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DOT Commissioner Defends Inspectors From Accusations Of Sidewalk Repair Double Standards

Residence CBS New York

It's a tale of two sidewalks on Caswell Avenue in Willowbrook.
'NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Cracked and uprooted sidewalks are causing a rift between Staten Island neighbors and the city. It’s a tale of two sidewalks on Caswell Avenue , CBS2’s Reena Roy reports. (Credit: CBS2) A homeowner with a barely visible crack in front of his house was slapped with a violation from the city. “They said it was a violation. I appealed the violation, and they said it was still a tripping hazard,” homeowner Bart Gorman said. His neighbors went through a similar situation. One shelled out more than $100 to a private contractor to fix minimal damage. If he hadn’t, the city would do the work, but they would charge thousands. “This was a hairline crack,” the homeowner said. “It’s typical city money-grabbing off homeowners,” Gorman said. (Credit: CBS2) Directly across the street, however, the sidewalk is completely uneven from the roots of a city-owned tree, and the homeowner hasn’t heard a word from the Department of Transportation, the agency that decides what needs to be fixed and when. “It’s clearly from the trees,” homeowner John Cockrell said. RELATED STORY: How Long To Fix A New York City Sidewalk? A Year? A Decade? More? When it does involve a tree, the city is financially responsible for repairs, leading homeowners to believe inspectors may have purposely overlooked those cases. CBS2 took their concerns to DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg. Roy: “It appears that DOT inspectors are turning a blind eye to the repairs that the city would have to pay for … Why is there such a double standard?” Trottenberg: “In places where cracks are caused by tree roots, that’s a Parks Department issue versus just cracks on the sidewalk that are the responsibility of the homeowners.” Roy: “Right, but DOT inspectors, they’re the ones that issue the violations. They’re not even being issued violations, these residents.” Trottenberg: “That’s not my experience. We issue violations all the time where there are tree roots.” Defending DOT inspections, she also encouraged those who are still unhappy to reach out to the agency. “You can complain. We’ll come back and reinspect,” Trottenberg said. Willowbrook residents say they will only believe it when they see it. The DOT later emailed CBS2, saying the agency had initially received a complaint for only one side of that Staten Island street, hence the violations there and not for the uneven sidewalk across the way. They added that residents would have to submit an additional complaint to get that fixed by the city.'

Ben Carson: Outdated Regulations Block Innovation in Affordable Housing

Residence The Epoch Times (US)

Housing Secretary Ben Carson said obsolete regulations are blocking many Americans from getting a home. Affordable housing remains an issue, especially for young people, who generally used to get their first home by their late 20s. Now, the majority
'Housing Secretary Ben Carson said obsolete regulations are blocking many Americans from getting a home. Affordable housing remains an issue, especially for young people, who generally used to get their first home by their late 20s. Now, the majority of first-time buyers wait into their 30s, according to the 2018 National Association of Realtors survey. While innovations in housing should have allowed people to get a more affordable home, in many cases the innovations can’t be used because of red tape, Carson told Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek in an interview on “American Thought Leaders.” “In a lot of cases [regulations] just accumulated one over the other,” Carson said. “Instead of replacing regulations, they just add them onto each other. And that’s what’s made it so difficult,” Manufactured Houses Carson gave the example of advancements in manufactured homes, which now offer housing “way beyond” the trailer homes and double-wides of yore. Not only are modern manufactured houses more resilient than many site-built homes, but they also accumulate real estate value at the same rate as site-built homes, Carson said. All that at a price half to three quarters of a site-built house. “This provides an opportunity for a lot of millennials and first-time home buyers to actually get into a home and begin to accumulate some equity,” he said. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson delivers remarks at the Innovative Housing Showcase on the National Mall in Washington on June 1, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) Regulations “Even though you have these wonderful innovations, in a lot of places they can’t be used because of the zoning restrictions and because of the regulatory barriers,” Carson said. Yet a lot of the regulations are already irrelevant, he said. If one wants to turn a single family house into a duplex, “in many states you can’t do that because of the regulations that say people living in the house must be related to the owner,” he said. “Why are those there? Because people used to be concerned about brothels popping up. Nobody’s concerned about brothels anymore. So those are the kinds of things that can be removed.” Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (L) visits a house by Skyline Champion homebuilders at the Innovative Housing Showcase on the National Mall in Washington on June 1, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) He said the department is making progress talking to state and local authorities “about removing the [regulations] that are unnecessary.” He mentioned some successes, such as the Block Project in Seattle, which aims to alleviate homelessness by building tiny houses in one backyard of each city block. “People weren’t too enthusiastic about that, as you might imagine until they started putting them there,” Carson said. “[Now] they say, ‘Wow, they are cute. I want one at my backyard.’” Another example was the relaxation of regulations on accessory dwelling units in Los Angeles. “We still have a long way to go, but we’re starting down that pathway now,” he said. “I think it will make a difference.” Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson visits a house by indieDwell homebuilders at the Innovative Housing Showcase on the National Mall in Washington on June 1, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) The administration of President Donald Trump has made deregulation a priority and the effort has received some credit for the economic boom under Trump. Carson, who ran against Trump in 2016, went into politics after a successful career as a neurosurgeon.'

