Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Queens Civic Congress takes on City Hall

To the editor,

Queens Civic Congress and the 110 civic associations it represents covering every community throughout the borough strongly opposes City Hall's latest scam to remove from the public its right to challenge, at any time, and to demand an official examination, inspection and resolution by the Buildings Department with respect to established zoning regulations and Building Code requirements. Queens Civic Congress objects to new procedures make filing a challenge more onerous than the current 311 complaint and remove any possibility of filing an anonymous challenge. These outrageous procedures represent nothing more than a continuation of the arrogance that this administration shows to the ability of the public to influence development in our neighborhoods.

Now that the Mayor and most of his agency heads are about to kick back and enjoy the fruits of extending term limits without asking the voters, the public should prepare for the latest slamming from City Hall. Starting, Monday, July 13, the Department of Buildings (DOB) will post plans for pending work permits on its website so that the public can identify problems with planned projects and file complaints in a timely fashion. Sounds good? Read on.

Members of the public, few with any architectural or planning expertise, face a new requirement to hunt around the DOB’s website to identify pending projects and file a complaint. All this must be done within all of 45 days. If DOB’s finding fails to adequately address a complaint, recourse involves an appeals process that culminates with the City's Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA); appeals to the BSA likely require members of the public and civic associations to incur legal expense they do not face under the prior rules.

This new process flies in the face of reality and basically drafts the public to act as more than eyes and ears to report possible violations and illegal conditions. The new rules unrealistically and most inappropriately requires the general public to essentially act as building plan examiners and building code inspectors. In truth, members of the public rarely become aware of projects until they see shovels in the ground and construction underway; this occurs long after a permit DOB issues its permit approvals and the 45-day opportunity to complain has elapsed.

The new process for posting plans on line continue to omit zoning calculations and analyses from the plans on DOB’s website; this short-circuits any effective use of the new complaint process. Absent zoning analysis, the public remains unable to determine if, in fact, a project conforms with zoning or building regulations and an objection unwarranted.

The new process also abrogates the critical role of community boards as our local watchdogs. The underfunded, under-resourced boards, made up of volunteers and dependent on small staffs, currently lack the expertise to monitor development in their areas and act in time to meet the DOB’s 45-day window. City Hall also continues to deprive our community boards of the financial resources to engage such experts. As a result – and maybe City Hall wants this unacceptable outcome, inappropriate development rises beneath the public’s radar. This change clearly puts concerned community members, community boards and others concerned without the crucial ability to represent their communities.

Look at how the rule works. It confers on developers and contractors 45-day statute of limitations after which the Buildings Department will issue a work permit and leave the developer home free (DOB's 45 day rule responded to objections by QCC and others to a 30 day rule). The likelihood of successful complaints surviving DOB's appeals process: just about nil; just ask any citizen who has spent time with the DOB or the Board of Standards and Appeals.

Leaders of the more than 110 civic organizations that make up the Queens Civic Congress tell us they will not be able to catch plans from property owners before DOB certifies projects and contractors begin their work. Civic leaders express concern at how they and their communities will cope with DOB’s notorious practice of allowing applicants to self-certify plans for projects as legal and conforming with all city regulations.

The rule, if left standing, immunizes corrupt practices and limits the public’s right to address illegal conduct whenever and wherever found. It violates our fundamental rights as citizens.

Maybe City Hall wanted this all along. Maybe they seek to disguise an overdevelopment tool as they continue to scheme how to remake sound communities, play cute with zonings and text changes Queens Civic Congress and others advocate, and allow many essential landmarking opportunities to fall prey to inappropriate and unnecessary development.

Queens Civic Congress urges concerned community members and others – included our electeds (and would-be electeds) – who share our concerns to join us outside to DOB at 280 Broadway, Friday July 10, 2009 at 12:00 noon.

Corey B. Bearak, Esq.


Suzannah B. Troy artist said...

Youtube on DOB and the fact the people of New York are losing more of their rights and business as usual favoring the what sure feels like greedy corrupt developers, etc. traveling at the speed of greed.

More on DOB and ECB (environmental control board being owed combined mega millions) but business as usual the city doesn't collect the fines and does stop them from traveling at the speed of greed.

the corrupt paper the villager has done some nasties to me because their good friends "run the neighborhood" so the photo and piece has been

And they made sure not to show my picture with their same piece

They were afraid I might be running for city council but the bottom line was I was a head of the game speaking up about too many construction related deaths....too rapid development and I said construction and sited infrastructure....The room was jammed packed with many witnesses....

What feels like corruption runs very deep or not so deep but too many tributaries NYC.

