Riverhead Schools are dangerously overcrowded, affecting the quality of education our children receive.
A $100 Million Riverhead School bond proposal will increase taxes on residents for years to come without addressing the problem of illegal housing that is overburdening our overcrowded schools.
This is a problem that Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith has
done nothing to address.
She has left Town Code Enforcement woefully understaffed and has not initiated a single Supreme Court action against a landlord.
Yvette Aguiar issued a 10-point strategic plan to address illegal housing.
Aguiar's Proposed Task Force Addressing Overcrowding in Riverhead:
1. Create a Task Force to pool all our resources, i.e. code enforcement officers, fire marshals, police, a town attorney, traffic control officers (TCOs), building inspectors, and code enforcement officers. The goal is to pool our resources and work collectively in a cohesive manner. For example, identify locations where cars are parked illegally on both sides of the streets, causing traffic congestion. Once these violations are observed by our traffic control officers, violations should be documented.
2. The task force should be headed by a town member who is well-versed in law enforcement, town codes and has managerial experience.
3. Enhance the computer tracking system to identify and document illegal overcrowded homes and time stamp the violation(s) for processing purposes with identified levels of action.
4. Hire at least two additional code enforcement officers. This approach will eventually lead to a reduction in excessive school taxes. (Southampton Town has at least six code officers, Riverhead has only 3.5).
5.Meet with our town justices to ensure they are aware of increased code enforcement and resolve any concerns appropriately. Create an increased penalty scale consisting of at least $5,000 for the initial violation.
6. Commence legal action against landlords and homeowners who enable excessive renters in Supreme Court. Not one Supreme Court action has been initiated in the last two years.
7. Create an intelligence reporting system with check boxes for all code enforcement officers, fire marshals, police officers, traffic control officers, and the public to initiate the preponderance of evidence required in court.
8. Identify those residences which have multiple garbage cans, doorbells, mailboxes, an excessive number of automobiles (unregistered and out-of-state), automobiles parked on front lawns, external wiring, homes with multiple locks, etc.
9. These violations can be simply documented on a short checkbox intelligence report, along with photograph(s) of the violation. Any town personnel who witness these violations can easily prepare the form quickly and submit the document to the Task Force for documentation into the tracking system. In addition, commence utilizing residency affidavits.
10. Establish a working relationship with the Riverhead Central School District and civic groups to report on the progress of the Task Force.
Supervisor Candidate Yvette Aguiar Announces Opposition to Riverhead School Bond Referendum
Blames Incumbent for Failing to Take Action on Illegal Housing and Its Impact on the School District’s Ability to Provide Quality Education Amidst Overcrowding
Riverhead Town Supervisor candidate Yvette Aguiar today announced that she opposes a proposal by the Riverhead School District to borrow $100 million for a construction project to build new schools in order to handle the exponential growth of students attending school. She cites the failure of current Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith to address illegal, overcrowded housing and the lack of Code Enforcement officers, both of which have resulted in a crisis in the Riverhead School District, severely impacting the school district’s ability to provide students with a quality education.
Ms. Aguiar said the town does not have an adequate number of Code Enforcement Officers, at 3.5, compared to the smaller, neighboring town of Southampton, which has at least six code enforcement officers. As Supervisor, Ms. Jens-Smith added only one enforcement officer in the past two years. Enforcement of Town Code not only punishes landlords and homeowners who support residential overcrowding, it protects the most vulnerable people from substandard, unsafe and unhealthy housing. Ms. Aguiar said she plans to “hire additional officers to combat the crisis.”
Ms. Aguiar added that lack of code enforcement has not only resulted in unsafe and unsanitary housing in the town, but it has negatively impacted the quality of life on the residents, school taxes and the quality of education. She pointed out that Ms. Jens-Smith has never pressed Southampton Town to enforce its town code in Flanders, which impacts Riverhead schools. “This has not been a priority for the current administration,” Ms. Aguiar said. “Since taking office almost two years ago, Ms. Jens-Smith hasn’t initiated a single Supreme Court action against a homeowner or landlord for supporting illegal overcrowding.”
As part of her campaign, Ms. Aguiar laid out a 10-point plan on how to combat overcrowded homes. Among these initiatives include creating a task force to help identify and prosecute quality-of-life violations; providing enhanced technology and intelligence gathering to document overcrowded homes; commencing legal action against landlords and homeowners who willfully enable excessive renters; and setting a fine of $5,000 for the first offense, and an increased fine for subsequent offenses thereafter. “An effective measure utilized in the Quogue School District, which has a stable enrollment, is the use of residency affidavits, signed by the parents of each student,” she said. “Both Southampton and Quogue School Districts work cohesively with each other, an effort that is lacking in Riverhead.”
She has also spoken out against the Riverhead School District’s plans to bond $100 million for a construction project. She recently attended school board meetings expressing her displeasure with the bond proposal. “We cannot afford to have the school district borrow $100 million without ensuring the root of the problem is not addressed,” she said. “This request will negatively impact taxpayers for years to come. Where is the supervisor at these meetings? This is a very complex problem which requires a collaborative effort to address the deep-rooted problem.”
Two of the most important quality-of-life issues in Riverhead, Ms. Agiuar said, are high taxes and overcrowding. Unfortunately, a lack of proactive code enforcement has led to the crisis Riverhead is experiencing. The problem can be resolved through proper code enforcement. The goal of this plan is to protect the health, welfare and security of people living in these homes. “Code enforcement ordinances were created to protect our most vulnerable people who reside in substandard, unsafe and unhealthy housing conditions,” she said. “I propose a plan to target landlords and homeowners who are not in compliance with our code enforcement ordinances.”