Written by Betsy Abraham Wednesday, 17 July 2013 00:00
The Westbury Board of Trustees discussed potential plans to crack down on illegal housing in the village, which would possibly include restricting overnight street parking.
“If you go to certain areas of the village that have overnight parking restrictions, there are no cars parked in the streets at night. When you allow that, it obviously increases tremendously the rental prospects of a house or part of a house because the renters have a place to park,” Mayor Peter Cavallaro said.
Cavallaro says that implementing stricter overnight parking restrictions has proved to be a very successful tool in other municipalities. There are certain areas in the village the board would look at closer, such as Central Westbury which has a high rate of illegal occupancies. Residents who had no driveway or garage could potentially apply for a permit, which would allow them to park their car on the street.
“The bottom line is that Westbury has always been a primarily single residence community,” Cavallaro said. He said that curbing illegal housing was a priority, and something that the board was constantly thinking of ways to address.
“If we can do that, and reverse some of the illegal housing trend, we’ll be accomplishing a lot of the goals we’ve set for ourselves and see a really energetic downtown,” Cavallaro said. “And people will be happy with the fact that they moved to suburbia to live in suburbia, not to live in an environment with unsafe, crowded housing.”
In the past couple of years, the village has tried to combat illegal housing by working with the school district to get information on possible multi-family houses and by increasing the use of search warrants to go into homes they know are in violation of housing codes. They have also implemented the use of housing sweeps, where they will send a team of code enforcement officers into particular neighborhoods or blocks. This has not only allowed the village to show force against illegal housing, but to investigate about and collect information on cases they know exist or new ones. They also recently significantly increased fines for landlords who are multiple offenders of illegal housing.
The mayor stressed that the board was looking for community input before implementing any policies, and that it would be a long time before anything hard and fast was enforced. Informal public information sessions would start in the fall, and a formal hearing would follow. If anything was passed, it would only take effect and be implemented at the end of the year.