Community Board 11’s offices at 2214 Bath Avenue (Source: Google Maps)
By Kimberly Connor
Community Board 11’s meeting on November 20 focused heavily on the hot-button issue of illegal home conversions, the practice of subdividing one or two-family homes into single room occupancy dwellings. Also discussed were problematic parking laws on New Utrecht Avenue and the date of the annual Festa di Santa Rosalia.
Illegal Home Conversions
Bob Cassara of the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance made a passionate plea for increased vigilance and swift action on the part of local residents and politicians regarding illegal conversions.
“It’s an extreme danger for the residents of these buildings and their neighbors,” said Cassara. “It also places a huge stress on our schools, police department, fire department, and other resources.”
Cassara mentioned a fire that destroyed an illegally converted building in Flatbush on Wednesday. One man died in the blaze and 15 people were injured. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
District manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said it’s important to make a distinction between single room occupancy (SRO) units and simple basement conversions. She added that prioritizing those conversions that present a clear safety issue could help alleviate the Department of Building’s backlog of complaints.
Councilman Vincent Gentile announced that he has already proposed two bills aimed at curbing illegal home conversions.
A representative for State Senator Marty Golden said that the senator is working on organizing a “multi-agency taskforce” to confront the growing problem.
In the meantime, Cassara encouraged community members to report suspected violators through 311 or by contacting the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance.
Gabriel Ingrassia said his repeated requests for a compromise on an ongoing parking dispute have fallen on deaf ears.
Ingrassia represents residents who are unhappy about the alternate side parking rules along New Utrecht Avenue between 79th Street and 84th Street. As we reported last year, parking is prohibited six days a week between 6:30am and 7:00am along this stretch. This stipulation was put in place by the Department of Transportation to facilitate regular cleaning.
However, Ingrassia and other residents say the restrictions are an unreasonable burden that requires them to wake up early in order to comply. The group has written letters to the DOT, but is seeking the support of Community Board 11.
“We just want a reprieve of a couple of days a week,” said Ingrassia.
Fight Over the Feast
Community Board 11, along with the organizers of Festa di Santa Rosalia, continues to fight to change the date of the annual event so that it doesn’t fall just before Labor Day Weekend. The Department of Sanitation takes a hiatus during that time which leaves festival trash to rot on the curb. The board has submitted a letter to the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO).
On November 22, Assemblyman William Colton and the United Progressive Democratic Club will organize another cleanup. It will encompass 86th Street from 25th Avenue to 14th Avenue, plus parts of Bay Parkway and Bath Avenue.
Assemblyman Colton will hold a holiday toy drive for various charitable organizations and the Marine Corps League. New, unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at the assemblyman’s office at 155 Kings Highway.
National Grid is in the process of relocating gas lines – in preparation for the city’s project to replace neighborhood water mains – in the following locations:
- 15th Avenue between Cropsey Avenue and 83rd Street
- 84th Street between 14th Avenue and 16th Avenue
- 86th Street between 14th Avenue and Bay 11th Street
- Bath Avenue between Bay 8th Street and Bay 10th Street
- Benson Avenue between Bay 8th Street and Bay 10th Street
- 85th Street between Bay 14th Avenue and 16th Avenue