Controversial building review plan may get ax
BY BRIAN KATES
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, August 20th 2008, 10:30 PM
The Buildings Department's controversial policy of approving architectural plans without review could be scrapped for just $7.5 million a year, a new study shows.
The so-called self-certification program has been blamed for building collapses, property destruction and zoning violations since it began in 1995.
The study by the city's Independent Budget Office estimated the program could be eliminated for $7.5 million a year plus a one-time $1.5 million expense in the first year.
Dropping the program would require hiring 50 plan examiners and 19 support staffers, the publicly funded agency said.
Under the current honor system, plans are automatically approved on the promise of architects and engineers that they confirm to zoning and building code.
In fiscal year 2007, the Buildings Department audited 24% of the self-certified plans, revoking 21% for violations.
"We don't have a dollar figure on the cost of the damage this program has done, but it is far more than the cost of eliminating it," said City Council Minority Leader James Oddo (R-S.I.), who requested the study.
Oddo said the cost would be minor if the change is phased in over several years.
"The department has been cracking down on architects and engineers who abuse the program," Buildings Department spokeswoman Kate Lindquist said. "We look forward to reviewing the report's findings."
More info here: IBO Letter