Quality of Life–Or Lack Thereof

digWe’re sure we’ll get accused of being a heartless elitist and some wise-ass will tell us to move to the suburbs, but there are some quality of life issues that can make you question whether living in the big city is really worth it. In our temporary perch in South Williamsburg, for example, noise is the biggest problem for sure. The one-in-the-morning commercial garbage pick-ups outside our bedroom window three nights a week, the next door neighbor with the mufferless motorcycle and the constant drilling and banging from neighboring construction sites are enough to drive anyone crazy. Even though we’re not living in the Clinton Hill house yet, homelessness has been by far the biggest problem there: During the past several months, we’ve had to dislodge three different people who decided our stoop was an ideal spot to sleep, eat, shoot up and relieve themselves–without even the decency to clean up after any of those activities. When asked to move on by us, initially quite non-confrontationally, we were often met with an indignant sense of entitlement, as though they had a right to be there. It’s mighty hard not to let one’s liberal values lapse when your 2-year-old has to navigate her way through crack pipes and pools of urine to make it in your front door.

But enough about us. Here are the top five complaints of Brooklynites from the recent straw poll conducted by Citizens for NYC and Baruch College and reported in today’s NY Post:

1. Dirty Streets
2. Potholes
3. Drug Dealing
4. Vandalism/Graffiti
5. Dangerous Intersections

Top City Gripes [NY Post]

0 Comment

  • My bette noir of city living is the beeping trucks make when backing up. Why are they so loud? Surely the noise pollution they cause far outweighs the negligible safety they provide to pedestrians walking behind them. They must be stopped!

  • You’re lucky it was only urine. We’ve had worse outside the entrance to our basement.

  • Call me a fascist but I don’t think it’s conservative (or liberal for that matter) not to let somebody piss and smoke rock on your stoop. I say boot their asses.

    My big gripe has to do with nonhumans relieving themselves: namely, dog crap on the sidewalk. I don’t blame the city but the selfish jerks who take their dogs on crapping sprees on my block in the wee hours of the morning. Anyone found effective ways of dealing with this, up to and including vigilante action?

  • Man, How I HATE the back-up beeps!! I work in a building that always has a bunch of school buses backing in and out all. day. long. I can hear the beeps all the way up on the 8th floor. It’s maddening.

  • I think once you’re occupying house should be less of problem. An unoccupied house or construction site can be a magnet for such things.
    And with central air/double-paned windows can block out much of noise – bedroom facing backyard is usually better choice.
    Plenty of noise in ‘burbs too – lawn mowers, leaf blowers, motorcycles, ATVs, and car stereos.

    The noise does get to me here as well as littering,
    unsightliness of all those plastic newspaper boxes, stoop sale and other flyers taped on every lightpost, mailbox, etc , and carelessness with disposing of garbage/papers etc that ends up blowing down the streets.

  • Don’t forget the music-playing ice cream trucks! Didn’t Bloomie ban them? They’re still blasting in the Burg, that’s for sure.

  • I caught a food delivery guy pissing in the hallway of my building a few days ago and flipped out. I grabbed him by one arm from behind and forced him outside against a parked car, like they do on the tv show Cops.

    I then flipped open my cell phone and threatened to call the police unless he gave me $100.00 — the amount I figured I deserved for cleaning up his urine. He claimed he didn’t have that much, so I settled for $50.00 and let him go.

    Later, when I’d calmed down, I found the restaurant where he worked through the tenant he had delivered to and returned the money.

    Talking to the guy calmly, when I didn’t have him in a head lock, I learned that his boss doesn’t give his workers time to use the bathroom between deliveries when they were buys. It’s certainly not a perfect alibi, but I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go.

  • I live a couple of blocks away from where I think your CH place is, Brownstoner, and we don’t get any of those problems. As the earlier poster suggests, hopefully you won’t have those problems when you move in.

    I have two bugbears. No sooner do we put our garbage out than the bags are torn open and the contents spread all over the sidewalk. Picking up moldy chickenbones gets old fast.

    The other is people driving down the block at 3am with car stereos so loud I can hear them at the back of the house. As we live near the stoplight at the end of the street we are treated to a minute or two of this every hour throughout the night.

