Public comments for: Amendment of Rules Governing Exterior Wall Inspections and Repairs

Comments

Comment:
Please refer to the attached spreadsheet listing Amalgamated buildings under current FISP requirements and inspection costs versus the substantial and unsustainable costs for inspections under newly proposed FISP rules. I ask that the DOB take this information and use it to further study the financial impact of the proposed rules on all cooperatives throughout the city before making any decisions on whether any part of the proposed FISP rules should be implemented. Thank you for your consideration.
Supporting Document:
Agency: DOB
Comment:
In furtherance to my previous comments, please review the attached memo from HLZA on the significant financial impact the newly proposed FISP rules will have on AMALGAMATED HOUSING COOPERATIVE, the first Limited Dividend Corporation in the country. The memo provides an example of the enormous financial cost the proposed FISP rules will have on all affordable housing co-ops throughout NYC. I thank the DOB for their consideration in this matter.
Supporting Document:
Agency: DOB
Comment:
PLEASE SEE THE ATTACHED LETTER FOR DOB CONSIDERATION OF CHANGES TO NEWLY PROPOSED FISP RULES
Supporting Document:
Agency: DOB
Comment:
Part 3 of 3 Below are general comments of where we see digitization opportunities. Regarding § 103-04 Periodic Inspection of Exterior Walls and Appurtenances of Buildings (b) document page 5 This amendment presents an opportunity to modernize this process through digitization and electronic filing around the requirements in Article 302 of Title 28 of the Administrative Code. Current requirements call for a written report that is professionally certified by a registered design professional. We encourage the DOB to consider adding language to allow and encourage use of digital technology here. Regarding § 103-04 Periodic Inspection of Exterior Walls and Appurtenances of Buildings (c) (vii) - document page 7 Notifying by letter or fax is very outdated. Most people don’t have fax machines. We suggest updating to newer technologies (like email) that would enable more immediate notifications to the DOB and the building owner. Regarding § 103-04 Periodic Inspection of Exterior Walls and Appurtenances of Buildings critical examinations report requirements subsection (M) - document page 10 - Photos The detailed description for the photos appears restrictive and leaves no possibility for innovation and new processes that communicate very well such as photo or video editing by drone, telemetry, thermal imagery, etc. This should be more neutral not favoring a format such as PDF but rather should specify content, clarity and labeling requirements. Regarding § 103-04 Periodic Inspection of Exterior Walls and Appurtenances of Buildings amendment (f) Posting of Conditions Certificate - document Page 18. We also recommend the DOB consider program record digitization so that the data on the certificate can be incorporated and shared with the other city agencies where appropriate (i.e. FDNY) and the public, rather than just locking it in an analog setting in the building. This would help bring additional transparency to the condition of the building’s exterior walls and appurtenances. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed amendments. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding this submission or UL’s comments.
Agency: DOB
Comment:
While FISP and Local Law 11 was a step forward in safety, the various versions of the law have had a devastating effect on the architectural integrity of New York City. In particular, the laws have resulted in the removal of tens of thousands of facade items like cornices that are essential to the city's historic landscape. The current law creates tremendous incentive to remove facade protrusions, whether decorative, functional, or both. It gives zero incentive for buildings to repair or restore these elements rather than strip them off. This creates an imbalance where unless a building is a designated landmark, its owners are almost guaranteed to destroy even if their impulse would be to preserve. This well-intentioned safety law may have done more to destroy great old architecture than anything since the era of Robert Moses and urban renewal. The destruction has been not only to typical buildings, but also those that would have been eligible for landmark status except for owners who destroyed key elements before preservations had time. There is no reason that safety and architectural preservation should be at odds. Both goals are completely compatible with each other. The revision of the FISP law is a wonderful opportunity to make things safer for pedestrians AND correct the aspects of the law that have incentivized architectural destruction. One way to bring more balance would be through a modification to J-51 laws or the creation of a separate tax abatement program. The approach would be simple: money spent by building owners on the repair, restoration, or replication of original decorative facade elements would be entitled to twice the normal benefit. Money spent by building owners on the removal of original building facade elements, unless replaced by a replica of the original, would be ineligible for J-51. The rule could solely apply to prewar structures (although it should include prewar buildings not currently eligible for J-51). Such a program would NOT alter safety rules at all. It’s important to note that the recent tragic death of a woman by falling debris was not an inadequacy of the law, but a shortcoming of enforcement. It is misguided to react with further requirements on landlords who do comply with existing rules. Focus should be on the owners who ignore rules, like the landlord in this recent tragedy. A more serious step by the City could be taken at no cost to the government. DOB could perform “facade emergency” work and bill the expense back to the landlord, just like HPD does with its emergency repair program. In many cases this could consist of the City installing scaffolding / bridging around non-compliant buildings, and billing 100% of the cost to the owner. Buildings should not be looked at entirely from the hazard and liability perspective. Both our people and our buildings deserve protection.
Agency: DOB
Comment:
As a director and president of a NYC Coop subject to LL 11 requirements, I comment as follows: • The requirement for 7 years experience instead of only a single year for every LL11 inspection would seem likely be impractical to implement with the available labor pool • The additional requirement to demonstrate knowledge of particular laws and experience would add to the anticipated/inevitable problem of labor shortage. • What research has the DOB carried out to quantify and alleviate/ obviate the anticipated labor shortage. • These leaps in requirements also raise the question of the reason that a single year’ experience had been deemed sufficient for the past 7 LL11 cycles. The (simple) structures have not changed in that period. • Are the rules a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy that apparently arose from a failure to rectify a known defect, not from a need for further inspection to expose such defect. • The estimated manyfold increase in costs would be counter-productive in terms of confidence in the DOB, adherence and may encourage malfeasance. • Rules should be clarified/modified to apply only to buildings abutting or within, say, 20 feet of sidewalks, as the tragedies have apparently been limited to the former.
Agency: DOB
Comment:
I would like to echo what was said by Anthony Gigantiello, Frank Durant and Phil Fram. I have been on the Board of Directors of a Mitchell-Lama Cooperative for 12 years and the cost of Local Law 11 is killing us. I have lived here since 1967 and can assure you that not once has as much as a quarter of an inch of concrete or brick ever fallen from the facade of this building, yet every 5 years we are at the mersey of professional engineers who tell us our facade is in need of major repairs. In the past 2 cycles alone we have spent close to a million dollars. I consider Local Law 11 a well meaning but Draconian over reaction to unfortunate, isolated incidents. This cooperative houses working class people: taxi drivers, bus matrons, retail, postal and transit workers, and many retirees. These are not big real estate moguls who can drop a hundreds of thousands of dollars every five years without feeling it. We have had 4 rent increases in 10 years and 2 more have been authorized by HPD for the next 2 years in large part because of the requirements of Local Law 11. Being a supporter of Mitchell-Lama, I believe in the benefits of good government but I'm asking for relief. I also echo what was said by Daniel Lansner about required work on lot-line walls. Our "neighbor" has extorted about 10K from us in the last 2 cycles for work that is required by law.
Agency: DOB
Comment:
See attached file.
Supporting Document:
Agency: DOB
Comment:
Please see the attachment for my full comment.
Supporting Document:
Agency: DOB

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