodically, Hennessy decided recently to turn it into a formal program.

“I thought I would start this program because it is important that we do things with the community…to show we care,” Hennessy said. “It is the best part of policing.”

On Friday Oct. 3, Hennessy’s team tackled their first job by 43rd Street/Laurel Hill Boulevard—next to the Long Island Expressway.

Hennessy had been told at a meeting hosted by the United 40s Civic Association, a group of about 60 Woodside/Sunnyside residents, that there was a homeless problem by the expressway and that the area was filthy and covered with graffiti.

Hennessy, accompanied by a group of about 15 officers (some auxiliary officers), went to the neighborhood and brought with him a worker from the Department of Homeless Services to help out the homeless. However, on that afternoon, the homeless were not there.

The police, dressed in white overalls, picked up garbage on the sidewalk and grass, and painted over graffiti. The event took place between the 4 pm and 6pm.

On Oct. 10, Hennessy and his crew went to Maspeth to clean up the graffiti down by 70th Street and 48th Avenue and to tackle the persistent problem of abandoned vehicles that the community has brought to his attention.

Since he took command in May 2013, Hennessy has been an active participant in community events. He has organized basketball games between cops and high school students. In summer, he organized volleyball games at Hunters Point South Park down by LIC Landing.

In terms of the new program, Hennessy is hopeful that his crew will get to work with the community throughout the entire Sunnyside/Woodside and Long Island City area. He said he welcomes people’s feedback as to locations where his crew should go.

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Rally to find driver responsible for Woodside Hit-and-Run

Van BramerFATAL

Oct. 12, By Christian Murray

Less than 48 hours after a hit-and-run incident on Queens Blvd, community leaders held a rally calling on the public for tips to find out who was responsible.

The rally was held at the intersection of 60th Street and Queens Blvd at the scene where an unidentified Hispanic man in his 30s was struck by a dark-colored Ford SUV around 1:30 a.m. Thursday while crossing the intersection. The driver fled the scene.

The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition and—as of Friday afternoon—had yet to be identified.

“To leave someone lying in the street and offer no assistance is an outrage,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “Someone out there has a guilty conscience and should turn themselves in.”

“We are calling on anyone who has information on this case to call the authorities,” he said.

A large road sign had been placed on the side of Queens Blvd calling on motorists to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS if they had any information on the incident.

The rally, however, was also held to remind people that they must stop after a collision.

“You have to stop no matter how serious, whether it’s a fender bender or someone is lying in the street injured, you must stop. That is the law. And if you don’t you will be brought to justice,” Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer said that the recently passed Hit-and-Run Victims Act, which he sponsored, will go into effect December 29. With that law, a perpetrator of a hit and run can be fined up to $10,000–on top of any criminal charges imposed by the state.

Van Bramer said the new law is about increasing the public’s awareness that this will not be tolerated. “We want to change the culture. When people see the full weight of the law is coming down they might think twice,” he said.

Should the incident prove fatal, it would be the first traffic-related death this year in the 108 Police precinct, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City. This time last year, there had been 8 deaths, including five pedestrians.

Van Bramer said that the Vision Zero campaign has been a large factor in keeping traffic deaths down, which has included the redesign of dangerous streets to greater enforcement.

The 108 Precinct has issued 30% more speeding tickets this year compared to the same period in 2013. The police also doubled the number of drunk drivers arrests, with 112 people arrested so far this year compared to 52 for the same period in 2013.