  • Well, while I feel for you because I’ve had my fair share of weedsmoking kids on my stoop and worse, and I know I’m going to get flack for this but I assume you moved to Clinton Hill because it was more affordable than some of the other Brownstone neighborhoods and usually that’s cause the neighborhood is what they like to call “rapidly gentrifying” (which is a nice way of saying a rough place that the upwardly mobile are now buying into). 10-15 years ago you didn’t go to visit someone at the Pratt Campus without a kevlar vest the neighborhood was so bad. So you gotta know what you’re in for based on the history of the place. Doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Doesn’t mean it’s not wrong for you to be a new and invested member of the community who wants to make things better. And I’d be pissed too if someone took a crap on my stoop. But considering the number of vacant lots, boarded up houses, and squats that used to dot Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, it’s been “their” neighborhood far longer than yours, hence the strange sense of entitlement, I’m sure. And maybe you should be griping about what the government and community leaders aren’t doing to help these people or how we haven’t found a way to balance the dipslacement and economic gap that comes with rapidly skyrocketing real estate prices that’s turning so much of Brooklyn into a playground for the elite.

  • As long as we are griping, what about the mass of helicopters that sometimes congregates over the Brooklyn Bridge at 5:30 am? Sometimes there are 3 of them that make a quite a racket that’s rattles the windows where I live in Boerum Hill, a mile away. I called 311 once and was told the city had no jurisdiction and couldn’t help.

  • Spare me the gentrification thing – owners/residents from any economic background hate their block or house to be used as toilet – in any ‘hood.
    And enough with the exagerations -“10-15 years ago you didn’t go to visit someone at the Pratt Campus without a kevlar vest the neighborhood was so bad.” People in all neighborhoods of city are safer than 10-15 yrs ago – But I’ve visited friends by Pratt for past 30yrs and would never categorize so outragiously.

  • “And maybe you should be griping about what the government and community leaders aren’t doing to help these people or how we haven’t found a way to balance the dipslacement and economic gap that comes with rapidly skyrocketing real estate prices…”

    Reading between the lines, it sounds like the poster is drawing a connection between the fact that Brownstoner now owns the house and the fact that the guy relieving himself on the stoop does not have his own pot to piss in. Any hard evidence that there is actually more homelessness in CH now that it’s being gentrified?

    I don’t know the area so for all I know you may be right but I wouldn’t automatically assume it. Displacement, yes, but I’m not sure that necessarily means homelessness.

  • No. I’m not saying there’s more homelessness now. And I’m homeowner in Brooklyn for over 11 years and a life-long resident of NY. It’s just you need to take a long view on these neighborhoods and how they’ve developed and how gentrification effects the population you’re moving in to.

  • Brownstoner – your situation sounds horrible — I would get out of there as soon as possible. I’m sure your new place will be a big improvement.

  • where i live the biggest problem i see is how 4th avenue can be a dangerous crossing for young and old alike. i’ll leave the QOL to others…

  • Wow, I’m impressed. This thread has been pretty civil considering the “class” issues that could get raised.

    Anyhow, I feel for you b-stoner. Even in 100% gentrified prime Park Slope, I have some of the same issues, partly because Prospect Park is a big local tourist draw on the summer weekends (and I live near the park) and partly because… well… it’s NYC… and there is garbage and litter everywhere and people love to hang out outside.

    And, there is definately something about a stoop that cries out “communal property”. Back when I was in a bstone co-op, the neighbors from the next door rental building would use our stoop to hang out on – whether or not they were hanging with someone from my bldg. What was that about? I still haven’t figured it out.

    And with my current building, our stoop seems to be extra-inviting to all manner of folks seeking a rest-stop on the way to/from the park. My wife (whom this drives crazy) chides me that I don’t seem to mind when it’s a pretty young scantily-clad female (and I must say that no… I don’t really mind… but don’t rat me out). Hey, as long as people don’t leave garbage and crap for me to have to pick up, or if they politely move out of the way so I can get by, and if they don’t smoke, and they’re not loud then I’m cool – they can hang as long as they want.

    But, b-stoner, of course you have every right to be annoyed. And like someone else said, once you’ve moved in, the worst offenders will probably move on.

    My pet own peave is garbage in the streets. Seventh Ave in PS is awful sometimes. The garbage cans on weekends are overflowing (what would it take to put extra cans on the corners), the local free newspapers are blowing all over the place in windy days, the curbs are filled with soda bottles, etc. And we keep having these freakin street fairs where the city barely makes an effort to clean up afterward. Also, people letting their dogs piss and crap right in front of my stoop. Why can’t they direct their dogs to the curb. I hate stepping from my stoop onto piss and crap. Sometimes I long for suburban tranquility (though I realize its not nearly as tranquil as it looks).

