The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Parkside Plaza Needs Your Support

Parkside Fundraiser 2015 from Thorsten Thielow on Vimeo.

The Q just gave. Please give.

Only a year ago the Parkside Plaza was a gleam in our eyes. Now it's here, and man ever has it changed our little corner of the park. Just last weekend the Farmer's Market came to end for this year, but it was a smash success and we hope to return next year and every year after.

The Parkside Committee is busy scrounging up donations from officials and foundations, but we're not there yet. We still need $20,000 for the coming year. Granted that seems like a ton. But remember the Plaza needs maintenance, every day. Trust me when I say we hope to have the Plaza self-sufficient in the next couple years, through electeds and businesses. But in the meantime, consider giving to the Plaza that keeps on giving.

From the whole Committee a hearty thanks.

Friday, November 27, 2015

160 Stores Nearby And You're Still Shopping On Amazon?

Not one, not six, but one hundred and sixty stores are offering discounts during Shop Local CB9's campaign to convince you that pretty much everything you need for the holidays can be found right here. You can get yer toys, yer clothes, yer knick-knacks and yer paddywacks. More info:

Nostrand Avenue Merchant's Association Facebook Page

Tomorrow is the big kick-off at CB9 headquarters on Nostrand. No reason to put off exercising your purchasing power. Stores are open and they need our support. We love our neighborhood, and this is the American way to show love. With $$$! The Flatbush Avenue Merchants are flying their freak flags high as well. Make sure to stop in a local joint for discounts and goodies.

Exposing the apparatus in po-mo style, here's the press release rather than dropping the quotes into my own post making it look like I actually went out and did an interview. Pia and Warren from CB9 and Nostrand Ave Merchants are awesome though, and I can personally vouch for their commitment to the project.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

MTOPP Suit Against CB9 Dismissed

After many months of trumpeting its lawsuit against lowly Community Board 9, MTOPP lost today in Supreme Court. Not THAT Supreme Court, mind you. The decision completely denies MTOPP (Alicia)'s claims that CB9, under district manager Pearl Miles, was underhandedly trying to dismantle the wheels of democracy. If you're into this sort of thing, the details are kinda fun to read. Otherwise, here's the short version. Nobody is trying to pull the wool over your eyes, Alicia. Some people, believe it or not, simply disagree with you. At the same time, in a separate decision, the disorderly conduct charges against Ms. Boyd were dropped. Meaning, basically, that she can continue to scream, shout and holler, then get hauled out of the meeting, but can't be sentenced for it. That seems about right to me. No one should be denied the opportunity - say in the Senate - to jump up and yell "you racist fascist pigs." However, that same person shouldn't be allowed to do that indefinitely. At some point, you gotta move on with the business at hand. Senators are allowed to filibuster in certain circumstances. Individual citizens, however, are granted no such powers.

And so another meeting went by, this one with not much to report. The Citywide text amendments to promote the building of affordable housing failed, predictably, after being hammered with all manner of blunt tools, ranging from misinformation to lies to specious economic arguments. Never you mind, says the Mayor. I'm the decider, says he, not to be swayed by a tide of public opinion. We'll see - if he wants another term he may need to rethink. Oh, and the Empire Blvd Reconstruction Project was tabled. Had the vote happened last night, I fear it would have failed for being lumped in with all the other anti-City votes. DOT is coming back to the table to better make its case. Here's hoping they succeed, because god knows I was losing the arguments.

Both Laurie Cumbo and Diana Richardson gave lengthy but powerful speeches trumpeting their good deeds. So did Mathieu Eugene. The Q happily shook M.E.'s hand and thanked him for all the new trash baskets. You know, the ones that say Mathieu Eugene all over them? Diana ripped Alicia a new one in a pulpit-pounding diatribe that reminded us why we voted for her in the first place. Man, that gal can speak! She's got such a terrific cadence and she rarely trips over her well-chosen words. Plus, she went into some detail about her plans for an ex-felon job fair. NOW we're talking! Too many young people get saddled with the wrong kind of degree - one from Superior Court, that dogs them for life. Second chances, that's why we let people out of jail in the first place. Regain your footing, grow up, take responsibility. But just TRY to get hired with a Felony on your record. You go Dee!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Born At The Junction

Too awesome not to share. Perhaps now Target will finally open a Neonatal Nursing department. Here's a picture of our heroes from the NYPDOBGYN:

Doris Cordero & Kelly Brown - Cops/Doulas

Monday, November 23, 2015

Your Signature Needed - Tonight's Vote Canceled

It's all weird, man. No vote tonight. Gonna be tabled. Not a bad thing. More later...