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More Headlines

Cathy Nolan’s opponent for Assembly a long shot
JohnKwilsonThis November’s election for Assembly District 37 is practically a formality. Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D), who has been in office representing a large portion of Western Queens since 1984, faces a contender who has run against her twice before and was thumped each time. Nolan has name recognition, the benefit of incumbency, strong party backing and has raised more than $130,000 in campaign funds since 2010 (Friends of Catherine Nolan and Nolan for Assembly). She has moved up the ranks over the years, where she has chaired the Banking as well as Labor committees. She is currently the chair of the Education Committee. Meanwhile, her challenger John K. Wilson, a Sunnyside barman/actor, has raised $10,000 in campaign funds (Committee to elect John K Wilson) since 2010 and has virtually no name recognition. His best effort against Nolan came in 2010 when he generated 16% of the vote, after he ran a confrontational—and at times—negative campaign (see website). Wilson said he is running in order to introduce term limits and bring an end to the Queens Democratic machine. “There is too much power in too few hands,” he said. “Six years in office should be the limit,” Wilson said. “I want to put an end to career politicians.” “The longer someone is in power the less work they do for the people,” he said. “They take the job for granted and focus on moving up within the party.” Wilson, who ran as a Republican in his past two campaigns, is running for office as a Libertarian this year. He switched parties, he said, so people would listen to his positions. “When I ran as a Republican [in 2010 and 2012], people would shut the door in my face and not even listen to my ideas,” he said. “People associate you as Dick Cheney, which is not the case. This time, some people might tell me they are Cathy [Nolan] supporters but at least they will listen to me.” His platform is based around free market economics. He said businesses are over regulated, over taxed and subject to too much bureaucracy. “New York State is very unfriendly to business and that is why many are leaving to go to other states.” He cited the battle in Long Island City over the use of back yard space as an example of unnecessary bureaucracy. “Local restaurants hire people, want to do what is right by the community and are losing revenue,” he said. “These owners don’t want to be bad neighbors,” he said. “It is not in their interest to have loud noise at night. Why not a compromise?” He said that he opposes the concept of affordable housing, which he views as a “buzzword” to make it appear as though elected officials are “helping the little people.” He said the term “affordable” has never been defined and believes that market forces are the answer. Wilson, who supports gay marriage and is pro-choice, said that he wants the number of charter schools to be expanded. He said charter schools benefit poor and minority students and many parents want to send their children to these schools since they provide the best chance these children have for success. He also said that the state needs to cut spending and focus more on reducing taxes."Lower taxes equal more jobs," he said. Most of all, Wilson said that voters need a choice come Election Day (Nov. 4) and said it is disappointing that many legislators are running unopposed. “Without a choice we enter into Soviet style government,” he said.
Police Precinct 108 takes to the streets
Hennessy Oct. 12, By Christian Murray Captain Brian Hennessy, the commanding officer of the 108 Police Precinct, aims to forge closer ties with the community. Earlier this month, he started a new initiative called “Community Friday,” where he and a group of officers (many off duty) go to a neighborhood to clean graffiti, pick up garbage and address quality-of-life issues. While the 108 Precinct has been doing cleanups periodically, Hennessy decided recently to turn it into a formal program. “I thought I would start this program because it is important that we do things with the community…to show we care,” Hennessy said. “It is the best part of policing.” On Friday Oct. 3, Hennessy’s team tackled their first job by 43rd Street/Laurel Hill Boulevard—next to the Long Island Expressway. Hennessy had been told at a meeting hosted by the United 40s Civic Association, a group of about 60 Woodside/Sunnyside residents, that there was a homeless problem by the expressway and that the area was filthy and covered with graffiti. Hennessy, accompanied by a group of about 15 officers (some auxiliary officers), went to the neighborhood and brought with him a worker from the Department of Homeless Services to help out the homeless. However, on that afternoon, the