A petition on Change.org is calling on politicians representing Maspeth and Woodside to take action on conversions of homes and buildings to multi-family dwellings, which the author, who only goes by Nadia M., claims is spreading unabated in her community.
Almost at its goal of 100 at 82 signatures, the author says they have toured homes in the community and claims they are being renovated and flipped for cash in one form or another, and that this has an “urbanizing” effect on the neighborhood.
Nadia M. directed the petition at Councilman Robert Holden and Assemblyman Brian Barnwell whose districts cover those communities.
“Third-parties have been converting homes into rooms-to-rent style lodgings and in the process have tarnished our neighborhoods [sic] appeal,” the author of the petition wrote. “They have extended the physical layouts of houses creating an awkward appearance in comparison to the rest of the houses in the vicinity, cut trees, and manufactured balconies that violate the privacy of others in the vicinity. I have personally visited an open house recently where such a ‘project’ has been completed and encourage you to see for yourself the impact to the community both optically and practically … They are merely patching up houses to flip them. I refuse to call them homeowners as they are only concerned with profiting and do not have any care for the neighborhood we live in.”
Holden responded to the petition saying that the buildings mentioned by the petition author – 50-18 61st St, and 50-09 63rd St. – are all within the scope of the current zoning laws, but that he is working to have the neighborhood downzoned.
“The Department of Buildings has conducted inspections in this area of Woodside, and so far all of the buildings in question are being built according to the current codes and are not violating zoning laws,” Holden said. “This is why I remain committed to the request I have made for City Planning to create a one-family row house zone that would downzone the neighborhood and prevent such alterations in the future.”
Holden introduced a bill in September titled Intro. 1126 aiming to create an interagency task force to deal with illegal conversions throughout the city.
Currently in the Committee on Housing and Buildings, the illegal conversions and occupancies task force bill will produce an annual report on illegal conversions and advise on policy changes which could prevent it in the future.
It would be comprised of representatives from multiple agencies who will hold regular hearings in each borough.
“One of the biggest concerns we receive is about illegal conversions,” Barnwell said. “We constantly send these complaints to the Department of Buildings for investigation, and we continuously follow up. Anyone that sees these illegal conversions should immediately call our office (718-651-3185) and we will report it.”