Media Coverage 2019


Current News Coverage * 2020 * 2019 * 2018 * 2017 * 2015 * 2014 * 2012 * 2011 * 2010


NYC to double building facade inspectors after tragic Midtown death

Daily News
December 30, 2019

The city Buildings Department is doubling the number of façade inspectors two weeks after debris tumbled from a Midtown building and killed a prominent architect. The agency is hiring 12 new staffers for its facade inspection team and is beefing up safety protocols for buildings with fronts that are unsafe. The reforms come just 13 days after the tragic death of Erica Tishman, 60, who was struck by a piece of falling building debris while walking along Seventh Ave. The tragedy prompted an outcry from everyday New Yorkers and the almost immediate launch of inspections at 1,331 buildings deemed unsafe. Of those buildings, 220 lacked the proper protections for passersby and will be hit with violations requiring shielding, such as building sheds, be put in place, city officials said. “We are doubling-down on the proven tools at our disposal,” Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said. “New Yorkers should know that we are out in force holding owners’ feet to the fire, so they get repair work done as quickly as possible while still protecting the public.”


After Midtown Pedestrian Death, City Looks To Update Rules For Façade Inspections

WCBS
December 30, 2019

The Department of Buildings is revising the rules for façade inspections after a woman was killed by falling debris earlier this month. It was Dec. 17 when Erica Tishman became the victim of every New Yorker’s worst nightmare. The 60-year-old architect was walking down the street near Times Square when debris from a building façade came crashing down from above. She was killed. That incident has prompted the DOB to expedite rule changes to strengthen the inspection process for building façades, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reports. The proposed changes include making inspectors get more up-close and hands-on for routine checks of buildings over six stories, meaning inspectors would be touching building façades instead of looking through zoom lenses from afar. Dozens of residents, architects and building owners appeared before a DOB public hearing on the issue Monday.


City looks to ramp up energy efficiency requirements for new buildings

Politico
December 12, 2019

New York City has proposed major revisions to its three-year-old energy code, a move designed to improve the efficiency of new buildings. A bill, introduced by Council Member Robert Cornegy on Tuesday at the request of the mayor, would require developers behind new construction projects comply with new energy conservation provisions — from requiring buildings to use more energy efficient windows to testing for air leakage in buildings over 10,000 square feet. The changes come on the heels of a new city law that mandates current buildings bigger than 25,000 square-feet meet certain emission caps or pay a fine. Buildings account for roughly 70 percent of the city’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, making them a focus of efforts to meet Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. “The Department of Buildings is meeting the challenge of global warming head on by tackling the largest source of our city’s emissions,” Melanie La Rocca, commissioner of the Department of Buildings, said in a statement to POLITICO. “Our city is an archipelago that must reckon with the reality of global warming, and we owe it to future generations of New Yorkers to take decisive action.”


Construction injuries fall as city gets tough on safety

Real Estate Weekly
December 6, 2019

New York City development sites are getting safer, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Buildings. While the construction boom continues unabated, the number of workers injured during the construction of buildings has fallen by over one quarter since the beginning of this year. “The backbone of New York City’s construction industry are hard-working people in the building trades hoping to earn a good day’s pay and make it home safely,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Taking care of those workers’ safety is our top priority, so it’s great to see that while scaffolding continues to go up across all five boroughs, construction injuries continue to decline. And thanks to continued proactive inspections and new training requirements, I’m hopeful construction-related injuries will become as rare as a vacant lot in Midtown.” de Blasio was joined by Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin, and New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca to announce that injuries during the construction of buildings declined more than 26 percent in January through October 2019 compared to the same period last year.


Buildings commissioner talks priorities in final de Blasio years

The Real Deal
December 3, 2019

Often regarded as one of the more thankless City Hall gigs, the commissionership of the Department of Buildings involves overseeing 1.1 million buildings and more than 45,000 active construction sites — and a sprawling, cumbersome bureaucracy. The agency faces constant pressure from politicians, contractors, developers, unions, community groups and advocacy organizations, many pushing conflicting agendas. Melanie La Rocca, who previously served as vice president at the School Construction Authority, stepped in as DOB commissioner in June, taking over for Rick Chandler.  She assumed the role at a time when the city is continuing to see high levels of construction activity but is also grappling with construction-related deaths and accidents…La Rocca recently sat down with The Real Deal to discuss the agency’s priorities and her goals. Watch the video above to hear her plans for the final two-plus years of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure.


