At 216 Third Avenue, the FDNY found signs of illegal conversion from a two-family building to a four-family one. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Renting an apartment in New York can be a nightmare, but the Department of Buildings wants to help prospective tenants identify shady situations before making a commitment to a new home.
The Quality of Life unit in the Department of Buildings focuses primarily on the illegal conversion of apartments, which often happens when building owners make changes to an apartment and list the place on AirBnB, and the shoddy workmanship can end up being hazardous to tenants. The main concern with illegal conversions and the reason for the DOB’s crackdown is safety, spokesperson Abigail Kunitz said.
“We want to make sure that people have a safe place to live,” she said. “With illegal gas and electrical work, we want to prevent a situation that causes tragedies like the East Village gas explosion. Especially when housing is scarce, we want to make sure that it’s safe.”
Although the Quality of Life unit doesn’t deal with issues related to illegal gas and electrical work, owners may often overlook fire exits when renovating an apartment and failing to maintain two means of egress, which is considered a serious safety issue and one that the QOL unit would address.
The following is an open letter to Stuyvesant Town management with regards to noise in the complex and following it is a response from Rick Hayduk, general manager. Both letters have been edited for length.
The violations of (city law on noise control) are as follows:
Beeping, powerful, motorized gas engine maintenance vehicles that are constantly travelling through the development.
The loud, echoing playground basketball courts (Playground #11) right beside the Avenue C Loop and several other buildings, and directly below apartment windows, that remains open daily from 9 a.m. until dusk, circus tented from November to April, which are absurd hours of usage and which is utilized by very few compared to the total number of 30,000 residents. Because there are basketball courts in Playground #9, the Playground #11 should be relegated to only volleyball courts, more of which can be added, and the current ping pong tables. PCV/ST is not a day camp, a boys/girls club, a country club, etc. It is meant to be a noiseless, unique community.
Loud, roaring leaf blowers, which create noises comparable to being in a construction zone.
Barking dogs, banging/flipping skateboarders, shouting residents in the late evenings or early mornings, and loud, noisy maintenance workers who have no regard for tenants’ quality of life.
Maintenance workers removing the garbage from in between the Avenue C Loop, in the morning hours, using loud, wheeled carts to transport the garbage to the waiting truck in the street, shouting while they do it, then loudly throwing the bottle filled bags onto the trucks. There needs to be different wheels on the carts and the workers advised to be quiet.
All the sounds, even conversations, travel up into the surrounding apartments. There should be an instituted policy, with rules, signs in the street and on the sidewalks, and written guidelines, including enforcement by security/NYPD, to eliminate undue noise nuisances. I have a home office and patrons visit my apartment on occasion. They expect a quiet environment and so do I.
Thank you for your prompt attention to these matters.
Re: Recent letters on noise from neighboring apartments due to a lack of carpeting
No carpet = hell, pure hell!
To annoy, torture, harass and bully me, my upstairs neighbors have been:
Slamming/throwing heavy furniture against the floors during their wild parties around 1 a.m. or 3 a.m.
Dragging/moving furniture against wooden floors day and night constantly.
Making loud footsteps with shoes with high heels day and night and doing it deliberately and enjoying it, every step.
Dropping, striking, rolling metals and heavy objects against wooden floors constantly.
Tap dancing against the wooden floors early in days and late nights.
Jogging back and forth inside the apartment regardless of the time of the day and night.
Every day after work, I must spend countless hours staying in McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts or in my church praying and staying in my friends’ houses — just to avoid hearing those unbearable nuisances from my upstairs neighbors.
My doctor had to increase the dosage of my high blood pressure pill. I had to seek professional help/counseling to deal with my anger management because my landlord, security, my local politicians and my neighbors cannot help me and I feel I am about to snap.
I can hardly afford to pay my rent but now I have to pay legal fees to my lawyer to help me.
Whatever happened to the golden rule: “Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you” and the Christian rule, “Love thy neighbors as you love yourself”? It is hard for me to believe — being a tenant in Stuyvesant Town — I am having nightmares and I have to fight for myself to have a decent, good quality of life.
The following community and entertainment events are taking place this week.
Gramercy quality of life forum on July 15
City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
Manhattan Community Board Six and Gramercy Neighborhood Associates are co-hosting a community forum with representatives from NYC agencies, moderated by City Councilmember Rosie Mendez on July 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Agencies will include New York County District Attorney’s office, NYPD’s 13th and 17th Precincts, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Parks Department and Department of Homeless Services.
It will take place in the School of the Future at 127 East 22nd Street between Park Ave and Lexington Avenue. Panelists will address quality of life issues in the Gramercy neighborhood, including homelessness, safety, traffic and sanitation. Residents can submit questions prior to the forum or in written form during the event.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Lectures, dance lessons, kids’ events at Stuyvesant Square Park
Tango lesson at Stuyvesant Square Park (Photo by Ute Lechmig)
The Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association presents the following upcoming events at Stuyvesant Square Park:
Lunch and Learn events take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday events, from 12:15-1 p.m., are hosted by NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases Horticultural Therapy and Integrative Health Programs. July 16: Mind body movement (meditation), July 23: Herbal tea party.
Thursday events, from 1:15-2 p.m. are hosted by Cornell University Cooperative Extension’s Jannie Wolff. July 24: Health and the uses of herbs.
Chair yoga Tuesdays with Birgit Nagele take place on July 15, 22 and 29 from noon-1 p.m. on the northwest lawn.
Tango Sundays with Esmerelda take place from 6-9 p.m. (beginner lessons at 6 p.m.) at the west fountain.
The NYC Parks Department presents “Play Mobile” on July 15 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
For updates and additional event information, visit spnanyc.org.
Movies on the Oval
Movies on the Oval has returned with a double-feature most Wednesdays through August 13 for ST/PCV residents and their guests. On July 16, 5 p.m. “The Croods,” 7 p.m. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
Music Under the Stars
Waterside Plaza’s summer concert series, “Music Under the Stars,” has returned with Wednesday concerts at 7 p.m. each night. There will be a beer and wine bar, with snacks available at the concession stand or hardier fare at the Robbins Nest cafe. Seating is limited on the Plaza. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.
July 16, Kaissa will perform. Hailing from the Republic of Cameroon and its vibrant culture, singer Kaissa has become an unmistakable representative of African music. Rain date is July 17.
David Hershey-Webb and Friends at Stuyvesant Cove Park last year
David Hershey-Webb and friends will return to Stuyvesant Cove Park to perform original folk, country rock and R&B music on Monday, July 14th at 6:30 p.m. The show is part of the free summer concert series presented by The Stuyvesant Cove Park Association. In the event of rain the performance will take place on Tuesday, July 15.
For even more events going on including outdoor concerts, theater, comedy, kids’ events and more see T&V’s Around & About section.