NBN6 Meeting Notes
December 12, 2016
Facilitator: Lisa Reagan
Refreshments: NeighborGood Grant/Joan Gray Lindberg, Becca Webb
Discussion notes are “coded” in the following way:
Q = Question
A = Answer
C = Comment
- Crime Report from Rochester Police Department
GENESEE SECTION (UR, Upper Mt. Hope, Lilac/Azalea neighborhoods) – Capt. McMullen
Regrets that this information is incomplete:
- 6 larcenies this week
- There was an unintended death at Green Knoll Apts. – possibly a drug overdose.
- What kind of larcenies?
- Due to technical problems, we are missing the information to answer that.
- The red light cameras will be off line as of December 31, 2016.
- How will the end of the red light cameras impact your work?
- There are a lot of car accidents at the intersection of Mt. Hope and Elmwood Ave.
- Given the withdrawal of the red light tool – any discussion of The City giving RPD more resources for traffic enforcement?
- Our recruit class is in its final phase. They should be done around 2ndweek of January, when they will be put on patrol. The chief says a group in the Academy now will be done by the summer. In 6 months, its not clear if there will actually be more officers on traffic duty (due to other officers leaving, etc.)
- Once the recruits are in place, we would like to have the opportunity to have them walk the neighborhood with us, to see it and our businesses through our eyes, and to understand our concerns; to build police- community relations.
- For the Genesee Section, I have no problem with that. It depends on the officers’ assignments (not those on the overnight shift, as they don’t walk their beats.) It’s a great idea.
GOODMAN SECTION (Highland Park, Swillburg neighborhoods)
Lt. Alberti – We see a reduction in crimes in the last 30 days:
- 0 Homicides
- 0 Rape
- 1 Robbery on Nov 25, with a knife: A customer at Charlie’s Bar on Monroe Ave. stepped out for a cigarette, leaving his backpack inside. Someone took it, and when he left, a struggle ensued; a knife was taken out. Thief dropped the bag and ran. Franklin Scott, 32, Rochester area, was arrested.
- 0 Aggravated Assaults
- Burglaries: had different modes of entry, different properties, so are not seen as related. All occurred at unoccupied locations.
- Nov 26, Voortman St, lower numbers, 830 pm, break-in to an apartment, clothing, cash, jewelry taken.
- Nov 30, 200 block Highland Ave, 3 pm, Break and enter from a side window: personal papers and ID taken.
- Dec 5, Lower numbers of Amherst St, 6 pm, front door entry/damage, 19” flat screen TV was taken. This is an “office job” – the case can be re-opened, but cannot be solved now.
- 0 Larcenies, Motor Vehicle thefts, Arsons
Q How do you report/classify a car break-in, if only change was stolen?
- A car larceny. Please call 911 to report, which helps getting the staffing to patrol the problem area. We have caught car larcenists in the past.
Q If it happens in the night, we don’t know who, or when the break-in occurred. What can we do?
- Call 311. Or call 911 and they will divert you to 311 if necessary.
It won’t show up in 311 as a call for service, but will appear on our report – the one I just presented to you. Then we know if there is a pattern or an increase in these crimes.
Lt. Alberti: There are lots of people who are up all night- they do a great service for neighborhood safety.
Nextdoor.com is great, as is social media. But they don’t take the place of 311. Call the police first, then put it on social media.
CENTRAL/DOWNTOWN SECTION (South Wedge) Lt. Rob Wilson
- 0 Homicides
- 2 Assaults: 700 block of South Ave, associated with a burglary; and 500 block of South Ave, altercation between neighbors.
- 1 Robbery: 200 Block Averill Ave, around 1 pm, a pedestrian, counting money in his hand, was punched twice in face and money taken.
- 1 Burglary – previously mentioned
- 4 Car larcenies – 2 forced
- 2 Larcenies
Q: Do you have suggestions for people having packages delivered to their porches?
- Have it delivered to a house where someone is home during the day, or to a workplace. You can also have it sent to a UPS pickup center.
- Lt. Cuyler: We hope to bring Michelle Velez’s replacement to meet you at the next meeting.
- Zombie Properties – Gary Kirkmire, Director of Bureau Inspection & Compliance Services, City of Rochester
- We brought this computer equipment to show you tools available to find information about local zombie properties
- Zombie Properties Definition: a vacant property somewhere in the foreclosure process.
- Foreclosure starts with a filing of an intent to foreclose, which is recorded at the County up to the point of the sale (which requires a judgement from the court before the property is sold). A lot of these mortgages are federally backed, so the banks are involved in a process to get that property back to Fanny or Freddy Mac.
- The City of Rochester has had a vacant property program for 30 years, not just since the 2008 crisis.
