Archive for the tag 'chaim deutsch'

A scene from last year’s Light up the Shore event. Photo by Ned Berke

The following is a press release from the Bay Improvement Group:

Elected officials, recovery organizations, community leaders, and residents of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, will gather on Wednesday, October 29 at 7:30pm to remember the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated South Brooklyn, including this waterfront community.

The remembrance, part of a city-wide initiative “Light the Shore” spearheaded by the long-term recovery groups, will be held overlooking the water on the deck of the Baron de Kalb Knights of Columbus, located at 3000 Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay.

In addition to residents impacted by the disaster, elected officials Councilman Chaim Deutsch and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz; representatives of nonprofits involved in Sheepshead Bay’s recovery, including the Bay Improvement Group (BIG), Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), Kings Bay Y, and Resurrection Brooklyn Relief; and religious leaders will attend the event, now in its second year.

A brief memorial ceremony will be held alongside the bay, or inside, in the event of rain. Light refreshments will be offered afterwards, when residents will also have the opportunity to meet disaster assistance representatives and learn more about recovery services they are still offering.

No reservations necessary. All welcome.

Questions about the event may be addressed to Bay Improvement Group at 718-646-9206 or by emailing bayimprovementgrp@gmail.com.

Using emergency provisions, the New York City Department of Homeless Services has moved nearly 20 families into the Lyghthouse Inn, an alleged pay-by-hour hotel formerly known as the Windjammer Motel.

Neighbors sounded the alarm over the shelter at the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Meeting October 7, alongside elected officials who criticized the agency for poor communication with the community.

The agency confirmed that the family-oriented shelter opened in early October, and 17 families with children are already moved in. It was carved out of the motel’s 3206 Emmons Avenue property, with a separate entrance through an unmarked door, and there are plans to house as many as 69 families at the location.

“Sheltering New York’s families with children is a collective responsibility to be shoulder by all. We hope that the community is compassionate and supportive as these families work toward rebuilding their lives,” an agency spokesperson said.

Neighbors at the meeting did indeed express compassion for the families, many of which are single mothers or victims of domestic violence. But they were critical of the agency’s lack of communication, and shared concerns about the families’ well-being alongside the hotel’s clients, as well as its proximity to another family shelter just one block away.

“You cannot attack the homeless, the people who are living in there because you’re an elitist or you think you’re hot stuff. That’s wrong. And after what we went through with Sandy, there’s no way in hell you can turn around and say ‘Make them homeless’ when half your neighbors were homeless,” said neighbor Barbara Berardelli.

The group did express concerns about the communication.

“All of a sudden on Thursday evening [October 2], about 5:30, 6 o’clock, big vans pulled up and they started dumping out vans and mattresses and cribs. The next day people were notified, about 4 o’clock, on Yom Kippur, when most offices were closed already, that the shelter was opening,” said civic president Kathy Flynn.

The agency said that elected officials and Community Board 15 were notified of the shelter’s opening as early as mid-September, about two weeks before work began.

But Councilman Chaim Deutsch told the group that it was only being discussed as a possibility, not a certainty.

“They told me nothing was set in stone [during a conference call with the department],” said Deutsch. “The next thing I know, I get a phone call saying, ‘We’re moving furniture in.’”

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein recounted much the same.

Establishing a homeless center is often a process spanning many months, including community feedback and Community Board review. However, the pols explained that the agency used an “Emergency Declaration” to expedite the process – which the agency confirmed it uses during times of “dire capacity needs.” That allows them to temporarily take over the space and do community approval later. The agency will still need to seek approval over the next six months or so, the pols said.

Both Weinstein and Deutsch said they look forward to learning more about the agency’s long-term plans.

Until then, they both remarked on the shelter’s less-than-stellar landlords.

“[When I heard about it,] first I went to the Lyghthouse around the corner. I had to wait in line because people were asking for rooms for two hours, three hours, four hours. So I had to wait in line just like everyone else,” said Deutsch.

