Media Coverage 2021

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April

DOB goes live with ‘bad landlords list’
Real Estate Weekly
April 15, 2021
The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has published a new, real-time interactive map showing the location of apartment properties facing restrictions on what construction permits they can obtain, due to high proportions of hazardous violations issued by DOB and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). The Department of Buildings is releasing the map to further assist with the implementation of Local Law 104 of 2019 and provide a new level of transparency for the public, by calling out specific properties for their continued failure to keep their buildings in a safe and code-compliant condition.


Three landlords slapped with six-figure fines for carving up buildings
The Real Deal
April 2, 2021
Three landlords trying to pack people into residences like sardines were hit with big fines by New York City’s Department ofBuildings, the agency announced Wednesday. The fines, each exceeding $100,000, were part of nearly $2 million in penalties handed down for illegal building and construction in February.


March

DOB Fines Four Bronx Construction Companies in February for Non-Compliance
Norwood News
March 31, 2021
The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) released its February 2021 enforcement bulletin on Wednesday, March 31, 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. The bulletin includes summaries of DOB-imposed disciplinary actions, including penalties and license suspensions and revocations.


Advierten que nadie podrá trabajar en obras de construcción grandes en NYC sin capacitación en seguridad
El Diario
March 29, 2021
Desde el pasado 1 de marzo, cuando entró en vigencia una norma en la Ciudad de Nueva York, que se había aplazado, y que exige que todos los trabajadores de la industria de la construcción que laboren en sitios grandes, se entrenen sobre normas de seguridad, nadie que no tenga las llamadas tarjetas SST de capacitación, temporal o permanente, podrá trabajar en sitios de obra. Así lo advirtió el Departamento de Edificios de Nueva York (DOB), recordando que por ley, ahora todos los obreros y constructores de obras a gran escala deben demostrar que tomaron por lo menos 40 horas de capacitación en asuntos de seguridad, que son totalmente obligatorias. El 87% de los sitios de construcción en la ciudad no requieren esa capacitación.


Benchmarking Season Is Here for Co-ops and Condos
Habitat
March 23, 2021
It’s that time of year again – benchmarking season – time for co-op and condo boards and their property managers to compile and report their building’s 2020 water and energy usage data, which will be the basis for each building’s energy efficiency letter grade that will be issued later this year. All properties on the city’s newly released 2021 Covered Buildings List must submit their benchmarking report by May 1. The Department of Buildings' website also offers Benchmark Compliance Instructions.


The 2021 Real Estate Power 100
City & State
March 22, 2021
City & State’s Real Estate Power 100, which was reported and written in collaboration with journalist Sydney Kashiwagi, highlights the key industry actors, public officials, advocates and others who are navigating the crisis and positioning New York for a robust recovery. [At number] 24. Melanie La Rocca, Commissioner, NYC Department of Buildings. Melanie La Rocca heads the agency responsible for overseeing about 1.1 million buildings in New York City and more than 45,000 construction sites. When non-essential construction resumed over the summer, the Department of Buildings issued safety guidelines for construction sites and sent out teams of inspectors to ensure workers were in compliance. La Rocca also led the city’s rapid response “situation room” to respond to coronavirus cases in public schools.


City Dept. of Buildings launches remote video inspection pilot program on Staten Island
SI Advance
March 16, 2021
The Department of Buildings (DOB) will allow Staten Islanders in need of Construction Final Inspections to receive one via digital video technology instead of the traditional in-person inspection. Remote Video Inspections (RVI) will be offered to eligible applicants and owners from March 19 to April 30.


DOB finding few Covid violations at job sites as city restarts construction projects
Crain’s
March 8, 2021
Covid-19 violations have remained a fairly uncommon problem at construction sites as the city restarts $17 billion worth of its projects, according to data from the Department of Buildings. The agency has issued 851 violations for noncompliance with its Covid-19 protocols as of March 1, spokesman Andrew Rudansky said. It had issued 550 violations between July 8 and Sept. 2, indicating that the amount of violations inspectors have found at construction sites has dropped off dramatically since the summer of 2020. The Building Department began inspecting construction sites for Covid noncompliance violations July 8.


City Conducting Surprise Sweeps of Facade-Repair Projects
Habitat
March 4, 2021
Co-op and condo boards in the midst of mandated facade repairs, beware! The city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) is conducting surprise sweeps of facade projects to make sure that all work is being performed in compliance with city regulations and the Facade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP), formerly known as Local Law 11. “We have teams of inspectors who will be conducting surprise inspections of 1,100 of these construction sites across the city to ensure that the supervisors and contractors are properly protecting their workers and the public,” says Lisa Wood, deputy press secretary at DOB. “We are constantly pushing to establish a culture of safety in this industry,” says DOB Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca.


