Treyger, Maisel Bills Would Stop Storms From Doing Damage Twice


Coney Island City Council Member Mark Treyger and Canarsie City Council Member Alan Maisel have teamed up on separate bills to stop the city from fining natural disaster victims while city-operated natural disaster recovery programs are tangled up in bureaucratic red tape.

The legislation would also create a reimbursement program for anyone who has already been forced to pay a penalty. The bill’s parameters are likely to be expanded to include violations received from other city agencies, including the Department of Sanitation.

Maisel’s bill, which would prevent owners, lessees, or occupants from receiving fines or penalties on violations for work performed by city employees or third-parties contracted by the city.

City Councilman Mark Treyger
City Councilman Mark Treyger

“When the City makes you wait for repairs, you should not be penalized for it. And, when the City hires a contractor to perform recovery work on your house, you should not be penalized if the City or its contractor fails to do the work properly,” said Treyger, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency.

Treyger explained that people waiting for assistance from the City’s Build It Back program stemming from Superstorm Sandy should not be issued a violation by the Department of Buildings and forced to pay a fine simply because the program had not yet repaired their property.

“It undermines the public’s trust, faith and willingness to participate in recovery programs. Nobody should be left worse off by the recovery process than if they never participated in it at all, and the onus should be on the city and contractors to comply with rules and regulations related to Sandy Recovery work, not residents,” he said.

While the measure would provide relief for people and businesses still dealing with bureaucratic red tape stemming from the effects of Superstorm Sandy, it would also ensure that a fair enforcement policy is already in place in the unfortunate event of future disasters.

Multiple reports since Superstorm Sandy have described circumstances under which New Yorkers have received violations on their Sandy-damaged properties while awaiting to receive government assistance or after that assistance was given.

From left, Coney Island City Councilman Mark Treyger, Mayor Bill de Blaso and Habitat for Humanity NYC CEO Alex Havrilliak doing Sandy recover work in Coney Island in October 2014.
From left, Coney Island City Councilman Mark Treyger, Mayor Bill de Blaso and Habitat for Humanity NYC CEO Alex Havrilliak doing Sandy recover work in Coney Island in October 2014.

For example, in October, 2014, a Brooklyn resident received a violation for failure to repair his Sandy-damaged property, despite, as he later testified in an administrative hearing, the NYC Build It Back Program having “investigated the damage” and that he “was waiting for promised financial relief and advised not to make any repairs until he received it.” The Environmental Control Board nevertheless upheld the violation and assessed a $500 penalty.

City Councilman Alan Maisel
City Councilman Alan Maisel

“Council Member Treyger’s bill and the bill I introduced are common sense measures to ensure that property owners, lessees, or occupants are not unfairly penalized with violations while in the process of repairing or rebuilding after a natural disaster. It is unconscionable that the City would put violations on a property for work that is being done by the City operated Build It Back program,” said Maisel.

The measures also received strong support from Coney Island’s other lawmakers including State Senator Diane J. Savino and Assembly Member Pamela Harris.

We know this has been a serious issue within our district for quite some time and thanks to this proposal not only would people be granted monetary reimbursements, but we would be able to ensure that the repairs being are actually up to the city’s safety code,” said Savino.

Assembly Member Pamela Harris
Assembly Member Pamela Harris

Harris said the proposed legislation is on point to address a weakness in the system meant to offer relief for property owners suffering from Superstorm Sandy. “To penalize those waiting for assistance from the City’s Build It Back program with ECB and DOB violations is equivalent to pouring salt on an open wound. This legislation is demonstrative of the Council Member’s commitment to our community to assist in the recovery process post Sandy, and to continue encouraging an environment in which our constituents can heal and rebuild their lives in the district,” she said.

Also offering praise for the bills were Canarsie State Senator Roxanne Persaud and Red Hook Assembly Member Felix W. Ortiz – both of whom have waterfront districts that were affected by Sandy and are in danger as flood areas in future storms.

“The city-operated natural disaster recovery programs were created to help New Yorkers rebuild our community. In the aftermath of the Sandy created hardships, it is necessary that our legislation eliminates sanctions which created additional adversity for our citizens,” said Persaud.

Assemblywoman Roxanne Persaud
Senator Roxanne Persaud

Ortiz said families from Red Hook to Coney Island have had to deal with the effects of Superstorm Sandy for far too long, and instead of facing financial stress, they should be looking to government for help and not more aggravation. “Homeowners have been receiving violations for shoddy repairs by city contractors. This is unacceptable. It would not be difficult to assess those responsible. I stand with Councilman Treyger and support Bill #1037,” said Ortiz.

The measures also received support disaster relief organization around the city, and was most welcome for resident’s in Coney Island’s Warbasse Houses.

“Thank goodness for Mark Treyger bringing clarity and shinning a light on a major problem for Sandy affected home owners! It wasn’t even a week after Sandy that the DOB issued our co-op several violations. We were also told that we should not begin repairs until Build it Back investigated, but we couldn’t wait or stop the critical repairs, as our concern was for the safety of our residents. So, on one hand we were told to wait and on the other the DOB was issuing violations,” Warbasse Houses Board President Michael J. Silverman.