- We have 2,450 properties listed. 170 properties are demolition candidates. We are in a manageable state. Not all properties listed in the demolition process are actually demolished. On average, 192 structures per year actually get demolished. 3,000 are privately owned vacants.
It’s hard to track properties throughout the process. Now we get automated email. We also read the Daily Record: to know when sales are scheduled. There’s no easy way to track the process.
- Can more of these properties be sold to owner-occupants (rather than investors)?
- If we didn’t start selling tax liens, there’s little doubt we’d be under 2,000. Auctions of tax delinquent properties started in recent years for investors. Four- to five-hundred people showed up for these auctions.
- A vacant property on Averill went up for auction. We were told, for first 90 days Freddie Mac requires a property be sold to an owner occupant, who is then monitored for 3 years. Does the City have this?
- I’m unaware of that requirement.
- Can The City attempt to get these properties to owner occupants?
- The city has the right to do that. However, at an auction, we have no control over whether owner-occupants or investors buy. The city makes millions of dollars on the tax foreclosure sales. The City doesn’t want to lose money by limiting sales to owner occupants who need financing.
We need to figure ways for the City to configure a way to do this.
- The City monitors its vacant properties: trash removal, mowing grass, and keeping them secure. We try to not board up properties in areas that don’t warrant it. If necessary, we make use of a new product, SecureView, a polycarbonate plastic like very strong plexi-glass, which can be used in certain neighborhoods to secure a building without boards, especially where whole bldg. doesn’t need securing.
- If you want information about vacant properties or code enforcement activity in your neighborhood, there is online information available. Our goal is to give you access to everything we know.
On The City of Rochester website (www.cityofrochester.gov), click on “Look up Property Information” (the Property Information System).
Once you enter the property address, a box appears where you can see new Code Enforcement tab at the bottom. It has three entries: Code Enforcement, Code Compliant Rental Property, and Lead Safe Housing Unit (means we have inspected it). These indicate pending fines, vacancy, whether a case is open, the inspector in charge, if vacant, etc.
- If you search for NBD Map Gallery on City of Rochester web site : the Vacant Lots and Structures map shows what properties are vacant, demolition cases, City-owned land, etc.
If you enter a property address, you can pull up a window with info such as owner, code inspector, property class.
Q: What constitutes abandoned? For example if the owner dies, and the subsequent owner stops paying taxes…
A: State law defines vacant properties in 2 ways: those with delinquent taxes, or those with paid taxes. Banks, regardless of condition of property, pay the taxes.
Abandonment means if a building isn’t kept secure, or adhering to code, The City must convince a judge it’s abandoned, and take control/secure title of it. The owners need to show up to court. Abandonment is a vehicle that municipalities in NY can use to take control of a property.
We are starting to see vacant properties sell. State Supreme Court Justice Doyle secures most of the foreclosures, to create an expedited zombie law. Our interpretation of that law is that it wont be efficient.
The County Clerk’s website has an article on unpaid county taxes.
Q: Is there a way to expedite bank foreclosures?
A: Our professionals don’t believe the law will be successful in expediting cases. The NYS adopted a Zombie Bill. The Dept. of Finance came up with a bill, a lighter version. We are watching to see how successful these are.
Q: Who should questions be directed to regarding Zombie Properties?
A: Your Neighborhood Service Center representative. We don’t have someone specifically managing vacant properties – if we did, that would the person to contact.
- City Forestry – Brian Liberty, City Forester, and Mitch Rowe, Director of Buildings and Parks
Functions of The City of Rochester Forestry Division:
- Responsible for the care of all City trees (68,000) and those in Mt Hope cemetery.
- Plants 500-600 trees/year.
- You can call 311 and request a tree be planted outside your home.
- Does an annual survey for dead and hazardous trees, removing 450-500 trees annually
- Rotational tree pruning program – rotates through different areas of the city.
- Insect disease management program: Emerald Ash Borer has become a problem in the county. We have treated 3,600 trees with a pesticide application: no trees lost to date. Treatments were in 2011, 2014 and again in 2017.
- In house staff of crew with trucks attend to thousands of requests. We grind all of our stumps in-house. Some services are contracted out to private tree care companies.
- Rochester has had a Tree City USA Program for 30 years.
- A neighbor went away and came home to find the tree in front of her house cut down. How is a person notified that a tree near their property will be removed?
- A door-hanger is placed on doors, or we send a letter. Usually 1-6 months ahead, depending on the priority of removal.
- We have a property, and we received 2 letters. I want to commend the crew who came to do the stumps. They even came to ask us to move our cars to avoid damaging them when the stump was ground.
- Are you responsible for trimming trees NEAR POWER LINES behind the houses?