homeless were not there. The police, dressed in white overalls, picked up garbage on the sidewalk and grass, and painted over graffiti. The event took place between the 4 pm and 6pm. On Oct. 10, Hennessy and his crew went to Maspeth to clean up the graffiti down by 70th Street and 48th Avenue and to tackle the persistent problem of abandoned vehicles that the community has brought to his attention. Since he took command in May 2013, Hennessy has been an active participant in community events. He has organized basketball games between cops and high school students. In summer, he organized volleyball games at Hunters Point South Park down by LIC Landing. In terms of the new program, Hennessy is hopeful that his crew will get to work with the community throughout the entire Sunnyside/Woodside and Long Island City area. He said he welcomes people’s feedback as to locations where his crew should go.
Rally to find driver responsible for Woodside Hit-and-Run
Van BramerFATAL Oct. 12, By Christian Murray Less than 48 hours after a hit-and-run incident on Queens Blvd, community leaders held a rally calling on the public for tips to find out who was responsible. The rally was held at the intersection of 60th Street and Queens Blvd at the scene where an unidentified Hispanic man in his 30s was struck by a dark-colored Ford SUV around 1:30 a.m. Thursday while crossing the intersection. The driver fled the scene. The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition and—as of Friday afternoon—had yet to be identified. “To leave someone lying in the street and offer no assistance is an outrage,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “Someone out there has a guilty conscience and should turn themselves in.” “We are calling on anyone who has information on this case to call the authorities,” he said. A large road sign had been placed on the side of Queens Blvd calling on motorists to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS if they had any information on the incident. The rally, however, was also held to remind people that they must stop after a collision. “You have to stop no matter how serious, whether it's a fender bender or someone is lying in the street injured, you must stop. That is the law. And if you don't you will be brought to justice,” Van Bramer said. Van Bramer said that the recently passed Hit-and-Run Victims Act, which he sponsored, will go into effect December 29. With that law, a perpetrator of a hit and run can be fined up to $10,000--on top of any criminal charges imposed by the state. Van Bramer said the new law is about increasing the public’s awareness that this will not be tolerated. “We want to change the culture. When people see the full weight of the law is coming down they might think twice,” he said. Should the incident prove fatal, it would be the first traffic-related death this year in the 108 Police precinct, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City. This time last year, there had been 8 deaths, including five pedestrians. Van Bramer said that the Vision Zero campaign has been a large factor in keeping traffic deaths down, which has included the redesign of dangerous streets to greater enforcement. The 108 Precinct has issued 30% more speeding tickets this year compared to the same period in 2013. The police also doubled the number of drunk drivers arrests, with 112 people arrested so far this year compared to 52 for the same period in 2013.
Brooklyn man arrested in connection to Woodside murder
queenspalace Oct. 10, By Michael Florio A Brooklyn man was arrested Thursday for allegedly killing a man outside a Woodside party hall in July. Jorge Navarro, 20, was arrested in connection to the July 26th death of Eduardo Rojas, who was killed after being struck in the head. The incident occurred outside of Queens Palace, located at 37-27 57th Street, when a fight broke out. In the melee gun shots were also fired. The 108 precinct responded to a 911 call just after 1 am and discovered a 25-year-old man with a gunshot wound to his left leg and back, as well Rojas, who was dead. Navarro is facing charges of murder, manslaughter and gang assault. He has not been charged for the shooting.
Another hit-and-run in Woodside leaves man in critical condition
ambulance Oct. 9, By Michael Florio Another pedestrian has fallen victim to a hit-and-run in Woodside. A 20-to-30 year old male was struck in the early hours today while crossing the intersection at Queens Blvd and 60th Street. A dark colored SUV was traveling westbound along Queens Blvd when it struck the victim at about 1:30 am, according to an NYPD spokesperson. The vehicle did not stop and continued westbound toward the Queensboro Bridge. Upon arrival, officers discovered the victim to be unconscious. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition. The investigation is ongoing.
