For years it seemed the murder rate couldn’t go any lower, but it just kept on dropping and dropping. Now the City reports it’s up 20 percent since the beginning of the year, vs. the same period in 2014. New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton blamed pot dealers, DNAinfo reported.

Here are the stats, released at a press conference Monday: There have been 54 murders so far in 2015, vs. 45 during the same period last year. Murders involving drugs ticked up 15 percent so far this year. Of those murders, 60 percent were related to marijuana specifically. The head of detectives said most of the drug-related murders are not turf wars, but rather robberies.

Most of the violence took place in only five of the City’s 77 police precincts, including three in Brooklyn: the 67th, 63rd and 75th precincts — aka Flatbush, Flatlands and East New York.

Shootings were also up 20 percent, reported the Daily News. There have been 149 shootings so far this year, vs. 126 during the same period in 2014.

But, the paper continued, crime is down 11 percent in other categories, including rape, robbery, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft.

Do you think this means we’re going to see a serious rise in crime in Brooklyn, or is this just a one-time statistical fluke that will even out later this year? And what do you think of the marijuana explanation?

Murders up 20 Percent in 2015 in Year-to-Year Comparison, NYPD Says [NY Daily News]
Bratton Blames Marijuana for Surge in Murders [DNA]


Last week, Bed Stuy’s Community Board 3 voted against supporting the liquor license of a restaurant planning to open on Atlantic Avenue between Franklin and Classon, “amid fears from some locals that the area is drowning in bars,” DNAinfo reported. A CB no vote is only advisory, not binding — the State Liquor Authority has the say — but it’s the first time we can recall in recent years a no vote from CB3, which generally seems to encourage new businesses.

At a community board meeting we attended in September, a member of the board stated noise complaints from bars are an increasing problem in Bed Stuy. A resident who spoke at the meeting and who lives above Simplicity Wine Bar on Malcolm X Boulevard between Decatur and Macdonough said noise has been a problem. In the last year or so, an unprecedented number of new bars — about a dozen — have opened or are planning to open in Bed Stuy, along with a smaller number of restaurants seeking liquor licenses.

Some of the new venues in the works include Bed-Vyne Cocktails, Casablanca, Brooklyn Wine Yard, an as-yet-unnamed spinoff of Manhattan’s Silver Lining and Little Branch, Khemistry, and an unnamed spinoff of Mayfield that will have a taco truck in the backyard. Bed-Vyne Cocktails co-owner Damone James told the community board in September the business had soundproofed the ceiling of the new bar at 305 Halsey and would close the backyard early if there are any noise complaints.

The number of bars and restaurants with liquor licenses in the enormous and mostly residential neighborhood of Bed Stuy pales in comparison to the number that have opened in Williamsburg and Bushwick, where community boards have tried and failed to stop them.

At the same meeting this month, CB3 voted to support a liquor license for a restaurant on Franklin Avenue, according to DNAinfo. Attendees said the area of Atlantic where the owner of Franklin Park was hoping to open his new venue already had too many noisy bars, said the story. The building recently housed an auto body repair shop, above.

What do you think is an appropriate number of bars for Bed Stuy?

Franklin Park Owner Rejected in Bid for New Bed-Stuy Liquor License [DNA]
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

321A Jefferson Ave, CB, PS

Brooklyn in 1983 was certainly not the Brooklyn of today. That’s a mixed blessing, if you ask me. My mother and I found a one family brownstone for rent in Bedford Stuyvesant through the Amsterdam News. We ran out from the Bronx to see it, and impressed the landlady and got the place. The house had only been purchased by the owner a few months before, and had belonged to the last little old white lady on the block.