I'm posting this again in case you missed it. The petition will be presented tomorrow night at the CB9 meeting. I've chosen not to belabor the vote by bringing it back to committee - we were to vote on it last mtg but ran out of time. At an all-board policy mtg last week it became clear that many of the Board members plan on voting no to supporting this project because they drive and a) don't want the hassle of the construction work b) don't think there are safety issues and/or c) think this but another example of the bicycle lobby trying to slow down drivers and create traffic snarls. We weren't even talking about it, but four separate individuals said that pedestrians are the real problem. Oh, and there are plenty of trees at Prospect Park why do you need them at these intersections? If you agree with any of those arguments then I suppose the petition is not for you. I was told at the meeting to start listening more closely to what the community wants. Perhaps I'll be censured. Now THAT would be a resume builder!

I'm not going to go into it again, but if you're dying to read why a once unanimously supported project to fix two deadly intersections on Empire Boulevard is now in peril, read this.

The anti-government frenzy is starting to blow over into once non-controversial transportation planning. With reams of data and a solid plan to keep traffic moving as well or better, DOT found both the way and the means to make it possible to fix the cluster-fudge at Washington/Franklin/Empire. After years of residents asking for responsible changes to this intersection and others, money was finally found a few years back by then U.S. Rep Major Owens. Yvette Clarke pulled the trigger and now the money is ours, only for this to correct long-neglected intersections at both ends of our district. Best of all, there's money for new landscaping and greenspace. The crossing at Washington effects more Q readers, plus hundreds of parents and seniors who take fate in their hands when they negotiate the bizarre dance at this monstrous intersection, so I've been happy to focus on that one. (The other fix is elegant too, but I'm rarely down by Utica and Schenectady. Been enough to know it's a nightmare as a bicyclist though.) These are multi-million dollar projects, and the money disappears if we don't do the project.

Thankfully I'm not alone in seeing the folly of objections from some at the Community Board and others (you know the names) who at this point suspect the reason for the fix has something to do with plans to allow the blvd to develop as 10-12 story "towers" with means-tested apartments, a/k/a affordable housing. A neighbor of ours has put together a petition to allow sheer numbers to way against the loud voices of drivers who have expressed opposition to ANYTHING they perceive could slow them down.


20 Story Building To Replace Mathieu Eugene's Office

No, it's not April 1. From neighbor Jacob G. comes news that the building that was going to happen at 123 Linden (btw Bedford & Rogers) that was already a bit hefty is now going to tower over the neighborhood at over 200 feet. By taking an R7-1 to the max, this building will include community facility (that's profit-making rentals by the way, not a community "center" as some seem to think). Man-o-Manischewitz this does not bode well for preserving the context of the neighborhood, such as it is. Here's the filing.

I'm really too blown away by this news to spin it as yet another sign of the need for a Planning Study. FYI, Linden is not in CB9, which ends at Clarkson. But still, we have tons of R7-1 to offer. Just look at 626 Flatbush. And don't forget a 23 story whopper is coming to Nostrand below Church Ave. I guess it's time to settle in for a new normal.

384 Units. Market? Probably. I suppose some of you can hip me to the facts?

123 Linden - Your Councilman's Office Will Seem Quaintly Tiny One Day
Oh, and we've already talked about this on Lenox:

For fun, the 23-story coming to Nostrand:

And while we're talking south of CB9, let's keep rolling with Clarkson/Nostrand:

How many more mega-projects in the pipeline? With dozens of new projects having surfaced this calendar year, I think it's safe to say the ship has left the station. All aboard?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kiddie Science Trivia Fun Nov 28

Always happy to promote Kiddie Science, Mad Momma Carmen, Play Kids and Science. That's a killer Gang of Four.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Uses, Or Not, Of Hyperbole

