Today’s news:

City must do more to protect the rights of senior citizens

At its Nov. 17 meeting, the Queens Civic Congress voted to sign on as a formal plaintiff to oppose the term limits extension voted on by the City Council. If the current plaintiffs agree or not, the QCC will submit an affidavit of support.

Some civic leaders said during the discussion that they were against term limits, but did not like the undemocratic way term limits were eliminated. Two times voters had expressed their desire to have term limits and now their votes were ignored. Changes should only be made by a popular vote.

The QCC has also written to Mayor Michael Bloomberg decrying city Department for the Aging cuts, which include senior center closings, mental health social work programs and cuts in Council discretionary funds, often given to senior centers and nonprofit charity groups.

There was even a plan to serve seniors frozen meals once a week instead of daily warm meals. Now the plan is to let seniors decide if they want hot or frozen meals. The DFTA also wants to centralize senior services. The city has to cut expenses, but should find a more humane way to save money.

According to QCC President Corey Bearak, a developer, known for destroying the landmarked RKO Keith’s Theatre, was forced to remove an illegally built floor and sidewall of a house in an R4−1 zoned area in Maspeth. The Juniper Park Civic Association worked with the city Department of Buildings to identify the zoning violation and enforce the zoning by making the developer remove the illegal parts. These actions enforce the community zoning needed to protect neighborhoods’ quality of life.

The QCC noted that zoning changes slowly inch forward. Dutch Kills, on the edge of Long Island City and zoned for mixed manufacturing−residential use, has been invaded in by hotel developers. New zoning tools were just used to rezone much of Dutch Kills due to pressure from the Dutch Kills Civic Association, leaving wide streets available for development while protecting narrow ones. Building these hotels seems foolish, since there is little off−street parking for hotel patrons.

In Rockaway Park, civic leaders pressed for a downzoning of their part of the Rockaway peninsula and succeeded in protecting the residential enclaves around Beach 116th Street. Many locals are dissatisfied with the Department of City Planning’s upzoning of the Beach 116th Street commercial corridor, which they believe cannot sustain increased development.

The Waldheim Neighborhood Association, south of downtown Flushing, was rezoned after a decade−long fight. Working with the Kissena Park and Holly civic associations, residents fought to stop developers from overdeveloping one of Queens’ oldest residential neighborhoods.

Enforcement of any new zoning by the DOB is what is necessary to prevent developers from overdeveloping a neighborhood. Homeowners and civic leaders have to constantly watch what is proposed and built.

People have to be alert and keep pressuring the DOB to evaluate what is being built. Residents have to be aware of any higher−zoned lots which can be built on legally, thus creating out−of−context buildings.

Bearak (718−343−6779 or bearak@aol.com) and other officials are always ready to help.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: We have had land booms and busts for a couple of hundred years. People speculated in land and prices rose, but then when prices went unreasonably high, they fell and we had a recession. Local banks were created which issued their own money, which became worthless because there was no collateral to back the money and we had another panic as prices fell.

Recently, people were given false mortgages based on applications for houses with values based on those mortgages, with hidden mortgage payment increases.

Based on the fake mortgages, prices went up as some people bought to speculate, flip and make money until the prices went too high. Now we have another bust.

People bought large SUVs with poor mileage, then energy demand rose in China and India and energy and oil prices went up. The SUVs were glorified as necessary for the good life and classified as trucks so they did not have to get good mileage.

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