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Huntington POV: Is Craig’s List Immune to Code Enforcement?

Basement room for rent, we looked up the phone number...

Mark Cuthbertson and Huntington Public Safety Czar Bruce Richard delivered a Powerpoint presentation this past Spring at their Code Enforcement Summit touting the activity of Huntington’s code enforcement task force.  The presentation noted that the task force had investigated 246 incidents of illegal housing in the prior eight months.  With an enforcement task force leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to fight crime by eliminating crime-friendly environments like illegal housing, you’d think it would be downright difficult to find cheap, illegal housing in Huntington Station. In fact, judging by less than 30 minutes spent on Craig’s List Sunday morning, cheap illegal housing in Huntington Station is plentiful and easy to find.  The screen grabs below show what happens when you follow this process:

1. Navigate to Craig’s List
2. Select “Long Island”
3. Select “rooms shared” and/or “apts/housing”
4. Enter the word “Huntington” in the search for box.

Craig’s List shows literally hundreds of apartments for rent in Huntington.  Just to keep things manageable, we then set the maximum price at $1000/month.

The search returned 100+ options (didn’t the Avalon proponents say there’s no affordable housing in town?), we then did a reverse look-up on the phone numbers in the listings.  Many were cell phone numbers and didn’t return a street address, other listings had no phone number at all.  These (presumably savvier) operators had a “respond to” email in lieu of a phone number.  Even so, we quickly found a number of listings that we could track back to a physical address in town which we then entered into the town’s online property tax records to see whether the property at the address is a legal multifamily rental.

Three of the first ten listings had landlines that returned a physical Huntington address and the TOH property tax records show these to be single family residences.  The ads for these rentals indicate that a room or portion of the house is for rent, not the entire house, making it likely that these houses are not being occupied in accordance with their single family zoning.

It was a beautiful morning and time to get out of the house, so we didn’t spend time going through all the available rentals in Huntington.  Besides we wondered, isn’t this what Cuthbertson and Richard’s people are supposed to be doing?  If they are, why is it so easy for a non-zoning enforcement agent, non-crime specialist, non-renter to find so many illegal apartments so easily?  Does the zoning task force take a pro-active approach to their responsibility to crack down on zoning violations?  If so, does that include monitoring the classifieds and bulletin boards in the shops around town where shares, sublets and apartments are advertised?  If illegal landlords thought there was a risk of being caught, would they be so brazen about advertising their illegal rentals?

If you know of illegal rentals that you’d like to report (maybe you and Elvis Costello read about them in the Sunday papers), the number for the town’s code enforcement department is (631) 351-3167.

In case the zoning Task force has some free time Monday here are three rentals they might want to check into:

The phone number is for Mr. Rodolpho who lives on 8th Avenue in Huntington Station

The town's tax records show 62 8th Ave is zoned single family. If Mr. Rodolpho is renting out his basement at 62 8th Ave, he's violating town zoning.

Uh, oh, same phone number for these two big rooms...

Affordable house share near the station on Kelsey and Broadway

13 Kelsey Ave to be precise...

Too bad the town tax records show this house isn't for sharing with more than one family.

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