Brannan Calls For Investigation, Suggests DOB Employee May Be Connected to Awning Scandal

Salahi Deli’s new sign has a deeper backstory. Justin Mitchell/Bklyner.

BAY RIDGE  City Councilman Justin Brannan sent a letter to the Department of Investigations suggesting an employee within the agency is behind the city-wide sign and awning scandal, according to documents Bklyner obtained.

The letter notes someone wearing a Department of Buildings (DOB) jacket went into a store in Brannan’s district and solicited business for a specific sign company. The “agent” told the business owner that they’re aware of the DOB fine and offered to connect them to a sign holder that could ‘make it right,’ writes Brannan. At the time, the business owner was unaware of any pending DOB notifications or fines.

Brannan offered to connect the commissioner to several other shop owners who’ve had a similar experience and is asking city agency to investigate the matter, he told Bklyner.

Business owners have to adhere to certain sign-hanging rules and are required to hire specific DOB-approved sign installers, found here. Violating shop owners face sharp fines and recently, The Times reported 234 calls were made to 311 to report offenders last November. The rash of calls lead to a widespread panic throughout the city and caused shop owners to remove their signs.

The sign scandal first came to the attention of lawmakers late 2017, when business owners along an East New York retail corridor were hit with a flurry of DOB fines. City Councilman Espinal, whose district encompasses East New York and parts of Northern Brooklyn, drafted and introduced a bill to reinstate the city’s moratorium.

Almost a year later, the issue resurfaced.

Businesses throughout the city, especially in Brooklyn and Queens, hastily removed their awnings after rumors of hefty ticketing spree in late November. Brannan, whose Southern Brooklyn district was heavily impacted, joined Espinal in pushing for legislation relieving business owners of thousands of dollars in fines and a two-year moratorium.

The Awnings Act passed City Council on Jan. 9.

“Council Member Brannan brought this allegation to our attention last week and we referred him to DOI for an investigation of the matter, including the possibility that someone may be impersonating a DOB employee,” said spokesperman Andrew Rudansky. “We very much welcome a full DOI review.


CM Brannan Commissioner Gar… by on Scribd

Update Jan.24, 2019 a 10:53am

This story has been corrected to state Councilman Brannan sent a letter to the Department of Investigations rather than the Department of Buildings as well as a comment from a spokesperson.

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Kadia Goba

Former Politics Reporter for Bklyner, covering Brooklyn politics and Crown Heights/PLG/Bed Stuy. @kadiagoba


  1. Two of my businesses was targeted in Coney Island as well if this is the case they should investigated and subpoena the records of those calling in the 311 system to see if there is a connection. It’s strange because I called a company by the name of Paul’s Signs requesting to replace my signs in early December – during the onslaught of DOB ticket blitz, anyway they never followed up to with my request but I am wondering if there is a connection here. Also since I am an advocate that is against the Coney Island Mermaid Avenue BID proposal I suspect foul play. Just hoping that they can get down to the bottom of this.

  2. I too receive a number of complaints that were call in to the 311 telecommunication system and was cited for one of the two signs that was called in and reported to the Department of Buildings. It strikes me that odd that I had called a signed company (Paul Signs) in the latter part of November – December during the serge of this ill fated ticket blitz towards small businesses. I had request for Paul Signs to come and see if my signs and light boxes were in compliance, they never came, however 3 weeks later I got a site visit and a violation for one of the two signs that was inspected bu the DOB. In addition I am an advocate who is against the Coney Island Improvement District and would like to know if I was targeted by a sign company or those in favor of a BID. I will welcome an inquiry and would like for the State Attorney General to investigate this matter .

  3. I own a business in Flatbush and the name that keeps coming up is PAUL SIGNS
    Everybody says that company is the one behind this scam
    If you look on the PAUL SIGNS web site they have an entire section dedicated to fixing sign violations
    The other sign companies don’t have that on the web site

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