Friday, January 30, 2015
City not properly tracking illegal conversions
From Brooklyn Daily:
A high-tech system the city uses to clamp down on residents who illegally rent their apartments over the internet should be used to put an end to the illegally dicing up of homes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, according to local officials.
A sophisticated data-crunching and workflow platform called Palantir is helping the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement crack down on peer-to-peer apartment sharing services like Airbnb at an unprecedented rate, according to a WNYC report. But the city isn’t using the software to combat illegal home conversions — and local leaders say that needs to change.
“If they have a program that tracks the illegal hotels, then it should be easy enough to track illegal conversions, whether through the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement or through the Department of Buildings,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge). “We reached out to the Mayor’s Office, and so far no one could give us an answer as to why they’re not using this for illegal conversions.”
Landlords in Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Dyker Heights are violating building and fire codes by subdividing small homes into multi-family apartments at an alarming rate, locals said. The practice creates dangerous living conditions and strains city services.
New Yorkers registered upwards of 100,000 complaints to the Department of Buildings through 311 in 2014 — 1,100 about illegal hotels and 26,000 for illegal home conversions, city data shows. A spokesman could not provide the number of inspectors the department employs, but reports put the figure around 200.
Software like Palantir helps agencies make the most of their staff, an official said.
“Thirty percent more work with the same exact staff,” the acting director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, Elan Parra, told WYNC. “I guess maybe you could call it ‘Moneyball’ for quality-of-life violations.”
But Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement focuses on quality of life issues — not buildings issues, a spokeswoman said.
Buildings/illegal conversion issues ARE quality of life issues. HELLO?