“There’s safety issues, there’s security issues, there’s, I guess I’ll put in quotes, ‘patrons’ of the hotel,” said Weinstein. “There are issues that need to be addressed.”

In regards to safety, the agency noted that there will be 24/7 security, though declined to elaborate.

Both pols are looking forward to additional meetings with the agency to address those issues, including potential overcrowding concerns at the nearby elementary school, PS 52.

Still, they admitted there’s little they can do in the short term, especially as the city is in the midst of a homeless housing crisis.

“I believe there’s 57,000 individuals that are homeless. Eleven thousand families that need shelter. That’s a lot of people in New York City, so I accept that we have a responsibility to have a fair share in our community,” said Weinstein.

25 mph speed limit

The New York City Council yesterday passed legislation that reduces the citywide speed limit on residential streets from 30 miles per hour to 25 mph, a move that lawmakers and advocates said would, if properly enforced, dramatically reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities.

After state legislators voted in June to allow the city to lower the speed limit, the Council approved the bill, sponsored by Councilman David Greenfield, that aims to slow vehicles on streets where speed limits are not posted – meaning roads overseen by the state Department of Transportation (such as expressways and parkways) will not be affected. The reduction is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to dramatically curb traffic injuries and deaths over the next decade.

“Reducing the default speed limit in New York City is the lynchpin of Vision Zero,” Greenfield said in a statement to the press.

City officials said they plan to launch a three week publicity campaign about the speed reduction on Monday, according to the New York Times, and the new speed limit will go into effect on November 7.

The nonprofit Transportation Alternatives also backed the Council’s move, saying “if properly enforced, the new speed limit could prevent more than 6,500 traffic injuries in the next year and cut the annual number of pedestrian fatalities in half.”

The group urged de Blasio to quickly give his stamp of approval to the bill – which the mayor is expected to do and sent out his own statement praising the Council’s vote – and stressed that the NYPD and city Department of Transportation need “to send a stronger message about the dangers of speeding by continuing to improve traffic enforcement and public information initiatives.”

“Unsafe driver speed is the number one cause of traffic deaths in the city, killing more New Yorkers than drunk driving and cell phone use at the wheel combined,” Transportation Alternatives said in the same statement. “A pedestrian hit by a driver going 25 mph is twice as likely to survive as a person hit at 30mph.”

While Councilman Jumaane Williams, who represents portions of Midwood as well as Flatbush and Ditmas Park, was in Cleveland for the vote, he said in a statement Tuesday he would have voted against it.

“I fully support the need to reform traffic laws in New York City, and the majority of proposals offered in ‘Vision Zero,’” Williams said. “When the issue of the citywide reduction previously came before the Council, I voted to give the City discretion on lowering the speed limit, since I believed the City deserved to make this decision. At the same time, I believe that this legislation is too broad in the form passed today and I would have voted against it.”

“Instead of an overall speed limit reduction, the better approach is to study the City’s various neighborhoods and major arteries and assess, with specificity, where a lower speed limit makes the most practical sense,” Williams continued. “For example, it makes sense to carve out school zones as necessary places to have a lower speed limit, as many young people populate these areas. Many side streets and other ‘Slow Zones’ in my district would also benefit from a lower limit. In fact, I would vehemently support lowering the speed limit on many residential streets in my district – with some areas even lower than 25 mph.

Williams goes on to say that he will “continue to support increased enforcement, through speed cameras and stepped-up enforcement of current traffic rules and regulations, and have consistently done so.”

Another local member of the Council, Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and Gravesend, voted in favor of the bill, but expressed concerns about enforcement.

“There’s little dispute that there has been a serious number of traffic-related fatalities and there’s no dispute that speed kills,” said Treyger. “The issue that I continue to raise is the issue of enforcement … and making sure it does not become a mechanism for increased revenue, like for these cameras where some of them are problematic. I think it should be for the true intention – to save lives.”

