The Real Deal New York

Tree fees prove challenge to developers, homeowners

Affordable housing builders have been served six-figure bills for just one tree

November 30, 2014 11:00AM

A fallen tree in Brooklyn

A fallen tree in Brooklyn

Builders and homeowners claim they are being gouged by the Parks Department and MTA for tree removal and replacement.

Last year, the government agencies collected $2.7 million in tree fees, according to the New York Post. During that period, 275 trees were removed or damaged, averaging about $10,000 in restitution fees per tree, agency data shows.

“They’re robbing you without a gun,” said Staten Island builder Jerry Bivona, who told the Post that the Parks Department fleeced him over a rotten oak tree in Annadale last year.

Bivona said that he was quoted $58,000 to have the tree removed and replaced with numerous others. He was told that if he didn’t pay the agency he would have to plant 48 trees on his own and guarantee them for two years.

And builders who want to develop affordable housing have been hit with six-figure bills for as little as one tree, the Building Industry Association of New York City told the Post. [NYP] Christopher Cameron

  • Charles Dale

    Just about everything from housing to tree removal etc. is a rip off. It is GREED , plain and simple. We have made money our god and we are selfish beyond imagination. We deserve what what we get. All of these fees and even cost of housing for people could be made affordable for everyone but we all want money, money and more money. We lie, cheat, steal and sometimes even kill for money. Pathetic. SHAME on us all.

    • JEng

      Don’t speak for my family. We didn’t do anything wrong. And it is obvious that we should be developing Southeast Queens (many places in Queens are Archie Bunker dead) and build affordable housing there which will revitalize retail there as well.

      It doesn’t make any sense to ignore fallow neighborhoods to complain about the lack of affordable housing for spoken for neighborhoods because there will still be dead spots in NYC – why are we overloading Manhattan anyway? Is there a good moral reason that I am missing for what is happening in NYC?

      It’s like seats in a venue – there is plenty of unoccupied seating available but for some reason only a particular section is being clamored over and everyone including the press is ignoring the truth of the matter. Why?

      • Charles Dale

        I live in Rego Park Queens and all I see going up are luxury co-op and condo buildings. When I see the prices being asked, usually $300,000-$500,000 and up all I can say is where is all this money coming from? I did a Google search for the median income for New York City. It states that $51,100 is the median income for an individual in New York for all 5 boroughs. That means half of all New Yorkers, population of approx. 8 million, are earning $51,100 and less. None of the buildings going up over the years I have been watching them, cater to that income. I have lived in this neighborhood all my life and there use to be rents for 2 bedrooms that went for $700 a month gas and electric included. Now the studios are going for $1,200 a month, utilities not included and the co-ops and condos going up, since I see very few rental buildings going up are hundreds of thousands of dollars. Manhattan is way more expensive then that though. Even in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, everything is catered for the wealthy. If I saw buildings going up where someone making $51,000 a year could comfortably afford, I would be impressed. To me, developers only care about the rich. The average worker they don’t care about at all. Like I said, it is all GREED, we made money our god. Affordable housing could be built in all 5 boroughs but nobody really wants to build it because then they can’t get hundreds of thousands of dollars for their co-ops and condos.

        • no-permits

          explain how you can build “affordable” without subsidies? it can’t be done without subsidies.

          are you dale charles from pacc?

          • Charles Dale

            Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Obama all said they would create subsidies for affordable housing yet when you look at any of the buildings going up for the past several years, the vast majority are luxury cco=op and condos in all 5 boroughs. When you have the median income for individuals living in all 5 boroughs for New York City being $51,1000 and at least half of all residents in all 5 boroughs not being able to properly afford the housing in all 5 boroughs, you have a serious problem. Now we all know that politicians say one thing when they are running for office and doing another when they actually get into office but that is the best we can go by is to try to hold them to what they said they were going to do.

          • JEng

            I can’t imagine that luxury would sell in basic neighborhoods in Queens. If those units sell out to locals, then it’s not unaffordable.

            As for renting, I only know mean stories where the owner is the one victimized by tenants and they aren’t even rent regulated (yet – is that happening soon? San Francisco already legalized and rent regulated basement apartments in private homes).

            Rent regulated is definitely a weapon by potential buyers against reluctant to sell owners and the politicians are not helping existing normal owners to keep their buildings.

            When the press reports that people get evicted – they don’t provide details as if eviction is easy in NYC – it is not – and not based on just causes like nonprimary residency and misconduct so all the bias benefits the tenant side.

          • Charles Dale

            Some of the luxury condos and co-ops I speak of have been sold but to who, I do not know. I just think, where is all this money coming from when I talk to the people of the neighborhood, they don’t know either. They think some are from Russia, China, paying in cash and some might even be from Russian and Chines mobs of their country. In the building that I live, they were built in 1951, went co-op in 1991 but allowed renters to keep renting if they still wanted to. There are 3 buildings where I am and the split is around 70% shareho;ders, 30% renters and the renters are rent stabilized apartments and there are seniors who are on SCRIE and have their rents frozen and when their rents go up every 2 years, the city pays for the amount over their frozen rent. Some of the seniors are paying $700 a month for 1 & 2 bedrooms with gas and electric included because of SCRIE and the buildings are nice, well maintained, have 2 working elevators, 15 stories, nice laundry room, renovated lobby, etc. These seniors have an income of around $1,200 a month with very little savings and thank God for SCRIE because where would they live without it?

          • JEng

            so shell companies from foreign locations like Bermuda are used to inflate property values in neighborhoods – jesus, the Sunset Park longtime residents are the smarty pants!

