New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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BUILDING OPERATIONS

HOW NYC CO-OP AND CONDOS OPERATE

DOB Fails to Follow Up on More Than Half of Hazardous Facades

New York City

DOB Inspections Audit

Facade-inspection rules are why protective sheds cover hundreds of miles of New York City sidewalks.

Nov. 23, 2020

Co-op and condo boards are in a never-ending cycle of repairs to comply with the city’s Facade Inspection and Safety Program, formerly known as Local Law 11, which requires inspections and repairs every five years for buildings taller than six stories. Those repairs are the main reason so many miles of city sidewalks are covered by protective sheds. Recent fatalities caused by falling masonry led the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) to further tighten facade inspections, re-inspections and fines. But new evidence suggests that the DOB is failing to enforce its own rules.

After the department issued violations for “immediately hazardous” facade conditions, it failed to attempt 5,401 – more than half – of the legally required re-inspections within the 60-day statutory deadline, according to a new audit released Monday by the office of City Comptroller Scott Stringer. In some cases, the re-inspections did not take place at all. Stringer’s audit also found that the DOB was late with nearly one-fifth of initial inspection attempts for more than 85,000 complaints the agency received in Fiscal Year 2019.

“No one  should have to live or work in fear of debris or unstable scaffolding crashing down on them in a home, place of work, or at any other site in this city,” said Stringer, who’s running to succeed Bill de Blasio as mayor. “Our audit of DOB’s internal procedures uncovered multiple failures that pose a direct risk to public safety. I call on DOB to adopt the recommendations laid out in this report promptly to ensure violations are addressed in a timely manner.”

Stringer recommends that the DOB should: ensure that it re-inspects hazardous violations within 60 days and every 60 days thereafter until the violation has been certified as corrected by the responsible party; create and disseminate written procedures detailing the time frame requirements for personnel to review certificates of correction; consider re-negotiating with city officials and stakeholders to modify the Administrative Code to establish a specific time frame for certifying the correction of Class 1 violations.

DOB spokesman Andrew Rudansky pushed back against Stringer’s audit, telling the Daily News that the department “consistently meets and exceeds” service requirements. “We’re improving our service levels across the agency to meet our other legally required timelines,” Rudansky said, “all while handling a significantly expanded workload.”

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