Enforcement sweep as safety deadline looms

Real Estate Weekly
November 28. 2019

Department of Buildings (DOB) inspectors have begun proactive sweeps of over 6,000 construction sites to educate workers about construction site safety. The sweeps come in advance of a December 1 deadline by which every worker and supervisor on major construction sites will be required to have undergone mandatory hours of safety training. “As the holidays approach, building inspectors are making their list and checking it twice to ensure every relevant site is following the rules and keeping its workers safe,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Having every worker and supervisor on major construction sites appropriately trained by December 1 isn’t just about following the law — it’s about saving lives.” “No family should have an empty seat at their dinner table this holiday season because safety wasn’t the top priority on a work site,” said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca.


11,484 Violations: Surprise Inspections Hit N.Y. Construction Sites

New York Times
November 22, 2019

The million-dollar view of the Manhattan skyline was wasted on Nolan Gutierrez. He cared only about the danger lying at his feet: a missing railing atop an 11-story luxury condominium building under construction in Brooklyn. All that kept a distracted or careless worker from falling was some flimsy yellow hazard tape. Mr. Gutierrez, a New York City construction inspector, shows up without warning at major construction sites to conduct spot safety checks. He is part of a new SWAT team of inspectors who swoop in to ferret out any safety lapses, often leaving behind frayed nerves and a stack of violations that can bring hefty fines or even stop the work. The surprise inspections are New York’s most aggressive effort to tighten oversight of construction sites after a surge in worker injuries as the city undergoes its biggest building boom in more than half a century. Construction injuries soared by 61 percent to 761 last year from 472 in 2015, according to city data. Construction fatalities, however, remained constant at 12 a year during that same period. Before, the city had typically dispatched building inspectors only for scheduled visits, or in response to accidents and complaints about possible violations. “It’s a total game-changer,” said Melanie La Rocca, the commissioner of the city’s Buildings Department. “This is the first time that we’ve had a unit dedicated to 100 percent proactive visits to larger construction sites.”


Like Restaurants, Buildings Will Get Grades (D’s for Energy Guzzlers)

NYTimes
November 21, 2019

New Yorkers are used to seeing letter grades on restaurants and bagel shops. Soon offices and residential buildings will be getting something similar. Beginning next year, midsize and large buildings will not only have to report how energy-efficient (or not) they are, they will also be required to post letter grades issued by the city, based on the data the buildings submit. “We have buildings with A’s and buildings with D’s and everything in between,” said Kelly Dougherty, the director of energy management for FirstService Residential, which oversees 500 apartment buildings in the city. The new grade system springs from Local Law 33, which was passed in 2017, signed into law in 2018 and tweaked in April of this year, when New York City passed its sweeping Climate Mobilization Act. The main goal of that ambitious legislative package is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of buildings, which are responsible for two-thirds of emissions in the city…“People want to know what they are walking into, what they are living in and what their contribution to meeting their values are,” said Melanie E. La Rocca, commissioner of the buildings department.


NYC sees drop in construction injuries

Daily News
November 25, 2019

The city saw a quarter fewer construction injuries during the first 10 months of this year even as the building boom continued. Construction injuries fell from 672 between January and October 2018 to 507 during the same 10 months of this year, a drop of nearly 25%. At the same time, the city issued about the same number of permits for major construction projects. The Department of Buildings gave 16,322 such permits during the 10-month period in 2018 and 16,291 from January to October this year. Construction fatalities also stayed flat. There were 11 fatalities from January to October 2018 and 10 during the same time frame this year. The city noted the decrease in injuries comes as the Department of Buildings launched a new safety compliance unit, which is in the process of inspecting about 6,000 sites. The unit has 38 inspectors and will get as many as 53.


