Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mayor's Order Encourages Developers to Violate the Law

The following is by Rob Hollander:

On Feb. 2, Mayor Bloomberg, without any legislative process, ordered a time limit on challenges to developments. Ordinary citizens will now have only and exactly 30 days to challenge the legality of a development once a permit has been issued.

Prior to the mayor's order, there was no time limit on challenges. Since the city allows developers to self-certify their plans (yes, approve their pans themselves), the only oversight lies in citizen challenges.

This time limit sends a clear message to developers:
  • Plan developments without regard for the law.
  • The thirty-day window severely decreases the chance of any challenge being brought at all, and if challenged, the development will be only at most thirty days into construction. At worst, the developer will merely have to alter plans (and borrow less money).
So developers will never have to remove a story — or thirty stories — of construction no matter how egregiously those stories violate the zoning and violate the neighborhood.

It's a call to any unscrupulous developer to submit self-certified illegal plans.
Here's the mayor's press release. Notice the headline, spun as procedural improvement. Scroll down to the last two paragraphs before the bullets to learn the underlying motivation: to streamline illegal development. Think about it: as long as the plans are legal, developers have no worries about challenges at any point in the process of construction. Challenges are only a burden to development if the developer is banking on illegal plans.

This is government administrative sponsorship of activity in violation of government legislation; government sponsoring criminality. It's a deft brushing aside of the laws that protect this city and its neighborhoods, and handing the city itself to developers for their fastest buck, no urban planning, no community voice, no legislative process. Just thirty days. Let's close the city council down and let Boss Bloomberg rule in the great tradition of Mussolini and Tweed. (That's an insult to Tweed. Tweed, for all his corruption, responded to his voting base, the Irish working class.)

If developers generally submitted legal plans, this order would never have been. The mayor's order is a response to a problem of excess illegality. His response: make it easier to commit fraudulent and illegal activity and increase the likely profit. Forgive me, it's just so unbelievably outrageous.

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