Sunday, October 5, 2014

HPD turning to self-certification for affordable housing units

From Capital New York:

New York City plans to significantly scale back regulatory requirements imposed on some affordable housing developers, all but eliminating a cumbersome design and architecture review that can take months to complete and add significant costs to buildings, a top city official said on Wednesday.

While its staff will still conduct a short review, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development will largely rely on a system of self-certifications and random audits to ensure projects under its inclusionary housing program meet city standards, Vicki Been, the agency’s commissioner, said at an event held by the Citizens Budget Commission. Those standards, she said, will also be less burdensome.

Been described the changes as “a completely new approach” and said it would replace “what has often been a long, iterative and, frankly, painful process.” The details will be announced soon, she said.

Reducing the requirements alone would be significant and could be seen as a prerequisite to a self-certification process, some experts said.

“It makes the architects' lives harder, because some of these rules are really challenging and I think sometimes they almost like having somebody else review them because they miss things,” Carol E. Rosenthal, a partner at law firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, said after Been’s remarks.

The revisions are part of much broader changes that are happening at H.P.D. as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration embarks on its massive affordable housing effort; the mayor has promised build and preserve 200,000 units of low-cost housing over the next decade.

From Brownstoner:

So expect affordable housing to start looking like the cheapest schlock imaginable — probably not even as good as the dreck that usually gets built in Williamsburg, probably more like cement-block Fedders buildings.

Also, we’ve seen a lot of abuses of the self-certification process for much smaller scale, private developments. If they are flagrant enough, they are eventually punished (architect Robert Scarano and the overbuilt monstrosity at 1882 East 12th Street in Homecrest by architect Shlomo Wygoda are two examples), but we suspect that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So we’re skeptical this is a good approach to take with affordable housing, where the pressure to cut costs is likely to be even greater and the beneficiaries less able to defend their interests.

We think it’s going to be a great loss for these neighborhoods, not to mention the residents.


Anonymous said...

“It makes the architects' lives harder, because some of these rules are really challenging and I think sometimes they almost like having somebody else review them because they miss things,” Carol E. Rosenthal, a partner at law firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, said after Been’s remarks.

Would she fly 10 minutes in an aircraft built without independent engineering audits, let alone live for years in an apartment without one?

Bangladesh, here we come!

ron s said...

Why do I think "self certification" = no certification?

We're Queens - We Can't Have Nice Things said...

This will stand until the first construction worker dies.

Another example of cluelessness!

Joe Moretti said...

I mean look at the shit that gets by with the process, can you just imagine with this bullshit self-certification.

Low class Fedder crap everywhere.

What the hell was the thinking involved in this or should I say who will really benefit from this bullshit. Certainly not the communities where this crap gets built.

And can you imagine the small scale crap that already gets built with the process.

Third world shit galore!

Anonymous said...

The clueless mayor just wants to hit his target of 200,000 affordable housing units, at all costs. He must go. One term mayor!

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, the penalty for an architect or engineer who provide a false "self certification" is to attend a remedial class about the process. No jail or fines.

Anonymous said...

One term Mayor ?
I don't think the sheepeople have the brains to vote him out. The voting public in NYC is controlled by life time democrats and nothing will change.
"Comrade Gumba" will win a second term IMHO.

Anonymous said...

The law was to keep shitty architects and computer generated garbage in check.
Can they now start importing pre-fab modular storage container buildings from India and China ?

Anonymous said...

As someone who does this professionally, I'll give my understanding on what self-certification -- technically, "professional certification" or PC -- is, and is not... and what the alternate looks like.

We'll start with that, the alternate. If a job is NOT PC, then the city mainly examines 4 things: ADA compatibility, zoning, egress, and fire protection. All city plan examiners must know that stuff very well since they're life safety and the possibility of fires still drives a lot within NYC. Everything else? Maybe they know it well, maybe they don't. Things like building structure.

If a job IS PC, then the applicant (architect or engineer) basically claims it can be exempt from city review and everything is to code. If the city audits the job, the OWNER must pay to fix it, and optionally, sue the applicant later. The applicant can get anything from a slap on the wrist, to a lawsuit, to their ability to file in NYC being revoked. It depends on the offense. If it's an honest mistake, probably nothing happens. If you're Scarano, well, we know what happened there too.

Architects don't have to use PC and a lot won't. Saying the city looked at it offers a lot of professional protection.

What does it all mean? Getting rid of PC fixes nothing and delays everything. The fedders sleeves? Nothing to do with PC -- has to do with the codes and owners that don't want to pay for something nicer. Eliminating PC prevents Scarano issues, since the city checks zoning, but it doesn't prevent bad taste, nor does it prevent things like under-engineered buildings... that's not one of the things the city always checks so not all examiners fully understand it anyways. Just how it goes. There's no magic wand for ignorance and bad taste.

Anonymous said...

This is NOT a good idea.

BTW, doesn't Plan Exam also involve energy code?

Nice to see the ADA listed - the DoB finally stopped telling everyone NYC is exempt (after getting a hellacious fine from US Dept of Justice...)

Anonymous said...

good catch -- yes, ECC is very heavily verified.

p.s., i thought there were five but i couldn't remember the fifth.