6 Charged in 2018 NYC Wall Collapse That Killed Construction Worker

NBC 4 New York
November 21, 2019

Construction worker Luis Sanchez Almonte was killed in a wall collapse while working in Brooklyn September 2018. On Thursday, six people were charged in connection to the incident. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez says the death was preventable. He thinks that six people involved put profits ahead of safety. Almonte died at just 47 years old – smothered by a huge retaining wall at a Sunset Park construction site on a soggy day. Gonzalez has blamed his death on greed. “This conduct is not just unacceptable and dangerous, it is criminal,” he said while announcing the indictment of six people. All six were arrested and hauled into court. They have ties to WAC Group, the construction company that was working on a massive excavation and foundation project on 39th Street. The defendants include owner Jimmy Liu. “New York City will not tolerate contractors who put workers at risk for their own greed,” Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said.


An Illegal Gas Line, a Deadly Explosion and Now Guilty Verdicts

New York Times
November 15, 2019

In a Manhattan neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants and luxury housing, Maria Hrynenko saw an opportunity to expand her family’s real estate empire. But, prosecutors said, she cut corners to do so and the consequences proved deadly: In March 2015, a gas explosion leveled half of an East Village block, killing two young men at a sushi restaurant and injuring 13 others. After more than two months of testimony, a jury in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday found Ms. Hrynenko, a general contractor and an unlicensed plumber guilty of manslaughter and related offenses when they installed an illegal gas line, causing the explosion. They each face up to 15 years in prison on the top charge…Mr. Hrynenko, 31, was charged for his role in the scheme, but he died in 2017 while awaiting trial. A fifth person, Andrew Trombettas, a licensed plumber, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in January. Prosecutors said Mr. Trombettas sold the use of his credentials to Mr. Ioannidis, who had submitted work permits to the Department of Buildings and Con Edison.


Industry braced for ʻbig kahunaʼ

Real Estate Weekly
November 12, 2019

In her first major speech to members of New York’s real estate community, Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca signaled big changes to how the city works with the development community. And she vowed to help the industry as it tackles “the big kahuna” of local laws aimed at making New York one of the greenest cities on the planet. “We want the industry to be successful because your success is our success,” said La Rocca. After months of acrimony between in the industry and city hall over everything from capping broker fees to overhauling rent regulations, La Rocca said she was committed to working with the industry to affect a “culture change.” “A collective voice is incredibly important to my agency and knowing where we stand and where you all stand is important to our work,” she said. “Our work will always be interconnected and my department cannot and should not take actions without knowing what the impacts are, so when we say we are committed to a relationship, it means from start to finish. It means we may not always agree, but we want to know what your concerns are and we want to know how we can be more helpful to the industry to get your jobs done so we can all move onto the next project.”


City doing surprise lead inspections on older buildings

The Real Deal
November 13, 2019

Two city agencies are teaming up to perform surprise lead inspections on older buildings undergoing work. The Buildings and Health departments are showing up unannounced at sites with active construction permits, targeting pre-1978 buildings under renovation. Inspectors are looking for excessive dust. If lead is found in the dust, additional violations and a stop-work order are issued. So far this year the agencies have conducted 63 such inspections and issued 39 violations at 17 different buildings for dust and other problems, according to the Department of Buildings. Lead was found at four properties in Manhattan, three of which have since resolved the violations. A stop-work order remains active at the fourth, 582 Academy Street, for excessive dust in the building. Its manager, Barberry Rose Management, could not immediately be reached for comment.


Day of Action for immigration workers on safety training

Caribbean Life
October 31, 2019

The de Blasio administration on Monday announced a Day of Action for Nov. 7 to inform day laborers, including immigrant workers, in the construction industry about the upcoming Dec. 1 deadline for workers and supervisors to obtain site safety training as required under Local Law 196 of 2017. According to Jose Bayona, director of Community & Ethnic Media, New York City Mayor’s Office, the Day of Action will direct city agencies, in partnership with day laborer organizations, to conduct outreach to day laborers, including immigrant workers… To meet the upcoming training requirements, Bayona said workers and supervisors can obtain safety training from any Department of Buildings (DOB)-approved course provider, or by taking OSHA-10 or OSHA-30 classes from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified training provider.


