Queens Civic Congress

2000 - 2001 Platform

President’s Introductory Remarks

Officers and Committees

Land Use and Zoning

Illegal Conversions and Buildings Issues

Community Facilities


Parks and Recreation

Public Safety

Transportation - Aviation Issues

Transportation - JFK Access - Light Rail System

Transportation - Mass Transit/Vehicular Transportation

Economic Development


Health and Hospitals

City Governance


President's Introductory Remarks

                 October, 2000

My fellow citizens:

            In January 1997, when the Queens Civic Congress was formed from the last two civic councils of the Federation, a principle objective was to provide civics from every corner of the borough the ability to join with other civics on common issues.  The 1998-1999 QCC Platform was first time a borough wide community of civic organizations presented a united position on a variety of subjects in New York City.

            This platform is a natural progression and update of the 1997-1998 Platform.  After extensive research, committee work, and consultation with planners, educators, transportation experts, and community groups, this 2000-2001 Platform was approved by an unanimous vote of the Congress at its May 15, 2000 membership meeting.

            The platform serves two purposes: first, it establishes policy for the Congress; second, we hope it sets the agenda for public officials. Over the years civic leaders have heard the refrain from their elected officials that there is little support beyond their own community for many of the issues contained in this platform.  This platform puts those refrains to rest.  This twenty page document illustrates  the commonality of issues of the various civic communities throughout the borough.

            We hope that this document will serve as a basis for legislative and executive action on a wide variety of matters which affect the stability and quality of life of our great city and borough.  We encourage your thoughts and request your support in disseminating the Queens Civic Congress’ 2000-2001 Platform to your civic membership.

                                                                        Very truly yours, 

                                                                        Sean M. Walsh
                                                SEAN M. WALSH

Officers of the Queens Civic Congress


A land use policy based on community input and review and reflecting the availability of city services and infrastructure is essential to preserve and enhance the fundamental character of the city’s neighborhoods.  Planning must be sufficiently flexible to respond to demographic and environmental dynamics by creating new opportunities for the orderly development of housing, business, and community facilities.  Zoning maps and text must keep pace with new building, construction and signage technologies.  Queens, with only four historic districts and few designated landmark buildings, faces the rapid loss of its architectural legacy.  Recognizing the inherently commercial nature of concessions, large-scale concessions in parks must be strictly limited by rules for Major Concessions as mandated by the City Charter.  The Landmarks Commission must focus its attention on Queens to preserve our unique and important architectural heritage.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