          • Charles Dale

            I am not the Charles Dale from pacc.

          • JEng

            “affordable” is a political catchphrase because it hijacks the actual concept of affordable and hits a pulse point in all of us especially in these days of high internet bills and high cell phone bills – these new must-haves – while everything keeps going up especially charges by the government but only property owners are being blamed when their press is about vacant celebrity new builds and a tiny segment of society that in the past we were never even aware of.

            Sunset Park which is pretty savvy and working class and Hispanic did not want those “affordable” housing units atop their library which may mean that they see those developments as some kind of poltiical/developer handling – I’m not sure what they are seeing but definitely the Chinese community is nowhere this savvy.

            What happened to Nidia Velazquez? She sounded like a real NYer and community invested representative.

            I feel like the news coverage makes it seem like politicians are not representing us or our interests but are haranguing us – everything is an argument now – someone is always a villain.

        • JEng

          yeah but is this meant to trap the everyday New Yorker like those crappy builds in Kawasaki for the commuters to Tokyo proper – decades long mortgages so you’ll be willing to stick with a particular job, keep your head down, start watching House Hunters seriously and wonder if you have job opportunities in Kansas City while the city does its best to offer union jobs to new immigrants e.g. hotels so that native New Yorkers are being sent out like seeds while new New Yorkers benefit from the existing infrastructure and culture?

          Cuz where did all these homeless come from? Not from getting kicked out of Jared Kushner’s buildings, right?

          • Charles Dale

            Some of the homeless come from the unaffordable housing rates that are being charged. There are homeless people in shelters that have jobs and cell phones and the reason they are there is because they can not find affordable housing. That is my point. I feel that housing costs in all five boroughs is too high because there are very few places for people making $51,100 a year which is the median income for individuals living in the five boroughs. When housing cost more than what at least half the people living in the area can afford, you have a problem and something has to be done about this.

          • JEng

            How can anyone afford smartphone monthly bills? I am always surprised to read that someone in NYCHA or regulated housing was robbed of their iphone – those contracts are terrible.

            Maybe the homeless are carrying burners. But what kind of jobs – because I see kids getting off the overnight shift at Target and the burger place who commute from Brooklyn to Queens – is everyone at the workplace of these homeless employees also homeless? Or are they subsidized?

            Because five dollar an hour Central Americans are living in Queens. Tibetans are living in Jackson Heights and some parts of Queens are begging for tenants – its not a no vacancy rental market.

          • Charles Dale

            There is Metro PCS and a few other companies that charge $40 a month with unlimited talk, text and data and that includes taxes and fees so your monthly bill is truly $40 a month and they have a nice selection of phones to pick from. That, they can afford. Some of the people in homeless shelters have jobs that pay $8 an hour, some $10 and they would be able to afford $700-$800 a month rent but studios in Queens are going for $1,200 a month. Not everyone at Burger King, Target etc. are homeless. Some still live with their parents even though they are in their 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s. Some live with roommates, 2, 3, 4 people or more splitting the rent of a 1 or 2 bedroom. There are parts of all 5 boroughs with vacancies but since studios are going for $1,200 a month, 1 bedrooms for about $1,800 a month, 2 bedrooms over $2,000 a month and the jobs offered are minimum wage, part time with no benefits, those vacant apts. are not getting rented. Besides, when you rent an apartment, the landlord verifies your salary, credit history, etc. and if one of those aren’t good, they will not rent to you. It’s scary, people are living paycheck to paycheck and are sometimes only one paycheck away from being homeless. Also when you rent, you sometimes need to put down 1st month, last month, and a month for the security deposit. That’s 3 months rent up front and because they re not making that much and are using their salaries to pay for everyday bills, they have very little in savings to afford that.

          • JEng

            That couple where one killed the other were paying $800 in the bronx for a bedroom – I doubt the rent was $800 for the tenant of record who was their roommate. We don’t have transparency.

          • JEng

            Ah T-mobile. I try to buy American so I never looked at Sprint and Tmobile prices which I guess are unbeatable. Thanks.

          • Charles Dale

            Well Metro PCS is a good company that charges only $40 a month for unlimited talk, text and data by using other major carriers cell towers and can offer that reduced rate. They are on the internet. Just type Metro PCS in Google and it will take you to the Metro PCS website.

          • JEng

            thank you but I try to buy American

          • Charles Dale

            Very nice of you to do. Most people just want the least expensive service. It is good to support American businesses.

          • JEng

            When housing costs more in your area, you move or you pay because you WANT to be in that area. We know someone who could have had much cheaper rent out on Long Island but chose to stay in Chinatown because it was more fun for him.

            I’m sure commuters from Newburgh would love a bolthole in Midtown so they can roll out of bed and be at the job like their rent regulated coworkers but it doesn’t work like that.

            If all those unionized immigrants in hotels work in Midtown, does that mean that some of the hotel rooms should be allocated to them as boltholes because god forbid a SELECT group of working poor should suffer the 7 train with the MAJORITY of working poor commuters some native NYers who have to live in a two fare zone because they cannot afford to live in Manhattan or never lucked out on a rent control pied de terre (maybe we should be taxing them) or god forbid was one of three people so foolish as to simply give back a rent regulated apartment in Chinatown because they owned a basic starter home that now takes more than an hour to commute from.

            It’s personal choice and integrity, isn’t it?

            There are people commuting from Philly and other parts of Pennsylvania nevermind Southern New Jersey not just to Manhattan but to College Point Queens where they can afford to own but wouldn’t want to.

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