Sunnyside Gardens planned community turns 90
SGbefore Oct. 9, By Christian Murray Sunnyside Gardens, the planned community designed by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this month. To mark the occasion, the Greater Astoria Historical Society will be presenting “Sunnyside Gardens at 90,” which will feature a series of photographs of the gardens over the decades as well a presentation by local historian Jeffrey Kroessler and architect Laura Heim. The presentation, which will take place tonight at 7pm at 35-20 Broadway in Astoria, will discuss the origins and significance of the community, including its importance in urban planning, design, and history, and the contentious campaign to gain designation as a historic district. (Click for details) Sunnyside Gardens was initially constructed between 1924 and 1928, and consisted of a series of twelve “courts”. The designated area went on to include the Phipps Garden Apartment buildings, which were constructed in the early 1930s. To celebrate the anniversary, the Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance will be holding an event marking the occasion on Saturday, Oct. 25, with the unveiling of three historic district signs followed by a reception. The event will kick off at 1 pm at Skillman Avenue and 46th Street. (Click for details) According to the Preservation Alliance's website, the City Housing Corporation organized a “grand opening” for the first group of houses that were developed in Oct 1924. Advocates for affordable housing and New York City officials joined in to applaud the start of a new kind of neighborhood at the time. The very first Sunnyside Gardens owners moved in at the beginning of September 1924, according to the website, with the first house sold located at 41-49 47th (Carolin) Street. House prices ranged from $8500 to $13,500. SGNow sgplay    
Van Bramer differs with Community Board Chair over the development of Sunnyside Yards
Sunnyside_Yard_East_jehOct. 8, By Christian Murray Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said today that he is firmly opposed to building over the Sunnyside Yards. Van Bramer made the statement in response to Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley’s call last Thursday for a study to determine whether it would be feasible to build over a section of the yards, which consists of acres of land covered by railroad tracks. Conley said at the monthly Community Board 2 meeting that the Sunnyside Yards could be used to build more affordable housing. “We should look at it with the possibility of creating a community…with affordable housing, market rate housing and retail,” Conley said. Conley called on the board to give him permission to send a letter to the Queens Borough President’s office requesting a study of the area. The board complied. The letter, however, alarmed several people who fear over development—with some claiming that the infrastructure is overstretched as it is. Van Bramer said the community is not calling for the development of the Sunnyside Yards. He said people are more concerned about school overcrowding, transportation issues and other problems that actually stem from development. “My office is in the business of receiving hundreds of letters and speaking to people about important issues all the time,” Van Bramer said. “Not one person has come to me and said ‘you should deck over the Sunnyside Yards and build housing.” Several Community Board 2 members said after last Thursday’s meeting that they were caught by surprise by Conley’s request. “I’m opposed to the concept of decking [building] over the Sunnyside Yards,” Van Bramer said. “The idea gets floated whenever there is an economic boom…but I think it would be bad for the surrounding community.” Van Bramer, as councilman, has a big role to play in terms of land use decisions such as these. All significant zoning changes go through the city council and it is typically the elected official in a given district that makes the call. Van Bramer was unsure how the idea surfaced in the first place.
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Conley said that the Sunnyside Yards—which go through Long Island City and Sunnyside--are owned by government agencies. Therefore, this provides the community with an opportunity to negotiate with developers as to the number of affordable units that could be built. “Jackson Avenue and 21st Street would be our jumping off point,” Conley said, adding that the study would then look toward Thomson Avenue and Queens Plaza. Van Bramer said that he too is in favor of affordable housing. However, he said, “Density is appropriate in some places and not others. I, for one, believe Sunnyside and Astoria are great low-density neighborhoods that should remain so.” Conley told the Daily News Tuesday that the Sunnyside Yards also divide the neighborhoods and indicated that the housing would draw them closer. “Right now you have this scar that runs down the community,” he told the News. Van Bramer disagreed with this view. “I wouldn’t characterize these neighborhoods as having a scar running through them…and I don’t believe the neighborhoods are unreachable.”    