New online map gives more transparency to night construction work

amNewYork
October 26, 2019

Nighttime construction in the city can be maddening for New Yorkers, and the issue has been getting attention lately from city officials. Weeks after City Council introduced legislation that would limit how often such construction can be done, the Department of Buildings has released an online interactive map that helps residents look up details about night work and whether it is being legally done with an after-hours variance (AHV) permit. The map can be found at www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/html/active-after-hour-variance. The new feature includes locations of all construction spots across the city with an AHV, which is required for work before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m., or on the weekend. There are currently over 1,400 locations listed on the site. The new feature includes links to the DOB’s public database, which has further details about permits, like the days and hours of the permitted work, the type of work, and the reason why after-hours work was allowed.


Multilingual campaign aiming to keep immigrant workers safe

Real Estate Weekly
October 24, 2019

Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca announced that multilingual notices about safety-training requirements must be posted at the exits of New York City’s larger construction sites. The new mandate requires the signs to be posted in every language that is used by workers to communicate at each specific construction site, and is part of the agency’s ongoing campaign to raise awareness about the upcoming deadlines for workers and supervisors to obtain site safety training as required under Local Law 196 of 2017. Commissioner La Rocca unveiled one of the new multilingual signs in Coney Island, Brooklyn, at the construction site for a new 11-story hospital building at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island. Starting on December 1, workers at large, complex construction sites will be required to have at least 30 hours of site-safety training, and supervisors must have at least 62 hours of training. On September 1, 2020, workers will be required to have 40 hours of training.


DOB to require 30 hours of safety training for major construction sites in NYC

News 12 Brooklyn
October 15, 2019

The city’s Buildings Department is taking steps toward safer construction sites. There have been eight fatalities at construction sites across the city this year alone, according to the Department of Buildings. To prevent that, the department is requiring safety training. But in less than two months, workers at all major construction sites across the city will be required to pass additional training. Workers at large construction sites are currently only required to have 10 hours of safety training. As of Dec. 1, they'll be required to have 30 hours. By September 2020, the workers will be required to have 40 hours…It is also now requiring new multilingual signs at all sites. The DOB says that prior to Local Law 196, which passed in 2017, there was no legally required training. This new training highlights things like using lifeline harnesses correctly, ensuring there’s proper netting and railing up, keeping the site clear of debris and a slew of other things that will ultimately keep the men and women safe.


Campaña para advertir sobre los peligros de vivir en viviendas con modificaciones ilegales

NY1 Noticias
October 9, 2019

Los apartamentos con modificaciones ilegales son un asunto de vida o muerte. Por eso, este martes, personal del departamento de Edificios y Bomberos, entregaron panfletos afuera de la estación de trenes East Broadway en el Lower East Side, sobre los peligros de vivir en una de estas viviendas. "La idea es fantástica porque muchas personas no están conscientes del peligro que corren y es muy bueno que las autoridades los mantengan al tanto de que no deben correrse ningún chance", dijo una vecina. La activiad es parte de una campaña de dos semana para alertar a los neoyorquinos de esa área donde a finales de agosto se encontraron un total de 27 apartamentos divididos ilegalmente. Los últimos dos pisos de del edificio 165 de la calle Henry estaban divididos en dos, horizontalmente. 9 apartartamentos con techos de una altura promedio de 5 pies, tan pequeños que allí dentro había que caminar casi de rodillas.


OSHA 30 horas para evitar multas

Queens Latino
October 8, 2019

Los obreros de construcción que no hayan tomado la clase de seguridad de 30 horas de OSHA, comenzarán a ser multados desde el primero de diciembre de este año. Tambien serán multados los dueños de las empresas de construcción que los contraten. Los supervisores deberán cumplir 62 horas de entrenamiento o también serán multados…El Departamento de Edificios de Nueva York (DOB) puede multar al dueño del lugar y al responsable de los permisos con 5,000 dólares por cada obrero sin el certificado de OSHA.