We loved the house. It was a three and a half story Neo-Grec brownstone. Our house was one of a group of five smaller houses amidst larger four story buildings. The house was an old house lover’s dream come true – an untouched one family house, complete with just all of the original features. About the only thing that had been done to the house since it was built had been the installation of electricity and central heat. Even that was pretty old. Some of the wiring was still cloth covered cording, and the pan and glass fixtures from the early 20th century were all either on pull chains or operated with push button switches. There were only two outlets in each room. (more…)

Gilbertsville, NY 1

This week is a celebration of Brownstoner’s 10th anniversary. Ten years! How time does fly! Instead of a story about a historic Brooklyn place or person, this week’s two Walkabouts are about old houses, brownstones, fixer-uppers and my Brownstoner journey.

I grew up in an old house. I spent 17 years in an old Italianate farmhouse in a small town in upstate New York called Gilbertsville, population 400. The house was built in the 1850s or 1860s, a vernacular Victorian farmhouse with a wraparound porch overlooking a beautiful valley. We moved upstate from Queens when I was six, and I can still remember the first time we walked into the house. My parents had bought the property, which came with 254 acres, pretty much sight unseen, on the recommendation of my paternal grandmother, who for some never explained reason, had moved up there from Harlem some years before. They paid $10,000 for it. On a mortgage, of course. (more…)

Cumberland front

A tipster let us know about a truly bizarre problem in their Fort Greene apartment building. Apparently someone in the building at 301 Cumberland Street has been dumping trash bags full of urine down the garbage chute. And these are not tiny trash bags, they are the kind used in kitchen garbage cans and they are half full of urine–yes we have a picture of the offending bags after the jump.

According to the tipster this has been going on since about November of 2013 with bag after pee-filled bag bursting at the bottom of the chute or leaking after it lands. The basement now reeks of urine and is becoming unusable. Unfortunately the building’s laundry room is also located in the basement. “Our basement has become a truly foul place to go,” said the tipster. (more…)


PS 261 in Boerum Hill has a garbage problem, say local residents who are getting tired of seeing, and, this time of year, smelling, trash strewn in front of the school. According to DNAinfo, the school, at 314 Pacific Street, has been leaving piles of garbage bags out on the sidewalk for years. One 21 year-old woman the reporter spoke to remembers avoiding the stacks of refuse on school’s side of the street when she was just 9 years old. (more…)


Average rents rose 77 percent in Brooklyn while city wide real median income fell 4.8 percent from 2000 to 2012, according to a report out from the city comptroller described in The New York Post. The increases were the largest in any borough.

A story in the Times implied that meeting Mayor de Blasio’s stated goal of keeping or creating 200,000 affordable units will not fix the problem:

In an interview, Mr. Stringer said numeric goals were not enough. He noted that the Bloomberg administration spent $5.3 billion of city money and leveraged another $18.3 billion to both create new affordable units and preserve existing housing — for a total of 165,000 units over 12 years — yet the city today is still grappling with record homelessness and the loss of low-rent housing.

A separate story in the Post described a young woman paying only $1,256 a month in rent for a spacious two-bedroom rent stabilized in Crown Heights — on the face of it, an excellent deal. But, with a salary of only $30,000 a year before taxes for her retail sales job, she can barely afford it. Her landlord has offered her money to move, but she didn’t take it, knowing she would not be able to find a lower rent elsewhere.

Rents are going up and wages are falling everywhere, not just in New York City. “In the rest of the nation, rents rose by 50.1 percent over the same period — hitting an average of $773 per month,” said the Post.

The comptroller’s report recommended that affordable housing in New York City should focus on the poorest, not middle income New Yorkers. What do you think should be done?

New York City Housing Push Should Aim at Poorest, Report Says [NY Times]
NYC Rents Skyrocket as Incomes Lag [NY Post]
As Rents Rise, Some Stuck in Affordable Homes With Moving Too Costly [NY Post]

For its latest “Living In” column, the New York Times took a look at what it is like to live in Carroll Gardens, from the neighborhood’s Italian roots to today’s expensive brownstones and condo developments. The number of Italian Americans living there declined from 52 percent in 1980 to 22 percent in 2012, as the median household income rose to $95,600 from $40,663.