1.       Provide for community input and review and legislative oversight of major residential, commercial, industrial and public developments.
2.       Create additional contextual districts to protect existing residential configurations, density and uses not reflected in existing zoning districts. 
3.       Provide technical assistance to community based organizations for neighborhood-based planning.
4.       Support long-term planning as a means of preserving and enhancing the physical character and stability of neighborhoods.
5.       Establish urban design elements as part of the land use decision-making process.
6.       Map large-scale retail uses only in districts appropriately zoned: and subject any siting of "big box" retail establishments to community input and review and legislative oversight.
7.       Mandate community review of publicly funded (federal, state and city) agencies' major proposals.
8.       Establish borough-based offices to perform planning functions and zoning for the borough.
9.       Include in all land use decisions a non-renewable effective date for the implementation of the permitted action.
10.   Require any amended plan or proposal by public agencies to include an updated environmental impact statement.
11.   Require legislative review and oversight of Board of Standards and Appeals decisions to grant variances.
12.   Subject all construction projects sponsored or funded by state entities to ULURP.
13.   Retain the existing limits on  the transfer of development rights as provided for in the Zoning Resolution, i.e.. limiting the transfer of unused air right allowances from one site only to an adjacent or shared lot.
14.   Require a Special Permit and  review under ULURP for zoning lot mergers.
15.   Increase planning staff of agencies that make land use policy determinations.
16.   Provide community boards with at least ninety days’ notice for all land use applications.
17.   Correct  immediately through  legislation the 1961 Zoning Resolution's definition of basement and cellar space as it applies to calculations in determining a building's FAR.  The Court of Appeals in 1997 overturned the DOB and BSA interpretation that basements used for dwelling space must be included in the total FAR.
18.   Eliminate the FAR exemption for mechanical/utility floor space.
19.     Strictly limit Major Concessions in Parks – Repeal the 1998 Rules for Major Concessions and create new ones that establish realistic triggers for public review, such as:
Marinas with 50 slips or more;
Parking lots of any size;
New buildings of more than 10,000 square feet -- not in parks;
          d.       New buildings of more than 10,000 square feet -- in parks;
          e.       Open use in park -- 20,000 square feet;
          f.        Restaurant -- 250 seats or more;
          g.       One or more concessions totaling 25% of one park.
20.   Urge continued cooperation among the Borough President, Empire State Development, the Dormitory Authority and the City administration to implement the program for reuse of portions of the Creedmoor campus in strict compliance with the formally adopted master plan as authored by the Queens Civic Congress.
21.   Create new zoning text amendments to meet unanticipated needs resulting from new building technologies and new products offered by the housing and construction industry.
22.   Create new zoning text amendments to regulate signage, building masks and other new signage technologies that increasingly degrade the urban landscape.
23.   Clarify and improve zoning text with regard to use groups.
24.   Seek Landmarks Commission initiatives to work with Queens civics to identify and designate individual buildings, historic districts and scenic landmark districts.
25.   Ban all Billboards.
26.   Eliminate in-fill development in R4 and R5 districts.
27.   Subject all ULURP decisions to mandatory legislative review.
28.   Require a rear yard of no less than 20 feet on all R1 through R3 corner lots and all lots currently exempt from the usual rear yard regulations.

Illegal Conversions & Buildings Issues

The illegal conversion, or adding of apartments in existing housing in excess of the established zoning and use group regulations, persists as a major quality of life problem in Queens, and more importantly the deaths and injuries that result from fires and building collapses make clear the need to assure the public safety of those who reside in or visit homes that we expect to be safe.  Throughout Queens illegal conversions continue unabated  as the City reduced staffing levels at the Department of Buildings (DOB) and Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) in response to financial difficulties in the late '70's and early '90's.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

1.     Seek prompt and decisive action by the City against illegal apartments, single room occupancies and inappropriate commercial uses in residential buildings.
2.   Increase inspection and enforcement by the city DOB and HPD to achieve compliance.  Reinspect all violations until there is compliance.
3.   Enact state legislation to increase inspectors’ access to buildings with suspected violations and to allow the filing of tax liens on unpaid Environmental Control Board (ECB) fines -- i.e. to allow ECB to assess fines and other liens that can be converted to tax liens and potentially result in seizure of property.
4.   Mandate DOB and HPD to allow community participation in inspection.
5.   Require that DOB dedicate at least one full-time inspector to each community board as a regular point of contact on buildings issues, inspections and follow-ups, with no less than two full days per month in the assigned district or as necessary to meet residents' complaints.
6.   Establish a multi-agency task force to coordinate services among the fire, buildings department and other agencies, to report directly to the office of the mayor.
7.   Establish a program to educate and inform new and established homeowners of relevant building codes and zoning laws and fines for noncompliance. 
8.   Require the Police Department to assist and cooperate with the Buildings Department to enforce stop work orders.
9.   Prohibit self-certification for new building or alteration permits and the correction of violations.
10.   Reestablish cyclical building inspections of all multiple dwellings quarterly by DOB and HPD.
11.   Require registration of restrictive deed covenants with the DOB.  Require title searches to identify and report restrictive covenants to the purchaser and financial institution.
12.   Empower the Department of Buildings to enforce deed restrictions limiting use, density, yards and architectural elements.
13.   Restrict the size of  “For Sale” signs in R1 through R6 from a maximum of 12 square feet to 4 square feet.
14.   Ban “Sold” signs or display of “For Sale” signs on residential property after closing.
15.   Prohibit the use of SOLD signs on residential property.
16.   Dedicate all DOB and HPD revenue from fees, permits, and fines to a special fund for code and safety enforcement.


