DOB façade inspectors will now be conducting further follow-up field inspections 90 days after the issuance of the initial Class 1 façade violation to ensure that the public protection measures are properly maintained, and that repair work has commenced to remediate any unsafe conditions.
DOB Strengthens Façade Inspection Process and Hires additional Façade Inspectors
On December 30th, Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca announced enhancements to DOB’s existing façade inspection process, and a doubling of the Department’s existing dedicated façade inspection team with the hiring of 12 new staff positions to the unit. Property owners with buildings greater than six stories in height can expect more frequent and thorough proactive inspections from the Department under these tough new policies. In addition, DOB announced the results of their facade safety sweep that immediately followed the fatal facade incident that occurred on Tuesday, December 17. This sweep built upon the DOB’s overall efforts to hold building owners accountable for unsafe conditions.
“In the wake of this tragedy, we are doubling-down on the proven tools at our disposal. New Yorkers should know that we are out in force holding owners feet to the fire, so they get repair work done as quickly as possible while still protecting the public,” said Commissioner La Rocca. “With our enhanced inspection protocols and expanded staff, owners who choose to skirt their obligations will face swift consequences.”
When a building is found to have an unsafe façade, or ones with defects requiring remedial repairs, they will not only face potential enforcement actions, but will also receive additional proactive re-inspections from the Department to ensure any required pedestrian safety measures are properly installed and maintained. The DOB will be conducting follow-up inspections within 60 days of every Class 1 façade violation issued to ensure that any required public protection measures have been properly installed. If the owner fails to implement these required public safety measures as ordered in the initial façade violation, city contractors will be brought in to perform the work at the owner’s expense. In addition, DOB façade inspectors will now be conducting further follow-up field inspections 90 days after the issuance of the initial Class 1 façade violation, to ensure that the public protection measures are properly maintained, and that repair work has commenced to remediate any unsafe conditions. After that, the DOB will be conducting additional field inspections every 90 days to ensure further compliance with DOB orders. Property owners who are found to be disregarding the DOB’s orders during any of these follow-up inspections will face additional enforcement actions.
This new process will strengthen the Department’s ability to ensure that property owners aren’t endangering the public by failing to take the required action to keep their building safe. In addition to these strengthened violation inspection protocols, all buildings in New York City greater than six stories in height – not just those that have previously received a violation – will now face the possibility of proactive DOB safety compliance reviews. A quarter of these taller buildings, subject to Local Law 11 of 1998, will be selected at random to receive these safety reviews, increasing the Department’s ability to proactively identify unsafe conditions on building facades and push owners to take action.
In addition, the Department is updating the Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP) to enhance requirements for periodic exterior wall inspections and repairs performed by property owners. The updated façade rule will include additional experience requirements for façade inspectors hired by property owners. It also requires owners to post and maintain the status of the building façade in the lobby in a manner similar to elevator certificates; mandates more hands-on inspections of façades fronting public rights of way; and greatly increases the penalties for failing to repair unsafe façade conditions.
The DOB will be bolstering the ranks of the existing façade inspection unit, hiring 12 new staff positions, including 11 inspectors, with expertise in façade construction and structural stability. They will join the current staff of 11 dedicated façade inspectors, 11 administrative support staff, and 6 technical staff. This expansion represents a doubling of the current inspection staffing in the unit, allowing this dedicated team to meet its increased obligations under these process changes.