Archive for the tag 'bureaucracy'


An angry neighbor in front of the “Homecrest Tower” (Source:

The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) ignored a state judge’s plea to re-examine the plans put forward by the shady developer of the so-called “Homecrest Tower” (1882 East 12th Street). Reports indicate that the BSA declared that developer Joseph Durzieh does have the right to continue building the enormous addition to his home, much to the consternation of his neighbors.

The last we reported on the building, which is a 53-foot tribute to horrendous taste, Judge Yvonne Lewis had sided with neighbors who called for a halt to the project. The judge didn’t have the authority to tear down the structure but had ordered the BSA to re-examine the case. Durzieh had argued that he had the proper permits to make the alterations, claiming that he was building a new addition for his family. Neighbors argued that this was unlikely considering that Durzieh tore down most of his house to accommodate the addition and that his plans called for the installation of an exterior staircase and an elevator. The speculation was that Durzieh was looking to build and rent out condos.

When the BSA finally ruled last week, they declared that Durzieh’s permits were indeed valid, stating that architect Shlomo Wygoda made an error by not filing for a “new building” permit. The BSA decided that this error was “administrative” in nature, effectively giving Durzieh the go ahead on his plans.

Brooklyn Daily described the angry reaction of State Senator Tony Avella:

Tony Avella, a state senator from Queens who crusades against unscrupulous developers, visited the tower on E. 12th Street earlier this year and cited the agency’s decision as further evidence of why the mayor should get rid of it.

“This is one more example of why the Board of Standards and Appeals should be abolished,” said Avella. “It’s just incomprehensible that this developer got away with this huge building. It’s a monstrosity, and not only that, but its a dangerous accident waiting to happen.”

In fact, the board appears to have performed no additional investigation or review beyond the consulting the buildings department, and based its decision largely on the testimony of the department it is supposed to police.

Attorney Stuart Klein, who represents the neighbors opposed to the structure, spoke to the unfair relationship between the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the BSA.

“This decision says that the BSA is going to rubber stamp anything the DOB does,” Klein told Brooklyn Daily.

Minutes after posting about the development on the Homecrest-Midwood border that’s pissing off neighbors – and the Board of Standards and Appeals’ ruling to let it go forward despite community objections – we received the following letter. In it, Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association president Ed Jaworski implores Councilman Mike Nelson and his colleagues to investigate the BSA and its divisive practices.

Read Ed Jaworski’s letter to Councilman Mike Nelson urging the council to investigate the BSA, and our take on such an investigation.

This time it landed on the sidewalk. Next time it could be a person.

The following op-ed is from Manhattan Beach resident Allan Rosen. In it, he shares a recent battle with 311 over dangerously neglected trees. Read more of Allan’s writings on Sheepshead Bites. Let us know what you think of 311 in the comments section.

How effective is 311?  Not at all, according to City Council Member Karen Koslowitz from Forest Hills, Queens.

Koslowitz was asked why requests to DOT to fix a pavement hazard, which caused many elderly people to trip while stepping off the curb on Queens Boulevard, had gone unheeded for over two years. She stated that problems just don’t get solved when you call 311.

I tend to agree with her. My neighbors have been attempting to get dead branches pruned from trees on the border of Manhattan Beach Park for over two years. Their calls to 311 have not solved the problem. On July 5th of this year, I decided to call 311 for the first time to report the problem. Thus far, nothing has been done although 311 promises responses within 30 days from the appropriate department, which in this case is the Parks Department. Parks also claims to investigate all complaints within 30 days.

This is a dangerous situation existing throughout the city. Sheepshead Bites recently reported how a dead tree limb speared an automobile (and here, and here, and here).

That just as easily could have been a person. This past year a tree branch fell killing a man in Central Park. Last year it was a woman in Philadelphia. Could these deaths have been prevented with better maintenance?

Read how Rosen’s battle with 311 unfolds – and eventually fizzles as nothing gets done – and leave a comment with your thoughts on the service.