As-of-right is not always right.  The New York City Zoning Regulations defines many religious, medical and professional operations as "community facilities" and permits their siting in any zoning district as-of-right.  Substantial changes in uses of community facility since 1961 adversely affect many neighborhoods.  Religious facilities, for example, increasingly hold events and turn to commercial uses to try to cover increasing operating costs, bringing extra traffic, noise, parking and congestion into otherwise quiet neighborhoods.  Houses of worship occupy private homes in residential areas, often without adequate parking, necessary handicapped access and emergency egress.  "Professional offices" originally included under this category aimed to provide communities with medical doctors, dentists or lawyers who lived there and dedicated a small walk-in office to provide services to local clients.  More recently, residential neighborhoods experience the conversion of private houses to use by multiple professionals with substantial clinical practices.

Publicly and privately supported community facilities pose potential disruptions to our neighborhoods.  Communities must be able to comment, evaluate and review the siting and operations of these entities.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

1.     Subject the siting, scoping and sponsoring of publicly funded facilities to ULURP regulations as a non-conforming use.
2.   Base the siting of facilities on the need for the proposed service in the community. 
3.   Require the sponsoring federal, state or city agency to notify all elected officials, community boards and community-based civic organizations and neighborhood groups coincidentally with the promulgation of the Request for Proposal.  Mandate that public notice must appear at the same time in community newspapers that circulate in the affected neighborhood(s).
4.   Require, coinciding with the issuance of the initial Request for Proposal, full disclosure by the sponsoring federal, state or city agency and by any provider responding to the RFP: 
          a) verification of need in a sited neighborhood.
          b) alternative sites. 
          c) choice of providers.
          d) terms of the contract (including length).
          e) establishment of a Community Compliance Review Board. 
          f) full financial disclosure by the provider.
          g) environmental impact statement.
5.     Rate objectively the effectiveness and impact on the community of any proposed program.
6.   Create repository for public comment on facilities at NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.
7.       Eliminate the community facilities bulk bonus in residential districts.
8.       Require community facilities to obtain special permits when they seek to site in residential districts -- subject to public review with legislative oversight
9.       Impose parking requirements for all community facilities regardless of the zone, predicated on occupancy rather than the number of fixed seats.
10.   Apply the Internal Revenue Code with respect to accessory uses on community facilities.
11.   Require Department of Buildings review of any change in use of a community facility to determine continued eligibility for community facility bonuses or exemptions.


Overcrowding is a constant in our Queens public schools. We keep hearing the mantra: ‘New York needs to keep its middle class’.  The Board of Education needs to engage communities in scoping and siting of new and expanded school facilities.   Cooperation among the school boards, superintendents, parent groups and local civic organizations offers the means to resolve scoping and siting issues.

They now have an opportunity to participate in building and maintaining schools. The $7.2 billion Board of Education Five-Year Capital Plan covering FY 2000-2004 includes $1.7 billion for Queens (23%).  The plan calls for the construction of 14 primary schools and seven high schools.  

After school programs are vitally important because 26% of our students come from single-parent households and 40% from households where both parents work outside the home.  The most recent statistics demonstrate our students get into trouble between the hours of 3-8 P.M.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

1. Reduce school overcrowding by building new schools, and increase the capacity by staggering the school year.
2. Implement the building-by-building maintenance plan.
3. Expand the Beacon Program to include all schools within the district, thereby encouraging youth programs in each neighborhood.
4. Support the implementation of school-based management. Each school should have assembled a school leadership team composed of parents, teachers, administrators, school staff and students. Their two core responsibilities are the creation of the school's Comprehensive Education Plan (CEP), and the development of a School-Based Budget and Staffing Plan.
5. Implement a robust pre-kindergarten program in each school district. All the studies indicate our children are better students and better citizens the earlier they begin the education process. Any parent of a four year old will tell you how their children absorbed all of their experiences. Early Childhood Centers are a no brainer and we should carry out the State mandate to implement in each school district.
6. Increase school intervention and guidance services.
7. Expand Computer usage and training in schools, provide well-trained computer instructors.
8. Reduce class sizes to levels appropriate in each grade and student grouping and restore all arts, music, sports and extracurricular programs.
9. End social promotion at every grade level.
10. Encourage the development of vocational apprenticeship, based on a model that will teach those students with an aptitude and preference for skilled crafts.
11. Provide access to training in highly paid skills with acute labor shortages.