Is it helpful to describe issues of development in Lefferts as class warfare? Probably not. This writer has tried to wake up the neighborhood to the fact that decisions are made in its name that will affect us for a long time. Perhaps his language is a bit over the top. Because, and here's the honest truth, there's not much any of us can do about runaway development. And on his most cynical days, he says...who gives a damn. If people are set in their ways let them be. They'll die, then I'll die, we'll all die, and why bother to point out hypocrisy when we're all equally to blame for destroying the Earth and punting our problems to the next generation? At least political movements like "Black Lives Matter" have identified true lingering sores in the fabric of America, and are trying to address it. I'm thrilled to see movements like that, Occupy Wall Street, the Crown Heights Tenants Union, taking hold. But when entrenched gentry start to defend their turf as if they are Entitled to make decisions for us all, I get on my high horse. I've always had a problem with Entitlement, even as I walk the streets oozing it from my pores. Perhaps we despise most what we see in ourselves. No matter. It's just a blog. It's just an opinion. Don't like it? Start your own blog, and I'll be happy to link to it. Seriously.

Every night I vow to quit CB9, save my sanity, and watch the neighborhood succumb to its own capitalist takeover, while people plan and scheme to demand from the City things it will not give. Even this whole Text Change war is nonsense. The Mayor's committed to it. He has quite a few allies on the Council. It'll pass eventually. Go ahead, count the Community Boards and "Trusts" and alliances for a "human scale" City. They're essentially anti-housing. And their arguments about "secondary displacement" are pretty hard to defend, especially when they're peppered with protectionism and preservationism. The Mayor and Carl Weisbrod are on a mission, and they're not going to let a bunch of "concerned citizens" get in their way.

Don't get me wrong - I love landmarks and landmark neighborhoods. But you can't landmark the whole City. Everytime you downzone or landmark, you have to recognize you've taken potential building away, and that with great demand you must build somewhere else. The "human scale" movement has one thing right - we don't need these damn super tall buildings that no one lives in but money launders and oligarchs. Who, as we've seen, don't actually live in them. Enough with the ultra-luxury market. Build market rate housing. But it ain't all "luxury." Some of it is shit for $5K. Try explaining that to the recent college grad who can't afford it, and decides to buy a whole house in Detroit for less than a year's rent. Granted, it's Detroit. But when you're young you don't care. The Q quite enjoyed his days next to two crack dens. Hardly noticed actually.

We can only try to squeeze this or that out of the whole thang, or cap heights. Repeat the fact: capping density or heights in one place (downzoning or contextual zoning) requires easing them elsewhere. Perhaps, were NYC not in a deep crisis of low inventory that sets rents spiraling upwards, we could imagine lowering potential density. This is not the case. It's not in the projections. High income jobs keep appearing and people keep moving here to nab those gigs, and they want to live here. Is this bad? Some say quite the opposite, it's good for the economy. It keeps people working, even those who live at the lesser income levels. Unemployment is quite low for NYC. That's good!! The problem, as we're told, is that all these working people - all equally deserving of a decent place to live - can't find one. When it's just "the poor," it's easy for the City to call it a social problem and deal with it that way, or more typically, not at all. But it's not just the poor anymore. It's working people all the way up to families $100K in income who are struggling to live here. The data don't lie. Folks can complain about "neighborhood change" all they want. But the change is a direct result of a healthy City in an unhealthy housing environment. Were we dealing with rampant unemployment and spiraling crime, the issues would be different. But the dissatisfaction and unease would be equally intense.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Down South They're Getting Serious About Affordability

Ah, the Caton Market. Once an outdoor flea, it became an indoor mini-mall with stalls. But it's never been very inviting. And while a few small businesses have indeed gotten their start there, most suffer from lack of foot traffic. People just don't go in. Time for phase III?

And guess what? This guy wants to cobble together the financing to make the ENTIRE building means-tested, at various levels. With the current anti-housing fever in CB9, we can only be glad it's happening in the district to the SW, namely CB14. One would hope the project will make its way through ULURP without too much trouble. And who's the guy leading the charge? A hometown kid done good, Meredith Marshall. Read all about the project in the Brooklyn Eagle.

Meredith Marshall photo: Lore Croghan
Question: What if we put political pressure on the case to do more of this, say along (gulp) Empire Boulevard? We'd finally find out how committed certain neighbors are to affordable housing, since this kind of project is for everyone BUT the luxury market. What do you think? Would MTOPP and Concerned Citizens go for it? Granted, it's not City land. But with the right politicians on board, and a community sufficiently dedicated to building low and moderate income housing...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Million Dollar Townhome Owners To Working Stiffs: Our Borders Are Closed: Try Poughkeepsie.