And the Sackett Union development has altered the low-rise feel of Court Street, bringing a 32-unit condo building to Court and 11 townhouses to Sackett and Union, said the story. The paper interviewed blogger Katia Kelly of Pardon Me For Asking, who noted the neighborhood rallied around downzoning building heights in 2009 to protect Carroll Gardens’ small-town atmosphere.

How do readers living in the area feel about the neighborhood?

Living in: New Roots in Carroll Gardens [NY Times]
Photo by Joseph A


Nearly everyone in New York City is unhappy with the ever-rising cost of housing, but Bed Stuy residents are among the most unhappy in the city with their situations, according to a report from HR&A Advisors sponsored by a wide range of charitable organizations. As housing costs rise, the economy is getting worse, as is crime in the neighborhood, according to those surveyed.

“Residents of Bed Stuy feel strongly that they are unable to lead the life they want in their neighborhood, and that state of affairs is getting worse,” said the report. “The most pressing issue, as with all neighborhoods, is the affordability of housing, but 57 percent of residents also say that a range of issues related to jobs and the economy are bad in their neighborhood, with 53 percent saying they are getting significantly worse. Public safety and law enforcement is the third most-pressing issue in the neighborhood, with a majority of residents saying that the city’s services are bad, and 47 percent saying that the situation is trending worse.”

Just a few miles over in Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, people expressed satisfaction with the way things are going, with 50 percent saying “life in the neighborhood is good” and 40 percent saying “it is getting significantly better.” Note the median household income in the Park Slope/Carroll Gardens area is $86,401, vs. $34,314 in Bed Stuy.

The wide ranging survey of nearly 53,000 people covered a wide variety of topics, including employment, housing, education, culture, safety, parks and transportation. The Daily News and Gothamist also covered the report.

How are things going where you live and what do you think can be done to improve the quality of life in your neighborhood?

Talking Transition Data Project [Neil Donnelly]
Graphic by Neil Donnelly


At the Brownsville Recreation Center in Brownsville yesterday, Mayor de Blasio announced the city would drop its appeal of lawsuits over stop and frisk. The location of the announcement was significant because an eight-block area of Brownsville had the highest concentration of stop and frisks in the city, according to a 2010 New York Times report. Above, Brownsville’s main thoroughfare, Pitkin Avenue, in September 2012.

Police Commissioner Bratton was on hand and said in a prepared statement: “We will not break the law to enforce the law. That’s my solemn promise to every New Yorker, regardless of where they were born, where they live, or what they look like. Those values aren’t at odds with keeping New Yorkers safe — they are essential to long-term public safety.”

In a separate but related development, Bratton said the department will no longer send rookies out to blanket high crime areas such as Brownsville, Ocean Hill and Bushwick as part of Operation Impact, where they are liable to make mistakes. Instead, they will send more experienced officers.

In Brownsville, Mayor Announces Settlement of Stop and Frisk [NY Times]
Bratton Tells Chiefs He’ll Stop Sending Rookies to High-Crime Areas [NY Times]


Community Board 1, which covers Williamsburg and Greenpoint, has received a staggering 106 applications for liquor licenses in September alone, DNAinfo reported. As is typical for this area, applications were not only from bars and restaurants but also from retailers such as Urban Outfitters and barber shop Blind Barber. (That’s their ad for a “drink of the week,” above.) Not every application was for a new business: 37 were for new licenses, 10 were alterations, and the rest were for renewals, which are required every few years. New businesses seeking licenses included a bar named Our Wicked Lady and a Korean restaurant called Dotory.

The huge number of bars operating in Williamsburg and, outside CB1, Bushwick, has been controversial; some residents would like to see quieter streets late at night. Do you think the community boards should try to limit the number of licenses overall or approve them for responsible establishments? Do you approve of the proliferation of licenses for businesses that aren’t bars or restaurants?

106 Businesses Seek Liquor Licenses This Month in North Brooklyn [DNAinfo]
Image by Blind Barber