  • Fulton Street in our ‘hood is nasty (by the Clinton-Washington C) – so much trash on the ground! Thankfully, a few blocks north where I live is usually relatively clean, aside from dog poop.

  • “Even though we’re not living in the Clinton Hill house yet, homelessness has been by far the biggest problem there: During the past several months, we’ve had to dislodge three different people who decided our stoop was an ideal spot to sleep, eat, shoot up and relieve themselves–without even the decency to clean up after any of those activities.”

    This website is gettin to be very entertaining. Yesterday Brownstoner is glad he (she?) left those horrible materialistic people in Manhattan; today we’re wondering why homeless (possibly drug-addicted, mentally ill) people don’t have manners. Aaah, I love New York.

    By the way, “clean up after themselves” — with what exactly? I know when I was homeless I carried a bucket and windex with me at all times.

  • LOL…No offense Brownie, but I can only chuckle at your scenario and realize that the worst of my days like those are pretty much over now that I am in the burbs. After 30 some odd years of NYC living with all the traffic, congestion, litter, dog poop, drunks, bums, ghetto blasters, reefer, and assorted what nots, my suburban nabe is relatively tame by comparison. Sure, there are the occasional punk kids with the loud scooters and july fourth becomes a war zone of bottle rockets, but overall it is stress free. And that is just what I need.

    I’ll leave the “pioneering” to those who value “vintage architecture” over a less stressful physical environment.

  • keep up the enforcement, brownstoner, and don’t feel an ounce of guilt. there’s nothing about cleanliness and respect for property that contradict liberal values.

  • Entertained,
    By clean up, we mean not leave blankets, crack pipes, take-out cartons, etc. directly in front of our door. A lot to ask, we know.

  • I totally support you Bstoner. No need to feel any guilt. I live a couple of block from where your new place is and it is fine. I think once it is understood people live in your bstone, there will be less of an issue. Also, once you get to know the neighbors, I’m sure they’ll keep an eye out too. I know if I saw someone sleeping, shooting up or using the bathroom in my neighbors yard, I’d have something to say about it (whether the house was vacant or not). Put in a complaint with the police too, tell them to keep an eye on it. They won’t come by though unless the person leaving trash on your stoop is actually there.

  • Also, for those defending people who sh*t on people’s stoops, being homeless or down on your luck does not give someone license to trespass on people’s property or break the law with impunity. You may be able to feel compassion for their situation, but it does not make what they do right, nor does it make trying to clean up your stoop or reporting petty crime and drug dealing on your block to the police, something one should feel guilty about. It does not matter what neighborhood you live in, or your income level. Such behavior is not acceptable. I’m sure all would agree that a low income family in a bad neighborhood (or any neighborhood) should not have to deal with such a situation and should have the right to complain about it and seek recourse. Why shouldn’t a more affluent brownstone owner have the same rights?

  • Anonymous with the Bucket has a good point. Although the initial post by Brownstoner would have been clearer if B’stner elaborated on the extreme messes at hand, its not realistic to assume that someone high on crack or mentally ill is going to put his garbage in the bin. Until B’stoner actually moves into the house and can police, compassion and understanding is really your only option.

  • Actually, it’s not just a matter of cleaning up their own garbage. It turns out neighbors and/or nearby contractors are paying the homeless guys to dump bags full of debris (sometimes air conditioners, sinks, etc.) in our front area in the middle of the night. Granted, that should stop when we move in. Ah, neighborliness.

  • we also experienced the phenomenon of transient-types with supermarket carts dropping off all manner of window panes, window sills, heavy metalry (is this a word?), large garbage bags, etc in the front area of the abandoned townhouse next door. i consider this the ‘barriers to entry,’ ie barriers of gentrifiers to going into what was formerly a down/n/out nabe.

    incidentally, last evening i witnessed a woman removing garbage from our front. sad to say, though, it was a bag of recyclable diet pepsi cans, about 20 of them, which may have yielded her $1 or $2 depending on how much you get for redeeming a can these days.

  • Well in my little section of PS – btween 4th and 5th my neighbors are so racked with class guilt that despite 3 gunpoint robberies, a homicide and numerous burglaries in the past year, they oppose calling the police regarding the marijuana dealing coming from their neighbors building, and think the dice game on Union is a “cultural” bonus.

  • Compassion and understanding? Why should Bstoner have compassion and understanding for someone dumping garbage, deficating, urinating and doing drugs on his stoop. Give me a break.

