Ulrich: Buildings Help Needed

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Dear Editor:

(letter to Councilman Eric Ulrich)

Councilman Ulrich,

We need your help with the NYC Department of Buildings as we try to rebuild on Beach 130th Street after the fire that devastated our block during Hurricane Sandy. While each of my neighbors has reached out to architects who are familiar with the NYC Department of Buildings to design our replacement homes, we are growing increasingly frustrated with the additional restrictions that the NYC Department of Buildings is putting on us as we try to rebuild. We understand that we need to build our houses higher to mitigate the future risk of flood, but the Buildings Department has added additional onerous restrictions that make it impossible to use the space that will now be at ground level (previously our basements) in any meaningful way.

We did not use this space in our prior home as living space, but we did use it for storage and as a carpentry workshop. Our neighbors also used this space in various ways, and the new DOB restrictions are basically causing us to lose 1/4 of the space in our home. How is this ok? Why do we not hear anything about you objecting to these new restrictions that require an open lattice construction, or forbid the placement of an interior stair if a full foundation is used? These are not safety issues, and are above and beyond what FEMA requires for our zone (Flood zone A). We are the only A flood zone in the country that has these types of restrictions. Since you represent our neighborhood, why are you not objecting to these restrictions? How do we fight the Buildings Department, and what do we need to do to get our voices heard?

While the immediate impact is to those of us trying to rebuild now, this could have extreme detrimental impact to all of our neighbors in the future.


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