Parks AND Recreation

 Parks and recreational facilities are among the most important quality of life programs of any community, particularly in Queens County.  Parks are irreplaceable assets.  The long-term viability of parks in Queens has become increasingly under attack due to significant reductions in professional maintenance and upkeep at Parks facilities and on trees along our thoroughfares throughout the borough. Deferred maintenance and use of non-professional maintenance workers will eventually lead to a complete breakdown of Parks services.  The Department completely ignores horticulture and forestry services lacks sufficient plumbers, masons, carpenters, etc. in skilled positions.

The Parks Department has conducted major capital programs to improve parks and has not followed-through with maintenance and support services to protect the investment.  In addition, as the borough with the largest amount of natural area, Queens has the most to lose from a policy of only maintaining the ballfields and playgrounds at its parks.  Given the extensive residential and commercial development of Queens, it is crucial that we protect in every way possible the current and potential parklands throughout the borough.

Queens contains many lovely parks and greenways that must be protected from natural deterioration, vandalism and changes in use of open areas due to a variety of factors.  Our Parks are particularly vulnerable properties, which repeatedly attract proposals that may harm these precious resources.


Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

1. Establish a secure funding source for Greenways for the Queens area.
2. Enforce vendors' permit requirements in parks to control illegal vendors.
3. Commend the administration of Borough President Shulman for significant reduction of graffiti in public places and encourage expansion of these programs to eradicate graffiti.
4. Enact legislation to address graffiti removal in parks and playground property.
5. Remove and replace dead trees within 6 months, prune trees on a five-year cycle and plant at least 25,000 trees citywide per year.
6. Fund the Forestry Division so that it can oversee the city's urban forest. 
7. Improve parks physical plant
          a) Increase maintenance, security and repair services at Parks
          b) Improve plant life, nature trails
          c) Add recreational/educational programs and services.
8. Hire sufficient professional employees to maintain the NYC Parks infrastructure.
9. Establish a Parks budget line item for the maintenance for natural open spaces.
10. Incorporate recycling into the trash removal procedures of NYC parks. If it works for the residents, it should work for the city.
11. Protect Flushing Meadows-Corona Park from any further commercial and corporate exploitation.
12. Establish "Flagship" designation for the Alley Pond Regional Watershed Park and seek community input.
13. Designate major parks in Queens as flagship parks.

14. Preserve Fort Totten - This beautiful and historic area has become available due to reduced need as a military installation by the federal government. We must protect this property for use of future Queens residents by:
          a) Mandating restrictive covenant for the reversion of any Fort Totten space exclusively to Parks Department for public use if the space is no longer required by Fire Department for educational purposes.
          b) Expanding space available to community not-for-profit organizations use to 14 buildings.
15. Require specificity in the Fire Department's agreement concerning maintenance of Fort open areas by Parks. Fire and Parks Departments must have nontransferable line item budgets for this maintenance and upkeep.
16. Impose a moratorium on all new construction/development of non-public-benefit projects in Flushing Meadows Corona Park pending completion of a Master Plan by a Commission that has public members.
17. Use of city parks for 2012 Olympic events shall be subject to ULURP. 


We have witnessed a significant reduction in crime across the City.  Three factors remain of great concern to the Congress: lack of community policing; inadequate response time to 911 emergency calls; and deteriorating public confidence in the NYPD, particularly among our diverse ethnic communities.
The response time of the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Service has not improved.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