DOI busts 2 contractors for trying to bribe city buildings inspector

New York Post
October 1, 2019

A pair of contractors working a job in Queens were busted for waving hundreds of dollars in cash under the nose of a city buildings inspector in a slimy bid to evade construction violations, officials announced Tuesday. Brooklyn residents Ismail Mohammad Hassan, 22, and Mohamed Ali Hassan, 50, were both slapped with a felony charge of bribery in the third degree Monday after they allegedly were caught red-handed, the city Department of Investigation said. The DOI launched its probe after an inspector with the Department of Buildings notified the agency he was offered $400 to sweep some violations under the rug at a construction site on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens, on Monday. The DOI put the inspector under surveillance and had him return to the job site to speak with the suspects…“This investigation shows how quickly corruption can be stopped when city employees embrace their mandate to report wrongdoing to DOI,” department Commissioner Margaret Garnett said in a statement…“I commend this DOB Inspector who stood up for integrity and for all New Yorkers,” said Garnett.


Why Construction Noise Is Keeping You Up at 3 A.M.

New York Times
September 27, 2019

Building is booming in New York City. Construction spending reached a record $61.5 billion in 2018, according to the New York Building Congress, a trade group. And, according to the state comptroller’s office, construction firms accounted for 10 percent of the city’s economic output last year. But it is nearly impossible to get all of that work done on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., the normal construction hours in the city. The Department of Buildings issued around 67,000 new and renewed variance permits last year, more than double the 31,569 issued in 2012, records show. The permits are lucrative for the city, bringing in $21.8 million in fees for construction activity in Manhattan alone. But as overnight work increases, so do noise complaints. Last year, the Department of Buildings received 3,700 complaints prompted by projects operating with after-hours variance permits.


The technology that’s remaking construction

City & State
September 25, 2019

Construction may be one of the last industries to begin incorporating technology into day-to-day operations, but now that construction’s digital revolution is upon us, stakeholders in New York are looking at how they too can innovate in the field. At City & State’s Rebuilding NY Summit on Tuesday, Leena Panchwagh, chief innovation officer at the New York City Department of Buildings, and Youssef Kalad, program director of NYCx at the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, weighed in on what New York is doing to be at the forefront of innovation in construction and development. Much of Panchwagh’s work at the DOB has been focused on internal innovation, as the department is in the process of a full digital transformation, putting its services online and moving away from paper. And while Kalad’s work doesn’t focus on the construction industry, he said there’s a wealth of technologies that have the potential to make productivity and safety gains in construction and development.


Commish counts down to training deadline

Real Estate Weekly
September 20, 2019

Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca has announced the next phase of the agency’s campaign to inform the construction industry about the upcoming December 1, 2019 deadline for workers and supervisors to obtain site safety training as required under Local Law 196 of 2017. The campaign features direct DOB outreach to workers on construction sites in all five boroughs, multilingual advertisements in 30 community newspapers, and 1,000 subway ads system-wide. Starting in December, workers at major construction sites will be required to have at least 30 hours of site-safety training, and supervisors must have at least 62 hours of training. The exact locations of the 8,000-plus construction sites where training is required can be seen in DOB’s interactive map. “Safety training for everyone working on these site safety construction sites is a foundational building block in our shared mission to keep these sites safe for workers and the public,” said Commissioner La Rocca.


Here's How NYC Is Trying To Shrink Buildings' Big Carbon Footprints

Gothamist
September 19 2019

This past spring, New York City enacted landmark legislation that seeks to dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of large buildings like the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center. The passage of the bill, which was the centerpiece of a package of proposals called the Climate Mobilization Act, was hailed as a bold and aggressive action that takes aim at the city's most iconic and polluting assets. New York's large and aging building stock has long been one of the city's worst environmental offenders. All told, buildings are responsible for contributing nearly 70 percent to the city’s carbon emissions, through their high demands for heating, cooling and lighting and a tendency, especially among older structures, to be inefficient through either poor insulation or old windows. But they also represent the domain of one of the city’s most politically powerful interest groups: landlords and the real estate industry, who objected to the plan due to costs and what they saw as unfair selection of buildings…A new agency called the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance is currently being staffed within the city's Department of Buildings. Designed to be up and running by the beginning of 2020, the office will collect data, certify compliance as well as issue fines.


