Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Shaoul, the BSA, DoB and WTF

Went to the Board of Standards and Appeals to see their response to Shaoul's request for a variance to keep the 6th floor expansion that the BSA had ruled illegally built some years ago. Shaoul's attorney made the good point that the Department of Buildings had issued a permit for the expansion, and the BSA didn't rule it illegal until after the expansion had been completed.

The BSA chair wasn't having any of it. She pointed out that the even though the building didn't have a Certificate of Occupancy, the owner had been renting the apartments illegally for years.

In reply, the attorney blamed that on the DoB for not enforcing the law. I was truly impressed with audacity of this legal argument. I really like it. If you place several hundred landlords, say, into a ship and sink it and drown them, it's the fault of the Coast Guard for not stopping you. I'm all for it.

But seriously, this attorney nailed the truth about NYC real estate: the DoB encourages illegal activity at every turn, either by issuing illegal permits (commonly permitting bulkheads that are actually intended for residential use, to skirt the zoning limits on residential space), or by failing to enforce blatantly illegal expansions, demolitions, hazardous endangerments to tenants -- literally whatever and whateverything landlords can think up.

Btw addendum: the BSA didn't rule on Shaoul's request at this hearing. They scheduled another hearing in late June and another in July to finish up. It was pretty clear that the BSA intends to deny him -- a whole bunch of elected officials signed on to a letter asking for a denial. But even if they deny, without enforcement, he'll just continue to flout the law.

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