1. Bring Queens precinct staffing to Safe Street/Safe Cities levels and maintain those levels.
2. Increase the percentage of uniformed police in Queens to match the citywide percentage of crimes. We have 19% of the manpower, but 25% of the crime in the city.
3. Restore and increase police staff assigned to precinct-based Community Patrol.
4. Bring all Queens precincts to less than seven minute response time.
5. Increase NYPD Budget allocation to purchase more RMPs (radio motor patrol vehicles), Unmarked and Nondescript Vehicles. Keep the present practice of keeping cars for three years, i.e. 90,000 miles.
6. Increase allocation of RMPs to outlying precincts.
7. Increase emphasis on auto theft, robberies and burglaries apprehension and prevention.
8. Work with community groups for a graffiti-free environment, increase penalties for defacing property.
9. Continue the police bicycle surveillance program with tax payer supported equipment and maintenance.
10. Require NYPD to enforce Department of Buildings and Housing Preservation and Development stop work orders and assist with the service of violations and inspections.
11. Strengthen the Civilian Complaint Review Board and re-engineer it as an independent NYPD monitor.
12. Deploy Emergency Medical Services ambulances to community-based facilities.
13. Enforce training and performance standards for voluntary ambulance groups used by the Fire Department.
14. Require contracted ambulance service to utilize the nearest medical facilities.

Transportation - Aviation Issues

We recognize the importance of Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airports to the convenience and economic vitality of the borough and city.  However, we must control and curtail the negative impact of both noise and pollution stemming from the aircraft activity at the two Queens airports, and abort the harsh, often unbearable sufferings of residents nearby to these facilities.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

1.       Oppose the weakening or termination of the High Density Rule, as well as additional exemptions as permitted in the Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR 21) enacted in April 2000.  Call for an immediate moratorium on additional flights (slots) at LaGuardia Airport.  We urge the re-allocation of existing slots, not new slots, for greater efficiencies and to meet current needs, and to set statutory limitations on the number of operations at New York metropolitan airports and the restriction of all flights, scheduled and unscheduled (except emergency operations) to the hours of 7 am to 11 pm. 
2.       Improve noise abatement procedures, including an immediate ban on flights by any Stage2 commercial jetliners equipped with “hush kits,” which have no effect on noise or pollution reduction.  We urge that there be a change in take-off frequency from every 58 seconds to a much wider time interval to attenuate the unremitting jet-noise created by the “high density rule”. 
3.       Establish and enforce formal accountability by the Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration to the Environmental Protection Administration and independent citizen representation.  Reinstate and strengthen enforcement of the Quiet Communities Act of 1978 and the Noise Control Act of 1972. 
4.       Reduce immediately the effects of aircraft noise and pollution from jet exhaust and the dumping of jet fuel on human mental and physical health and damage to the environment.  Also, install air-sensing devices on the Queens side of runaway 13/31 at LaGuardia Airport to supplement those being installed in a controlled test by the State of New York’s Health Department in the South Bronx.
5.       Adjust flight schedules to more evenly spread aircraft noise among the communities.  Adjust the distribution of flights off LaGuardia's runway 13, since northeast Queens endures 95 percent of the take-offs at LaGuardia.
6.       Require aircraft landing and taking off at Kennedy or LaGuardia Airports to use flight paths over water, parks or highways when practical. 
7.       Subject any disposition of an airport by sale, lease, transfer or license agreement to approval by the City Council.
8.        Subject any management contract covering an airport to approval by the City Council.

Transportation-JFK Access-Light Rail System

We agree to the need for an alternative efficient mode of access to and from Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airports and Manhattan.  However, the current plan for the “AirTrain” Light Rail Airport Access System as adopted by The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey fails to provide a one-seat ride from the airport to Manhattan and does not meet the needs of airline travelers for efficiency, comfort and affordability to reduce the amount of vehicular traffic congestion and air pollution to any significant degree.  Nor does the Port Authority’s own evaluation of ridership estimates in relation to planned costs justify this costly spur to the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road station.

 By its design and construction features, the concrete aerial highway with its linear induction motor system and cars that do not conform to federal railroad standards assure incompatibility with existing rail systems and technology, thereby rendering it useless for eventual incorporation into a one-seat ride system.

