Monday, January 07, 2008

Street of Blinding Light in the South Slope


Ever wonder why people can become somewhat desperately angry when a new building rises in their midst? The tall building at 162 Sixteenth Street in the South Slope, called the VUE, has been one of the most contentious new buildings to go up in all of Brooklyn. Even posts about the building tend to develop into long back-and-forths between neighborhood residents and commenters that are clearly tied to the either the developer or those selling units.

We say all that as background for the following email we got from Concerned Citizens of the South Slope about the very, very bright lights in the parking lot behind the new condo which are now lighting up their lives and probably making it possible to read in one's bedroom without turning anything on. Residents are frustrated because they say that no city agency seems interested in the problem and that the Department of Buildings, with whose actions or lack thereof they have taken issue on many occasions, is basically saying that a building that turns night into day isn't their problem. Here's the email we got:
Attached please find a photo taken from the back yard of one of the houses that adjoin the parking lot for 162 Sixteenth Street. Aka as the VUE, designed...The first question that is usually asked is - What is that? Could it be UFO's are landing in Brooklyn? No! It's just the lights that glare into in the back of about 30 houses that adjoin the parking lot of 162 Sixteenth Street.

The next question is always - That can't be allowed... Why don't you just report it so the City will make them remove (or replace) them? Guess what? It has been reported. The DEP says it's not their responsibility and the DOB says that it "has no rules or regulation govern the type of light fixtures that should be used."...It's important to note that the DOB took a picture of the light fixture in the middle of the day. Not at night.

The adjoining neighbors have asked every elected and appointed official for help. To date nothing has or, it seems, will be done to stop this quality of life, abuse.
Is it true that in the most taxed City in the USA, there is no city (or state) agency responsible for this kind of abuse? If not then - Does anyone know who's responsibility it is to address these issues?
A superb question. Perhaps the Borough President's Office or the local City Council Member could supply everyone on 16th Street with blackout curtains? Possibly special ones with the Borough Seal and/or the City Council Seal?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the F?

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should force the City's elected to sleep in that lot

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you serious?
That can't be legal.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the new buyer's know that they are buying into a huge law suit?

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter had a sleep over at her friends house. It is one of the houses next to that piece of crap.
She came home the next day exhausted. When I asked why she said that the lights coming through the bedroom window were blinding her the whole night.
I asked my daughters friends parents if they have asked the developer to address this and they said they were told to go to hell.
Nice neighbors!

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the Martians are coming to get Katan. I heard they are looking for some interested Developers, on Mars. Since he has worn out his welcome here they figure they may be able to learn a thing or 2 about how to suck the life out of others.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Mirem said...

Our house backs onto that lot. We put up blinds and curtains, and it's still not enough. Current research shows that exposure to light at night increases the risk of breast cancer in women because it suppresses the production of melatonin, a "master hormone". I have two daughters. What am I supposed to do?

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara Gonzalez is absolutely useless

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer the question -
It is totally illegal. BUT only if you are an elected or appointed official or if you are related to one or if you have lots of money to pay one off.
Otherwise they can do whatever the fuck they wants to you.
Welcome to New York.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is getting paid off?

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they should call in the Army, National Guard and reserves.
This is major.
We need to catch those Martians before they accidentally knock down one of the many towers of crap that have been build recently.
Maybe we can convince them to take Our Mayor, City Council etc. back with them.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is Dick Chaney when we need him?

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the "Seinfeld" episode with Kramer and the Kenny Rogers Chicken sign?

What people outside NYC never understood: "Seinfeld" was not a comedy, it was a documentary.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lighting levels are approved by community boards during the approval process - and the ordanances limit the amount of light that can leak onto adjacent property. contact them and find out what they have on record. (you are looking for a drawing with lighting symbols that show the levels) unfortuantly you may be dealing with a relitivly disorganized agency. but then - its your agency.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they land before the end of the year do they get grandfathered into the 421a (Free money for the wealthy compliments of the local tax payers)?

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer should be simple enough.
Tie the politicians and developers down in that lot for a couple of weeks and then ask them what they think about the lights.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"lighting levels are approved by community boards during the approval process - and the ordanances limit the amount of light that can leak onto adjacent property."

10:59am What? CB's have nothing to do with approving lighting levels unless the property comes before the CB's Land Use committee for a variance at the BSA...and there they are only advisory?