Iconic Westchester Estate In Desperate Need Of Facelift, But County Must Jump Through Restrictions Hoops First

Residence CBS New York

A hundred years ago it was 'the place' to spend a weekend in Westchester.
'MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A hundred years ago it was “the place” to spend a weekend in Westchester. Merestead was the summer home of the William Sloane family. The Sloanes donated it to the county, but with major strings attached. Now the county hopes to cut some of the restrictions to insure Merestead has a glittering future, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported. Once upon a time they put it on a postcard and an invitation to Merestead was a sign you had arrived. “William Sloane was considered one of the leading citizens of the time. He was well known. The real estate ads mentioned that if you moved into a house around here, that he would be your neighbor,” Merestead curator Gigi Cairnes said. At 1 on #CBSNNewYork – historic mansion donated to Westchester County – with strings attached. No weddings. No film shoots. But feed the deer and keep the last resident’s clothes! Now, trying to remove the restrictions to restore this gem. Watch here: https://t.co/7ZPzCoaA6Q pic.twitter.com/WBkB8ZYuWi — Tony Aiello (@AielloTV) July 11, 2019 The Sloanes entertained in style, with a household staff of 12. The maids wore grey during the day and changed into black at night. The interior is impressive, with grand rooms and valuable artwork on the walls, including a portrait of Sloane’s mother and 400-year-old Rembrandt print. But in private areas, ceilings are collapsing, paint is peeling, and mold is growing. The exterior needs a complete facelift. Westchester County wants to fix it up without breaking the bank. “We have an asset here and we don’t want to see it devalued. But at the same time we recognize we don’t have unlimited funds,” County Executive George Latimer said. That’s why the county is asking a court to lift many of the restrictions that came with Merestead when it was donated in 1982. Some of those restrictions are a bit quirky, such as a requirement to feed the deer on the property. Also, there’s a requirement to maintain the possessions of the last resident, Mr. Sloane’s daughter. Other restrictions on holding weddings or movie shoots or opening a gift shop mean the county can’t monetize the mansion either. “We’re looking to have some of those restrictions lifted so we can use it for different kinds of events,” Westchester Legislator Kitley Covill said. The county also wants to sell the Chinese vases and a few other pieces to fund the repairs Merestead so desperately needs.'

That screaming next door? Relax — your neighbor’s just giving birth

Residence New York Post

If you’re walking down the street and hear a woman screaming from an apartment above, think before you call 911 — you may be interrupting a home birth. I became alarmed one afternoon when I heard Emma Jane Coombs, a first-floor neighbor in our Park
'If you’re walking down the street and hear a woman screaming from an apartment above, think before you call 911 — you may be interrupting a home birth. I became alarmed one afternoon when I heard Emma Jane Coombs, a first-floor neighbor in our Park Slope apartment building, moaning in agony from behind her door..'

Living Large: Spectacular Penthouse At 15 Union Square West

Residence CBS New York

There's always a certain amount of glamour associated with penthouse living. Add spectacular views of one of Manhattan's most notable historic intersections, and it all adds up to a must-see home.
'NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s always a certain amount of glamour associated with penthouse living. Add spectacular views of one of Manhattan’s most notable historic intersections, and it all adds up to a must-see home. CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge took a look inside 15 Union Square West in this week’s edition of Living Large . The penthouse overlooks Union Square Park, where Greenwich Village meets Gramercy Park meets Flatiron. The spectacular view of the nine acres of park below, and stunning city scapes all around, is just as inspiring as the home, itself, which features 5,000 square feet of combined indoor and outdoor living space. Dana Power of the Corcoran Group showed off the highlights, not only of the penthouse, but the building itself. A look inside the $15.75 million penthouse at 15 Union Square West. (Photo: CBS2) “The original building was home to Tiffany & Co. in the 19th century and it was redeveloped to luxury condos in 2008,” Power said. “It was redone with a black and zinc facade so you see how discreet and private it is.” MORE :  Living Large: Upper East Side Townhouse Offers History As Detailed As Its Architecture The dark windows outside are in great contrast to the light, open feel inside. It starts with a vast skyline view as you step off the private elevator. “The entire apartment was redesigned and really it’s about simplicity and bringing in texture and materials to highlight the flow of the space,” Power said. The living and dining areas are seamless, and they move easily into the first of two large outdoor spaces. One has a custom dining pergola and built-in grill. There are three bedrooms in the home, including two on the lower level. “One of the best views from the penthouse is this amazing guest room and your en suite bath. When you’re taking a shower here you’re sort of immersed in the park,” Power said. The other bedroom has been transformed into a well-appointed work space. “What’s great about the home office is you have this beautiful-textured suede wall,” Power said. MORE :  Living Large: Manhattan Home “With No Parallel In The City” A floating staircase leads to the upper level, which is entirely dedicated to the master suite. There’s comfortable seating at the landing, with a unique fixture above. The bedroom features a hidden television, while the master bath features one in the shower, and another integrated into the mirror. There’s lots to see in the wardrobe as well. “You have this beautiful window letting in natural light into your custom walk-in closet,” Power said. Then you can step outside to an amazing rooftop terrace, which features more stunning views, plush seating and a private hot tub. And finally, in the building’s pool area, the Tiffany blue lounge areas pay homage to the buildings origins. It’s luxury on a whole different level. To live large at 15 Union Square West will cost you $15.75 million. The original cost of the six-story Tiffany building back in 1870 was about $500,000. The additional six stories were added in 2006.'

