The commissioner said that the spate of recent high-profile accidents partly reflected a building boom in the city. "We're issuing approximately 78,000 permits per year and construction is all over the city, so the number of incidents, the percentage, is relatively small," she said. "I think citizens can feel safe with construction in their areas."
Crane Collapse Ups Pressure On Buildings Commissioner
Ms. Lancaster has already drawn the ire of city tabloids, with the Daily News penning a series of editorials in recent months criticizing Buildings Department officials as "incompetent" "boneheads" and writing that "the department, led by Commissioner Patricia Lancaster, lost control of safety standards" and is a "dysfunctional mess."
According to city statistics released last fall, 29 laborers died in work-related accidents from September 2006 to September 2007, a 61% increase over the previous year. The number of safety violations at high-rise construction sites also nearly doubled between November 2006 and November 2007. The city has been undergoing a historic construction boom.
"This is just the latest incident," Mr. Avella, who called for Ms. Lancaster's resignation previously after a fatal accident at the Trump SoHo construction site, said yesterday. "How many people have to die before the mayor realizes that the Department of Building, which is ultimately responsible for construction in this city, is in total chaos?"
A spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg, Stu Loeser, said Mr. Avella's resignation call was off base. "Such comments indicate a total lack of understanding of the situation, and we're not going to dignify such foolishness with a response," Mr. Loeser said.