The Department of Buildings has at last stepped up enforcement against illegally converted homes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, residents say. Locals have long battled the practice of dicing one-and two-family homes into multi-family apartments without city permits and contrary to building codes — now residents and the city are advancing the line of scrimmage, according to local leaders.
“We seem to be making some progress,” said Bob Cassara, who heads the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance. “Out of the last four or five complaints, we’ve gotten four stop-work orders.”
The alliance filed the complaints less than a month ago, and the quick turnaround suggests that the buildings department is starting to take the issue more seriously, he said.
Another civic leader echoed the sentiment, crediting the city’s swift response to complaints.
“You would hardly ever hear about a stop-work order being issued before — now it’s constant,” said Fran Vella-Marrone, who heads the Dyker Heights Civic Association. “That’s because we have been diligent in reporting them, and they’re being good about getting out there as soon as they can.”
The Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance and the Dyker Heights Civic Association held a joint meeting with the Department of Buildings and the fire department in March that drew hundreds of concerned residents. During the town hall, pols promised legislation to increase penalties for shady landlords, and buildings department honchos pledged more resources to Southern Brooklyn and announced a task force to meet with concerned citizens.
The legislation is still pending, but in the meantime, the task force is working, Cassara said.
“The big difference is that we have our community task force going with the DOB, fire department, building marshals, and [the Department of Housing Preservation and Development],” he said.
Indeed, overall enforcement appears to be up in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights this year, according to city data.