City moves to revoke license of contractor it blames for construction worker’s death

The Real Deal
September 16, 2019

The city wants to take away the license of a contractor who it alleges was responsible for the death of a construction worker at a rental building in Turtle Bay earlier this year. The Department of Buildings announced on Monday it has sued to take away the special rigger license of contractor Wlodzimierz Tomczak, whose negligence the agency maintains caused the death of a construction worker on April 8 at 311 East 50th Street. The worker was repairing masonry on a scaffold at the 14-story rental building when a falling coping stone hit him in the head and killed him. Kenneth Rotner’s Great Bay Building Company owns the property and was granted a DOB permit in 2018 for $48,000 worth of exterior repairs. The coping stone was being used as an anchor point for a set of C-hook devices that affixed the scaffold to the building, and investigators from the DOB are accusing Tomczak of failing to make sure that the C-hook and scaffold were installed and maintained properly.


Instan a trabajadores de construcción a que hagan el curso sobre seguridad en el trabajo

NY1 Noticias
September 13, 2019

En un obra en Brooklyn, cientos de trabajadores realizan labores peligrosos de construcción bajo enormes gruas, a grandes alturas y utilizando maquinaria pesada. Este mismo lugar fue el que visitó la comisionada del departamento de Edificios, Melanie La Rocca, para informar a los trabajadores que a partir del primero de diciembre no podrán trabajar si no obtienen el curso de seguridad de OSHA de 30 horas.


Construction bigs get licenses pulled over tragic job site death

Daily News
September 3, 2019

The city is yanking licenses from two companies involved in the June work-site death of a construction worker in Harlem, officials told the Daily News Tuesday. The city Buildings Department suspended the special rigger licenses of Wayne Bellet of Bellet Construction and Mohammad Bhutta of Zain Contracting, alleging the two companies failed to get the proper permits before erecting shoddy scaffolding at an Upper Manhattan apartment building. Carlos Olmedo Lala, 44, died after falling from the second level of the scaffolding June 22, according to a Building Department inspector’s report. DOI is continuing to investigate the death at the St. Nicholas Ave. building. The family of Lala, who was from Ecuador, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.  His death is the city’s eighth construction fatality in 2019. Over the past four years, a total of 44 workers have died on job sites. The numbers have remained steady since 2016, when 12 workers died. In 2017 and 2018, 12 workers died each year as well, according to Buildings Department data. Aside from suspending their licenses, the Buildings Department issued 15 “aggravated” violations against Bellet and Bhutta, including tickets for lack of adequate supervision, no record of scaffold installation logs and no records of required inspections.


Condo owner busted for building ‘Being John Malkovich’-like 4th 1/2 floor

New York Post
August 16, 2019

The real estate market in New York has never been this tight. A Lower East Side condo owner turned his small apartment into a mini-village — by converting it into an illegal duplex with 11 sub-units that had ceilings as low as 4 ¹/₂ feet high, officials said Friday. The illegal micro apartments at 165 Henry Street are so cramped that condo owner Xue Ping Ni even put up bubble wrap as protection to keep residents from hitting their heads on the many low-hanging pipes. The bizarre arrangement in Ni’s apartment No. 601 — which was raided and shut down Wednesday night by the city Buildings Department — was compared to something out of a movie. “This is like the room out of the movie ‘Being John Malkovich,’” said Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos — a nod to the “7th 1/2 floor” Manhattan office in the 1999 indie flick. “It was funny in fiction, but a horror story in real life.” It wasn’t clear how much rent Ni was charging for the tiny units. But the residents there were stacked like sardines, as the 11 windowless units were all carved out of the upper-areas of Ni’s single 634-square-foot condo on the building’s 4th floor.


Construction Training Serves Important ‘Porpoise,’ DOB’s Hogan Says

Commercial Observer
May 9, 2019

Sharp-edged tools, falling debris and dizzying drop-offs are among the obvious hazards at big-city construction sites. But devious marine mammals can represent an even more pervasive danger, according to Timothy Hogan, the deputy commissioner of enforcement at the New York City Department of Buildings. worker training. City law requires that workers on construction sites attend training classes approved by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Hogan reminded the audience at Commercial Observer’s first-ever Construction Safety Forum, held at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center in Midtown yesterday. And these laborers are required to carry cards that prove they’ve spent time in the classroom. But when Hogan’s inspectors visit work sites, they’ve often encountered workers with poorly counterfeited credentials—and the Department of Buildings is cracking down, he warned. As a shot across the bow, Hogan showed photos of some phony cards to demonstrate how easy they are for his inspectors to ferret out. In one case, a sentence on a fake card stated—not without irony—that the credential should not be used for “fraudulent porpoises.”


