Following the Community Board Land Use Committee meeting Monday night, I want to provide everyone with an update on the issue of Saturday construction at Domino. First, there are a few pertinent facts to be aware of:
– As of last year, Community Board #1 had already taken a position against Saturday and evening construction variances (i.e. the permits that allow developers to work outside of normal hours).
– The ultimate decision to grant Saturday variances to Two Trees is made by the Department of Buildings…the CB is one input into that decision.
– The Community Board stance has been ignored to date by the Dept. of Buildings which has been granting Two Trees construction variances during the demolition phase.
– It is unclear on what basis the DoB grants these variances in general or in this specific instance. Many variances, likely including the ones for Two Trees, are issued in the interest of “public safety”, which is another definition that we do not yet understand.
In attendance last night were the members of the Land Use Committee, the chair of CB#1, the manager of CB#1, the chief of staff for Council Member Levin (the city council rep for many of us…though some may be living in the district of Councilman Reynoso), writers from Bedford + Bowery and DNAinfo, and about 15 local residents.
All in attendance were firmly against allowing Saturday construction. The one community board member who has been supportive of Saturday work, Rob Solano, was not in attendance. As such, there was not any debate on the pros/cons of Saturday work. Those from the community who joined did state our views and I did distribute copies of the petition signatures and comments (there are over 330 now).
The following actions were agreed to or suggested during the meeting:
1) Council Member Levin’s office is arranging a meeting with the DoB for sometime in the next two weeks to underscore the views of the community on this issue and understand why Saturday work has been permitted. I am in touch with Levin’s chief of staff, Rami Metal, who joined yesterday to get a sense of how upset the local residents really are. Levin is the one most at risk if people get really upset…he would be the one people would presumably want to vote out of office if he cannot influence the DoB.
2) The CB is requesting that someone from the DoB come and address the Land Use committee at it’s next meeting to explain when/why Saturday and weekend variances are given and why Two Trees specifically has been given one in this case.
3) The CB manager is going to send a letter to the DoB expressing “outrage” at the decision to grant variances despite the position of the community.
The final action suggested was one that we collectively could take: to mount an organized campaign to place complaint calls into 311, then follow up with calls into the office of the borough president to provide them with the official complaint number and request a response. The feeling from the CB was that if we were able to place ~20 calls a day into 311, that would really get the attention of the DoB and would require the involvement of the borough president.
I would suggest that we wait a bit to take this action. I’ve been trying to get in touch with the press to get more coverage of this story beyond the articles already published on Bedford + Bowery and DNAinfo (see below). If additional coverage does come through, that should help our case. There is also a chance that the DoB changes its position as a result of the petition and greater pressure from the CB and councilman Levin. However, in two weeks time, if we don’t feel like we are getting the traction we need, this is a powerful next step that we should be prepared to take.
Click here to sign and share Petition: Halt of Saturday Construction at Domino.
Bedford + Bowery story: “Waterfront Residents to Two Trees: No 7AM Saturday Construction at Domino”.