Monday, March 22, 2010

Park Slope Home Owners Victims of 311 Harrasment

3-1-1 The harasser's weapon of choice.
Six South Park Slope property owners received no less than 27 complaints over a three day period in February. Remarkably, this is not the first time these neighbors have been tormented by 311 complaints. Back in July of 2009, eleven anonymous complaints were filed against them claiming they all had illegal conversions of some form or another. When these neighbors are not fighting off DOB inspectors they have been dealing with having their automobile's tires slashed, and their properties damaged on a regular ongoing basis. A quick check of other properties on the block show no similar instances of multiple complaints.
Our Tax $$$ at Work.
Building inspectors have a duty to follow up on any and all complaints, and have been making as many as three visits for each complaint, leaving what's known as a LS-4 document taped to the front door of the property when they fail to gain access. The NYCBuildings LS-4 notice is a legal request for the property owner to contact the DOB and arrange a date when the premises can be inspected. Failure to comply with this notice may result in the Department obtaining an access warrant authorizing the inspection of the premises against the home owners will.

If you conservatively estimate that each complaint will take up two hours of an inspector's time, than that's more than a week's salary, our tax dollars, thrown down the toilet... Or worse yet, used in some diabolical plot to annoy and harass hard working families during these tough economic times.
Remember that some of these complaints, for instance the ones dealing with crumbling facades and falling debris (a class A complaint) require an immediate response from the DOB in order to protect the public from possible harm. So instead of monitoring potentially disastrous foundation excavations or high rise crane installations, they're rushing out to check these fraudulent claims of falling bricks on the sidewalk and non-existing air conditioners on Sixteenth Street.

If there ever was a case for the NYC Department of Investigations, this is it.

Blunt force trauma
.
The pattern of anonymous calls made to 311 with Department of Buildings related complaints made over three days, as documented on the DoB BIS web site:

Calls made on 2/11/2010

11:22 THE CELLAR OF THIS TWO FAMILY HOME AT THE GIVEN LOCATION HAS CONVERTED INTO AN APT ILLEGALLY PLEASE INSPECT. INSPECTION IS BEST IN THE EVENING

11:26 A FRONT PORCH WAS CREATED WITH OUT APPROVAL FROM DOB ALSO THE IS A WOODEN SHED WAS ERECTED IN THE BACK YARD

11:28 A NEW BOILER WAS INSTALLED IN THE BASEMENT OF THE TWO FAMILY HOME AT THE GIVEN LOCATION HOWEVER NO DOB PERMITS WERE OBTAINED

11:54 ILLEGAL CONVERSION AT LOCATION. BASEMENT CONVERTED INTO AN APARTMENT WITH TENANT LIVING LIVING AT LOCATION

11:56 BELIEVED TO BE ILLEGAL AND DEFECTIVE BOILER AT LOCATION. REQUESTING INSPECTION

12:09 CALLER STATES THAT AT THE ABOVE LOCATION THEY HAVE ILLEGAL CONVERTED THE BASEMENT INTO AN APARTMENT

12:11 BELIEVED TO BE ILLEGAL AND DEFECTIVE BOILER AT LOCATION. REQUESTING INSPECTION

12:14 CALLER STATES THAT THE FACADE ON TOP OF THE BUILDING SEEM TO BE COLLAPSING

12:17 CALLER STATES THAT IN THE REAR OF THE HOUSE THERE IS PORCH THAT WAS INSTALLED WITH OUT A PERMIT

12:30 1 BDRM APT WITH COMPLETE KITCHEN AND BATHROOM WAS CREATED. NO PERMIT POSTED

12:32 NEW BOILER WAS INSULTED A MONTH AGO. NO PERMIT POSTED

12:35 FRONT TOP OF BUILDING THE FACADE IS CHIPPING AWAY AND IS FALLING

13:03 ILLEGAL CONVERSION OF A BASEMENT INTO AN APARTMENT

13.06 UNSAFE STRUCTURE ON THE WALLS BY THE ROOF. VISIBLE AS PER CALLER. (DEBRIS ON THE GROUND). ....ALSO A PORCH IN BACK OF THE HOUSE

13:10 BOILER WAS CHANGED AS PER CALLER W/O A PERMIT NO LICENSE PLUMBER

13:17 ILLEGAL BASEMENT RENTAL ALSO REAR OF PROPERTY EXTENDED AND A PORCH WAS BUILT

13:21 ILLEGAL BOILER INSTALLATION WITHOUT A PERMIT

13:24 CUSTOMER STATES PARAPET ROOF TOP CRACKED AND DEBRIS FALLING ON SIDEWALK ALSO LARGE CRACKED ON FACADE OF BLDG

15:47 THERE ARE 3 AWNINGS THAT HAVE BEEN PUT UP WITHOUT PERMITS POSTED

15:54 THERE 3 AIR CONDITIONERS THAT ARE SUPPORTED BY BOOKS AND PIECES OF WOOD, NONE HAVE BRACKETS SUPPORTING THEM

16:10 CALLER REPORTING AIR CONDITIONERS ON ALL OF WINDOWS AT ABOVE ADDRESS HAVE NOT BEEN INSTALLED PROPERLY. A/CS HAVE NO BRACKETS AND SOME A/CS ARE BRACED ON BOOKS AND BRICKS