    And if some neighbors are using his front garden as a place to get rid of bulk garbage, then there’s a real problem.

  • Class guilt. Ridiculous! Again, such activity should not be tolerated in any neighborhood, poor or affluent, and until peopel stop worrying about some “class guilt” issue and report it, it will continue to be a problem for everyone, the well of and the hard working lower income people still in the neighborhood.

  • To a lesser extent, we had some of the same issues when we were renovating, but not yet living in the building. I didn’t have the homeless issue, but I certainly had issues with people dumping their garbage in our dumpsters. Disposal of construction debris seems to be a universal problem in Bklyn. It’s expensive and other contractors are on the prowl for “free” garbage disposal – at your expense. Plus, if anything happens on your block – say for example a vagrant drags some debris from your yard over to a neighbors, you’re going to get a real earful from that neighbor. Right now you’re victim and pariah. Your house is easy pickins and communal property and your neighbors don’t especially appreciate all the noise and trouble your construction is causing either.

    One thing we did immediately, was attempt to hang out at the building (even before moving in), sit on the stoop, try to meet all the neighbors, give them our phone number, etc. Once people feel like they know you, they are more inclined to look out for the building, call you when there’s trouble, give you a bit of symphathy when your reno imposes on them, etc.

    Also, installing good lighting helps and generally trying to keep the yard clear of debris, and the stoop clean and neat looking helps too – it shows you respect them and makes the place look more lived in, which helps ward off vagrants too.

    FYI, even after you move in, the dept of sanitation makes life pretty difficult for the homeowner under renovation. You’d think they suspected us of putting radioactive waste in the garbage – when sanitation workers see any work being done on the house, they automatically assume you are trying to break the rules. They’d routinely slice open our garbage bags inspecting to see if we were putting renovation debris in with regular garbage or skirting recycle regs. And they’d get pretty nasty about it too, when we’d report missed pick-ups (when they were in the wrong) going so far as doing threatening things like tossing garbage bags into our front garden.

    Nothing is made easy during renovation. All I can tell you is keep your pantry stocked with mass quantities of beer, wine, ice cream, or whatever your pleasure.

  • David, ever occur to you that your neighbors are customers of said MJ dealer – hence the reluctance to report.

    I once had a similar situation and then the light bulb went off….. ohhhh… now I get it.

  • Someone wrote:

    This is such a crock of shit. I have lived one block from Brownstoner and 3 blocks from Pratt since 1989 and I didn’t have a Kevlar vest, nor did I need it. It was certainly tougher then than it is now, but I have always wanted to do bodily harm to people who tell me how dangerous my neighborhood is and how you take your life into your hands using the Clinton/Washington stop on the C train–not so!

    I agree with those who wrote that once Bstoner is actually living in his house, the problem of unauthorized, disgusting use of his property will greatly diminish.

  • Nah my neighbors arent smoking street herb, despite their liberal rhetoric, they’d be way too scared to actually speak to their non-white and non-liberal drug dealing neighbors.
    It is definetly class-guilt, and I know they must hate me for complaining and calling the police, but unlike most of them I actually grew up in NY not the mid-west or some liberal but homogeneous european country

  • “but unlike most of them I actually grew up in NY not the mid-west or some liberal but homogeneous european country” —- David, and this makes you… what exactly?

  • To say that Bstoner’s complaints reflect a class issue is insulting to long time residents to the neighborhood and lower income people generally. No one, regardless of class, would like to have people dealing drugs, littering or using the bathroom on their stoop. It is a question of common decency and criminal behavior, not class.

  • On a separate note, I’ve heard that the reason marijuana dealing is relatively easy and out in the open on Fulton around Washington is that the cops who patrol the area are paid off. Anyone else from the neighborhood hear that?

  • Re: Linus’ question about deflecting dog doo from one’s property: We’ve found the best remedy is to sprinkle powdered cayenne pepper on the sidewalk and the area inside the gate. A little goes a long way, and a lot of our neighbors do the same. You have to re-sprinkle after a rainfall; and make sure you don’t put it down on a windy day or it can blow back in your eyes and that really smarts. But once it’s down, canines take a whiff and move on real quick.

  • It makes me aware that if you allow crimes like drug dealing (yes – even marijuana) and craps games on your street, then you will soon have shootings, fights and more violent crimes like robberies.

