LOCAL ACTIVIST SAYS, "MAYOR'S ORDER ENCOURAGES DEVELOPERS TO VIOLATE THE LAW." BUT DOES IT?

Lower East Side Activist Rob Hollander is fuming over changes made to the procedure for challenging new developments, implemented by Mayor Micheal Bloomberg and Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert Limandri. This is in response to Monday's announcement that, among other major reforms that included making diagrams of proposed buildings available online, limited the time period citizens have to challenge new buildings to 30 days. 
 
Hollander's objection to the 30-day limit is an extension of his longstanding outrage towards the D.O.B.'s Professional Certification program, commonly referred to as self-certification. The program allows licensed professionals to avoid a full review of building plans by the D.O.B by certifying the plans themselves, a process widely criticized for its high instance of abuse.   
 
The reforms to some extent are meant to be an answer to the negative press.  However, Hollander argues that these revisions, meant to add "transparency, compliance and certainty" according to the Mayor's press release, are just a veiled form of appeasement intent on allowing illegal development to continue.   
 
In a mass email sent out Wednesday, Hollander writes, "...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 likelihood of any challenge at all, and if challenged, the development will be only at most thirty days into construction." 
 
Hollander argues that by capping challenges at 30 days, developers will only have to rebuild 30 days worth of work if plans are deemed illegal—as opposed to thirty stories, which could result if a challenge is passed well into development. Since the penalty for approving an illegal building is only a revocation of certification, developers would face no significant monetary consequence. 
 
However, the Mayor's office refutes these accusations: "The reforms center on the public's right to challenge any approved development if they think it violates local zoning regulations. For too long, this process has been too onerous for most New Yorkers. The reforms will make sure people have a stronger voice in the development that's taking place in their neighborhoods, while also giving developers more certainty about their projects." 
 
"No other city in the country provides this kind of access to proposed developments. An online presence will offer citizens a clear and defined process to challenge construction," said Deputy Press Secretary Marc LaVorgna. As for the time limit he said, "You have to pick a number. This prevents challenging a building when it is half way built, which does nothing for a community." 
 
When asked if he thought 30 days was enough time to challenge developers LaVorgna replied, "We believe it is adequate." 

Yet it is unlikely that such responses could sway Hollander.  In his email he writes,  "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."