Buildings facilitated the installation of illegal curb cuts and driveways by approving work permit applications that did not meet Zoning Resolution requirements. On July 1, 2021, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released an audit of the Department of Buildings, finding widespread deficiencies in Buildings’ efforts to combat illegal curb cuts and driveways.
Comptroller Stringer’s audit revealed that Buildings did not sufficiently oversee its processes for issuing permits for, and responding to complaints regarding, the installation of curb cuts and driveways. Specifically, Buildings approved work permit applications that did not meet Zoning Resolution requirements. Further, based on a sample of 1,024 complaints, the City may have failed to inspect and collect up to $430,014 in penalties.
Comptroller Stringer’s audit also revealed that Buildings did not provide sufficient training and supervisory oversight to its field inspectors that assess curb cuts and driveways.
After completing the audit, Comptroller Stringer issued 27 recommendations. His recommendations included inspecting alleged illegal curb cuts and driveways in a timely manner; improving the work of field inspectors and requiring them to review results of inspections, identify violations correctly, submit checklists, use appropriate measuring tools and develop training regarding the legality of curb cuts; and that the agency should verify information submitted in site surveys, and confirm that all applications include all necessary detailed information and documentation.
Comptroller Stringer stated, “Illegal curb cuts and driveways negatively impact safety and quality of life for pedestrians and drivers alike and take away much needed sidewalk space when our city most needs it. Our audit identified significant weaknesses in the Department of Buildings enforcement of the rules that apply to curb cuts and driveways, which also cost the city tens of thousands of dollars. I urge DOB to implement our recommendations immediately and ensure that our streetscapes can serve as the public amenities they are intended to be.”
To read the full audit, click here.
By: Nicholas Negron (Nicholas is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)