Queens Lawmakers On The Move Nov. 17, 2017

Queens County City Council News

Meng Meets With Chao Over Aircraft Noise & Charter Bus Safety

Congresswoman Grace Meng, left, during meeting on Capitol Hill with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, and Maspeth) met this week with U. S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao where the two discussed excessive aircraft noise over Queens and improving charter bus safety in the wake of the charter bus crash in Flushing.

Meng and Chao met on Capitol Hill during a meeting Chao held with the Congressional Women’s Caucus, of which Meng is a member.

Meng explained that increased airplane noise over Queens is a top concern of many constituents. The Congresswoman said that she is constantly advocating for more federal resources for noise mitigation efforts – whether through new technologies or practices – and urged Chao to work with her to address the problem.

Meng also discussed the need to improve charter bus safety in the wake of the charter bus crash that took place two months ago in Flushing. Three people were killed in the accident and several others were injured. Meng urged the Secretary to work with her on preventing future crashes once the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) completes its investigation into the incident.

“I thank Secretary Chao for speaking with me and for listening to the issues I raised about transportation-related matters that are important to the people of Queens,” said Meng. “I look forward to working with the Secretary on these and other issues that affect our borough, and hope that she will be a strong partner in addressing the concerns of Queens residents.”

Avella, Residents Ask “What’s the deal?” with Abandoned Property

State Sen. Tony Avella

State Sen. Tony Avella (College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Floral Park, Beechhurst, Malba and Auburndale) and Whitestone residents this stood at the corner of 14th Avenue and Totten Street to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Buildings (DOB) to investigate the status of a local property that has been “under construction” for over a decade.

Residents who brought the matter to the Senator report that construction began at this location years ago, but suddenly stopped and has since been abandoned. The property is currently in an unhealthy and unsanitary state, creating a breeding ground for rodents.

The property, which is listed as both 168-08 14th Avenue and 14-05 Totten Street, first received a DOB permit for construction in 2004. The permit was subsequently renewed in 2008 and 2013 leading neighbors and the Senator to wonder why the City continuously renewed permits for a house that was clearly sitting idle while nature ran its course on the abandoned structure. The structure also received ten DOB Environmental Control Board violations, some which are still open, and has had 16 complaints from the community.

“The fact that a property can sit idle while in a state of construction, with a number of violations, and still have its permit renewed over and over shows a clear dereliction of DOB’s duty to monitor these properties. I wonder how many other properties throughout the city DOB has allowed to be “under construction” for over a decade without showing any signs of actual construction. The Mayor and his administration owe it to the community to make sure that all construction sites are safe and actually being worked on to maintain a quality of life in neighborhoods. Shame on DOB for allowing this to happen,” said Avella.

Senator Comrie Works with DOF, Legal Aid to Assist Local Residents

State Senator Leroy Comrie

State Senator Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Hollis, Rosedale, Laurelton, Kew Gardens, Queens Village) this week has partnered with the New York City Department of Finance (DOF) and Legal Aid Society of Queens to assist local residents with property taxes, liens, the foreclosure process, wills, and many other matters.

Since the program began, over 35 individuals and families have received free property tax and legal assistance.

“My primary purpose as an elected leader is to serve as a link between the families I represent and our government, which is oftentimes difficult to access and navigate,” said Comrie. “Fortunately, we are working with individuals from the Department of Finance with expert knowledge and an earnest desire to help out residents here in Southeast Queens.”

Recently enacted legislation has increased the number of homeowners who qualify for the Senior Citizen Homeowner’s Exemption and the Disabled Homeowner’s Exemption. Now, certain homeowners with incomes up to $50,000 may qualify for the full 50% reduction in their home’s assessed value. Additionally, certain individuals with incomes up to $58,399 may benefit from this expanded program with a lower reduction.

Comrie and the DOF are working to not only get the word out, but to also make sure that all eligible homeowners from the 14th Senate District submit their applications before the January 16, 2018 deadline.

PA James Calls for New Leadership at NYCHA

Public Advocate Letitia James

Public Advocate Letitia James today called for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chair Shola Olatoye after it was reported that NYCHA’s repeatedly failed to inspect 55,000 low-income apartments for lead-paint hazards.

According to a city Department of Investigation report she knew the apartments were not inspected and signed off on them anyway.

“After meeting with the NYCHA Chair today, it has become clear to me that it is time for sweeping operational changes, independent monitoring, and transparency at the City’s Housing Authority. Most importantly, it’s time for new leadership and a fresh start at NYCHA,” said James.

“The circumstances surrounding the City’s failure to conduct lead inspections and the false reporting that followed are simply unacceptable. Every man, woman, and child who calls a NYCHA apartment unit home deserves to live in safe, decent conditions and the City must do everything in its power to ensure that these residents are protected.”