Queens native picked to run Department of Buildings while construction booms citywide

QNS
May 7, 2019

A Queens woman has been appointed to run the city’s Department of Buildings. Mayor Bill de Blasio named Melanie La Rocca as commissioner of the DOB, which regulates the city’s real estate and construction industries and enforces the agency’s laws to protect tenants from construction harassment. La Rocca, who grew up in Flushing and currently lives in Astoria, said she will intensify efforts to ensure the safety of construction workers. “As a lifelong New Yorker, I understand how the construction industry plays a key role in ensuring New Yorker City adapts to the changing needs of our business and local communities,” La Rocca said. “I know first-hand what it takes to deliver a high-quality project in a fast-paced environment. And I understand the need to connect with all stakeholders, especially with members of the community.”


Campaña con trabajadores de la construcción sobre importancia de la seguridad

NY1 Noticias
May 7, 2019

El Departamento de Edificios de la ciudad lleva a cabo una campaña para recordarles a los trabajadores de la construcción de la necesidad de las medidas de seguridad en sus puestos de trabajo. La actividad es parte de la llamada Semana de la Seguridad en la Construcción. La campaña se da en el contexto de recientes accidentes de trabajo que han causado la muerte de varios trabajadores de la construcción, los últimos tres todos latinos.


SCA Executive Melanie La Rocca Chosen to Head Department of Buildings

Commercial Observer
May 6, 2019

Three months after New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler left the sometimes troubled city agency, Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped Melanie La Rocca, a vice president at the School Construction Authority, to head the Department of Buildings, Commercial Observer has learned. La Rocca will join the DOB after more than five years at the SCA, where she is currently the vice president of development and external affairs, according to the mayor’s office.


CODE BREAKERS: Sciame fined after worker injured; Facade inspector suspended for false reports

Real Estate Weekly
May 2, 2019

The New York City Department of Buildings March 2019 enforcement bulletin, provides highlights of the agency’s actions to sanction and deter bad actors in the construction industry through the enforcement of safety laws and codes of conduct for construction professionals. Today’s bulletin includes summaries of DOB-imposed disciplinary actions, including penalties and license suspensions and revocations. The actions below represent a portion of DOB’s overall work to enforce the City’s building codes and safety laws, in addition to the thousands of inspections conducted and violations issued by the agency each month for illegal building and construction conditions.


Developer behind fatal facade collapse that killed 2-year-old to pay city $50K, but won’t serve time

The Real Deal
April 26, 2019

The developer responsible for a 2015 facade collapse that killed a two-year-old girl and injured her grandmother has pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanor charges and will pay $50,000 to the city over the incident. Esplanade Venture Partnership pleaded guilty to criminally violating the city’s administrative code by failing to maintain the exterior wall at 305 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side, according to the Department of Buildings. Two-year-old Greta Greene was sitting on a bench outside the residential building with her grandmother in May 2015 when bricks and terracotta fell from it, killing her and hurting her grandmother. The DOB had filed criminal charges against Esplanade in 2016 for failing to maintain the building despite receiving multiple warnings about problems with its facade. The firm was fined $25,000 for both of the charges, and its managing agent Alexander Scharf, who was also charged, has agreed to pay the city $5,000 in restitution.


City launches annual free no-penalty deck inspection program

Staten Island Advance
April 22, 2019

Monday marks the start of the ninth annual city Department of Buildings (DOB) No-Penalty Deck and Retaining Wall Inspection Program. The 45-day-long citywide initiative allows New Yorkers to call 311 to request a free, no-penalty visual inspection of their decks, porches and retaining walls, giving homeowners the opportunity to ensure that these structures are maintained in accordance with NYC Construction Codes. Following the inspection, DOB will notify homeowners of the inspector’s findings and whether or not the conditions observed pose an immediate safety hazard or warrant repairs. If immediate safety hazards are found, DOB will withhold issuing violations for a limited time, giving homeowners the opportunity to make corrective repairs.