16:23 A RESIDENTIAL BUILDING RECENTLY INSTALLED AN AWNING W/O OBTAINING PERMITS

16:29 ON THE 1ST, 2ND & 3RD FLOORS, AIR CONDITIONERS HAVE BEEN INSTALLED IMPROPERLY BY USING BRICKS & WOOD TO SUPPORT & KEEP LEVEL W/ THE WINDOWS. IN DANGER OF FALLING ONTO THE SIDEWALK

Calls made 2/15/2010

13:47 CONSTRUCTION BEING DONE IN THE BSMT W/O PERMITS POSTED

13:48 CONSTRUCTION BEING DONE ON WEEKENDS AND AFTER HRS W/O PERMITS

13:54 CONSTRUCTION ONGOING WITHOUT PERMITS POSTED. ILLEGAL ALTERATION OF BASEMENT TO CREATE RESIDENTIAL UNIT


Call made on 2/16/2010

13:31 CLR STS AT THE LOCATION GIVEN CONSTRUCTION IS BEING DONE IN THE BASEMENT. STS WORK IS BEING DONE DAILY BTWN 7AM TILL 11PM. STS CONSTRUCTION IS BEING DONE ILLEGALLY WITHOUT ANY PERMITS


Many of these complaints have already been cleared by DoB inspectors, determined to be unfounded. Some, like the boiler complaints, will require that the boilers be inspected and notarized, sworn affidavits filed by the property owners or risk additional fines and violations.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Smokey Fire on 16th Street




Friday Evening @ 10:00 PM

Park Slope South
16th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.


It appears the smoky fire started on the second floor and was quickly extinguished. Among the first responders on the scene, Park Slope's Engine Company 220 and Ladder Company 122.

*Click on photos to enlarge.






video

FDNY Ladder Company 122 in action.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

1924 Aerial Photo Tour of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site





Fulton Manufactured Gas Plant


1880-1930's Metropolitan Manufactured Gas Plant,
12th Street and 2nd Avenue
(Lowe's Home Center)

Est. 1859 Citizens Gas Light Works


For 100 years...
Before the discovery and widespread use of natural gas deposits and electricity, coal was destructively distilled or "cracked" in locally operated factories producing a flammable gas known as "Town Gas". Manufactured Gas Plants supplied residential heating, cooking, and gas lighting to the surrounding neighborhoods via a network of pipelines. These plants operated in Brooklyn from the 1860's up until the 1950's when they became obsolete.

There were three Manufactured Gas Plants along the Gowanus Canal in South Brooklyn- The Citizens, The Fulton, and The Metropolitan Gas plants.
After extracting the gas, the byproducts, one of which is coal tar, were stored in pits or tanks that often leaked into the soil, groundwater and the canal where it sank to the bottom. Coal tar does not break down over time and is carcinogenic.

Note: You can see the MGP's many large circular storage tanks, Gasometers or Gas Holders in the detail photos. In 1924, the Canal's bays used to extend all the way to Fourth Avenue.

The color aerial photos were taken in 2008. The black and white were taken in 1924.
For more photographs visit my flicker page. LINK

A great site for information about former MGPs go to www.hatheway.net.

www.flickr.com

Monday, March 01, 2010

Snow Day






Brooklyn: The Boids.


Confetti Rainbow Polymers, Controlled Chaos, and Free Hot Chocolate
Near perfect fun after our record breaking snowfall. Sharing Prospect Parks slopes with hundreds of future little winter Olympians, each of them intently perfecting their own version of the Double McTwist 12. 
 Very little crying and no permanent head traumas to report.
Brooklyn Downhill Ingenuity: Fresh Direct boxes, kiddie pools, garbage can lids,  black plastic  mortar mixing pans with proprietary rope handles.


Every conceivable store-bought sledding device known to Manchild also present. Inflatable Freezeseeker Sno Tubes, High-Density Polyethylene Eurosleds, Rock 'n' Rip Saucers in Day-Glo colors, Snopedo Bodyboards, old school wooden toboggans, all plunging head first down the slope like synchronized penguins, my seething flockmates and I.
The highly coordinated movements of sledders are among the most fascinating phenomena to be found in all of nature. Our group seems to take turns and maneuver as a massive single unit, changing direction almost instantaneously. Such mysterious movements are a prime example of emergent behavior
"The behavior is not a property of any individual, but rather emerges as a property of the group itself. There is no leader, no overall control, instead the 'flocks' movements are determined by the moment-by-moment decisions of individual sledders, all following simple rules in response to interactions with their neighbors on the hill."

Older dudes passing down the three basic rules of safe-sled flocking behavior.


Separation - steer to avoid crowding ones neighbors.
Alignment - steer towards the average heading of ones neighbors.
Cohesion - steer to move toward the average position of ones neighbors.











video video