DOB Commissioner Details ‘Building One City’ Plan

DOB Commissioner Details ‘Building One City’ Plan

PHOTO:  City Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler, P.E. Photo Courtesy of Lance Cheung/USDA

City Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler, P.E. on Tuesday detailed the DOB’s ambitious, exhaustive “Building One City” plan at the monthly meeting of the Borough Cabinet.

In January 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the beginnings of “fundamental reform” at DOB.  Operations, in conjunction with DOB, crafted a report calling for an infusion of new resources, including 320 new positions and $120 million over four years, and significant reforms to internal processes and public interactions.

“To expedite the right kind of development, we must expedite the development process,” de Blasio said in his State of the City earlier this year. “What we need, and what we will have, is fundamental reform at the Department of Buildings.”

In order to put the department on a transformative trajectory, Chandler indicated that it has developed initiatives to fundamentally improve itself. With new resources, DOB has pledged to increase its vigilance to ensure public safety and integrity; dramatically reduce processing times generally and for affordable housing projects in particular; increase transparency; improve customer service; and improve internal operations.

After “Building One City” is completed, Chandler said residents and business owners will interact with a “revolutionized” agency in which 100 percent of applications, reviews, payments and scheduling can be handled online; 100 percent of projects have a clear and transparent status; risk of fraud is reduced through quick, transparent processes; 100 percent of inter-agency inspection and review transfers that are part of the development process are automated; cycle times for major processes are best-in-class for major U.S. cities; resources are targeted to the highest risk and highest priority work; more low-risk filings are self-certified, and auditing resources are targeted to self-certified jobs based on risk; an Affordable Housing Unit works to facilitate and expedite the construction of new affordable housing; the building industry’s first ever Code of Conduct is in place; and proactive enforcement increases compliance with all public safety standards.

“Building One City” outlines a vision of change – including long-term targets and immediate action items – focused on identifying areas where reinvestment will strengthen the agency, as well as supporting the creation of “a thriving, equitable, sustainable, and resilient 21st century New York,” according to the department.

“Through an unprecedented infusion of resources, we have been afforded a singular opportunity to transform the department,” Chandler said. “These efforts are in lockstep with the mayor’s goals to develop affordable housing; support small businesses; improve the efficiency of our buildings; and build a thriving, equitable, sustainable, and resilient city. Development is crucial to our great city. Our partnership provides the foundation for the future of New York City’s built environment. Your hard work keeps our city vibrant, and together, our work will have a lasting, positive impact on New York.”

DOB IS responsible for enforcing the city Construction Codes and Zoning Resolution on over one million buildings and construction sites throughout the five boroughs. In 2014, the department said it issued more than 140,000 construction permits.

By Michael V. Cusenza

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