CODE BREAKERS: Owner fined $75,000 for running Airbnb; Zara, Uniqlo stores in illegal Soho spaces

Real Estate Weekly
March 29, 2019

The New York City Department of Buildings released its February 2019 enforcement bulletin, which provides highlights of the agency’s actions to sanction and deter bad actors in the construction industry through the enforcement of safety laws and codes of conduct for construction professionals. Today’s bulletin includes summaries of DOB-imposed disciplinary actions, including penalties and license suspensions and revocations.


DOB launches no-penalty elevator inspection program

Real Estate Weekly
March 11, 2019

The Department of Buildings announced that owners of private homes with both registered and unregistered elevators can request a DOB inspection of the device with no penalty for the next 90 days. The program comes after a woman was trapped in the elevator of a Manhattan townhouse, where she worked for three days while the owner was out of town. The woman was rescued when a delivery man contacted the owners when he couldn’t gain access to the house.


New DOB maps shows all building violations, permits issued in past 12 months

The Real Deal
March 8, 2019

The Department of Buildings now has an interactive map that offers a quick glimpse at construction activity, accidents and violations in the city over the past 12 months. The map, unveiled on Friday, highlights every building that has had some interaction with the DOB in the past year. Such interactions include being issued construction permits, receiving violations and being inspected — for elevators, boilers, plumbing, facades, etc. — during that period. The map can be filtered for specific kinds of complaints received at each property, as well as for certain kinds of incidents.


The Building Inspector as Action Hero

New York Times
March 8, 2019

Suspended by ropes like the ones used by rock climbers, she slid past balcony ledges and window frames, careful not to lock eyes with dumbstruck residents. With a tiny mallet and a point-and-shoot camera, she cataloged cracks and blemishes on the building’s facade, pausing at each floor to feel around for fatal flaws. If pedestrians bothered to watch, they might have applauded as she touched down near a neighboring nail salon. Without fanfare, she detached her gear, walked back inside the co-op and took the elevator to the roof for another drop — to canvass another section of the postwar building’s dappled face. It’s all in a day’s work for a growing number of New York City’s building facade inspectors. The recent building boom should keep inspectors busy. Between 2020 and 2025, some 1,500 additional buildings will be required to have inspections, said Jill Hrubecky, an executive engineer with the Department of Buildings. While some in the industry are pushing for the use of unmanned drones — heavily restricted, in most cases, in New York — this is one of the few fields where robots won’t soon prevail. “Nothing is going to replace a hands-on inspection,” she said.


Common Electrical Safety Problems (and How to Solve Them)

New York Times
March 8, 2019

Not all quick fixes are safe fixes — and that’s especially true when it comes to outdated electrical wiring in old houses or apartments…“If you need more outlets you should call a qualified professional, rather than taking the easy way out,” said Robert Diamond, head of the Electrical Development Unit at the New York City Department of Buildings. Depending on where you live, and the age of your home, a licensed electrician could charge as little as $100 to install an additional outlet — a small price for something that should make your home safer for years to come.


NYC's construction boom appears to have peaked

amNY
January 22, 2019

New York City's construction boom is showing signs of slowing. New construction around the city is still strong throughout the five boroughs, especially in Manhattan, but the number of new sites appeared to cool last year, according to data released by the buildings department. Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler unveiled the department's report on 2018 construction on Tuesday, and found that the city had issued 165,988 permits last year, the second highest on record. That represented a drop of 2,255 permits issued by the buildings department, compared with 2017, the first decline in permits since 2009, according to Chandler.


DOB commissioner to step down at the end of month

The Real Deal
January 4, 2019

Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler is stepping down at the end of this month. Chandler, 58, will retire February 1, he confirmed to The Real Deal on Friday. First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fariello will take over as acting commissioner until the mayor appoints Chandler’s replacement…As commissioner, Chandler headed an agency tasked with assuring 1.1 million buildings and more than 45,000 active construction sites abided by the city’s building codes. While in office, he oversaw the agency’s modernization efforts, which included digitizing construction filings and inspection records.


Helpful Links