As importantly, both the construction period, which will extend for many years, and the final project alignment will render significant harm to the many communities in its path. It will create an ugly, noisy blight on Queens neighborhoods and will bring harm for many decades to come.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

1.     Oppose the construction of the Van Wyck Expressway spur from Kennedy Airport to the Long Island Rail Road station in Jamaica.  A Kennedy Airport one-seat ride rail link project must go forward in a responsible manner that preserves and enhances the neighborhoods that are home to tens of thousands of Queens citizens.  Our responsible borough, city and state officials must stop this ill-conceived project.  With careful redesign, the rail link can be placed in a manner that will serve New Yorkers and visitors alike without creating a blight on our neighborhoods. 
2.   Direct one-seat rail access must be provided to both Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airports, which will be a seamless, accessible, comfortable and affordable airport link with greater efficiencies. Resulting economies can contribute to the city transportation infrastructure and will, at the same time, minimize harm to communities by using cut and cover technology or by installing noise and sound barriers. 
3.   Subject any revised plan to community input and review.



Queens is a borough of nearly 2 million residents, encompassing scores of communities.  Queens' transportation infrastructure is the life-line that binds the neighborhoods of the communities of our borough together.  It links Queens residents with jobs, services and activities both inside and outside the borough.  Providing fast, accessible transportation for residents of the borough is critical to our economic, educational, cultural and social success.  Our economy is highly dependent on efficient transportation.  Should commuting become difficult, individuals and companies will seek housing and economic opportunities elsewhere. 

Transportation in our borough includes both mass transit, primarily subways and buses and to a lesser extent, the Long Island Rail Road, and vehicular transportation, i.e. our local streets and roads and arterial highways, expressways, bridges and tunnels. 

Planning and funding for capital projects to expand capacity is at best tenuous.  Each of these transportation modes has separate needs.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following: 

Mass Transit Issues

1. Apply Metropolitan Transportation Authority budget surpluses to increase mass transit service. The train and bus service cuts sustained in the mid-1990's have somewhat been restored, but the growth in ridership has resulted in continued overcrowding, discomfort and inconvenience to riders. Queens commuters must a more comfortable, dependable and speedy trip to and from work.
2. Establish a singular citywide Surface Transit Authority to coordinate interborough operations, improve surface transportation, ensure a meaningful community role in project and operations planning and improve scheduling. 
3. Construct the long-promised 2nd Avenue subway line, starting at the Bronx, along the entire spine of Manhattan, into Brooklyn and Queens and complete the 63rd Street tunnel to meet the needs of Queens residents destined to the underserved east side of Manhattan. This will enable construction of the Long Island Rail Road downtown Manhattan connection and a new connection to Grand Central Terminal so that the tens of thousands of eastern Queens and Long Island commuters who use the Long Island Rail Road going to the east side and to lower Manhattan may enjoy more convenient access. 
4. The Long Island Rail Road must increase marketing of its service to Queens residents and must complete a marketing study before recommending or implementing any further station closings in Queens. 
5. The Transit Authority must provide convenient, street level Metrocard outlets for seniors and people with disabilities since Metrocard service is currently provided only at subway station booths reached by deep staircases or at off-street retail locations, barring access by the physically disabled and seniors.
6. Enforce the three-minute rule for idling buses.
7. Require transportation agencies to give at least 90 days notice to community boards, community organizations and affected institutions before implementing changes, modifications or removal of bus routes, bus stops and service delivery.

