A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette
City of New York
Office of the Mayor
New York, N.Y. 10007
Att: Hon. Michael R. Bloomberg
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
Please read the attached opinion paper that I believe represents the opinion of the vast majority of the homeowners of the outer boroughs who are seldom heard, but pay all their taxes and work very hard for what they have.
I am respectfully requesting that you intercede in this Downzoning blitz that was initiated by an alarmist who want people to believe that a problem exits and now has convinced the political machine to go into gear to an extent which will harm not help the majority of the people and the interests of the city.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Gerald J. Caliendo, Architect
Did you know that a very few people are right now preparing to take the money that you have worked so very hard for, for the past 20, 30 or 40 years, and take it away from you? You have saved, invested in your property by maintaining it, upgrading it, only to see its value depreciated.
Who are these people? What right do they have to determine the indiscriminate changes in the law that would preclude you to even enlarge your house.
Probably they are the people who have no children or grandchildren to worry about. Or maybe they have investments or inheritances that afford them the luxury not to be concerned about what someone would be willing to pay for your property if something were to happen to you. Do you think they care?
Have you ever gone to a civic association meeting or a community board meeting and have seen or heard these people who think that they have the right to speak for you and convince a zealous politician hungry to grandstand and get his name and picture in the paper, lobbying for the people against the so-called “evil developer” who supposedly knocks down houses to build “McMansions”. How may McMansions do you see on your block or neighborhood that should require these people to change the law to depreciate the value of your property and preclude you from extending your house? Do you read about the same people talking about this all the time? Are they afraid of a “McMansion” being built next to their house, or are they just trying to see their name in the paper, or maybe eventually run for some political office themselves?
Or is it they just desire the power that they think that they are wielding by spinning these puppet politicians around their finger?
Maybe they don’t want your kids to inherit your property at the value that you worked so hard to preserve. Maybe they think your kids should live in Long Island or New Jersey and not enjoy the luxury of lower taxes and short commute to the city.
Do you really think these people care about how you feel about your own investment? Have they even asked? Do you think they would listen even if you did? You’re just one person, that’s the problem. They know if they get a couple of people to agree with them, and you know how it goes, they are bound to get a couple of people who don’t even know what they are talking about to agree with them. The next thing you know they have an epidemic on their hands and they are the ones to fix it.
Just go to one of these meetings and see for yourself. When they vote for something, half the people don’t even know what they are voting for and just vote the same way the person next to them voted, not to be different.
Don’t be like them. Call your Councilman. Write to the Mayor, you will get a response. Call the City Planning [Commission] and tell them you do not want your zoning changed.
Has anyone ever clearly explained what they are proposing? Are you sure they are telling you the full story? What will you be able to do if you needed to expand your house? They are extremely determined to take it away from you! Before you know it, your right will be gone! What is so urgent, why so sweeping a change? Do they anticipate a massive expanse of people selling out and developers knocking down houses? I don't think so. Just look around. The vast majority of the time, if a house has been knocked down, then it wasn’t worth renovating because it was under-maintained and would cost too much to fix. It also was probably the least valuable on the block. How many new, valuable homes have you seen being knocked down?
What’s so wrong with the zoning that exists? Are there “McMansions” being built all over the place or are they just trying to prevent the value of a neighborhood from appreciating when a new home is built? Did they ever explain that the vast majority of the lots are too small now for anything larger than what is already on it today from being built? So if you have an old house and someone wants to buy it and build a new house they won’t even be able to build what every one else in the neighborhood has. Do you really know? There are so many variables to consider. Are you going to be holding the short end of the stick? Maybe you should check how big the houses are that the people who are proposing this change have.
Ask the people who it has happened to in other areas of the city. People in areas like Astoria, which had R6 zoning in their neighborhood and it was downzoned to R4. Do you think they can get the same money for their property?
Where are they drawing the new zoning lines? Your house could be downzoned, and right across the street your neighbor may not. He and his kids get the money and you and your kids do not. Is that fair? I don’t think so.
They need a platform to complain about. It was “illegal conversions”. They complained so much that no one in a private home can have a bathroom in the cellar. How many illegal apartments in the cellars of the houses are on your block? Probably none! But now, because of them try to legally put a bathroom in your cellar of your own house, you can’t.
Think for yourself- don’t let them think for you!
Ragusa Led On Tax Rebate
To The Editor:
Throughout the 2003 election cycle Phil Ragusa, Republican Conservative Independent Candidate for City Council, consistently spoke about the need for City government to curtail spending and lower taxes. As a Certified Public Accountant with a lifetime of experience serving small businesses, not-for-profits, and community organizations and as President of a local homeowners group, Phil Ragusa spoke with a certain authority about the subjects of taxes, budgets and economics.
Despite these credentials, many of the voters we encountered did not believe that any tax reduction or rebate was in the cards. Many voters we encountered said “Phil, I’ll vote for you because your heart is in the right place but you don’t honestly believe you [can] lower our taxes?”
New Yorkers are sometimes an incredulous bunch and perhaps rightly so given the track record of the tax and spend liberal City Council. Even so, as Phil Ragusa’s Campaign Manager I saw first hand how his call for greater fiscal restraint and the need to return more money to taxpayers really resonated with thousands of folks throughout the neighborhoods of Northeastern Queens. Seniors on fixed incomes, homeowners and small business owners, working families, all were feeling the crunch and most folks recognized that New Yorkers were overtaxed and that raising taxes in the midst of a recession was counterintuitive and even harmful.
Heck, even Phil's opponent’s campaign consultants saw the handwriting on the wall and strategically emphasized the one tax increase Avella voted against to help obscure all the other taxes and spending increases Tony voted for.
Despite encountering some skepticism Phil Ragusa never wavered and kept pushing for tax relief and fiscal restraint at editorial boards, at candidate nights, on New York 1, on the steps of City Hall--indeed, at every available opportunity. Phil even carried our concerns to Mayor Mike and the Mayor to his credit at every meeting appeared open- minded, willing to listen and expressed concern about the adverse impact that the increased tax burden might be having on real people. The Mayor properly noted how many unfunded mandates and consent decrees the City had to contend with but appeared fair-minded enough to listen and share ideas.
Well, now virtually every homeowner, co-op and condo owner has received some much needed tax relief. You’ve probably read about how folks plan on investing or spending their $400 rebate checks which can only have a positive impact on our economy. A very good start indeed!
The long and the short of it is that Mayor Mike has shown that he listens and understands his constituents and Phil Ragusa has shown that unwavering and principled advocacy can actually make a difference.
Thanks, Mayor Mike, and thanks, Phil Ragusa, for your leadership!
Vince Tabone, Esq.