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New Report Looks at Protecting Basement Apartments From Flooding in Central Queens

Flooding in Queens last year stemming from Hurricane Ida (Photo: Rep. Grace Meng)

July 22, 2022 By Christian Murray

As New York braces itself for another hurricane season, a new report has been released that looks at how the city and state should address flood risks for residents of central Queens.

The report, titled Preventing Another Ida: Stormwater Management and Basement Apartments in Central Queens, focuses on the neighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Woodside, Elmhurst, Corona, Rego Park and parts of Forest Hills, where many low-income immigrants reside in unregulated, illegal basement apartments.

The study, released Monday by the Regional Plan Association, found that there are approximately 31,000 low-density residential buildings in these central Queens neighborhoods that have below grade basements, which property owners frequently convert into unlicensed apartments. Many are at high-risk of flooding during extreme rainfall.

The study comes as the one-year anniversary or Hurricane Ida approaches, when 11 Queens residents died—most of whom drowned in basement apartments.

Study Area (RPA)

The report calls for additional green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff, noting that central Queens needs approximately 40 times more green infrastructure capacity to manage—or absorb— stormwater associated with weather-related threats. Currently, only three acres of land in central Queens is devoted to flood mitigation.

The report, however, notes that if 5 percent of roadway space were to be set aside for stormwater management, these central Queens neighborhoods could potentially be able to handle future storms like Hurricane Ida. Local, state and federal governments should provide the funding for such infrastructure, according to the report.

The study says basement apartments also need to be legalized and made safer. It says that the state should grant New York City with the authority to regulate such apartments.

“New York City is dealing with two simultaneous crises: the extreme lack of affordable housing and climate change-fueled weather events,” said Tom Wright, President & CEO, Regional Plan Association.​“Our research indicates that increased investments in green, flood-proofing infrastructure, in combination with easing restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units in New York and providing funding to bring them up to code, can lead to safer homes for folks living in basement apartments. “

The report says there should be an amnesty where homeowners can legalize their basement apartments and programs that help them bring them up to standard.

“This report emphasizes the need for some of what many Queens community members have called on the city to seriously invest in for years: Green infrastructure to mitigate storm damage and the legalization of basement apartments to bring them up to code,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

​“If we’re serious about preventing the devastating loss we saw a year ago with Hurricane Ida and ten years ago with Hurricane Sandy, we must act now and implement the solutions in this report and put our most at risk communities first.”

email the author: news@queenspost.com

13 Comments

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Gardens Watcher

Not funny, imposter GW. Obviously you have no idea how serious and deadly these flooding events were, and continue to be.

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MRLIC

It’s about as funny as your constant complaints about someone stealing your name 😆

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Pat

It is hot out there. And it’s not going to let up until this Tuesday. I can can imagine what a flooded basement must smell like due to the dog urine smell all over our sidewalks and trees during this heat wave.

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Woodside Resident

reply to Pat :
I am constantly putting bleach & disinfectant outside my front gate for that reason. You got dogs who pee inside gate too! dog owners dont care bc as one idiot said they are animals !! And its disgusting smell.

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Martha

I try to avoid walking thru blocks with many trees. The heat and humidity really makes urine stink even more. Yes we have many homeless walking around but most is from dogs.

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Jessica

Legalize all basements that are up to code. Then raise taxes on homeowners. All of the money should then go to the cities rental assistance programs to house homeless with priority given to minorities and asylum seekers.

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Anonymous

Tell me dear genius, why would property owners want to bring their property up to code just so the government can seize the revenue and use the money to buy the votes of deadbeats? You’re also showing your racist ways by assuming minorities all need rental assistance.

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Gardens Watcher

The sewer system in Queens is dysfunctional. That’s got to get fixed before any talk of legalizing basement apartments. My block had water in some basements last week, and that was a relatively mild rainstorm.

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Gullible Republicans believe in myths fairytales and conspiracy theories

First landlords should not be renting to people who are here illegally. Second basements that are illegally converted are illegal, plain and simple. Third if you need to engage in criminal or illegal activity just to make the mortgage then you’re in way over your head and should sell.

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Law and Order

Just enforce the laws we have against illegal basement apartments…people who have been rented to illegally can sue the landlord and recover all the rent they have spent now matter how many years they lived there…these bad actor landlords should not be legalized…we are too overcrowded as it is…please dont turn central queens into a ghetto

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Basha

A neighbor homeowner of mine is in a similar situation. Basement tenant called the city on him. The city showed up and gave several violations and now the landlord has to basically demolish the basement apt. after the tenant leaves. Landlord was ordered to pay tenant all rent they paid. Landlord was angry during the city home inspection so he ratted everyone else renting a basement that he knew of on the block. So many basement apartments are in the process of being torn down now. Luckily my tenant told them she is a family friend and not renting my basement. I did not raise her rent this year. Luckily sone of these youngsters understand because they grew up with parents who rented. Flooding also happens in Western Queens.

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