Public Safety is a primary concern for communities. Fortunately year to date crime has decreased more than 6% in the 104th Police Precinct. Robbery is down 30%, felony assaults have decreased by 13.5% and burglaries are down 15%. There is concern that rapes have increased from 15 in 2013 to 18 in 2014, and most of these are reportedly situations where the victim knows the perpetrator. Vehicle theft (GLA) has also increased, but there has been a 93.5% decrease in GLA since 1993. Crime has decreased almost 80% in our communities, since 1993. We should be grateful to the good, and often excellent, police officers and supervisors for their brave efforts in making our neighborhoods, and the great majority of neighborhoods in New York City, much safer than they were 20 years ago.
Improvements in public safety are likely the main factor making our city a place where more people want to live. As a result, housing prices have risen significantly which is very good for current property owners, but increased prices are putting great pressure on many who rent apartments.
In our city, the homeless population has increased dramatically in the past 5 years. NYC is legally mandated to house homeless people, and the result has recently been that the Dept. of Homeless Services (DHS) is having more large shelters opened. In the Community Board 5, Queens area, DHS has proposed the conversion of a long vacant factory at 78-16 Cooper Avenue to what they call a transitional residence for homeless families. We have opposed this plan for numerous reasons, and Civic activists have formed a coalition who has filed a lawsuit to prevent this conversion. It would be much more prudent, humane and cost effective to provide apartment subsidies for those capable of living on their own.
The cleanliness of a community is very important. Our residential streets are generally well kept, but we have ongoing problems with people dumping their household garbage and recycling along local commercial strips. We need more city litter basket collections, but abusive people have to stop dumping their garbage in litter baskets, on street corners and in other locations. Increased enforcement is important to help solve this problem. Thankfully, the great majority of residents are respectful and want to live in a clean community.
The Board 5 area has the only freight rail yard in either Queens or Brooklyn. All freight traffic entering or exiting Long Island has to come through the Fresh Pond Yards, in Glendale. This has meant too many sleepless nights for residents living along much of the freight line, and air pollution problems. The freight line and the old locomotives used by New York and Atlantic Railway are owned by the MTA’s Long Island Rail Road Division. We have worked with Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) and elected officials, in efforts to improve conditions, but replacement of polluting, loud locomotive engines requires funding and better MTA LIRR cooperation. There are new Cross Harbor Freight Movement Project Plans, and any significant increase in rail traffic on the Bay Ridge Line of the LIRR will put additional pressure on our communities.