  • I know exactly what David is saying. Not to rehash my life story (from yesterday’s class warfare thread), but I too do not grok the passive liberal thing (and I’m fairly progressive in my politics). It survives in epidemic proportions in Park Slope. Though I enjoy living in PS and appreciate many qualities of my neighbors, the live-and-let-live (no matter how outrageous the offense) attitude simply does not compute for me. No room for passivity. I have great sympathy for those who are down and out – but I simply cannot humor a-holes, no matter the excuse.

  • I understand what David is saying too — what I don’t understand is why in his opinion you have to have grown up in New York to “understand” — I’m not “from” New York. I moved here from Ohio 13 years ago and yet David, surprise, I get it.

  • True enough Archer. I decided to overlook that little slight in favor of supporting the overall concept of non-passivity. Anyhow, you know how the native-NYers can get – can you blame them for the pride thing.

    But, I too, not from NY and I don’t look the other way or take crap from jerks.

  • RE cranky sanitation workers: we’ve found that ours (nice guys, all) will pretty much accept anything if we wait outside in the morning and help them throw it in the truck. We’ve disposed of many dumpsters-worth of non-reg debris this way. For some reason, theres no greater DIY satisfaction than seeing your own demo waste drive away down the street…

  • Anyone conteplating where to settle down, and trying to decide between “up and coming” areas like Clinton Hill vs. further out/less-hip areas further south or in Queens should read this thread carefully.

  • “It is a question of common decency and criminal behavior, not class.”

    Aw, lighten up. 1. THESE ARE HOMELESS AND/OR CRAZED PERSONS ON THE STOOP. They have different priorities. 2. Eating, relieving oneself, smoking, on the stoop … NOT CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR.

    They’ll move on when bstoner moves in. Have a heart.

  • Cameras, police, electronic security, etc. needs to be everywhere. Screw privacy. I want 24/7 martial law, damn it!

    Every brownstone should have a baseball bat in the entry just in case somebody causes trouble.

  • airplanes, airplanes, airplanes, flying overhead -when the wind’s blowing the “wrong” way, it feels like my CH backyard is LaG runway 5.

  • Are there plentiful public bathrooms available to people without money in this neighborhood, then? A clue: do local businesses have “restrooms for customers only” signs?

  • Alex,

    The airplane noise problem is all over b-stone Bklyn. Park Slope has that issue sometimes also. Apparently (and I actually spoke to the FAA about this a few yrs ago) during the summer, increased humidity carries the noise further and louder, in addition to the fact that you generally keep windows open and such in warm weather. Also, I’ve noticed, it’s really bad in the last couple weeks of August (when I think they reroute a lot of traffic due to the US Open).

  • I dont think you have to be native NY to “get it” but I do find the “non-natives” are more likely to not “get-it” and also tend to not recongnize how bad NY was (and therefore can become) in terms of crime and qol. If you “get it” then I dont care where your from, didnt mean to offen new arrivals just sterotyping as I see it.

  • The problem is that you get used to the airplane noise! Then when you go visiting your folks in North Dakota you can’t sleep because it’s too damn quiet. I just got a digital movie camera and was editing some movies on my mac…….I never realized a plane flies over every 10 minutes.

  • The pepper suggestion to deter random dogs sounds like a good one. You hear about places (like outdoor malls) that pipe in classical music to deter teenagers from gathering there, which is supposed to really work. That kind of non-obvious disincentive seems as though it could be successful without being antagonistic. My building has the nicest stoop on the block (Upper West Side), with a wall and a landing; there are few homeless people around now, but 10 years ago we got the occasional homeless person sleeping there. Kind of like they sleep on the warm sidewalk vents in winter. The point is that there are incentives and disincentives; having an unnice, unsheltered stoop is what we needed as a disincentive.

  • As for the delivery guy pissing in the hallway — you were way too nice. His boss prohibiting bathroom breaks is no excuse. Also, it’s stunning that a business owner wouldn’t know that having an easily-traceable way to determine what restaurant the guy is coming from is a great way to kill business. You should have called the NYPost: XYZ Restaurant Encourages Delivery Guys to Piss in Hallways.

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  • Hey here’s an idea: don’t move into crackhead-infested neighborhoods with 2-year-old kids if you don’t have to. For years the poor have had to live there with zero ability to change things, but now that your there everything should change. Maybe if the priorities of our culture were focuse on equality, that crackhead wouldn’t be there.

    Can’t wait till the budget cuts catch up with us and crime comes back to New York, all these suburban-raised softies will be back in Jersey, where they belong…