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East End real estate market still sizzling with more people, more garbage and more $$$ for preservation

Assemb. Fred Thiele at Huntington Town Hall on

Assemb. Fred Thiele at Huntington Town Hall on Jan. 25, 2019. Thiele co-wrote the legislation setting up the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund with recently retired State Sen. Ken LaValle. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Pandemic-fueled home sales are changing the "seasonal" nature of the East End

After shattering records throughout 2020, the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund is still raking in the dough so far in 2021.

The fund, fueled by a 2% tax on East End real estate sales, took in $55.22 million in the first quarter – nearly 80% higher than the $30.92 million haul during the same period in 2020. The new figure is the biggest first-quarter performance in the CPF’s 23-year history, continuing the program’s pandemic-fueled run.

"The market is not as frenzied as it was for most of 2020 but it is still a hot market," Assemb. Fred Thiele told The Point. Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who co-wrote the legislation establishing the CPF program, speaks regularly to East End brokers and real estate agents. "I wouldn’t say they’re surprised the trend has continued, but that it has continued at such a high level for so long, that is surprising."

Still, Thiele and others see subtle changes in the market.

"You have people for whom the price point has gotten up a little high," Thiele said. "And I don’t think people are as freaked out by the pandemic because they see we’re getting closer to the end, not like last year when people wanted to get here and get here NOW. Things are changing. They’re more discerning as to what their needs are and more sensitive as to the price point. Still, there is more activity and a lot of deals are getting done."

That has changed life on the East End, Thiele said, as the new buyers spend more time living in these residences, blurring the line between first or second homes. And that has meant logistical headaches for East End officials dealing with everything from higher school enrollments and more traffic to increased Wi-Fi usage, labor shortages and heightened demand for precious beach stickers.

And then there’s the garbage. Thiele, who holds regular meetings with local elected officials, said East Hampton Town reported collecting three times as much garbage in February as it did in the same month in previous years.

"The East end is a seasonal community where the definition of ‘season’ is changing," Thiele said.

For governments, riding that wave of change will be critical to good planning.

"It’s obviously an area in transition and they can see it. What they don’t know is what’s permanent and what’s not," Thiele said.

But one forever thing still is true, he said: "It’s a special place for a lot of people whether they have a house here or not."

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Talking Point

NYPD officer killed by drunken driver revives federal alcohol interlock legislation

With the killing of NYPD officer Anastasios Tsakos by an alleged drunken driver early Tuesday, the region’s attention is once again focused on how to stop drunk driving.

And that means there is once again an opportunity for Rep. Kathleen Rice to push a federal law that supporters say could cut DUI deaths by 85%.

Tsakos, a 14-year veteran of the force from East Northport, was directing traffic away from a fatal accident that had occurred hours earlier on a stretch of the Long Island Expressway in Fresh Meadows, Queens, when he was struck by a 2013 Volkswagen Passat driven by Jessica Beauvais, 32, of Hempstead.

Beauvais, who allegedly fled the scene before being arrested, had a suspended license, and registered a .15 blood-alcohol level when tested several hours after the accident, nearly twice the legal limit.

Rice made her name fighting drunken driving as Nassau County’s district attorney from 2006 until 2015, nabbing Long Island’s first DUI-related murder convictions in a case that led CBS’s "60 Minutes" to profile her work in 2008. During her tenure, DUI conviction rates in Nassau improved dramatically, and she received a lifetime achievement award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 2015. Now, she’s co-sponsoring a bill which would require advanced drunken driving prevention technology systems in all new cars. Put simply, the bill would require car makers to factory-install technology that would prevent the vehicle from operating if the driver had been drinking alcohol.

It’s not the first time Rice has introduced such a bill in Congress; that was in 2015, and again in 2019, but it didn’t pick up much steam.

The latest effort marks some progress, according to Rice spokesman Stuart Malec.

"We have a companion bill in the Senate that has bipartisan sponsorship," Malec said. "Our hope is that this will be included in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization, and that this legislation, in turn, will be included in the American Jobs Plan."

Whether such a significant piece of legislation can be quietly tucked away in a bill many members of Congress will be forced to support for broader reasons is uncertain, but the concept of alcohol interlocks on all cars — considered extremely niche a decade ago — is becoming increasingly mainstream.

Touting the bill earlier this year, Rice said, "Prosecution and law enforcement strategies are critically important in this effort, but the best way to prevent drunk driving fatalities is to stop anyone who is under the influence from getting behind the wheel in the first place."

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

End of the road

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Final Point

New Yorker to deliver WFP response to Biden’s speech

For the fourth year in a row, the Working Families Party will offer a response to a president’s address to a joint session of Congress. This year, for the first time, that response will be from a New Yorker. And it will be the first time the party is responding to a speech by a Democrat, Joe Biden. The response just may not be easy to find.

Yonkers Democrat and freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman will have the WFP mic Wednesday evening, for remarks that will touch on climate, policing, and economic recovery, according to party spokesman AJ Springer.

The WFP backed Bowman in his 2020 primary against Eliot Engel, and now Bowman, a former middle school principal and vocal progressive, follows in the footsteps of his nationally-known colleague Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who gave the WFP response to former President Donald Trump’s address last year.

It’s unclear how much Biden’s speech this year will be appointment viewing, given how many Americans have seemed eager to tune out from politics since the end of the Trump era. But his words will be broadcast by the big networks and cable channels.

It’s harder to get such play for a third-party response: Springer, the WFP spokesman, said the address will be streamed through a media partnership with the viral video and news platform NowThis as well as on the party’s Facebook page.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Bonus Column

An ominous sign for Giuliani

The arc of the Rudy Giuliani story has shot well beyond any discussion of how he devolved over the long haul from independent-minded prosecutor and crisis-time mayor into a dubious Donald Trump factotum who lied about national election ballots.

Now Giuliani, 76, is indisputably the focus of keen interest for criminal investigators of a Justice Department no longer under Trump's purview, and the ex-mayor's cooperation or resistance will be key.

On Wednesday, his lawyer Robert Costello publicly confirmed that federal investigators in Manhattan executed a search warrant on Giuliani's apartment that involved his controversial Ukraine activities. Electronic devices were seized.

Click here to read the full column by Dan Janison and find out what this could mean for Giuliani and former president Donald Trump.

—Dan Janison @Danjanison