Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Word your DOB complaints carefully

From Brooklyn Daily:

Vigilant Ridgites must watch what they say when reporting illegal home conversions.

Watchdogs blew the whistle on contractors gutting the inside of a home between Third and Fourth avenues without a permit on Dec. 11, but the city didn’t get around to issuing a stop-work order for a week, because complainants told 311 the work was “illegal construction” rather than “illegal demolition.” The difference in one word increases the city’s target response time from 1.5 days to 45 days, and whistle-blowers need to know how to parlay the city’s lingo in order to protect their own neighborhoods, a local leader said.

“We try to get people to understand the language and use certain language to get the complaint [a higher priority],” said Bob Cassara, founder of the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance.

Contractors hauled enough debris from the building to fill a dumpster, photos taken on Dec. 11 show. But whistle-blowers told 311 on Dec. 11 and Dec. 14 that the dicey demolition men were doing construction rather than destruction, and the city considered it a lesser threat, according to city records.

The Department of Buildings prioritizes complaints by rating them “A” through “D,” with “A” priority being the most immediate, according to agency materials. “Illegal demolition” gets the highest priority, but “illegal construction” gets a “B” designation.

On average, it takes the Department of Buildings 38 days to close out a “B”-level complaint, but inspectors are working as fast as they can, an agency spokesman said.

Inspectors must witness illegal work themselves, and the property owner must be present for the city to issue papers if the work is already complete, he said. Gaining admittance to inspect work sites is also a hurdle, he said.


Anonymous said...

The laws need to be changed. That's pathetic. If you get a permit to do work inspectors should be allowed on site whenever they want.

Molan Labe said...

that pesky constitution thing called the 4th Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

get a warrant

Anonymous said...

Soon with need a dictionary to learn proper expressions when dealing with 311.
According to their logic illegal construction is not as dangerous as illegal demolition?
Wow, you cannot make this shit up.

Anonymous said...

I agree. But also, the DOB needs MUCH more funding, and significantly more personnel! We put in multiple complaints about others flooding our home. In 3 years, none were followed up on! All of the people redirected their roof runoff into their backyard common driveways, which only have small dry-wells to absorb everything. The driveways weren't designed to handle roof runoff. Clay pipes to the street handle all of that, but a little dirt inside, and all roofers illegally charge people thousands to tilt their gutters to the back, and add extensions to pipe all of this water right into their backyards, were it causes large flooding problems, especially given the heavy rains we've been having over the past several years. We, being the 'low house' on the block, receive all of the water directly into our basement and garage. It's dangerous, stinks, and we've had to cleanup multiple times after each 'flood.' Insurance won't cover it, and the city will do NOTHING. Why? DOB rep. states that this is not a 'life-threatening situation,' so they cannot dedicate ANY resources to enforcing the violations. Why have a Department of Buildings, and laws, if we're never going to enforce the regulations?! Do we want more building collapses? Gas leaks? Electrical fires? Or in our case, floods?! This is ABSURD!

Anonymous said...

The people who work at the dob are dumb as bricks. They are so useless and make every excuse in the world to not do their jobs!!

Camel bladder said...

Just to clarify something for anonymous #3, the DOB does not need more funding. The fact is that over the past 25 years at least, the DOB takes in approximately double what its operating expenses are. City hall raids this cash surplus to fund its " more important" agencies. While they grab this profit that DOB generates they constantly cut their budget. As an example, in 1970 there where approximately 75 to 80 DOB plumbing inspectors city wide. Over the last 20 years they have not been able to keep 25 plumbing inspectors in the whole city. Think about this, the DOB is one of the few if not the only agency that MAKES MONEY. But when the City has a budget crisis (every 3 years) they force the only agency that makes money (DOB) to cut staff just like all the money losers. Only government, or maybe General Motors, would do something as stupid as this.
And we wonder why we can't get illegal work stopped. There really is no one there to do it.

Anonymous said...

was very fortunate with the operator answering my calls regarding a conversion going on-she even told me to get right over to the site and look for this and that and this again and again-no variance, no work permit, and some other defined entities all told to me by HER to simply go and LOOK.
inspector came that day and had it shut down.
what got me ragin that day was the use of a jackhammer causing parts of my ceiling to come down from the vibrations==attached row houses being converted from one to 3 or 4s--was an unreal time.
the actions these contractors were doing were unbelievable-dust flying all over the streets from ripping down 85 year old walls,uncovered dumpsters, some houses had all walls removed with absolutely NO SUPPORTING beams left,sewer lines left wide open uncapped, flooding/no drainage,rats on and on.
they were shut down until corrections made.
and to the individual w/ the flooding problem ?
call them right back and start taking names and then naming names,contact the bd of health, your community bd,the developer of the houses etc until they do their damn jobs.