Treyger pointed to the controversial placement of a speed camera on Shore Parkway next to a Belt Parkway exit ramp, as first reported by Sheepshead Bites, as an example of “gotcha” enforcement to be avoided.

“To me, ['gotcha' enforcement] undermines the entire program [of Vision Zero]. The intention should not be to harm working families who are just trying to get home,” he said.

Another area pol praised the legislation as potentially life-saving.

“Lowering the speed limit can drastically reduce a serious fatality. My district has a high population of seniors and reducing the speed limit could mean the difference between life and death.  No one should ever have to experience the loss of a loved one to a traffic accident,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

To see a copy of the bill, you can go here.

Photo via Governor Andrew Cuomo.

With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

A Department of Transportation spokesperson refuted Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s claim that a local speed enforcement camera gave out 6,000 violations in a single day. But in a bizarre e-mail exchange, the agency spokesperson refused to provide the actual peak number, instead giving a randomly selected count that was revealed to be below the peak. (Update: The DOT said Wednesday morning that they issued 1,551 violations on July 7, suggesting that that is the peak date.)

Sheepshead Bites first reported yesterday that the controversial camera, at the base of a Belt Parkway exit ramp on Shore Parkway near Ocean Parkway, doled out approximately 6,000 violations in just one day, according to Deutsch.

The agency’s spokesperson contacted Sheepshead Bites this morning, stating that the number of violations that was publicized was incorrect, and that they would follow up with the correct number. The press officer later said that 1,015 violations were issued on the day being discussed.

Neither Sheepshead Bites nor Councilman Deutsch had specified the date in which 6,000 violations were allegedly issued.

Sheepshead Bites requested further information from the Department of Transportation spokesperson, including the date they sampled from and the number of violations given on the peak day since the camera was implemented.

The Department of Transportation spokesperson said the number given was from July 29, and that the highest number around that date was 1,266; the press officer added that most days were under 1,100. Though asked, the rep would not say if that encompassed the entire time period in which the camera was active.

We asked for the significance of the July 29 date; the spokesperson said it was given as an example. The rep did not say why they chose that date, or why they plucked a date that their own numbers suggested was below average.

Sheepshead Bites pressed on, asking for the number of violations given on the day in which the most violations were given, going back to the date of implementation.

The agency repeated their claim that the Council member was never told the number of violations issued in one day was 6,000.

Despite two additional follow-ups, the agency flack has not stated the number of violations issued on the peak day. After an attempt by the spokesperson to change the subject of the inquiry, the spokesperson has since stopped responding to our emails.

Deutsch, who supports the use of the camera on the condition that the DOT add signage to give drivers a fair chance, declined to comment on the DOT’s rebuttal. Instead, he said, it’s more important that the streets be made safe.

“When someone gets hurt or someone gets killed in a car accident, their families don’t look at statistics,” he said. “At the end of the day we need to make sure our roads are safe.”

Camera enforcement at that location remains in effect.

UPDATE (September 24 @ 10am): The Department of Transportation spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites this morning that 1,551 violations were issued on July 7, suggesting that this was the peak date.

conaming

Elected officials, the NYPD, family and friends attended to honor the late Community Board chair.

Family, friends and community leaders gathered Wednesday to honor John E. Nikas, a longtime chairperson of Community Board 15 and former assistant to Governor Mario Cuomo.

The intersection of East 12th Street and Sheepshead Bay Road, behind the 61st Precinct, received a new sign reading John E. Nikas Way in recognition of his community activism on what would have been his 81st birthday.

In addition to his work on the Community Board and for the governor, Nikas, who passed away in 2011 at age 78, was remembered as a tireless community advocate who sought to help the less fortunate.

Daily News writes:

He served three decades on the board of New York Community Hospital and co-founded a charity called Youth DARES, which helps at-risk kids and now annually serves more than 400 youngsters.

“He wanted to make a difference for his children and grandchildren and for the community we live in,” said his wife, Rose Nikas.

