A Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association boardmember is fuming over proposed legislation that may give real estate developers a free pass on their neighborhood obligations.
Ed Jaworski, Executive VP of MMH Civic, is a well-known figure in the local development scene. He’s frequently seen at Community Board 15 meetings burdened by a stack of files. Within the folder: a veritable catalog of blighted land. Developers who have lost financing, who fail to maintain safety standards, who skirt laws – developers who are just outright abusive.
His latest outrage comes as the City Council is considering a law to extend building permits for two years, in order to accomodate developers who have lost financing in the down economy. According to a New York Times article on the issue, permit extensions will require property owners to maintain their properties and reduce safety and quality-of-life issues in the areas surrounding the sites.
According to Jaworski, the plan goes to far in favoring developers, and allows their recklessness to go unpunished. Here’s a letter he wrote to NY Times’ editors in response to the article:
To the Editor:
How many residents living on blocks with long-time dormant construction sites surrounded by graffiti covered plywood fences, breathed a sigh of relief, or shed a tear for the developers of those sites, after reading “Fighting Eyesores Before They Start” (July 19, Real Estate section)? There is no reason for either, since the headline is misleading.
The Bloomberg administration has made development such a priority that the New York City government is the partner of the real estate developers and speculators. Examine the list of campaign contributors to City Council members and you will see why the so-called plan described in this story continues to favor developers. Stretching permit renewals to two years makes no sense and threatening fines “up to $25,000” provides no relief to residents of blocks with the blight.
Blaming the economy, Council Speaker Quinn says that developers are not “goof-offs,” they have merely “lost their financing.” The fact is that many of them dug themselves into their holes: looking to become instant developer-millionaires without a realistic business plan, or playing “beat the clock” with zoning changes, or simply doing illegal work.
My neighborhood, at the southern end of Brooklyn, is largely residential, with single family homes. While other parts of Brooklyn, like Williamsburg and Atlantic Yards, have gotten much media attention, it’s actually this community that may have the highest number of Stop Work Orders (SWO) in the borough. Long-time SWO sites don’t deserve to be included in the Council’s plan, but you can bet that somehow they will be, simply based on the competency-history of the Department of Buildings. DOB’s response to complaining residents: take it to Civil Court.
While no proponent of eminent domain, if it can be used to benefit developers, why not consider employing it to clear up the long-time illegal and dormant construction sites–restoring previous contextual buildings or creating green spaces? Why not add jail-time as a deterrent in enforcing zoning and building code violations? And, how about a close examination of the Board of Standards and Appeals, the shadow, mayoral-controlled agency that gives variances and special permits to developers seeking a waiver for zoning regulations, and entertains requests for legalizations?
Executive Vice President
Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association
1821 East 28 St.
Brooklyn, NY 11229