We hope you’re all having a great summer! We’re still hard at work fighting illegal conversions in Brooklyn and wanted to share some recent news and upcoming events with you. This is from our recently distributed July 2016 Summer Newsletter.
On June 21, 2016, New York City Council Members Vincent J. Gentile, Jumaane D. Williams, and Barry S. Grodenchik introduced the Aggravated Illegal Conversions Bill (Introduction #1218). This new bill would impose high penalties on bad actor landlords and equip the Department of Buildings with the ability to gain entry into suspected illegal conversion sites to issue violations as necessary.
Last year, The Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance and the Dyker Heights Civic Association, in conjunction with our local elected officials and the Department of Buildings, formed an Agency Task Force with the focus of combating the proliferation of Illegal Home Conversions in Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge. Our efforts over the past year have resulted in increasing success in our fight against these illegal conversions:
The vast increase in violations issued during 2015 was due to the fact that the DOB received a far greater number of credible complaints from the community than in 2014. As a community, we’ve proved that we can make a real, tangible difference. If you see a possible illegal conversion, don’t hesitate to call 311 and make a complaint!
We have a lot of upcoming events and hope that you can join us for some (if not all) of them!
We’ll have a booth set up at all of the Summer Strolls in Bay Ridge. Stop by and say hello! We’ll be talking to residents and have plenty of literature to distribute. We can answer your questions and collect information about any suspected or known illegal conversions as well. Bring some of your neighbors who may not be familiar with our cause and have them sign our petition! See below for details on where we’ll be located:
August 5 (Friday)
– Bay Ridge Ave to 80th Street on 3rd Ave – BHPA between 7802 – 7804 3rd Ave
August 12 (Friday)
– 80th Street to 90th Street on 3rd Ave – BHPA in front of 8601 – 3rd Ave
When: Saturday, August 6, 2016, 6pm to 10pm
Where: Indigo Murphy’s, 7102 Fort Hamilton Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11228
Tickets: $20 at the door
Please join us for food, drinks, live entertainment and prizes! Get to meet your neighbors, show your support, and have a great time at our upcoming fundraising event. There will be a light buffet available and attendees will receive one free drink and one free raffle ticket. A share of the proceeds will benefit the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance to continue our work. Help us stop illegal conversions in Brooklyn AND have fun doing it!
When: Thursday, July 28th at 6:00 PM
Where: Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Community Board 10’s application to repeal the Special Permit is up for review by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. The Special Permit provides provisions for homeowners to expand their homes but adds incentive for developers and investors to illegally convert homes. A public hearing is scheduled for Brooklyn Borough Hall on Thursday, July 28th at 6:00 PM. We encourage you to attend this hearing as we are hoping to gain the support of the Borough President to repeal the Special Permit Section 73-622 in Community District 10. If the Special Permit isn’t repealed, we will only be encouraging real estate developers to illegally convert properties into SROs.
When: Thursday, August 4th at 6:30 PM
Where: New York Aquarium, Surf Ave and West 8th St – Education Hall, Brooklyn NY, 11224
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, in partnership with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, State Senator Diane Savnio, Assembly Member Pamela Harris, and Council Members Chaim Deutsch and Mark Treyger, will be holding a Town Hall in South Brooklyn at the New York Aquarium. This is an open forum that will allow us to voice our concerns to the city regarding illegal conversions in Brooklyn. We encourage as many people as possible to attend.
Enjoy your summer! We’ll be in touch and hope to hear from you soon!
Community Board 10’s application to repeal the Special Permit Section 73-622 is moving into the next phase of the review process. A public hearing is scheduled at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Thursday, July 28th at 6:00 PM, before a formal review by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. This is a critical piece of legislation that encourages the development of illegal conversions in Dyker Heights and needs to be repealed immediately.
The Special Permit section 73-622 allows certain homeowners to apply for a special permit for the expansion of floor-area and 10-foot encroachments into the required 30-foot backyards. Many neighborhoods in Brooklyn, including Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Kings Bay, Borough Park, Midwood and Flatbush are subject to the Special Permit.
Community Board 10 adopted the Special Permit zoning rule 20 years ago to encourage families to stay in the area, rather than moving to other neighborhoods for bigger homes. The idea was to entice families to “grow in place,” to add a needed room for a new baby or an extra alcove. In practice, however, the special permits pose the risk of attracting developers and investors because of the potential to use it to illegally convert homes into SROs.
Developers and investors can use the Special Permit to enlarge their property and make SROs that contain even more units. This abuse of the Special Permit would negate protections against overdevelopment that many community members and representatives fought for over a decade ago. The Special Permit ZR Section 73-622 will only give these opportunists more of an incentive to cause destruction in our neighborhood, thus changing the very character of our community and eliminate the reasons why so many of us, for so long, have called this place home. If we don’t repeal the Special Permit for Community Board 10 we will be legitimizing and encouraging this illegal behavior.
LET OUR REPRESENTATIVES KNOW YOU’RE FOR THE REPEAL OF THE SPECIAL PERMIT IN COMMUNITY BOARD 10. JOIN US AT THE PUBLIC HEARING AT BROOKLYN BOROUGH HALL ON THURSDAY, JULY 28TH AT 6:00PM AND LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
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On the eve of the introduction of their Aggravated Illegal Conversion Bill, Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Brooklyn) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will hold a press conference on Monday, June 20th at 5:00PM in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn at St Ephrem’s Church 929 Bay Ridge Parkway Brooklyn, NY 11228 (between Fort Hamilton Parkway and 10th Avenue) near an alleged aggravated illegal conversion site. This legislation, LS 4115, co-sponsored by Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, Council Member Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) as well as Council Member Barry Grodenchik (D-Queens), would establish the immediately hazardous DOB violation of Aggravated Illegal Conversions — defined as three or more illegal dwelling units being created within one structure.
For each qualifying illegal unit, the owner of an illegally converted building would be fined $15,000. This fine would immediately create a lien on the building upon an ECB judgment. If left unpaid, the lien could be included in a lien sale. In addition, aggravated illegal conversions would be added to the list of offenses for which a vacate order could be issued due to immediately hazardous conditions. Additionally, if inspectors from DOB fail to gain entry to premises after several attempts, this legislation provides the means by which DOB would be required through request to the Corporation Counsel (Law Department) to seek a warrant to gain entry.
Illegal conversions pose serious harm for the safety of current and future dwellers as well as first responders. Construction LLC’s are habitually abusing self-certification at the expense of the safety of future inhabitants. LS 4115 seeks to heavily penalize bad actors and eradicate the proliferation of illegal conversions for the safety of residents and for the preservation of quality of life in our neighborhoods.
This is a huge step forward and we hope to see all of you there! Your presence will show our elected officials that we care about our community and won’t let illegal conversions destroy it.