Aguiar Asks: Why Did the Supervisor Wait Two Years to Respond to the Town’s Overcrowding Problems?

In response to her opponent’s plan to address one of the most serious problems facing the town — that is, illegal overcrowding in homes — Riverhead Town Supervisor candidate Yvette Aguiar said that the current supervisor, Laura Jens-Smith, has not come up with a plan to resolve the situation for the past two years. Ms. Aguiar said the supervisor only came up with her own plan to address the issue after Ms. Aguiar issued her 10-point strategic plan on September 25.

“We need a supervisor who can lead us, not follow,” Ms. Aguiar said. “With Ms. Jens-Smith’s administration, there’s a clear pattern of delay, kicking the can down the road, and, on issues like illegal, overcrowded housing, just plain sticking her head in the sand and hoping the problem will solve itself. Neither are acceptable.”

On September 25, Ms. Aguiar sent out a 10-point plan to address illegal overcrowding in the community. That included 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.

“We need to crack down on these unethical landlords,” Ms. Aguiar said. “These people are living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. This, in turn, has resulted in our schools being overcrowded, affecting the quality of our children’s education and their ability to learn.”

The next day, Ms. Jens-Smith appeared on a local radio station touting a plan that included having code enforcement go after slumlords. Not coincidentally, on her website, Ms. Jens-Smith pledged to “hold landlords accountable for unsafe, overcrowded housing, all of which are affecting our neighborhoods and impacting our quality of life.”

“I find it amazing that she based her own plan on what I proposed,” Ms. Aguiar said. “For two years, the supervisor has done nothing about this issue. She has not enacted one Supreme Court action against the violators, nor has she made a serious effort to hire more code enforcement officers. Now, with less than three weeks before Election Day, we finally hear from her announcing her own plan. Where has she been for the past two years while our schools were overburdened and our public resources were being drained?”

For more information, visit aguiar4riverhead.com.

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.”

For more information, visit aguiar4riverhead.com.