Police seek help in locating serial bank robber, suspect allegedly hit Chase bank in Sunnyside in July
Oct. 8, By Christian Murray suspect Call him the 21st Century version of Willie Sutton or John Dillinger. The police are searching for a man who has robbed eight Queens banks—and attempted to rob two others—in the past 2 1/2 years. The banks have been scattered throughout the borough—covering Jackson Heights, Middle Village, Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing, East Elmhurst and Sunnyside. In total, the suspect has taken in about $50,000. One of the robberies occurred at the Chase Bank branch at 47-11 Queens Blvd, where the suspect approached a teller and passed her a note—before fleeing with $5,900 in cash. That incident occurred on July 25, 2014 (see story). The suspect’s modus operandi has been to enter a bank, pass a note and—on four occasions—display a firmarm. He also tends to hold a mobile phone up against his ear. No injuries have resulted from his spree. The suspect (see photo) is believed to be between 30 and 35 years old, approximately 6-feet-tall and weighing about 200 pounds. Police said he was last seen wearing a New York Yankees baseball hat and a button-down short sleeve shirt. He also had a light beard connected to a goatee, tinted eye glasses and a black wrist watch on his left wrist. The first incident occurred on July 17, 2012, when he allegedly entered into an Amalgamated Bank at 78-01 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights and took off with $1,450.suspect1 The latest robbery occurred Saturday, when the suspected entered Chase Bank at 69-55 Grand Avenue, passed a note and left with $5,170. Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
Oktoberfest comes to Skillman Avenue this Saturday
claret1Oct. 7, By Christian Murray It’s time to get out the lederhosen and the Bavarian hats. The Skillman Project, a group of bars and restaurants located on Skillman Avenue, is hosting its 3rd annual Oktoberfest this Saturday. There are eight bars/restaurants participating in the event—and attendees will be offered $3 beers until late. The event will start at 3pm and go until close. Several of the bars/restaurants will be serving German-themed food—with items such as Bratwurst and pretzels on offer. The Skillman Project has also hired a brass band that will be playing polka music at all the participating venues. The band will start at 6:30 at Claret Wine Bar and will then perform at the other bars/restaurants. “Oktoberfest is typically the most popular event that the Skillman Project puts on each year,” said Justin Costello, the manager at Claret. “It tends to bring in the largest crowd.” The Skillman Project also puts on an annual Mardi Gras and a summer event. To partake in Saturday’s Oktoberfest, attendees are required to register at Claret (46-02 Skillman) between 3 pm and 5 pm, and buy a $5 wristband. The wristband is needed in order to get the $3 beers at all eight restaurants/bars. The $5 proceeds will be donated to the local food pantry. Participating bars are: Dog and the Duck, Claret Wine Bar, Flynn’s Garden Inn, Quaint Bistro, Murphy’s Lobster Grill, The Globe, Aubergine Cafe and The Copper Kettle. Skillman_OktoberFest2014_Final  
Famous singer/songwriter a frequent performer at Sunnyside venue
JD @ teapot 6-22-2013Oct. 6, By Kim Brown Jim Dawson has sold out shows at the Bitter End, been signed by RCA Records and written a song recorded by Sesame Street’s Elmo. This Thursday he’s playing at The Globe Tavern’s Open Mic night on Skillman Avenue. “It really ups the quality of the night,” said host and guitarist Trevor Bowen. “He’s a pro, it’s the most wonderful feeling of support.” Dawson, who has been compared to James Taylor and Harry Chapin, was also touted as the next Bob Dylan after “Songman” was released in 1971. He is still a regular at venues like the Cutting Room. Newer fans know him because Elmo sang his “Simple Song” and older fans remember when he played Constitution Hall in Washington with The Birds. But when he comes to The Globe about once a month he’s just Jim, competing against baseball games and loud conversations like any other musician. There is no cover charge and he buys his own beer. “One of the reasons I love it is Trevor says ‘Here’s Jim’,” said Dawson, who lives in Manhattan and is Bowen’s vocal coach. “It doesn’t matter if I sold 200,000 records or zero. We’re all the same. We