FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION INCREASING PENALTIES FOR ILLEGAL CONVERSIONS OF INDUSTRIAL AND MANUFACTURING BUILDINGS INTO RESIDENCES
Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws
"The next bill before me is Introductory Number 34-A, sponsored by Council Members Reyna, Addabbo, Comrie, Fidler, Martinez, Nelson, Recchia, Sanders, Stewart, Vann, White, Yassky, Mendez, Jackson, Dickens, de Blasio, Gentile, Liu, Sears, Vallone, Weprin, Gallagher and Oddo. This bill increases penalties for the illegal conversion of buildings approved for industrial or manufacturing use into residences.
"The practice of illegally converting buildings intended for industrial or manufacturing uses to residential occupancies not only harms the bottom line of industrial and manufacturing businesses throughout the City, but also poses a threat to public safety. Many of these buildings were not designed for residential occupancy and do not have fire separations, sprinklers and smoke detectors, or the two means of egress that are now standard features of our Building Code. Landlords of some industrial spaces sometimes turn a blind eye on residential occupancies even when they know that this type of housing is both contrary to the City's Zoning Resolution and Building Code.
"Introductory Number 34-A mandates that anyone who illegally converts an industrial or manufacturing building into a residence be subject to imprisonment of up to one year and a $2,500 civil penalty for the first violation, and from $5,000 to $25,000 for the second and subsequent violations. Additionally, violators will be subject to a penalty of $250 to $500 per day for each illegally converted residential unit. Introductory Number 34-A will also require that either the Department of Buildings or the Environmental Control Board forward the name or address of the building where the violation occurred, and the name or address of the violator, to the Internal Revenue Service, the New York State Department of Finance and the New York City Department of Finance, which will further disincentivize illegal conversions by enabling the appropriate authorities to tax the property at the rate applicable to its actual use.
"When fully implemented, Introductory Number 34-A will help the Department of Buildings combat the illegal residential conversion of industrial and manufacturing buildings, improve public safety and help protect industrial jobs that are a vital component of the City's economy.
"I would like to thank Department of Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster and her staff for their work on this bill. I would also like to thank the Council for its approval of this legislation."
Stu Loeser/Matthew Kelly (212) 788-2958