Vehicular Transportation Issues

1. Require New York State and New York City to control and reduce ever-expanding trucking and commercial vehicular traffic that is clogging our streets and highways and produce insufferable pollution. Freight transportation alternatives must be developed, such as the proposed rail freight tunnel under New York Harbor, linking Brooklyn with New Jersey and the mainland. 
2. Control and reduce illegal and perilous truck and commercial vehicular traffic on Queens' local streets through meaningful policing and environmental enforcement. 
3. Require the New York City Transit Authority and all public and private surface operators to purchase exclusively buses that use non-polluting fuels, commensurate with standards applicable to Nassau and Suffolk
4. Create new bus routes to provide one-seat cross-borough surface transit.
5. Limit the contractual term of private bus franchises to two years. Open private bus franchises to competitive bidding, as required by New York City charter. Competitive bidding will no doubt result in improved service and public responsiveness, even if incumbent companies retain
6. Study the feasibility of New York City Transit Authority takeover of private bus routes.
7. Establish City and state programs to require the purchase and use of "Clean Air" school buses, taxis, all MTA and private buses, emergency and heavy duty (i.e. Sanitation) vehicles and look at similar programs to apply to fleet vehicle and freight haulers that travel local NYC streets. 
8. Expand use of EZ-Pass for paying municipal parking lot fees and install EZ-Pass scanners in all lanes, including manned lanes at MTA Bridges and Tunnels facilities. 
9. Enact legislation to protect the privacy of EZ-Pass users and bar the use of EZ-Pass for monitoring or enforcing speeding and other traffic infractions or for tracking vehicular use. Enact legislation to set standards for law enforcement agencies or others seeking EZ-Pass data that would require a judicial subpoena.
10. Implement variable tunnel and bridge tolls based on time of a day use, particularly featuring off-hour discounts for travelers and truckers in order to relieve prime travel time delays. 
11. Create safe cycling routes to encourage less reliance on fossil-fueled vehicles and to enhance the quality of life of Queens citizens. 
12. Oppose the expansion of HOV lanes in Queens, which have proven to be ineffective in national surveys, as an imposition on the quality of life of residents and communities in its path, with no benefit to the people of Queens.
13. Require community board and civic association consultation and input on the City's determination of truck routes 
14. Regulate and closely supervise city and utility work crews and private contractors who cut open streets and roads so that remedial work is proper, durable and long-lasting. Coordinate roadway improvements with utilities to prevent re-opening newly restored streets.

Economic Development

          Queens has the second largest and best-educated labor force of all the boroughs.  Queens also has a significant pool of available warehouse, industrial and commercial space - much of which has been modernized and upgraded.   But the competition for office, retail and professional space and jobs from Nassau County and other regional counties is fierce.
          The lifeblood of any county is the ability to attract new businesses and to retain existing businesses in order to create economic growth and provide job opportunities for the local residents.  Queens has major aviation industry jobs, service sector, wholesale and retail trade industries in its economic base.  Large tracts of vacant land or buildings in previously industrial areas and in the Rockaways create huge opportunities for significant economic development in our borough.  Because of the impact of large scale of retail development, Economic Impact Review should be part of the review process.
          Entrepreneurs and businesses need certain incentives, in addition to access to capital and labor, in order to start a new venture or continue an existing business.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

