A Blueprint for a Better Buildings Department
On September 14, 2022, New York Mayor Eric Adams and former DOB Commissioner Eric Ulrich announced the creation of the "Adams Commission" — a 90-day commission convening stakeholders from labor, industry, the nonprofit sector, and city government to produce a comprehensive blueprint recommending structural improvements at the Department of Buildings.
The City has invited over 60 industry groups, trade organizations, ownership associations, advocacy groups, and government agencies to participate in this effort, each sending representatives to serve on topic-specific subcommittees, which will focus on eliminating unnecessarily complicated practices and onerous regulatory hurdles and inefficient workflows.
Over a period of 90 days, these groups —with support from DOB experts— will meet and formulate recommendations to improve the DOB, culminating in a report to Mayor Adams and the City Council. The report will be public once complete.
With the report as a blueprint, the agency will begin implementing recommendations as appropriate in early 2023 through a combination of policy changes, operational modifications, and regulatory reforms. The administration will work with the City Council to make changes requiring legislation.
Small Business Support Team (SBST) and Major Projects Development Unit (MPDU)
Mayor Adams and Commissioner Ulrich kicked off the effort with the launch of two new customer service units: the Small Business Support Team (SBST) and the Major Projects Development Unit (MPDU). These new fully staffed and operational units aim to accelerate project timelines by providing dedicated services to ensure applications avoid unnecessary pitfalls. These specialized groups will operate similarly to the existing Affordable Housing Unit, providing guidance and expertise to move projects thoroughly and efficiently through the development pipeline to propel the city's recovery.
The agency has created new internal workflows in its existing online application portal to automatically funnel small business projects to the SBST.
The new MPDU is dedicated to assisting with proposed tower developments, significant new building and enlargement projects, and other complex projects deemed eligible by the DOB. The unit can provide one-on-one consultation services, and it is accepting applications for enrollment in this first-come, first-served, limited space program, via the DOB NOW portal.
Customer Service Initiatives
Recently, the DOB launched "Buildings After Hours," a weekly customer service event held every Tuesday night from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the five borough offices where homeowners, small business owners, tenants, buildings managers, and others can meet with DOB experts and discuss buildings-related issues. Meetings with DOB staff are free, and no appointment is required to attend.
DOB has also launched initiatives to enhance customer service operations, including:
• Extending in-person customer service hours at borough offices,
• Reinstating an option for in-person plan examination appointments for construction projects, and
• Committing to significantly reducing overregulation of small businesses.