Plan To Legalize Accessory Apartments For Legal Residents
Illegal accessory apartments in single family homes have long been a problem confronting the Towns and villages of Long Island. Dangerous conditions, presenting hazards to life and limb; overcrowding of schools, without additional property tax revenues; burdening of local services, such as sanitation, fire, and water, with no corresponding financial contribution from the renters. And the list of negatives goes on, from overcrowded streets teeming with cars to basement apartments -- below grade and under code -- without necessary access or egress.
Talk abounds over the possibility of legalizing accessory apartments, particularly in light of the extreme shortage of affordable housing options on Long Island.
In the Town of East Hampton, the prospect of creating legal accessory apartments in single-family houses adds a new twist: Legal apartments, yes, but not for illegal aliens. [SEE Newsday, Housing Plan Excludes Illegals.]
The East Hampton plan calls for the legalization of some 100 accessory apartments, each renting for approximately $900 to $1,000 per month. The catch: In order to rent, you must be documented!
Imagine the implementation of such a plan in, say, the Town of Hempstead, where officials can barely enforce existing ordinances governing illegal apartments (in Elmont, there are reported to be more than 3500 single-family homes that boast illegal accessory apartments, or multiples thereof, including basement or cellar units). "The Town can't even enforce the law against homeowners who rent out illegal basement apartments," said a prominent Elmont civic leader. "Now you want them to flush out illegal aliens?"
Giving legitimacy to illegal apartments -- even under limited circumstances, and with close scrutiny by local officials -- poses serious issues as to safety, health, code enforcement, and development of a method and a means for a revenue flow through which renters may be tapped to help defray the ever-escalating costs of local services. Now, local government -- and, by proxy, the homeowner -- is asked to take on the job of INS (now USCIS).
Enough is enough, we say. All of these illegals, crossing into the U.S. at will. "GO BACK TO CANADA," we say. Let's build that wall along our borders (and, while we're at it, construct rental apartments within it). Let's keep the illegals out of our country, out of our communities, and, most certainly, out of our heretofore single-family homes. After all, those cramped, airless, dark and damp illegal basement apartments should be reserved for those huddled masses of Americans yearning to rent on Long Island!
The real question, we suppose, is what impact, if any, would the legalization of accessory apartments -- with anticipated proliferation -- have upon the affordable housing scenario, the tax burden borne by the owners of single-family owned and occupied houses, and the quality of life in suburbia?
If history is a guide, the answer is, "not much," and, clearly, "not for the better!"
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Click HERE to read a 1989 New York Times article, Suburbia is Subdividing The Single-Family House. [Subheading for 2006: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same!]
Click HERE to read 1989 New York Times article, Resticting Illegal Apartments.[The Town of Babylon legalized many accessory apartments, and here we are, some 17 years later, and the Town needs a Community Court just to keep up with purported violations, and the crisis in affordable housing is farther from resolution than ever.]
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