New NYC Department Of Buildings Regulation Aims To Keep Landlords Accountable For Dangerous Conditions
CBS 2
March 2, 2021
There’s a new push by New York City to keep landlords accountable for dangerous conditions. A new Department of Buildings regulation bars owners of residential buildings with a high proportion of hazardous violations from getting new construction permits. The buildings will be put on a list by the DOB and won’t be able to obtain a permit until violations are resolved. The permit restriction applies to violations issued on or after Jan. 4, 2020.


Crane operator fined $10K for playing with his cellphone also probed for role in NYC hardhat’s 2019 death
Daily News
March 2, 2021
A crane operator fined $10,000 for using his cellphone while hoisting steel on a Bronx job site is also under investigation for his role in the death of a Manhattan construction worker in 2019, the Daily News has learned. Michael Chichester was fined the $10,000 in January for the Bronx violation — as investigators continue to examine his role in the gruesome death of hardhat Gregory Echeverria during the construction of a luxury building at 570 Broome St. in SoHo on April 13, 2019. “Mr. Chichester was one of the parties involved in the 2019 fatal crane incident,” Buildings Department spokesman Andrew Rudansky said Tuesday. “That incident is still under investigation by the Department of Buildings and our partners in law enforcement. Further enforcement actions related to that incident are pending the conclusion of that joint investigation.


February

DOB launches facade, scaffold safety blitz
Real Estate Weekly
February 19, 2021
The Department of Buildings has launched a seven-week façade and scaffold safety blitz. The campaign includes direct educational outreach to construction workers and industry professionals on scaffold safety, as well as inspection sweeps on façade work sites across the five boroughs. Inspectors will also now provide a detailed check list to construction contractors for any deficiencies found with their scaffolding set up following required corner/angle scaffold safety inspections. The campaign builds upon DOB’s efforts, announced in December of 2019, to strengthen our existing Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP) program, which aims to improve work site safety, and hold bad actors accountable for not properly maintaining their buildings’ façades.


The 2021 Construction Power 50
City & State
February 11, 2021 
Undercutting the stereotype that New York City government is completely bogged down by red tape, Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca and Mayor’s Office of Contract Services Director Dan Symon have prioritized streamlining the bureaucracy that historically had hampered the private sector. La Rocca’s Buildings Department has also spent years moving its processes online, which has proved invaluable during the coronavirus pandemic.


Council Extends Moratorium on Retail Sign Violations
Bklyner
February 11, 2021 
The City Council voted unanimously today to extend a moratorium on sign violation fines that briefly sent small retail business owners into a panic in 2018. The new bill adds an additional two years to a recently expired two-year moratorium on Department of Buildings (DOB) violations related to accessory signs. It also revives a temporary DOB assistance program designed to help businesses owners properly install signs outside their storefronts, and increases the waiver covering installation costs to 100%.


Carbon Emissions and the Recent Climate Mobilization Act of New York City
JD Supra
February 9, 2021 
The Climate Mobilization Act constitutes a profound shift in the regulation of commercial real estate in New York City—and all stakeholders including building owners, investors, sellers and purchasers, tenants, and lenders will need to consider how to quantify and allocate the costs of compliance (or non-compliance). Buildings that have emissions exceeding the “target emissions” by 40 percent or more can apply for an adjustment with the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) no later than July 1, 2021, but the adjustments are only given for cause and where special circumstances can be established. Adjustments are also not indefinite in duration. Rather, they are designed to allow enough time to permit compliance by the next set of targets, in 2030.


Navigating New York’s new TCO process
Real Estate Weekly
February 9, 2021 
The pinnacle of any construction project is the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy (CO), albeit temporary or final. These documents, distributed by the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB), grant the legal occupation of a new development or an existing building under construction in NYC. The process can be daunting and lengthy, but extremely necessary to not only protect residents and workers, but also to make the project financially viable. Developers do not see any money until the building is occupied. On December 10, 2020, the New York City Council passed Intro. 2033 creating Interim Certificates of Occupancy (ICOs) for NYC buildings.


NYC’s Wealthy Enclaves Lost Housing in Past Decade as Combining of Apartments Outpaced New Construction
The City
February 8, 2021 
New York is a city that’s seemingly always under construction. But for all that building, some richer neighborhoods haven’t added a single new home overall in the past decade — and have even lost units. That’s because so many people combined apartments or homes into one dwelling, the total for new housing dipped below zero, according to a new analysis by the Department of City Planning. The department analyzed the figures using its new database of all housing construction and demolition jobs approved by the Department of Buildings in the five boroughs since Jan. 1, 2010.