In a remarkable display of hypocrisy without irony or wit, your neighbors voted and expressed themselves in solidarity. And while most own homes appraised at upwards of $2 million, they voted no to Mandatory (that's right MANDATORY) affordable housing. Stunning, but not surprising. Older (and even pretty new) homeowners in this neighborhood seem to think they own the joint. They're pissed, because others might dare want a place near the park, just like them. That they can afford. How dare they!

Not one member of the committee seemed to express any interest in the City's best market-aided efforts to get rid of Fedders & Billyburg style buildings, build more homes for seniors, or require means-tested set-asides. We heard a lot of nonsensical comments about the "right way" to build affordable housing. And maybe, sometime next decade, there'll be the money and political will to do some of it, too little to late. By then, building affordable housing for the poor might be twice as expensive. Actually, by then the poor may have moved on, and the working poor will be commuting from Poughkeepsie. Maybe we can get them a discount on Metronorth tickets? The whole thing is so depressing. I don't know why I sit there and take the abuse, especially the 5 minute tantrum from Boyd who called me a punk, racist and coward for pointing out what a hypocrite she is for claiming her anti-gentrification bonafides all the while playing them up to Airbnb renters. She's a phony, but that doesn't matter. She gets what she wants. Just like my toddler. Lotta similarities actually.

It's enough to make me think that people in this neighborhood really DO want to be Park Slope. That's the way they're voting. They want downzoning ONLY, just like the Slope so successfully did through the years, selling out 4th Avenue because, you know, it really isn't the Slope, not the REAL Slope. See any black or brown folks over there? See any affordable housing? Have you seen that average incomes are over $120K? Did you know the Slope used to have huge black and brown populations? Couldn't happen here, though. Of course.

Am I the last person standing who wants downzoning on inner-blocks, with height-limited upzoning on the Avenues to allow for the building of affordable housing? Probably. Alicia says she wants REAL affordable housing. Something tells me she won't go for it on Empire Boulevard though. Why? Hypocrite. Light and garden and Euro-sensibility and parking loving hypocrite. What's sad is that the true righteous crusaders, like Crown Height Tenants Union often align themselves with her. If they only knew.

That's where we're heading folks. Park Slope. And tonight, we sealed the deal. What was hilarious was that many people on the Board and in the community actually made the arguments tonight FOR a Planning Study, though you best bet they won't be for it when the rubber meets the road. After years of wanting more affordability, the real cowards are the people who look the future in the eye, and say no to change, positive policy change that might just save not only OUR neighborhood, but the whole damn City.

Here's a fact, Jack. It's a Great Big City.

Sounds obvious, right? And it's getting denser. Community Districts all over the City are watching and feeling helpless as developers gobble up land and build the most profitable buildings for their investments. And right now business is very, very good indeed. Though land and building prices have skyrocketed, so have rents and the costs of owning a piece of America's greatest urban experiment - NYC. In a wild reversal of fortune from both post-9/11 New York and the financial crisis of '08-'09, for better or worse, we have become THE place to be, as an investor or a worker, business or resident. And so we come to the present moment.

I've lived here in BK since 1988. In all that time I've never seen a mobilization of forces that can only be called anti-housing. I make that distinction (anti-housing) because groups like Concerned Citizens or MTOPP have many arguments for their claims. But the one consistent complaint is - don't build denser or higher. Not even a little bit. We've got enough people. City and developers, please move on to the next "it" neighborhood. Why do I call this NIMBYism? Well, because that's what the acronym was coined for. Go ahead and build your damn housing. Just not here.

We have a request in to City Planning to do a study of our neighborhood, and even the Study is vehemently opposed by a few loud and omnipresent citizen activists. But that issue has been set aside for the moment by the City agency charged with such matters because they've created a series of what are called "text changes" that are meant to work throughout the City, not on any one block or neighborhood. They are, in the words of the professional planners, intended to:

a) spur or require the development of affordable "means tested" housing
b) spur the development of seriously discounted housing for low-income seniors
c) incentivize smarter, better architecture with taller first stories - spurring first floor commercial uses and going back to the pre-war model of higher first floors (don't like Fedders buildings? this one's for you!)
d) mandate (as in you HAVE to) build affordable units in any area that's been rezoned
Tonight you heard people speak out against it, and the nays have it. Oddly, what most people WANT - affordability and a diverse neighborhood - are the very things they voted against.

And that, my friends, is what I call lunacy. And really good propaganda.