NYS Seal




The Effectiveness of Regulation of Construction and Development in New York City and the Enforcement of the Building Code and the Zoning Resolution: A Second Hearing


To continue the exploration of the powers, duties, obligations and accountablitity of New York City's regulatory system for construction, development and zoning enforcement in light of the many recent tragic construction accidents involving death, injury and damage.

New York City
Thursday, April 24, 2008
10:00 AM
Assembly Hearing Room
250 Broadway
Room 1923, 19th Floor

Devastating construction accidents are regularly occurring in New York City and underscore the immediate need for improved oversight of construction and building safety by the New York City Department of Buildings, the Environmental Control Board and other City agencies.

Incidents this year involving death, injury, and/or property damage include: the March 15th crane collapse at 303 E. 51st Street in Manhattan involving seven deaths and a falsified DOB inspection report; the March 11th incident at 791 Glenmore Avenue, Brooklyn involving one death; the March 4th collapse at 102 E. 124th Street, Manhattan; and, the January 14th incident at 246 Spring Street in Manhattan involving one death.

Several pieces of legislation whose purpose is to improve safety of construction and development in New York City have been introduced in the NYS Legislature. They include:

  • A10188(Brennan) imposes a duty on the DOB to re-inspect and seek correction of all hazardous building violations. This bill was previously introduced as A7800 and vetoed by former Governor Spitzer at the request of the City of New York.

  • A2886(Lentol)/S1329(Maltese) providing for additional review of building demolition applications.

  • A7745a(Brennan)/S5422a(Padavan) known as the Department of Buildings Community Accountability Act, requiring monthly enforcement reporting to community boards.

  • A7755(Hevesi)/S5407(Padavan) allows the City to convert into tax liens any unpaid, adjudicated fines levied for hazardous building violations.

  • A2665(Lentol)/S1051(Padavan) requiring developers to create escrow accounts in relation to damage to adjoining property.

  • A7744(Brennan)/S5410(Padavan) requiring City licensure of general contractors to prevent willful noncompliance with safety and other laws.

The hearing will consider these and such other proposals as the public would care to put forward as the Assembly examines the DOB's current practices for dealing with complaints, permitting plans, permitting demolitions, initiating inspections, tracking violations, correcting hazardous conditions, ensuring proper construction practices, tracking repeat offenders, protecting the safety of workers and effectively overseeing the enforcement of the Building Code and Zoning Resolution.

Please see the reverse side for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony, and for a description of the bills which will be discussed at the hearing.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committees at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes in duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible. In the absence of a request, witnesses will be scheduled in the order in which reply forms are postmarked.

Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committees' interest in hearing testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

James Brennan
Member of Assembly
Committee on Cities

Joseph R. Lentol
Member of Assembly
Committee on Codes

Vito Lopez
Member of Assembly
Committee on Housing


  1. Please describe the status of all building code enforcement activities at the four sites referred to in the notice, including permitting plans, complaints, inspections, violations, responses or non-responses by entities receiving violations to any hearings scheduled by the Environmental Control Board (ECB), and/or any actions taken by the ECB or any court actions taken by the Department of Buildings (DOB) in relation to DOB violations.

  2. Please describe the ECB process and procedures, from issuance of violation through initial appearance to hearing outcome. What is the process regarding setting the hearing date; under what circumstances are hearings postponed; what are the consequences of default, failure to respond, and/or failure to correct; what steps does DOB take to ensure site safety during the adjudication process; and how do the DOB and the ECB interface to control conditions at building sites?

  3. In certain circumstances, violations present imminent danger to the public and are treated as emergencies. Please describe how, by whom, and in what circumstances hazardous violations are brought to the attention of the commissioner, the New York City Fire Department, the Department of Investigations, the New York City Police Department, Department of Housing Preservation and Development or other agency responsible for investigation, correction, and/or emergency response. What are the established protocols for such actions, how are such actions recorded, and what records are maintained of the decision-making during the process?

  4. In other circumstances, many hazardous violations are issued but the hazardous conditions at the work site are allowed to remain uncorrected. Please describe how the DOB tracks pending hazardous violations and ensures their correction. Who is responsible for re-inspection to verify correction? When does the DOB accept affidavits of correction and when does it require in-person inspection to verify correction of hazardous violations?

  5. In regard to the prevention of accidents as well as effective enforcement, please describe how the DOB tracks and reports violations, accidents, defaults, outstanding fines and failed audits of professionally-certified plans by architects, engineers and contractors throughout its database and what measures are taken by the DOB as a result. What, if any, red flags trigger heightened scrutiny, closer inspection, and effective DOB investigation?

  6. Again, in regard to the prevention of accidents as well as effective enforcement, please describe how the DOB tracks the safety performance of general contractors, as well as that of heavy equipment operators, crane operators, and concrete contractors, particularly in terms of hazardous violations, hearing defaults, accidents, and/or property damage.


Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing on the effectiveness of regulation of construction and development in New York City are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail it to:

Ali Vanderhoef
Legislative Associate
Assembly Committee on Cities
Room 520 - Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
E-mail: vandera@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: (518) 455-4363
Fax: (518) 455-5182

box I plan to attend the following public hearing on the effectiveness of regulation of construction and development in New York City to be conducted by the Assembly Committees on Cities, Codes and Housing on April 24, 2008.

box I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 10 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.


I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

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