Van Parking Law a Mistake
To the editor,
Regarding the proposed Mannino law, I think the proposed legislation is a disservice to all members of our community as well as a potential infringement on our right to choose what type of vehicle we own.
While it is regrettable and tragic that this young man perished in a motorcycle accident, it was entirely preventable. Most motorcycle accidents are the result of excessive speed or poor judgement. Ask any accident investigator or cop what the causes are of accidents of this type and they'll probably tell you reckless driving or inexperience.
Is it just and fair to legislate an under five foot vehicle height requirement, as the law proposes, to legally park near corners? What about people that own now popular SUV's, vans and pickups? Should they have to park possibly blocks away from their homes because people won't slow down or exercise caution when approaching an intersection?
Young people, particularly young men, are statistically much more likely to be involved in serious accidents than any other group of people, just check their insurance rates; they are the highest risk and with good reason.
The kind of knee-jerk legislative action being proposed in response to the accidental death of a popular person can have a detrimental and cumbersome affect on the citizens of Queens for years to come. Let's slow down and ask ourselves if this proposed law is really the answer to reducing accidents in our neighborhood. I for one don't believe it is.
It comes down to this: if a person loses his or her life as a result of a completely avoidable accident should his or her neighbors have the power to determine what height our cars should be and where they can park so as to prevent any possible future avoidable collision caused by the risky behavior or mistakes that another person might make? I think not.
Must we as neighbors and society anticipate and prevent every possible driving error of the inexperienced or reckless through onerous legislation? This thinking is akin to legislating what products we can own that will ensure the safety of others who may exercise poor judgement or reckless behavior and harm themselves through no fault of the owner.
Obtrusive government legislation only brings us closer to governmental micromanagement of our daily lives which we already have. Lets not change the laws, lets enforce the ones we already have.
Let us park wherever it's now legal to park and own whatever size cars we choose. Lets try to reign in and educate young or reckless drivers as to the potential consequences of their actions through enforcement of existing traffic laws and perhaps higher driving standards for new drivers.
The only winner with this law will be the parking violations bureau. Sincerely
Commercial Van Ruse
Dear Mr. Holden:
Once again, congratulations on the September 2000 Juniper Berry, my wife and I truly enjoy the magazine. Your report on page 11 was good but you're missing one very important point, many of these vans do not register themselves as commercial vans. What is the Dept. of Transportation doing about this? The police have no jurisdiction. They are also screwing the insurance companies by paying a passenger rate and avoiding a commercial rate. All other honest registrants pay the higher rate. It would be good if your office could pursue this.
I do not wish to identify myself as some of these people could possibly do harm.
A Concerned Maspeth Resident
Keep up the good work.
Ruining Middle Village
You wake up one morning to the sounds of construction next door. Your neighbor tells you he's building a small extension on his house. As the work progresses, you realize that this "small extension" is monstrous-its almost like a second house being built in back of the first one. It covers nearly his entire back yard. There is a solid two-story 25 ft wall going-up right along your property line, nearly the entire length of your back yard, turning your open space into a big box.
How can this be allowed to happen? Don't we live in an area protected against things like this? Aren't there limits on people building high walls in your back yard, right up to your property line, running nearly the entire length of the yard, and throwing your back yard into a permanent shadow?
Your neighbor is not really just adding a small extension to his house-he's converting his one family home to a two family. And he's doing it at your expense. Your back yard, which used to be open space, looks like a dark canyon. There's no light, no breeze, and nothing to look at but a wall.
You're sure that this can't be legal. This must violate some zoning law, or laws against the conversion of one family homes to two family homes. The city wouldn't let this happen.
You call the city Buildings Department. You even take time off from work to visit the Buildings Dept.-3 times. The plans are "missing" each time. An Inspector from the Buildings Dept comes to visit. What your neighbor has done is perfectly legal. And he is going to make a lot of money off it-- at your expense. Realtors now tell you that your property has become less desirable because of the 25 ft. wall now running along you backyard. The value of your home has dropped by $30,000. But the person next door building this monstrosity, nearly doubling the size of his house, will be getting rich from the rent he will collect from his tenants.
The story here is true. It is happening to my neighbor. She is about to become a victim of a scourge that is sweeping throughout Middle Village and other areas, like a plague ruining our neighborhood.
THERE IS something that we can do about it. It doesn't have to be too late for the rest of us to stop this from happening to us. A small change in the zoning law can prevent this scourge from spreading.
Don't think you need to worry? If you own a home in Middle Village, this can easily happen to you. No one is safe. Development like this is a grave threat. It enriches some people at the clear expense of others. It diminishes the value of our properties. It diminishes the quality of life.
Better for my neighbor if she had been mugged.
The following letter was sent to Public Advocate Mark Green -
Dear Mr. Green:
The original lawful intent of preserving 2 family homes as 2 family homes in Maspeth, Queens and Middle village is rapidly being destroyed. The INVESTIGATORS, REAL ESTATE AGENTS, MORTGAGE BOSSES, BUILDING DEPT. and god knows who else are all looking the other way. The investigators are finding a way to avoid issuing violations as per the original code. All of the others are obviously benefiting from the enhancement due to the buying and selling of the properties. Much money is being made at the expense of common people who just want their neighborhood to stay the same. The investigators are simply following the system. They have no choice. It all comes down from the top and absentee landlords are slowly but surely doing their thing and destroying lives.
Mr. Green, I as well as others, I am sure, beg you to bring this issue to the forefront. Not only does this effect the immediate residents but also the entire quality of our city is at stake. It is a cancer. There are not many stable neighborhoods left in the city, Parking, schools, libraries, hospitals, noise and other kinds of pollution are the result. You know the story I am sure.
When is it going to stop? When is some one with authority going to do what's right? I wish to remain anonymous, as there is always the possibility of intimidation. Thank you sir for your honesty.
A concerned Maspeth resident
News Helicopter Noise
I was happy to see your cover article on noise (Juniper Berry, Sept. 2000) The following is a letter I sent to ABC, NBC & CBS about the helicopters hovering over our area. I never got a response but at least I made them aware of what happened that morning.
June 1, 2000
WCBS NEWS, WNBC NEWS, WABC NEWS
Dear Sir or Madam:
I awoke this morning at 6 a.m. because a news helicopter was hovering over the area near the Elmhurst gas tanks. The noise was terrible and what made it worse was that the pilot stayed in that position from 6 to quarter past 7. I wonder if any of you live in an area where this could happen. Probably not, but you should have some consideration for those of us who do.
I could not read the markings on the copter but know that it was one of the one of yours or 1010 WINS. I know you want to keep the commuters up to date on traffic conditions but for that copter to hover for over an hour is unconscionable. The noise was unbelievable. Today happened to be my day off and I was hoping to get a few hours rest. No such luck.
Since I live near the LIE every time I go anywhere I hit traffic, and there are always accidents, so an overturned tractor-trailer is not unusual, especially since, thank God, no one was injured. Why that helicopter had to hover for over an hour is something I can't understand. Take note of the situation and move on. Unless you live in an area where this can happen, you don't care how it effects the quality of life of the neighborhood.
I called WABCTV News and that was the only station where I got a human being to talk to. I applaud them for having a live person and not a recording like the others where I could not get through to anyone. At WNBCTV someone did answer but he told me to call back at 9 am.
My next door neighbors just moved to a rural area outside of Albany to get away from "the madness of Queens." Their circumstances permitted such a drastic change, but for most of us this is not an option-we're stuck here! So please give us a break and have some consideration!