all got into this in the first place because it’s fun.” Dawson came to New York City in the late 1960s, after a stint in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Because he was signed by a record company pretty quickly, playing the open mic circuit was not something he had done very often. Despite distractions the last time he played The Globe--like an overturned tray of garlic knots and Derek Jeter’s last home at bat on TV—-he somehow managed to quiet a pretty raucous room. “When I’m doing it and I’m getting it right those are the most alive situations. I feel like I’m 18 or 19 years old again,” he said. Dawson, who lives on the Upper West Side, has released 15 CDs and albums. He is also known for writing the opening theme for a popular German soap opera. Money from that song allowed him to set up a home recording studio. The 1999 CD of his own live sessions in his apartment, “Therapy in Session: The Studio Concerts,” gained attention as an innovative way for musicians to release their work independently. Dawson’s website still attracts about 2,000 visitors a month from all over the world. Maybe he is able to arrest a noisy bar so well because he has been playing for nearly 50 years. Or maybe it’s because he tends to write Americana songs with lyrics that seem to have sprung from our own hopes and worries or that the gift to connect with the audience is just that, a gift. Whatever the reason, the audience quiets and connects with Dawson when he is behind the mic. “I want people to hear the words and I want them to hear what I have to say,” Dawson said. “But it is a bar for crissake.” Yet The Globe’s open mic is not all about Dawson, or even all about music. Poets, magicians, comedians and actors are welcome as well. “Pretty much anyone can show up, grab a beer and sign up,” said co-owner Rena Hershberger, who sings and performs at open mic night herself. “Everyone gets their 10 minutes.” Yet Bowen admits his ultimate goal is beyond that. He’d like the bar and the neighborhood to become a destination for original, quality music and he already sees that happening. “There have been really surprising musicians who have come and blown the socks off people,” he said. Ben Hope, who played the lead in the Broadway musical Once, and renowned Jazz guitarist Tosh Sheridan are both Globe regulars. Dawson is only adding to that momentum. “If people think ‘this guy Jim is going to show up’ and that will bring in two more people,” Dawson said, “that’s what I think is important. I’m just trying to be one of the guys on the team.” Open Mic Night at The Globe Tavern, located at 49-10 Skillman Avenue, will be held this Thursday and every other week.
Police swarm Sunnyside with plain clothes cops prior to arresting armed robber
Amazon-pharmacy-800x600 Oct. 5, By Christian Murray The police sent in more than a dozen plain clothes cops into the Sunnyside commercial district following two armed robberies at local drug stores early last month. The strategy led to an arrest of a Sunnyside man when the third Sunnyside pharmacy was targeted. The first robbery took place at Greenpoint Pharmacy, located at 40-26 Greenpoint Avenue, on Sept 2, when a masked man displayed a gun, and demanded Vicodin, before fleeing with Oxycodone. The second incident occurred on Sept 5 at Family Pharmacy, 45-60 43rd Street, when the masked perpetrator showed a gun and took off with prescription drugs. “We sent in about a dozen plain clothes [officers] to the area,” said Captain Brian Hennessy, the commanding officer at the 108 precinct, after the second incident. The officers were there to monitor the pharmacies in the neighborhood. “With two [robberies] taking place so close to each other, we knew there was a good chance he would hit the area again,” Hennessy said. Therefore, when a perpetrator went into Amazon Pharmacy, located at 43-10 Queens Blvd, on Sept 11 with a knife and demanded prescription drugs the police were in the area. The police received a 911 call with a description of the suspect and several officers were in the neighborhood to search for him. The perpetrator, Patrick McNamara, ran across Queens Boulevard and was arrested by Police Officer John Miszuk, a plain-clothes officer, who tracked him down just two blocks from the drug store. McNamara, 37, a Sunnyside resident was then identified by a witness. The police, however, have not been able to make an arrest on the first two robberies since the suspect was wearing a mask and was hard to identify. However, Hennessy noted, that there have been no drug store robberies since. McNamara was arrested on a variety of charges, such as robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and possession of a controlled substance. Greenpoint Pharmacy-475x355 FamilyPharmacy

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