In Our Opinion
Jul 14, 2009 | 7010 views | 0 0 comments | 68 68 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city's Department of Buildings rule change appears to be as foolhardy as it is unpopular.

The change, which was instituted July 13, significantly alters the way residents can challenge development and building practices generally across the city.

Now, for the first time, residents are limited to a 45-day comment period once a building work permit goes up on the street. In the past, there have been no time limitations on lodging complaints.

The change forces people to get their words in quick or forever hold their peace. It favors developers, who will surely find ways to exploit the system, avoiding as much government oversight and regulation as possible.

To the city's credit, after massive initial opposition DOB did extend the proposed 30-day comment period by an additional 15 days. And the plan also requires DOB to post responses to complaints online, theoretically streamlining the regulatory process - or so the city claims.

Not surprisingly, elected officials, community activists, and residents aren't buying it. Councilman Tony Avella, who attended a recent rally protesting the rule change, even went so far as to say its unconstitutional, because it unfairly limits city residents' access to make complaints to their government.

Whether that's true or not, once again the city has passed a policy change that is deeply unpopular. Once again, a broad opposition coalition is threatening to sue. You would think after enough threats of litigation, the city would start reconsidering its policies. Not this city, apparently. Not this administration.

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