Very uninformed comment. This has been taken tho CB7 who is still awaiting word back from the DOB...and waiting...and waiting.

CB7 has been 100% behind the resident affected in the South Slope, officially going on record against the development site and demanding action from the DOB.

Do your research before making such silly comments.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The community board is almost as useless as the council member - sara gonzalez

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Law Suit!

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea everything has to come down to a law suit.
That's what this City has become.
Who ever has the most money and is willing and able to afford a law suit, get whatever they want. Even if the law suit has nothing to do with what is right.
Mean while the rest of us (who can't afford to pay 2 or 3 hundred thousand to a lawyer are left to pay all the taxes and get shit in return.
Like the other person said -
Welcome to New York.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer is very simple: buy a slingshot. Make the building pay to replace the community nuisance. When they see it happen over and over again, they will change the lights or stop changing the lightbulbs. I don't normally promote this kind of behavior, but if no one will listen (and honest negotiations have been attempted with the building owners and the city) then just do what you need to do....Social darwinism, survival of the fittest, etc. etc.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a way - what you want to do is call 311 and try to find a sympathetic operator, so be very polite, and just simply explain the situation in a calm, matter-of-fact way.

There are laws about the intensity and directional aim with commercial lights/neon/etc. and I know someone who made a successful complaint and the owner finally complied - and it was a pretty similar situation. The trick was to get the 311 operator to help you figure out which law was being broken, and then which agency to report it to.

Try it, and good luck. If this doesn't work, get an attorney. There is a remedy for this, as it is COMPLETELY unreasonable and obviously a huge public nuisance. You might also try those local network news shows "troubleshooters." If they embarrass (or even hint they might embarrass) the developer, he might act rather than look like a douche on TV.

But the developer is, quite demonstrably, a total dick, so best of luck. I feel for you.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

solution: some large rocks, and a good strong arm. Going about this the polite way by trying to have dialog with people who aren't listening obviously isn't working.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those advising us to throw rock etc. I would like to remind you that the during the course construction Police were called by area residents on, a weekly basis for some kind of violation or other and never did they do anything to stop the developer and his associates.
But they (the police) did come on several occasions to threaten local residents and force them to move cars that were legally parked so that they could make way for the illegal pouring of concrete.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not just keep destroying the lights until they get the message?

Good ol' fashioned rocks thrown with good aim should do nicely.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who was it that said
"First kill the lawyers!"
I think it was Mark Twain.
He was absolutely correct.
It is because the developers have the backing of high priced lawyers that they feel emboldened to do as they please.
You can't throw rock's cause the police will arrest you and the first thing they will say when you ask them
"What was I supposed to do about the lights?"
Is to tell you to sue the developer.
Many years ago if the same thing happened the police would come by and scold you then tell the developer to fix the lights if he doesn't want them broken again.
Now we have a city with 100,000 police, who's job it is to protect the rich.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try complaining to the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection). I believe this is their gig.

Don't argue with 311. If you insist, they will take a complaint and direct at any agency you wish even if they disagree.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about this. Let me tell you a story about landlords and how they are lemmings.

Landlords have no original ideas. They all follow each other and they even have newsletters about this crap. For some reason, the new trend for landlords is putting up these obnoxious lights. My landlord just did the same. It is like daylight in front and back of my building now at night.

There's no use arguing with the landlords about this - because they have no idea why they did it in the first place. It's just "what's being done right now."

It definitely is not legal, but it's a matter of finding the right city agency or lawyer to do something about it...

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do not do anything stupid or illegal in retaliation - that's a recipe for disaster and you might get your ass kicked or find yourself arrested, so lawyer up right away!

No one really likes lawyers, but jeez, if you have to choose between hiring a lawyer to help you protect the value of your home, or a builder that's trying to stick it to you because you keep letting them do so, which is the worse?

It is so clearly a public nuisance - you would more than likely win a lawsuit and have your attorney's fees paid for by the defendant, anyway. Common sense says that any reasonable judge or jury would side with the homeowners in this case.

The reason the developers are so emboldened to keep sticking it to south slope homeowners is that by and large the owners have let the situation get out of hand through their own inaction; you've got to act right away with an aggressive attorney and not take any more shit from these guys! Come on - fight back! Don't be wimps...Where is the fire with people these days? Don't install window treatments - make the builder fix the problem!