UPDATE (September 24 @ 10am): Councilman Chaim Deutsch emailed us the the following comment:

“It was an honor and a pleasure to host the co-naming of John E. Nikas Way. John was a paragon of integrity and compassion, a true role model for all. John was a doer and a community activist whose dedication to his family and his neighborhood knew no bounds. I am proud to have been able to memorialize him with this street co-naming.”

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

That’s some fast money.

The speed enforcement camera stationed at the base of a Belt Parkway exit ramp near Ocean Parkway issued approximately 6,000 violations in just one day, earning the city about $300,000 in revenue, according to Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

The camera earned notoriety earlier this month when Sheepshead Bites revealed its location on Shore Parkway between Ocean Parkway and West Avenue, at the very end of a 400-foot-long exit ramp from the Belt Parkway. Locals and Councilman Mark Treyger expressed outrage at the placement, calling it a trap. But the numbers have led Councilman Chaim Deutsch, in whose district the camera is located, to hail it as a success.

“There were 6,000 summonses issued in one day coming off the Belt Parkway. Now it is almost to zero, so the camera is helping,” Deutsch told members of the Manhattan Beach Community Group at a public meeting last week. “But we still want to make sure that people slow down, [that they] have enough time to slow down carefully when they come off the ramp.”

The cameras photograph any vehicles traveling faster than 10mph over the speed limit and send a violation in the mail within 30 days. The fine is $50.

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Deutsch brushed off concerns that the camera could be a speed trap, saying that the steep reduction in the weeks it has been there shows that drivers are changing their behavior. To make sure it’s not all about revenue, he’s urging the Department of Transportation to add signage on the Belt Parkway just before the ramp indicating that there is a speed camera in the vicinity.

“I support that if anyone is speeding, enormous amount of speeds, they deserve a summons,” Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites. “But I dont want it to be a ‘gotcha’ camera, and people need to be aware there’s a camera and they should exit the ramp safely.”

He also said that while locals have learned the location and adjusted accordingly, the next season of visitors to Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay would benefit from the early warning while also achieve the goal of safer driving.

“Coming next summer when people come to visit the waterfront communities you’re going to have new people coming in, fresh faces to the area, so at the end of the day you want to slow traffic down when they come off the ramp,” he said. He also doesn’t want drivers slamming on the brakes when they see the camera at the last moment. “They’ll slam on the brakes. So if you have signage several hundred feet before the ramp it gives the driver a chance to slow down and get off safely.”

He said the DOT is studying his proposal.

The DOT did not return several messages requesting confirmation of Deutsch’s numbers, or whether or not they were considering additional signage.

Previously, the DOT told Sheepshead Bites they were not currently planning to relocate the cameras as Councilman Treyger had requested. They added that, at 400 feet long, the Belt Parkway’s exit ramp provided drivers with sufficient space to safely reduce speed.

UPDATE (September 23 @ 4:15pm): A Department of Transportation spokesperson said Deutsch’s claim is incorrect, but refused to reveal the peak number.

UPDATE (September 24 @ 10am): The Department of Transportation spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites this morning that 1,551 violations were issued on July 7, suggesting that this was the peak day.

The intersection of Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. Source: Google Maps

The intersection of Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. Source: Google Maps

The next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG) will be Wednesday, September 17 at 8:00pm inside Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street at Hampton Avenue.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch will be the guest speaker. Also on the meeting’s agenda: a police report, the status of efforts to reduce speeding throughout Manhattan Beach, the traffic light at Ocean Avenue and Oriental Boulevard, the recent electrical outage, paving the streets, improvements to the Manhattan Beach Park, MBCG Nominating Committee, and more.

The MBCG encourages members of the community to attend and participate in their monthly civic meetings. For more, contact MBCG at (718) 200-1845 or manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org@gmail.com, or visit www.manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org.

deutsch-flier

UPDATE: The trip is booked up and they are not taking any more reservations.