Wearing a hand-painted antidevelopment shirt, Suzannah B. Troy of the East Village, below, declared, “Gentrification has become supersizification!” and also complained about dangerous scaffolding. “Read my protest shirt — that’s why I painted it,” Troy told James Oddo, the committee’s chairperson and Council minority leader. “I did. I like it,” Oddo replied.

Jefferson Siegel has a copy of the photo of the shirt and the fact they removed the photo and article from this link is telling


Christine Quinn couldn't show up that day too busy, how was she to know they death toll would shot up and I remember one city council member sauntering in very late and really arrogant..being late is something in theory to be ashamed of and the person was shocked I got a massive response and this person didn't.

The arrogance of supposed "public servants" but what do you expect from people paid lavishly, yes 6 figure base salary and zero accountability nice job if you can get it and yeah you can -- work for the city of New York! City Council, handling the pensions--what pension scandal, finance etc.

If it wasn't for The New York Post and The New York Daily News we would not know about even a smart part of the corruption that is part of day to day happening at City Hall.

Thanks Queens Crap,
Suzannah B. Troy

Suzannah B. Troy artist said...


I copied the photo a long time ago not even considering Lincoln Anderson would stoop so low although he went lower than I could have ever imagined erasing me from the Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen eviction rally when I demanded community out reach resource centers in every mega dorm. Lincoln Anderson editor for Chelsea and Villager said his reporter said I did not say anything different than anyone else and who does SHE think she is? Is she running for office?

Apparently that was what they feared.

I was and to date am the only one that demanded community out reach resource centers and they only one to honor Filomena Silvestri the creator of Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen's memory --she died 94 knowing her and her son's business was not thrown out on the street evicted.

When you started get erased, deleted, you know you are making waves.

Anonymous said...

When you started get erased, deleted, you know you are making waves.
Happens all the time in Queens. The worst are those that toe the party line (or should I say lying) and proudly use their names to post here to curry favor.

Anonymous said...

I get deleted and erased here on Crapper all the time. Must be making waves...

Anonymous said...

And here I thought the last commenter would say something relevant to DOB or the Queens Civic Congress. But he apparently is just a troll. No wonder he gets erased.

Anonymous said...

Why did QCC wait so long to protest this? They announced it like 4 or 5 months ago.

Anonymous said...

I mean the DOB announced it months ago.

Anonymous said...

Go Bloomberg! Stomp the NIMBYs! These "community groups" DO NOT represent Queens! They're just nutjobs, like most of the Queens Crap commentators.

The Real New Yorkers are with you, and we vote!

Anonymous said...

As I said, a troll.

Anonymous said...

bearak needs to take on weight watchers

Anonymous said...

They're just nutjobs, like most of the Queens Crap commentators.

Why the F___ are you even here? Oh. You must be the biggest nutjob, or dare I say, the biggest loser. Ever read the top of the page of this site? It says, "A website focused on the overdevelopment and "tweeding" of the borough of Queens in the City of New York." As far as I am concerned, WE are the real New Yorkers and we are exercising our rights to speak out and protest the raping and pillaging of the borough by corrupt politicians, developers, and a mayor gone mad! Now go home and take your ball with you. We've got plenty of our own.

Anonymous said...

Ever read the top of the page of this site? It says, "A website focused on the overdevelopment and "tweeding" of the borough of Queens

Apparently Crappy hasn't read that, as 3/4 of the material here has to do with boroughs other than Queens, or even locations outside the city! That and petty partisan politician-bashing.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Crappy hasn't read that, as 3/4 of the material here has to do with boroughs other than Queens, or even locations outside the city! That and petty partisan politician-bashing.

Well I respectfully reserve the right to disagree. If you don't like it, go somewhere else, you troll!!! Partisan politician bashing??? Crapster and the commenters are equal opportunity bashers. Tweed comes in shades of DemocRAT and RepubliCANT so it you are going to make a derisive comment, why don't you try basing it on fact and not fiction? How do you spell troll??? E V A N

Queens Crapper said...

"3/4 of the material here has to do with boroughs other than Queens, or even locations outside the city!"

That is patently false, but thanks for your input as one should never learn from anything that happens outside your own backyard.

Anonymous said...

It's too late now. Tens of thousands of eyesores have been built with the least bit of opposition. This overdevelopment has been going on since the early
'90s. Any opposition has consistently been overridden by our inept elected representatives who will always put the wants and needs of its hardworking constituency in the crapper. Do you think Melinda Katz will show up at City Hall?
She's one of the big reasons for overdevelopment over the last 8 years.

Anonymous said...

"I get deleted and erased here on Crapper all the time. Must be making waves..."

Welcome to the club, Crap on, Crap off.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that the DOB thinks that the public is smarter than their Plan Examiners?

How many zoning errors can we find in applications?

And will there be extra staffing at DOB to take notice of our work?