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For Immediate Release
May 5, 2008

COMMISSIONERS ANNOUNCE COMPLETION OF CITYWIDE REVIEW OF OUTSTANDING EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS

Status of 539 Sites Needing Emergency Work Reviewed
New Database to Be Used to Streamline Inter-agency Communication

Acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Shaun Donovan today announced the completion of a citywide review of all emergency declarations issued since January 1, 2007. An "emergency declaration" is an order made by the Department of Buildings (DOB) that requires a building owner to perform emergency work needed to make a building safe. The comprehensive review was initiated two days after a partial building collapse at 102 East 124th Street in Manhattan on March 4, 2008. As a result of that incident, three DOB supervisors were suspended. Acting DOB Commissioner LiMandri and HPD Commissioner Donovan announced today that the two Departments are establishing a new data-sharing protocol for buildings requiring emergency work. The database will streamline communication between the two agencies by making it easier for the DOB to track emergency declarations to confirm that ordered work has been completed.

Between January 1, 2007 and April 14, 2008, the DOB issued 539 emergency declarations citywide. As part of the citywide review, DOB Inspectors re-inspected all sites where emergency declarations were issued and confirmed that nearly all of these declarations have either been fully resolved and the necessary emergency work has been conducted by the building owner or by the City (532 of the emergency declarations) or are within the allotted performance period (4 of the emergency declarations).

"This comprehensive review of 539 emergency declarations showed that while the vast majority of declarations were resolved quickly, we must do better. Emergency conditions must be addressed as quickly as possible," said Acting Commissioner LiMandri. "We are working closely with HPD to institute new protocols to make it easier for agency personnel overseeing these critical operations to take action when a building owner fails to do so, and to hold those accountable for any lapses that may occur."

"We are committed to working with our colleagues at the Department of Buildings so that all emergency declarations are dealt with promptly and accurately," said Commissioner Shaun Donovan. "When owners do not correct emergency conditions, HPD will step in and perform the work. The new tools for sharing data between DOB and HPD will enable the agencies to closely monitor the status of emergency declarations which will improve safety conditions."

The Emergency Declaration Process and Results of the Review

The Buildings Department issues an emergency declaration when it determines that an owner must perform emergency work on a building to eliminate hazards or prevent damage to neighboring properties. Emergency declarations can require many different types of work, including the installation of a protective sidewalk shed, the sealing of a vacant, open or unguarded building, or the shoring, deconstruction or demolition of a structurally compromised building. There are two types of emergency declarations: "Immediate Emergency Declaration" and standard "Emergency Declaration." Building owners issued an Immediate Emergency Declaration should initiate remedial work immediately; work conducted pursuant to a standard Emergency Declaration should be initiated within 60 days of the order. If a building owner fails to initiate the work within the performance period required by the emergency declaration, the City, through HPD, can immediately retain a private contractor to conduct the emergency work.

Since the review began on March 8, 2008, all sites subject to an emergency declaration have been re-inspected to determine whether the required work was completed by the owner or by a contractor employed by HPD.  The following table provides a breakdown and status of declarations issued by borough.

As the table shows, only three of the emergency declarations are still open beyond the allotted performance period.  These three emergency declarations are for a single property that encompasses three different addresses at 3001 Avenue I, 3003 Avenue I and 2263 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn.  On April 26, 2008, HPD began performing the work, after the owner failed to begin the required work.
To streamline communication and authorization of emergency work between the two agencies, DOB and HPD will enhance electronic data sharing to facilitate the necessary actions and follow-up for each property issued an emergency declaration. A new database is being developed to capture actions taken by both DOB and HPD after the issuance of an emergency declaration. This shared database will automate the communication process between the two agencies, reducing the need for phone calls, emails, and faxes following up on the status of actions taken by both agencies. Once established, the database will be used to generate automated reports that will provide, among other items, immediate alerts to both agencies when an owner does not comply with the emergency declaration within the performance period. The database will also provide a mechanism for the Buildings Department to track property owners who repeatedly fail to meet requirements of emergency declarations for further enforcement action. In addition, DOB will be re-inspecting all properties issued emergency declarations once the database signals that the owner has complied with the order or that they have employed a contractor to perform the work.

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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