1. Support the Rockaway Technodome Development project. The Pataki and Giuliani administrations must provide the necessary and reasonable capital infrastructure improvements to ensure that private sector reinvestment flows uninterrupted to the Rockaway Technodome Development site. 
2. Institute the "Downtown Manhattan Tax Credit Model" to help neighborhood commercial shopping strips - The shopping areas in the other boroughs should be able to use this concept of tax credit incentives. The tax credit model was successfully used in the revitalization of downtown Manhattan to improve commercial and residential neighborhood occupancy, and to increase utilization and enhance competitiveness with respect to neighboring megastores and suburban malls. 
3. Expand the sales tax exemption on apparel/footwear purchases to $500 - The absence of sales taxes on clothing in neighboring states encourages people, especially larger families, to leave our area - and our retailers - for their clothing purchases. Promptly and permanently eliminate this state and city sales tax.
4. Eliminate the Unincorporated Business Tax - Entrepreneurs and professionals continue to leave the city, particularly Queens County, for the lure of a less taxing business tax climate of nearby suburban counties. 
5. Cap assessment increases on all Residential Real Estate Taxes - New York City's real estate tax rates may be reasonable because of caps that were instituted many years ago. However, tax payments depend also on real estate assessed valuations, which are allowed to increase annually without any caps. 
6. Reasonable yearly caps have to be put in place on both real estate taxes and real estate assessments.
7. Stabilize Water/Sewer Rates - Water/sewer rates have been going up at percentage increase two and three times the rate of inflation. This "hidden tax" is a source of revenue for the city that receives little attention and no retribution from those who have to pay it. The independent New York City Water Board has to learn to live within its means.
          a. Dedicate all funds generated by the Water Board to running the agency and for operating and maintaining the City's vital water supply and sewer systems.
          b. Delay Water Board Rate Setting until after City adopts its budget. 
          c. Cap the water/sewer rate increase yearly at the rate of inflation.
          d. Remove capital costs from the calculation of the rate structure. 
          e. Fund capital water and sewer projects directly from the general New York City capital budget.
          f. Set up a senior citizen water rate relief program similar to the Seniors Homeowner Exemption on real estate taxes.
8. Eliminate the New York State gross receipts tax on our utility bills - The gross receipts tax is a hidden tax imposed by New York State, and very few other states, on its residents' utility bills - gas, electric and telephone. The gross receipts tax contributes to New York State's being one of the highest energy cost states in the country, raising about $1 billion for the state coffers. While the state has begun to phase this tax out, under the present scenario it will be years before it is eliminated. Furthermore, the deregulation of utilities will draw out-of-state competitors, which are exempt from this tax. These utilities will be able to offer lower rates than our native utilities. It is time to eliminate the residential and commercial gross receipts tax in this legislative session. 
9. Eliminate the New York City personal income tax surcharge - New York City is one of the only municipalities in the country that has a personal income tax, much less a surcharge on top of that. This onerous tax add-on was imposed temporarily during financial crisis in order to meet City obligations. But, even in the strong recovery we are enjoying, this surcharge has been renewed and remains in effect. We must immediately remove the personal income tax surcharge and lower the City's personal income tax to retain the middle-class tax base in the City.
10. Index to COLA the income eligibility limits for the Senior Citizen 
Homeowners Exemption (SCHE) and the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption 

     As preparation for the closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill (Staten Island) in the year 2001 goes forward, all New Yorkers must share equally and fairly in the challenges of disposing of the city's waste.  A major step happened recently with implementation of weekly collection of recyclables in Queens.

Therefore, Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

        1.     Meet and implement the City Council's waste recycling law.
2.   Adopt a plan to dispose of the city's waste not subject to recycling.
3.   Mandate community review and notification with legislative oversight for the siting or change in use of waste transfer stations.
4.   Restore street trash collection and cleaning of street trash receptacles.  Increase frequency of collections, particularly to schools and commercial litter baskets.
5.   Strictly enforce Department of Sanitation codes in both residential and commercial districts.
6.   Create Community District Sanitation Councils similar to precinct community councils, which would provide an opportunity for problem resolution and coordination of operations.


The issue is clear for Queens: the Borough must establish a plan for a "World Class" standard of patient care for all Borough residents.

Therefore, the Queens Civic Congress adopts the following:

      1.       Execute the plan to put emergency service ambulance garages in local communities.
Oppose the disposition of any Health and Hospitals Corporation real property.
Require prior notification before aerial and street spraying.
Take immediate steps to reduce the effects of aircraft noise and pollution from jet exhaust and the dumping of jet fuel on human mental and physical health and damage to the environment.
Ensure adequate healthcare in every neighborhood.  In particular, Southeast Queens is seriously underserved by hospitals, requiring lengthy travel to get to full-service health centers.
Identify areas where toxic chemicals may cause a hazard to present or future habitation.  For example, in Northeast Queens in the New Hyde Park area an industrial chemical dump-site in Nassau County has recently been discovered, which potential groundwater and surface contamination only yards from populous Queens neighborhoods.
Study available State data on incidences of various types of cancer to determine if there are, and what causes cancer “hotspots”, so that appropriate warnings can be communicated.

City Governance

We support continuing the current method of community board appointments by the Borough Presidents and City Council members and thus oppose proposals to change this method.  However, the Queens Civic Congress observes a reduction in the appointments of civic and neighborhood representatives to community boards.  A lack of civic expertise significantly reduces the effectiveness of local community boards.  Greater emphasis must be given to prospective community board member qualifications and active community participation.

Require city government to routinely report basic information about agency operations periodically to community boards, borough boards and council members and borough presidents.


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