1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To any one who advises to get a lawyer, do you have any idea of what the going rate to sue one of these son's of bitches.
Try 100,000 dollars to start.
Who has that kind of money to fight with these scum bag developers.
We pay taxes (a lot more than any where else) to be protected from this kind of crap. We should expect that the City would do it's job to see to it that these scum will do what is right.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the developer are treating this place like the wild west then we should be allowed to level the playing field.
Let anyone who is not getting what they pay for out of our city and it's various agencies do as they see fit to protect their own property and quality of life.
Shoot out the lights, and tell the city and developer to go fuck themselves if they don't like it.
That's what they have said to you.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in on Prospect Ave. and we have done everything we can to report this and other abuses to the city and every official.
Nobody seems to care.
The city has joined forces with this developer to ignore our pleas.
We are all fed up.
One of my neighbors has taken a lot of crap from the developer as well as the DOB,for his continued efforts to get the City and the Developer to do something right by us.
I am sick and tired of this.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes - The developer is a total dick.
But what or who gives him the right to continue to be a dick?
Our City. The DOB, DEP, Bloomberg, the police. You name it. We pay them and they in turn protect him and his illegal acts.
End of story.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with - Taxed to death.
This is unbelievable. Those lights are unbelievable.
Anyone who wonders why people go out of their minds and have road rage or go out and shoot others, only have to think about having to look at those lights all night long. Knowing that the City that is bleeding you to death and won't do anything to remedy the situation.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story has been making the rounds and I think it needs to be shared-
It was CC'd to me in a note that was sent to an elected official.
Ultimately it is the city who is to blame.
The building should never have been allowed to proceed.
The DOB screwed up from the get go.
First they rubber stamped a set of incomplete and non-compliant plans which were submitted by an architect who had lost his right to self certify because of his many previous abuses of the zoning and building codes.
Then they let them continue to pour concrete foundations while they worked with Mr Radusky to make the plans complete and compliant.
They told him what needed to be done to make the plans complete and compliant and then made the ultimate mistake of (once again) trusting that he and the developer would do what they were told.
The Developer and his architects, in the ultimate act of arrogance chose to continue to do as they please. They did not make the necessary changes to finish the plans properly. In fact they built the building to the non compliant plans.
Last summer it was brought to DOB's attention.
Instead of working with the neighbors to try to find an amiable solution to a screw up by DOB (compounded by the arrogance of the developer) they (the DOB) have continued to work with the developer, while shutting out the neighbors, in an attempt to "make it all go away".
And that is why the DOB is reluctant to do anything for the neighbors but very willing to allow the continued transgressions by the developer.
They are jointly responsible for a building that should have never been built.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Lou said...

A slingshot and a couple of rocks should fix this problem

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 4:01PM,
Now that is incredible. I won't say unbelievable because it sounds quite like the DOB (or any bureaucracy) to do something so stupid and then to compound it with further stupidity.
Instead of admitting their screw up they waste hundreds of thousands (in Man/hours and money) to try to cover it up. Until in the end it comes back to blow up in there face.
The problem is that we (the tax payers) are the only ones who are really hurt in the end.
None of these clowns are ever held to the fire.
Maybe 1 or 2 low level idiots will get fired, but nothing will happen to the top ass-holes. In fact they will probably get rewarded with another high paying job which comes with another pension. All on the tax payers dime.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey 4:01 PM,
I think you meant to finish your piece by saying that they (the DOB and the developer) are partners in crime, not "jointly responsible"
They should all be treated like the criminals they have proven themselves to be.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what all need to understand is that the current Mossad DOB inherited this mess from this Hinkson era DOB. No excuses for not handling this more properly (as many folks assert) in 2007, but this shit was a mess back in 2005. Start in the beginning and move forward.

If Hinkson's DOB regime had not allowed the total illegal pouring of 162's original foundation, pre-rezoning Nov. 2005, then this would be less of an issue, if a non-issue. And now she's at the BSA, geeze! Well, she very well see this monster again if folks sue the developer and the City.

Well, at second thought, there would have always have been issues, as there are on ALL Katan jobs.

But don't I sound like a broken record?

