Some thoughts about the new DoB Reforms

Some thoughts from our buddy Aaron of Greenwood Heights

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/05/nyregion/05safety.html

After chatting for about an hour about the Mayor’s and Speaker’s “brand new revolutionary safety 13 point plan,” I thought I’d let folks know where I stand (and hopefully some of you stand alongside on this tight rope the Mayor has strung).

I use the NY Times article as my foil:

“Building for the future and building safely are not mutually exclusive. We can and will do both. But public safety is our top priority.”

Gee, that’s a 180 from your discourse over the past 7 years that basically puts the Administration’s economic growth strategy at MAJOR ODDS with safety issues that not only affect the safety of the public, but the well being of neighborhoods and the preservation of the quality of life standards most NYers have come to enjoy…until now.

Encouraging construction/development in the City (especially in Bklyn) in the past 5 years with no consequence to the destruction unchecked development may cause is shameful. It is especially shameful when at the time of a crisis (one I might add has been evolving since 2003) due to 17 construction related deaths in 2008 so far, the Mayor chooses to take a reactive stance. Not after the March 15 tragedy, but after a second major crane collapse. Unfortunately the Mayor seems to only react to big news items (not to down play the deaths involved) and not to the on-going issues that affect the “small guy” projects through out the City that many civic organizations, elected officials, community boards and other City agencies have been calling for action for years.

“We will not compromise on safety,” even as construction continued…”

Really, again reactive rather than proactive Ms. Speaker, especially as “construction continues.”

“Bloomberg administration and the City Council unveiled a 13-point legislative package on Wednesday to broaden oversight of building sites, increase fines for violations and register all key contractors.”

Again, how thoughtful of the Mayor and the Speaker. Please understand one thing. I am ALL for the reforms (minus getting rid of the RA or PE status for Commissioner of Buildings so that we can slip acting Commissioner LiMandri in…not that I agree, just that there has been no open discussion with the residents of our City on the matter), but something stinks here…

For much of the 13 points, it seems the Mayor is again doing a 180. AM Brennan and his Committee on Cities in Albany proposed many of these same reforms both last year and this year…ain’t that funny. And what’s even funnier, the Mayor, at DOB’s request, asked Ex-Gov. “Party Boy” Spitzer to VETO THOSE SAME RELATED BILLS that contained much of what the Mayor is proposing. Again, shame on you Mayor Mike.

It wasn’t good enough for the State, the City and the Mayor’s constituents to get more enforcement power and accountability in the construction trades via a stronger DOB…until tragedy strikes close to home for the Mayor. Again, shame on you.

If much of the bill package AM Brennan has proposed last year (and again this year) had passed, we may have avoided what happened in March and so recently, not a 100% guarantee, but I’d place high odds. Not only at the 17 construction related deaths, but at the 100’s of construction related accidents through out the City due to unscrupulous developers and cowboy-style contractors who run rough-shod over neighborhoods they work in.

“the department had issued more than 1,200 stop-work orders and nearly 4,000 violations in the past 12 months. Still, that has not put an end to construction accidents…”

And that’s the real issue here. DOB can write all the tickets they want and issue stop work orders all day. But until the Administration (Mayor and City Council included) changes their stance from pro-development/economic growth to pro-YOU AND ME, and think of our safety before the all mighty tax dollar, none of the 13 points will matter. Developers in this City, with the go ahead of the Mayor, have found loopholes time and time again to exploit the DOB code and zoning resolution to their industries advantage. 13 new points will not change that MO for their ROI.

I would like to believe Mayor Mike and the Speaker…until I see job sites shut down and “…public safety is our top priority.” over more luxury development and unchecked growth in our City, I don’t believe the folks fighting-the-good-fight stand a chance.

There are several events in the works to protest the Mayor’s sudden opportunistic change of heart and also to hold he and the Speaker’s feet to the fire. i will keep folks posted as the come in-line and hope that you can show your support. This MUST include working with our local electeds to make sure promises are kept and progress is made…and not just talked about on the Council Floor.

Hopefully we won’t have to worry about more “change of heart” into a 3rd term for Mayor Mike.

As always, disgusted, but optimistic.

Aaron

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Aaron Brashear
Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Hts.
aaron@ccgreenwoodhts.com
http://www.ccgreenwoodhts.com/
SUPPORT CONTEXTUAL NEW DEVELOPMENT IN OUR COMMUNITY!
Advocating for the Preservation of the Character of Our Neighborhood
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