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For Immediate Release
March 5, 2008

BUILDINGS COMMISSIONER PATRICIA LANCASTER LAUNCHES ELEVATOR ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM
TO CRACK DOWN ON BUILDINGS WITH CHRONIC ELEVATOR PROBLEMS

Department Pursuing Top Offenders and Proposing Legislation to Increase Penalties for Elevator Violations

Buildings Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster, FAIA, announced that beginning today ten residential buildings with chronically defective elevators will be publicly listed on the Department's website as part of a shame campaign to force building owners to return their elevators to service. The ten worst offenders will be pursued under the Department's Elevator Enforcement Program, an aggressive enforcement agenda to ensure safe and reliable elevator service. The Program also includes legislation to impose significant daily penalties for elevator violations. Today's announcement is the latest effort in a series of enforcement initiatives launched  by Commissioner Lancaster to combat repeat offenders and increase oversight over New York City's 975,000 buildings.

"We live in a vertical city where residents rely on elevator service to easily enter and exit their homes. Lack of access to working elevators presents a major safety risk that those living in elevator buildings should not have to face. The Elevator Enforcement Program is about forcing owners to perform timely elevator maintenance or else face tens of thousands of dollars in penalties for failing to do so. Buildings inspectors will not tolerate building owners who shirk their critical responsibility of maintaining safe and reliable elevator service for tenants. Through enforcement tools, such as increased penalties for elevator violations, we will ensure New York's elevators are running safely and reliably," said Commissioner Lancaster.

Top Worst Offenders to Be Pursued and Publicly Shamed

Using the number of the elevator-related violations, field inspection reports from elevator inspectors, the number of elevator-related complaints, and elevator maintenance filings, the Buildings Department has identified ten of the top offenders who will be pursued under the Elevator Safety Program. Starting today, these offenders will be posted on the Department's website, where they will remain until the elevators are returned to safe and reliable service. As owners of these buildings bring their elevators into compliance, new owners will be identified and added to the list of the worst offenders. The list will be maintained and provided publicly on the Buildings Department's website on a quarterly basis.

The worst offenders identified are:

  • 4441 Broadway, Manhattan. This is a 6-story residential building with approximately 26 units serviced by a single elevator. The Buildings Department has received 41 elevator-related complaints and issued 34 violations for elevator problems, including sensor and mechanical defects that allow the basement door to open while the car is at upper floors or moving.

  • 34-15 Parsons Blvd, Queens. This is a 6-story residential building with approximately 175 units serviced by three elevators. The Buildings Department has received 86 elevator-related complaints and issued 57 violations for elevator problems, including improper relays on the controllers and cars that fail to properly level at stops.

  • 975 Walton Ave, Bronx. This is a 6-story residential building with approximately 181 units serviced by four elevators. The Buildings Department has received 75 elevator-related complaints and issued 50 violations for elevator problems, including worn guide shoes and brakes.

  • 100 E. 92nd St, Brooklyn. This is a 6-story residential building with approximately 61 units serviced by a single elevator. The Buildings Department has received 29 elevator-related complaints and issued 9 violations for elevator problems, including improper fuses and worn door gibs on hoistway doors.

  • 1 Haven Plaza, Manhattan. This is a 27-story residential building with approximately 150 units serviced by two elevators. The Buildings Department has received 108 elevator-related complaints and issued 31 violations for elevator problems, including failing to have either device in service and operating the devices with improperly fused controllers.

  • 3971 Gouverneur Ave, Bronx. This is a 6-story residential building with approximately 67 units serviced by a single elevator. The Buildings Department has received 40 elevator-related complaints and issued 6 violations for elevator problems, including failing to have the device in service and damaged governor ropes.

  • 1314 Seneca Ave, Bronx. This is a 6-story residential building with approximately 60 units serviced by a single elevator. The Buildings Department has received 24 elevator-related complaints and issued 16 violations for elevator problems, including failing to have the device in service and slamming car doors.

  • 2021 & 2023 Davidson Ave, Bronx. This is a 5-story residential building with approximately 90 units serviced by two elevators. The Buildings Department has received 16 elevator-related complaints and issued 11 violations for elevator problems, including failing to have the device in service and having an inoperative safety edge.

  • 1985 & 1987 Davidson Ave, Bronx. This is a 5-story residential building with approximately 90 units serviced by two elevators. The Buildings Department has received 9 elevator-related complaints in the past three months and issued 12 violations for elevator problems, including failing to have the device in service and failing to perform required periodic tests.

  • 1995 & 1997 Davidson Ave, Bronx. This is a 5-story residential building with approximately 100 units serviced by two elevators.  The Buildings Department has received 7 elevator-related complaints and issued 11 violations for elevator problems, including failing to have the device in service.

To force the worst offenders to return elevators to safe and reliable service, attorneys from the Buildings Department are pursuing cases against the owners at the Environmental Control Board and in Criminal Court. In several instances, guilty pleas have been taken and fines assessed. In others, court dates have been scheduled for the coming weeks and months.

Proposed Legislation Would Increase Elevator Violation Penalties

As part of an aggressive legislative agenda to be outlined later this month, Commissioner Lancaster will work with the City Council to propose and enact legislation to revamp the penalty system for elevator violations returnable to the Environmental Control Board. Fines for elevator violations at the ECB are currently limited to $800 for the first offense and $2,000 for the second offense. The proposed legislation would also enable the Buildings Department to issue new ECB violations carrying penalties of $1,000 per day for each day an elevator remains out of service. These heightened penalties - which could quickly amount to tens of thousands of dollars if the violations are not quickly addressed - would create a strong financial incentive for owners to proactively maintain elevators and avoid ECB violations in the first place. In addition, the new NYC Construction Codes will substantially increase the range of penalties that can be imposed for immediately hazardous elevator violations, with $25,000 as the maximum penalty one could receive.

The Elevator Safety Program builds upon the successful enforcement actions taken against buildings under a pilot program launched by the Buildings Department in 2006. As part of this program, 104 buildings were identified as major offenders and pursued by the Buildings Department. Approximately 70% of the owners have brought their elevators into compliance or are in the process of making the ordered repairs. In total, the Buildings Department has pursued criminal actions against 65 owners, and, with the assistance of Department of Housing Preservation and Development, brought three recalcitrant owners into Housing Court. One of these cases resulted in the highest penalty for an elevator violation in the history of the Department. That penalty - $50,000 - was imposed against the owner of 98 Morningside Avenue in Manhattan, a seven-story, single-elevator residential building on the border of Harlem and Morningside Heights.

Since 2002, Commissioner Lancaster has worked aggressively to enhance oversight of construction and infuse integrity and accountability into the Department's operations.  With proactive enforcement programs, such as the Special Enforcement Plan and the Safety Analysis & Field Evaluation (SAFE) Scaffold and Shed Initiative, the Buildings Department is ensuring that safe construction practices are followed at job sites and cracking down on repeat offenders who disobey building and zoning rules.  Building on these accomplishments, the Elevator Safety Program will further the Department's mission of ensuring the safe and lawful use of all New York City's 975,000 buildings and properties. View the  Elevator Safety Fact Sheet (39 kb).

New Yorkers are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to report non-compliant conditions or 9-1-1 to report emergencies at construction sites. 

Contact:     Kate Lindquist/Carly Sullivan (212) 566-3473

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