The following open letter was written by Joseph Ceder, a resident of the Rockaways for over 50 years. Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy on all of the residents of Zone A communities it would seem the city thinks that flood zones are popularly selling areas.
To His Honor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
Recently I received some mail pertaining to the value of, and taxes owed to, my house in Far Rockaway, Queens. I can expect such a letter multiple times in the year, so my receipt of this letter was not unanticipated—in fact it so seems that every time I open my mouth to complain about the amount I pay in property tax a letter of this sort promptly arrives as if by kismet. However, this time around following the devastating effects of the so-called “Superstorm” Hurricane Sandy, I was fairly certain that I might expect an adjustment in the value of my house and the taxes so graciously tethered to them that was reflective of the historic disaster that all Zone A neighborhoods have felt.
I was as unpleasantly surprised to see the bottom line on the taxes I owe that it seemed to me like an indignant, as well as unwarranted, slap in the face.
Not only did this adjustment reflect an increase in taxes I owe to the great City of New York, but I was also informed that the damages incurred by the storm and subsequent flooding has somehow appreciated the value of my house by the sum of some several thousands of dollars. I was unaware the deluge of Jamaica Bay on either side of my property had some inherent monetary value to any other than the contractors whom I had to hire to both assess and repair damage, but I assure you that the amount in taxes raised is in no way linked to the market value of my home or those of my neighbors.
In a market that has in recent years been so favorable for the buyer over the owner I can guarantee you that the four feet and two inches of saltwater that bathed my home was not a baptism of fiduciary growth. In fact, even before the storm it was difficult to sell a house in my neighborhood; I had seen houses even on my own street lay vacant and on the market for months and years as if haunted by the death of the housing market—Hurricane Sandy has not made it easier for these homes to be sold.
That said and knowing your well-credentialed background as a shrewd businessman with a knack for good investment, I make you the proverbial offer which is too good to refuse. Please, at your soonest convenience, come inspect my home which your assessors have deemed as increased in value. If you should truthfully find that the home is worth the amount proposed, I will graciously offer it to you at a well-discounted price so that you may in turn sell it on your own for an amiable and favorable profit—for I have had no good prospects of late and neither have any of my neighbors in the Rockaways, or any other Zone A neighborhood since late October.
I guarantee you that any of my neighbors would be glad to take you up on the same deal if you should feel so inclined. Perhaps this is the opportunity that will come to define your upcoming post-mayoral years, however I somehow doubt it and would like to see a proper adjustment made that is reflective both of the damages and decreased value of my home, as well as one that is calculated in deference to the fixed income that a man of my years lives on. I look forward to a prompt and immediate response from the City.