Thursday, December 15, 2011

Notice anything unwelcoming at Liberty Plaza? Occupy the NYC Department of Buildings' Inbox!

SCROLL DOWN FOR A DIRECT ACTION

Liberty Plaza, also known as Zuccotti Park, is a Privately Owned Public Space (POPS). POPS were established as mechanism through which a property owner/developer that wants to build a structure that is taller, wider, or otherwise outside of the property’s zoning designation, can do so. In other words, by building POPS that are theoretically welcoming spaces, property owners/developers can increase the size of their building, and the size of their profit, beyond the standard limit.

Liberty Plaza was created through such an agreement. "One Liberty Plaza" was built larger than local zoning regulations permitted, and Lower Manhattan received a park in return.

The New York City Zoning Resolution governs the design of POPS. The Resolution has been revised several times in the last 50 years. With each revision, design specifications for POPS have gotten more detailed. The revisions are based on studies of what makes public spaces in cities functional. The original Resolution included the requirement that at least 50% of frontage between a POPS and the sidewalk be unobstructed. Revisions have added the requirement that paths must be provided through the space, and that those paths connect to adjacent sidewalks for circulation.

We are the public: the beneficiaries of the plaza-for-extra-space-building deal. For the last month, we have been noticing Zoning Resolutions violations at Liberty Park, a POPS that New Yorkers have found particularly functional this fall. We see obstructions that both violate the Resolution and make the plaza unwelcoming.
We see obstructions between the sidewalk and the plaza.
We see circulation paths that don't connect to the sidewalk

The plaza doesn't feel welcoming or useful
We are not getting our side of the bargain.

It is the job of the NYC Department of Buildings to enforce the zoning code. We haven't seen them at Liberty Park. We know they are busy. They don't inspect every building in the city every month. But they do respond to inspection requests and complaints from the public. It's their job

So -- here's what we're going to do: occupy the NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner's inbox. Follow these steps:

1. Point your browser here to reach Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/maildob.html

2. From the first drop-down, select "Inspection Requests/Complaints."

3. Enter your email address.

4. Cut and paste the message below into the Message box:

"I have observed a violation of zoning rules at 1 LIBERTY PLAZA (Manhattan Block 62; lot 7501). Rails on all sides of privately owned public space plaza are blocking nearly 100% ACCESS FROM the STREET; the same rails also block access to the circulation paths in the plaza. Design of the plaza is governed by the section of the Zoning Code that governs design of all privately owned public spaces. The sidewalk frontage of a public plaza is required to have a minimum 50% of its area free of obstructions (NYC Zon. Res. Art. 3, Ch. 7, S. 70, 37-721). The rails currently obstruct more than 50% of the frontage on all sides. Mandatory circulation paths are required to connect each of the street frontages (37-723). The rails currently interfere with path connection to the street frontages."

5. Submit.

6. When you receive an acknowledgement of receipt in your inbox, forward it to us at occupynycdob@gmail.com. We want to know just how occupied the DOB gets. We will be issuing a press release next week and would like to know how many inspection requests the department is due to respond to.

7. If there are other POPSs in your life that are not as public as they should be, repeat steps 1-5. Put your DOB to work.

#occupyDOB

**All images by Paula Z. Segal and Quilian Riano, text by Paula Z. Segal with edits from Quilian Riano and a collective of legal, policy, and design experts.

7 comments:

  1. Hi friends,

    The barricades are still up but the Department of Buildings is a little bit busier than it would have been without us. On Monday, December 19 (two weeks ago), the following complaint appeared in the public register of complaints for One Liberty Plaza:
    "CLR STS THAT THE BARRICADES SURRONDING ZUCCOTI PARK ACCROSS THE ABOVE ADDRESS IS IN VIOLATION OF THE ZONNING LAWS, PLS CHECK" (sic)
    You can see it here:
    http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/OverviewForComplaintServlet?requestid=1&vlcompdetlkey=0001479399

    So far there has been no inspection. The priority assigned to the complaint is "D" -- which means that the Department can inspect at its discretion and does not need to keep to any particular timeline. "A" complaints have to be inspected within 1.5 days. "B" complaints have to be inspected within 25 days.

    If you're feeling frustrated that your complaint is not resulting in a timely investigation, you could follow up with a phone call:

    You can call the Construction section of the Manhattan Borough office. Manhattan Chief inspector of construction is: 212-566-5292.
    When you call, you might reference the complaint number above, and say something like this:

    "Plaza not being operated in accordance with Department of City Planning Special Permit."

    If you call, let us know how it goes!

    love,

    #occupyDOB

    #whOWnSpace

    ReplyDelete
  2. By the way -- we know that the DOB has received at least 100 complaints so far. Keep occupying!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Today-- three prominent civil rights organizations join our action.
    See http://www.nyclu.org/news/rights-groups-urge-city-halt-illegal-restrictions-zuccotti-park

    ReplyDelete
  4. The DOB just posted a resolution for the only complaint they have recorded as of yet.

    Overview for Complaint #:1314894 = RESOLVED

    resolution code: I2 NO VIOLATION WARRANTED FOR COMPLAINT AT TIME OF INSPECTION

    Last Inspection: 01/06/2012 - - BY BADGE # 2271
    Disposition: 01/09/2012 - I2 - NO VIOLATION WARRANTED FOR COMPLAINT AT TIME OF INSPECTION
    Comments: NYPD BARRISADES- NO ZONING VIOLATION

    http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/OverviewForComplaintServlet?requestid=2&vlcompdetlkey=0001479399

    ReplyDelete
  5. Some press links:

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2012/01/youre-now-sort-free-enter-zuccotti-park/870/ (January 3, 2012)

    http://online.wsj.com/article/AP8c83e838d8fc4ea2bd01bbbd7dad1723.html?fb_ref=wsj_share_FB_bot&fb_source=home_oneline (January 9, 2012)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Looks like they've deliberately crippled the form.
    Tried it in 3 different browsers, doesn't work.

    Email address?

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete