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.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Special Edition Echo Is Here W/Tribute to Carole

For the pdf just click. Read on, those who are house-curious.

ULURP Committee Meeting Minutes

UPDATE: Yes, a quorum was reached. Since Mike Cetera was not reappointed, and four other ULURP members resigned (Diana Richardson, Dwayne Nicholson and Rosemarie Perry, Laura Imperiale) that leaves just 19 members. 12 were present.

As I'm sure you were dying to know how the melee was officially described by the Board, below are the minutes submitted by Ben Edwards. Behind the scenes there is a call to protect Board members and in particular Pearl Miles with some sort of order of protection. We'll see where that leads. Needless to say, it is now officially impossible to conduct Board business with MTOPP present. They didn't even let us open the meeting. As noted by board member Kenya Sollas who lives at the building Crown Gardens where the community room was reserved, the crowd assembled had taken all the seats and refused to move to let the meeting begin. She did a terrific job of appealing to reason, but to no avail. The only way the committee was even able to vote was to create a scrum and shout to one another. Poor Evelyn Williams, longtime Board member and Hawthorne Street building president, suffered a cut lip.

Alicia spent the night in the pokey, as she most clearly resisted arrest and made dangerous flailings in an attempt, I guess, to keep from being handcuffed. She's been charged with various crimes, though short of felony assault, which the cops probably could have done. They showed considerable restraint if you ask me. Those are our Community Affairs guys by the way, hardly the "bad guys." It's all so horribly wrong. Her followers, many from outside the community, believe they are fighting to keep the neighborhood black and inexpensive. A few even expressed it as such, meaning that the very real illegalities perpetrated by landlords are not even their primary focus, but rather government officials and agencies. So here, under Boyd's guidance, they are targeting a bunch of appointed volunteers trying to reign in scattershot development.

In case you were wondering what other criminal charges were or weren't filed, there's this line from Alicia's follow up email upon her release:

You can see right there in the film.
One of the white board members grinning and smiling
who has been pushing to up zone our community.
This man has called people names at meeting
and even has an harassment complaint filed against him
because of his behavior and yet he has been empowered

to make decisions for us.

FYI that white man accused of smiling is Warren Berke. I don't think I broke into a smile the entire meeting. Felony "Smile 2" charges against Berke are likely to be knocked down to "Smirk 1" after plea bargaining.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

96 Parkside Avenue - The Peristyle

Things to share that the Q did not know. First, the Parthenon across from the Parade Ground is called The Peristyle. Second, it has an address - 96 Parkside Avenue. Third, it is likely part of the ghost situation at 123 on the Park, at least in the sense that ghosts go there to play croquet, since this is also apparently known as the Croquet Shelter. The wickets are likely ghosts as well, for I see no way to append them to the floor.

Then this wonderful postcard via Montrose Morris in her piece on said Colonnade:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Committee Nearly Unanimous In Wanting Planning Study

They hurled insults. They told lies. They riled the crowd up to a frenzy so intense that some of us questioned our decision not to stand closer to a door for ease of exit. This is what happens when dialogue gets trashed for demagoguery. For all the talk of wanting to be heard, they've done no listening. And tonight the committee said what it had said 14 months ago. Let's get on with a study, and push for our agenda at every turn. Yes, let's work with the City and plan our future.

The vote was 9 in favor, 1 against, 1 abstention. The letter requesting a Planning Study goes to the full Board next week. Expect more nonsense, and a likely yay vote.

Who knows where it will go from here. Nowhere good, probably. Just more neighbor against neighbor shouting and name calling. Unless, by some miracle, Alicia decides to take the high road and talk rather than pretend she's fighting the battle for the right to vote. Actually, she could have taken some notes on civil disobedience from the King, because her tactics are definitely not civil and the way she behaves when arrested could damn well turn into a riot one day. Here's some footage, not for the weak of heart:

Thanks Mike F for the embed (click thru for his coverage). By the way, yes, that is a child that one protester brought to the proceedings and encouraged to watch the whole thing. A member of the Board asked her if she wouldn't rather take her outside for the arrest scuffle, but she adamantly refused. I dunno, maybe it's just me, but was that necessary? The little girl couldn't have been a month past three if that. She also gets to watch the below, where about ten seconds in a woman rushes at Ben Edwards and looks like she takes a swipe at him.


 So what happened? Amidst the chaos, the Committee huddled to (barely) hear one another open the meeting, take the vote and adjourn. All that for that.

As I noted before, MTOPP's propaganda really paid off. She brought out significantly higher numbers than usual - maybe 30. But to highlight just how much horseshit she's been feeding people, I spoke with two woman who wanted to know why I was working for the greedy Developers. When I told them I was a 12 year resident who loved my neighborhood and my neighbors, they seemed aghast. But why was I fighting to put huge luxury high rises in the neighborhood? I said that was the very thing I was hoping to prevent, and to see that any new buildings had affordable set-asides. But why was I for buildings like 626 Flatbush? At which point, I just shook my head. It's all going to be okay I muttered, half of me not believing, and half just plain shell-shocked I guess.

There wasn't anything funny about tonight, or any of it. And I'm not the least bit happy that the right decision was made. I really think the anger on display tonight, of neighbor against neighbor, does not bode well for the next chapter, whatever that may be. And now, I fear, Alicia will claim the Board is responsible for the massive changes taking place in the neighborhood. If she's able to convince people of that, look out. Nobody's safe.

Shakespearean Caledonian Apparitions

Every once in awhile, on the internet, you just have to write a phrase that if googled in quotes will be the only result. I am quite certain that the above blog post title will stand the test of time. I'm thinking Macbeth of course.

The Q joked here about the possibility that ghosts might inhabit the old Caledonian Hospital, now known as 123 on the Park, which has been pointed out it is a bit of a stretch, since the entrance is actually around the corner. Now comes word that...folks, the ghosts are real. Too many people died in this building (probably tens of thousands over the years, don't you think? and it had a morgue in the basement! "Room for One More, Honey!") Think we're joking? The NY Post has the spook scoop.

photo: william farrington

Monday, May 18, 2015

March Madness

pic: Emma Whitford

Last Thursday thousands marched over the bridge to demand real affordability and an end to discrimination and intimidation. Local heroes CHTU got in the act, and the Q is happy to point out neighbor and activist Esteban GirĂ³n front and center in the photo below (holding the sign). He joined the CB9 ULURP committee this spring, and he's been very helpful to this blogger in terms of keeping up with the insanity, including commenting and giving up-to-date info. A real hero if you ask me, as are many others putting in the hard work of making noise and knocking on doors and reminding people they have rights and don't have to go quietly into the night.

pic: Emma Whitford

Putting the Pro in Propaganda

All over the neighborhood you'll see the flyers. Within lies a case study in how to deceive and manipulate. Let us count the ways.

1. Call yourself a "movement," when in fact you're a handful of people that has tried to grow from a handful of people for months without traction.
2. Use the word "they" as if you have a specific "they" in mind, even though the target is as varied as the neighborhood itself.
3. Use a picture that is completely fabricated to scare the hell out of you, of 16+ story buildings that have never been suggested by anyone including the Department of City Planning in its own tallest-case scenarios, that wouldn't look like this anyway because there's not enough land to go that high and wide at the same time, even with overly generous zoning.
4. Make it sound like this issue alone is the reason that developers will make money and push you out, when dozens of projects are already happening and landlords have been trying to get people out for a few years now...and are generally succeeding.
5. Suggest that "stop the vote" is a legitimate way of engaging the issues. In fact, a better way to get what you want would be to calmly and rationally state your position, or work on individual elected officials and community board members to come around to your viewpoint. As it is no one can hear you because you're screaming and spitting in their face.
6. Don't mention that the only reason any of this is up for discussion is because people DON'T want skyscrapers, and are looking to have a DISCUSSION about how to limit outsized development, improve infrastructure and keep the neighborhood affordable. Basically, the same goals, unless of course your goals are actually something different.
7. Don't mention that the only way to ensure the neighborhood is somewhat economically diverse in the future is to focus on building some affordable housing and/or addressing the massive influx of new buildings to the neighborhood, particularly in R6 and R7 designated areas or - as I've said a million times - focus on keeping people in their current homes by being a positive force and team player. Most recently, MTOPP has been denouncing the work of the Crown Heights Tenants Union, one of the few examples of REAL activism that is achieving results.

Look for another shitshow on Tuesday. Where will the Q be? Right in the middle of course. He's been appointed for another two years on the Community Board, and he loves being cursed at.

UPDATE: Another email goes out, with this gem, separating us all out by race/religion, just as God intended:

Just take a look at the CB9's rezoning plan for the R2 districts
R2 are very restrictive and protect 1 and 2 story homes

There are three areas,
1. Prospect Lefferts Garden (largest percentage of  Whites)
2. Jewish community
3. Crown Heights (Predominately Blacks) Crown St between Bedford and Rogers!
City Planning and Community Board 9 recommendations for these zones.
1. Prospect Lefferts Garden - no changes leave in tact (protect)
2. Jewish Community - Create a Special District that will have specific controls of development only half a story increase!
3. Crown Heights - Up zone adding 2 more stories!
In the Whites they are protected, in Jewish Area, they will be protected by a special district

but in the Black community they will be unprotected.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Am I Rent Stabilized?

Most likely, yes. You may not know your power. You have rights. You have a lease. You are part of the much-maligned but not-to-be-dismissed system of rent regulation in NYC.

Find out whether you're at the party or not:


Lefferts resident Chris Henrick made that site/app. Thanks Chris!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Q Calls Ponzi On Their Ass

The Q, Not Beholden To Ethics Rules, Says Scam Is In the Air

Okay. This is now officially ridiculous. There is absolutely NO way you can make a profit paying $44 million for a 200 unit building at 805 St. Mark's, diagonal the Brooklyn Children's Museum. You gots to do upkeep, maintenance, you gotta run the building. The name of the company that bought it is Swedish, called Akelius. Plenty of people already don't like their "business model." Expect nothing new here.

But here's the nutty part. The building was purchased for half that just two years ago by Freddy Sayegh of Burke Leighton. It's doubled in price in two years. AND Burke Leighton bought it from their cross-town rivals (buddies?) Pinnacle. You know, Pinnacle, another ethically challenged buyer who's part of a small cadre of big real estate players who've invested heavily in Central Brooklyn.

What's going on? The Q says...Ponzi. Forget all the obvious morally reprehensible stuff they do to make their properties whiter and richer. These guys all know one another. What's to stop them from saying, mafia style, you buy mine if I buy yours? Then it looks to the world like the "smart money" is willing to pay these massive valuations. And then we sell ONE MORE TIME. To someone who's NOT in the cabal. And all that back and forth that we spent turns into one big payday. We split the profits. Or, to make it look more kosher, you take this one, I'll take the next.

Seems like an effortless way to make millions in an overcooked market.

At the very least, we're way past prices that make sense for the old-school model of buy a property, improve it, create steady returns. They used to call it rent roll. Now, who knows what metric they're using? Maybe one of you finance heads can explain this to me.

146 Fenimore. Bring Cash To Buy Out Tenants

Alls you gots to do, according to this here advert, is to magically change the $22 s/f the building gets to $40 s/f. Shouldn't be too hard, if you use a little elbow grease.