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite all the efforts by Concerned Citizens of South Slope to make the DOB representatives aware of all the negative issues regarding this building, here is another clear evidence of DOB neglect to see how this type of exterior lighting will have a negative impact with neighbor’s gardens.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I am not mistaken the council person for that area is Sara Gonzalez.
What the hell is her problem?
Is she in a coma or what?
Somebody should throw rocks at her office, to wake her out of her coma.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Deblasio dead or what?
Oh I forgot. He is up Hillary's ass.
Meanwhile this crap is going on in his back yard.
And he wants to be your next Borough President.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a good idea, jt.
We should all go to every council members office and start throwing rocks at the widows to wake them up out of there stupor.
Those SOB's are making a buck and a half a year for doing absolutely nothing but wasting our time & money to prepare for there next job on the taxpayers dime.
I think someone else posted that we should tie them down in that lot for a few weeks. First we have to wake them up and drag them out of there cocoons.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, this is a record breaking number of responses to a GL post of late... CORD must be jealous...

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can any one be sure of who will buy the property behind or next to them?
These developments are popping up all over the city and they have no regard for anyone. Not even the people who buy the crap they've built. Anyone who thinks this issue is NIMBY should wake up and smell the coffee.
We need to demand that the City address these issues now before any more of this crap is allowed to be built anywhere in the city.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Hampüs Röland said...

Simply find the address of the developer, pool the monies of the locals being shined upon, and rent a similar light unit to put in front of his bedroom. Wal-Mart also sells b.b. guns (as well as assault weapons) that should easily be capable of taking out the bulbs. If you think that's not the right solution, think again.

11:36 PM  
Blogger Emily Farris said...

Ugh. I lived right across the street from that site when the building was going up. They'd begin construction at or before 7 ever morning. I tried to petition them to stop, but eventually had to just move. I loved that apartment, but they took away my sunshine. Jerks.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that I would ever suggest the distruction of public or private property just curious as to whether any of the residents being annoyed by this received a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas?

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone contacted Bill DeBlasio's office? He is very approachable and seems to yield a fair amount of power in the city.

I think he is running for borough president. He has also been somewhat active against developers in the past.

good luck!

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to live on Prospect and when they tarted working on that building they drove me out of my mind.
They would start at 6:30 AM and sometimes, work till after 8PM. They had a total disregard for the neighbors. I couldn't take it any more and was forced to move. Now I am glad I don't have to look at that shit.
I feel bad for those people living near that THING.
Some one at City hall is getting paid off and I hope they are exposed and put in jail.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps anyone who is really concerned about this should just move out???
Move back to where you came from....
It is unfortunate, but few people are from Brooklyn these days (that means born and raised here and not transplated from the midwest).
You guys, transplants, are after all what creates the demand for unsightly construction and the destruction of charming neighborhoods.
Without you prices would not be astronomical because there would be less demand. AND THEN perhaps those of us who were born here and who are more entitled to the benefits of this great borough could afford to live more comfortably.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lawsuit is the answer. You dont need a high end lawyer for this.

I would also try to negatively affect sales by posting signs, etc..

1:36 AM  
Blogger Hampüs Röland said...

Hey Anon 11:18 PM, unless I'm mistaken, every person and family in this city at some point from somewhere else (unless of course you're in the blood line of a Native American tribe).

4:35 PM  
Blogger amarilla said...


That's true, unless you are Lenape, you are a transplant.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always love the "move back to Kansas if you don't like _____" comments from some of the more trollish posters in the blogosphere.

Do these folks ever wonder that we "don't move" due to the fact we like Brooklyn...and like it how it is...well, perhaps was?

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:18- sounds like you're a really smart person. I'm glad you think you have the solution for Brooklyn's problems. You should run for Mayor.

Those lights are really annoying and I've heard the developer is a jerk- but once the building is occupied- I think the residents should contact the residents of the building. No one wants to be a bad neighbor- and I'm sure there's a way to light up a parking lot with lower lights, less intense lights, that's still safe for the parking lot and respectful of the neighbors.

As for the building that was built illegally- what were the necessary corrections- and if they were all made- would it- at the end of the day- change the building? A C of O would not be issued if the violations were material and/or dangerous- otherwise there are other liability issues. Fact is- the building is up and units are selling and its not coming down.

6:35 PM  

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