Original post:

Does 30 years old count as a senior? According to Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s office (and most sane people), the answer is “No,” because they’re not letting this reporter go on the trip.

But if you’re a bonafide senior, even if you don’t feel like one, you can take the local pol up on his offer of a free trip to Governors Island next Thursday, September 18.

The trip includes free transportation to the island from the Sheepshead Bay area, as well as a bus tour of the island’s architecture and other sites narrated by a National Parks Service guide.

All you have to do is call (718) 368-9176 to reserve a spot.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Nearly two years after Superstorm Sandy came ashore, many of our neighbors are still struggling to rebuild. Local pols are trying to make it a little easier by bringing in-office services to the community.

Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch are both hosting reps at their offices from various agencies to help in the recovery.

Deutsch has a representative from Build it Back in his 2401 Avenue U office every other week, available by appointment only. After complaints from constituents that Build it Back was not readily accessible, even after the promises from the agency to ramp up its effectiveness, the rep is being made available to review cases one-on-one and cut through the red tape. Appointments can be made by calling the district office at (718) 368-9176, and the rep will provide help and insight, in addition to giving them a status update regarding their application.

Meanwhile, Treyger is working with The Legal Aid Society and the city’s Build it Back program to provide residents with free assistance at his 445 Neptune Avenue district office in Coney Island.

A representative from The Legal Aid Society will be at the office each Tuesday through mid-September to meet with residents still experiencing the impacts of Superstorm Sandy and to assist with the following issues: landlord/tenant disputes over repairs and rent abatements; Temporary Disaster Assistance Program (TDAP) vouchers or Section 8 vouchers received due to displacement by the storm; consumer debt collection; flood insurance issues; Small Business Administration (SBA) loans; and contractor fraud. The lawyer is available to meet confidentially by appointment or on a first-come, first-served basis on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In addition, a case manager from the city’s Build it Back program is available every other Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

To make an appointment at Treyger’s office for either service, call (718) 373-9673.

“Many storm victims still have difficult and important decisions to make, so it is imperative that they have someone they can turn to for reliable information and advice. I urge anyone who needs legal assistance as a result of Superstorm Sandy or help navigating the Build it Back program to take advantage of these programs available right here in the community,” said Treyger in announcing the service.

chaim-cleanup-7

Councilman Chaim Deutsch hosted his second community cleanup on Sunday, with volunteers turning out to sweep the sidewalks and gutters of Avenue U between Nostrand Avenue and Coney Island Avenue.

Dozens turned out, including volunteers from Homecrest Community Services and local schools like Sheepshead Bay High School and Midwood High School.

chaim-cleanup-6

The clean-up came on the heels of the announcement that Deutsch had secured $68,000 for additional litter basket pickups on Avenue U and Sheepshead Bay Road, increasing pickups to five times a week on each strip. It’s also two weeks after a Sheepshead Bay Road cleanup.

chaim-cleanup-5

The pol acknowledged that cleanups only go so far, and that often the streets are filthy again within days. But he said it’s about creating awareness, and showing would-be litter bugs that their neighbors are putting in the effort.

“It’s not just a clean-up,” he said. “We don’t want to waste anybody’s time. So it’s an ongoing effort.”

chaim-cleanup-4

Aside from the funding and the cleanups, Deutsch’s team and volunteers have been passing out fliers in various languages to neighbors, letting them know that public bins are not meant for residential garbage.

chaim-cleanup-3

He said that the Sanitation Department is also ramping up enforcement at his request, with overnight stakeouts of public bins happening on several nights on Avenue U and Sheepshead Bay Road. Those caught dumping at the public bins are issued hefty fines.

chaim-cleanup-2

The pol said the biggest struggle is with businesses, who due to language barriers don’t always understand that local laws require them to keep the sidewalks in front of their stores clean.

“We’re reaching out to all the stores to get them to comply with the local laws,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s just a language barrier, and once we get through that we see they make the effort.”

 

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