January

Deadline looms for construction worker safety training 
Real Estate Weekly 
January 29, 2021
The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) is reminding the construction and development industry of the upcoming deadline for construction workers on large work sites in New York City to obtain Site Safety Training (SST) cards, signifying the successful completion of at least 40 hours of mandatory construction safety training. “Site Safety Training is key to preventing unsafe conditions on construction sites, and has been instrumental in helping us achieve the historic drop in injuries these last two years,” said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca.


Bklyn Lawmakers on the Move Jan. 29, 2021: Diaz Bill Extending Deadline for Basement Apartment Applicants Passes Council 
King’s County Politics
January 29, 2021
City Council Member Darma Diaz (D-Bushwick, East New York) yesterday saw her legislation, 2204-A, establishing a six-month extension for applicants to the City’s basement apartment legalization pilot program. Applicants were originally required to submit the required construction documents to the Department of Buildings (DOB) by January 2, 2021 (18 months after the effective date of Local Law 49 for the year 2019), but the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has caused significant delays, making compliance with the deadline difficult and affecting DOB’s ability to review applications and conduct necessary in-person inspections 


New York City building department rolling out safety credential system 
Construction Dive 
January 27, 2021
myComply, a tech company that uses hardware and software to verify safety training, has been selected by the New York City Department of Buildings to build and administer the software behind a new training credential database.


New Class Of Certificate Of Occupancy Coming Soon To NYC
JD Supra
January 19, 2021
At the end of last year, the New York City Council voted to approve Intro. 2033, legislation which will create a new class of certificate of occupancy: the Interim Certificate of Occupancy (“ICO”). The Department of Buildings is permitted to begin issuing ICOs as early as mid-April. Like a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (“TCO”), an ICO will be available for portions of a project which are deemed safe for occupancy even though the remainder of the project has not been completed. Unlike TCOs, ICOs are not required to be renewed every 90 days – they expire only on issuance of a final Certificate of Occupancy by the DOB. This new option will provide more stability for developers and building owners by providing a secure certificate that can be offered to prospective tenants without the risk of a renewal denial every 90 days and no additional required DOB interaction. It will further reduce red tape and unnecessary interactions between developers and the City.


DOB says site of deadly wall collapse lacked safeguards and permits
Brooklyn Reporter
January 14, 2021
An investigation into the deadly wall collapse at a construction site in Sunset Park found that the site lacked adequate safeguards and that required permits had not been issued for the work. The collapse took place Dec. 28 in the rear of a two-family residential building on 43rd Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, trapping two workers under the debris. One worker, Jasim Mia, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other sustained moderate injuries. The NYC Department of Buildings said, “Our investigation determined that workers were excavating the area adjacent to a retaining wall in the backyard, between 454 42nd St. and 453 43rd St., without first implementing adequate shoring safeguards. As a result, the retaining wall collapsed into the backyard at 454 42nd St. and onto the two workers.”


Lenders' Role Will Be Key In NYC Green Building Loans
Law 360
January 14, 2021
In May 2019, the NY City Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act. One of the most important parts of the act, Local Law 97, requires all new and existing buildings larger than 25,000 sq. ft. to reduce their carbon emissions by 40% by the year 2030, and by 80% by the year 2050. The first deadline for compliance with the act is soon. On or prior to July 1, building owners may apply to the NYC Department of Buildings for adjustments to the building emissions limits set forth in the act. To qualify for an adjustment, building owners are obligated to take advantage of any available loan or grant opportunities for energy-efficient retrofits, such as C-PACE loans.


City Pilot to Combat Tenant Harassment Should Be Improved and Made Permanent, Advocates Say
City Limits
January 11, 2021
Housing advocates say a city initiative to protect tenants from landlord harassment is working, and should be permanently expanded across the five boroughs—but with improvements. The City Council passed the legislation behind the Certificate of No Harassment (CONH) pilot program in 2017. The three-year initiative, administered under HPD, requires landlords of select buildings with a history of violations and tenant harassment to apply for certification from the city before they can obtain building permits for construction work. The program was aimed to prevent landlords from harassing and pushing tenants out of apartments in order to renovate the units and hike rents. Advocates say construction can be a form of tenant harassment itself, with landlords who do work at all hours to disturb residents or who cut off essential services during renovations, such as heat or hot water. If HPD determines there has been no harassment, the CONH is issued and the property owners can receive their Department of Buildings permit.


Update On New York City Gas Piping System Inspection And Certification Deadlines
JD Supra
January 5, 2021
As a result of a bill approved by the New York City Council on December 17, 2020, which is expected to become law on January 18, 2021, the December 31, 2020 deadline for gas piping inspections for Community Districts 1, 3 and 10 in all boroughs has been extended to June 30, 2021. The NYC Department of Buildings has issued a Service Notice summarizing the impact of this change.


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