- That’s the responsibility of the utilities – RG&E or Cable. We are not responsible for trees on private property (outside of tree lawns or right of ways)
- Trees around utilities are supposed to be evaluated every 2-3 years, but one neighbor hasn’t had theirs seen in 20 years.
- The utilities clearly don’t get to evaluate everything is compliance with federal mandates about clearances.
- Can NBN6 be notified when trees to be removed in our neighborhoods? Can there be more communication about the process?
- Please provide us with an Email address for communicating.
- A lot of trees have been removed along Mt. Hope and South Ave too – We are wondering if they will be replaced.
- There are various reasons trees may not be replaced immediately or in exactly the same location.
We can provide some literature on proper tree care, pruning.
Our general process is in spring, we inspect for trees along streets. Removal takes place in summer. Sometimes there’s a lag time between tree removal and stump grinding.
- There are several locations of removed trees on Mt Hope waiting for as long as two seasons.
- Sometimes there are problems with parking, traffic, that get in the way. It could be an issue with the data inventory. You can call the Forestry Dept. with questions.
- What is the process for deciding what kind of tree will be replanted? There was a process in 2012 that defined this. Is this still being used?
- Each street still has a palette system. However if a tree is removed, we don’t automatically replant. We wait until a home owner calls to request it, because sometimes planting unrequested trees aren’t wanted. A tech inspects site for factors like overhead wires, etc. Tree options are sent out based on the original palette plan.
- Along Reservoir Ave, a lot of trees were taken down that overlooked the valley in the Park, and many stumps were left.
- We are not in charge of Highland Park trees. Highland park, Seneca Park, Genesee Valley Park west of the river and Durand Park are taken care of by the County. Cobbs Hill Park and Genesee Valley athletic facility is ours.
Sometimes nothing is planted in place of a removed tree, or a replacement tree fails. The problem with replanting in parks is homeowners won’t go into a park to take care of replacement trees as they would a tree in front of their house
- Who do we contact? Maybe we can invite them to this meeting.
- Carol Kodweis is the person in charge of this area of town.
- Is it OK to take stump grindings home from Mt Hope Cemetery?
- Probably not, their personnel make use of it.
- What proportion of removed trees are replaced? For ex, if it’s a tree in front of a rental, the tenants may not care.
- We have approximately a 1-to-1 removal/replacement rate. The replanting may not be in exactly the same place. We have taken tree planting requests from neighborhoods, or neighborhood groups, if a tree is important
- It would be nice to know what the plan is for our area, in terms of canopy, etc.
- In the South East we receive more replanting requests than we can keep up with. We track the forestry activities by quadrant. The SE area has been most active with requests. We’ve been asked to balance our resources a little better, for other parts of the city. This quadrant has 68-70% stocking rate
- The Reforest Rochester Fund was set up after the 1991 ice storm. 14,000 street trees were lost at that time. Since that time, it’s still an active program. We accept contributions to support it, though it’s not as active as it was back then. The Reforest Mt Hope Program was developed with Mt Hope Master Management Plan. Donations are a tax deductible. These programs are on City website.
- Do you have the financial resources to adequately do the job?
- We fully funded for this year. We are able to accomplish the key areas of rotation and planting. There was a time when our budget was cut. We look for outside funding sources, grants, to help supplement.
- We are glad to come back to this meeting any time.
- Neighborhood Service Center Reports – Nancy Johns-Price (SE Neighborhood Service Center), John McMahon (SW Neighborhood Service Center)
A News video from CBS This Morning was presented: “Boy meets world, Teen Reporter Finds Success by Covering the Story”, about an 8th grade Rochester teen reporter who has formed a relationship with the police. He even knows when shifts change. The police bought him a bike and helped buy a camera to do this work.
- Nancy Johns-Price : Comprehensive Plan
The 2009 NBN6 plan will be posted to the SE NSC website, because it is too big to email. You can look at this document to get ideas for the new Comprehensive Plan. If anyone wants to do a smaller “meeting in a box,” I can do one or Doug Benson said he’d make himself available.
- John McMahon brought handouts with the times of public meetings with the South West NSC:
SW/Central Quadrant Team Meeting, Second Wednesday of Month, 930-11am, South West Neighborhood Service Center, 923Genesee St
SW Common Council, 3rd Thursday, 6-7:30 pm, Phyllis Wheatley Library, 33 Dr. Sam McCree Way
- Community Sharing
- Glynis Valenti, (new) Assistant Director of SWPC:
A few events coming up in January:
The SEAC open house,
SWPC open house,
City Love fundraising event coming up in March
- Paul Minor was on “Connections with Evan Dawson” on WXXI radio today.
- Highland Park Neighborhood: Caroling Dec. 18thin Ellwanger Barry Park.
A free movie will be shown on Dec. 17th at Cinema Theater.