Rent cap bill would limit rent hikes for millions of California households, report says

Residence East Bay Times

New report finds even after amendments limited its scope, AB 1482 would protect millions of California households from large rent hikes.
'Despite recent changes that limit the impact of a controversial state rent cap bill, researchers say the proposed law still would cover millions of California households now without rent control — including in Bay Area neighborhoods. Assembly Bill 1482, which would restrict rent increases on certain properties to an average of just under 10 percent a year and prevent landlords from evicting tenants with no cause , is set for its first state Senate vote Tuesday. The bill, which has received fierce opposition from landlord interest groups, could impact as many as 4.6 million homes throughout the state that aren’t already under rent control, according to a recent study by UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. The report illustrates the sweeping potential reach of a bill advocates hope will help tenants struggling to pay rent as the state grapples with a massive affordable housing shortage. “From the perspective of the number of new units and renters covered, I think the impact could be pretty substantial,” said David Garcia, policy director for the Terner Center. That impact largely would be felt in cities that have no rent control policies, such as Palo Alto, Alameda and Concord. In cities that already have rent control, the bill would extend protections to households that had been exempt under state law — including some single-family homes and apartments built after 1995 (or later in some cities) but not within the past 10 years. The bill’s author, Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, put several limits on AB 1482 in the hopes of making it more palatable to the opposition. Only rental units that are 10 years old or older would be covered, the bill would sunset after three years and landlords who own 10 or fewer single-family homes would be exempt. That last provision not only greatly reduces the impact the bill would have on single-family homes, but it also makes that impact hard to quantify, the Terner Center researchers wrote. Almost 2 million of the estimated 4.6 million California homes that will be covered by the rent cap are single-family homes, but there is no way to reliably estimate how many of those single-family homes are owned by landlords with more than 10 properties, according to the report. The California Apartment Association, which opposes AB 1482, seized on that limitation in its criticism of the Terner report. “Over and over, the authors of the Terner Center report announce the limitations of their data,” spokesman Joshua Howard wrote in an emailed statement. “That makes it difficult for us to trust the conclusions in the report.” In the Fruitvale and West Oakland neighborhoods of Oakland — both historically low-income neighborhoods that are rapidly gentrifying — the bill could bring rent-hike protections to 9,381 apartments and 6,827 single-family homes not currently covered by rent control, but would leave 3,056 homes exempt, according to the Terner Center report. Oakland’s existing rent control rules apply only to apartments built before 1983. Already 35,462 homes are covered by rent control in those neighborhoods, according to the report. In San Francisco’s Mission district, 10,984 apartments that currently don’t have rent control would be covered by the new rent cap, as well as 2,258 single-family homes. Another 7,859 homes would be exempt, and 35,343 homes already have rent control, according to the report. San Francisco’s existing rent control rules apply only to apartments built after 1979. The researchers did not break out data for any South Bay or Peninsula cities. Opponents of AB 1482 say rent control will make the state’s housing crisis worse, further reducing the housing supply by making it less attractive for investors to develop rental housing. “California lawmakers should look to offer meaningful tools for housing preservation, such as property tax incentives to housing providers who invest in older units and commit to make them affordable,” Howard wrote. Related Articles \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tPeek inside this rare cliffside Carmel estate\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tBay Area renters’ giant game of musical chairs plays out online\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tExodus: For Bay Area millennials, moving up means moving out\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tBay Area renters looking to flee high prices aren’t looking far\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tLetter: Rent control is falsely vilified as discouraging building\t\t \t\t\t \t Between 2014 and 2017, median rents for buildings not covered by rent control in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood increased more than 18 percent per year, the Terner Center researchers  reported. Still, the majority of aggregate rent increases across the 10 California communities the researchers studied did not exceed the proposed rent cap. AB 1482 is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon, after narrowly passing its Assembly floor vote in May.'