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WHEREAS, the South Bronx Property Owners' Association founded in 1902, its officers and members are in favor of such plans, as stated in the said tentative plan, except as hereinafter mentioned, therefore be it
Resolved, That we want the number of Commissioners to be five, one for each borough, so as to assure in said Commission the presence of one representative from each of the five boroughs of Greater New York, according to the principles of home rule.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the President and Secretary have
signed these presents and affixed the seal of the Association.
MR. FREDERICK C. KUNDECK,
Mr. ARTHUR ARCTANDER, addressed the Commission; Mr. Arctander stated: I reside at 994 Grant avenue, Bronx, and represent the Taxpayers' Alliance as a Delegate, also the Bronx County Property Owners' Association, and I am an architect.
I have conducted business in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn and so forth for the past forty years and wish to state that the Taxpayers' Alliance, which I represent, constitutes twentytwo Civic Organizations in the Borough of the Bronx.
I wish to state that we have read with great interest the tentative plan of consolidation of the various city departments consisting of: the Building Department; the Tenement House Department; the Labor Department; the Fire Prevention Department; and the Factory Department.
We are practically in favor of the consolidation of all those departments but under a five headed Commission; one Commissioner or Superintendent from each borough with full power to decide all cases coming before them but governed by the same law for all boroughs, and as has been expressed by President Mattewson of Bronx borough.
I am familiar with the plan now in operation with independent action for each borough in the Building Department, and I am also familiar with the plan in operation in said department prior to the year 1901 when a deputy was assigned to the Borough of the Bronx.
On behalf of the organizations which I represent, I wish to state that we are in favor that the five commissioners or superintendents should constitute a board to which an appeal may be taken in cases of dispute and also that a further appeal of last instance may be had to a Board of Examiners as constituted now but whose membership should be extended and to have not less than one representative from the architects; the Builders Association; the Plumbers Association with a practical knowledge of not less than ten years experience; also a representative from the Labor Organization, the State Factory Commission; the Fire Department; the Fire Prevention Department; the Tenement House Department and the Building Department.
We would recommend that the Board of Commissioners should meet once every week in the Municipal building, and that the Board of Examiners should meet not less than once every month.
We would recommend that all heads of the new department and deputies should be either architects or builders of not less than ten years' experience and that they should be appointed by the respective Borough Presidents in the various boroughs and that all inspectors in the department should be experienced craftsmen of five years' experience.
We believe that the consolidation under such a department would be a saving to the city of $1,000,000 and would be a great benefit to the whole building industry in the city and would lessen the constant annoyance of inspectors now in existence from each department.
I believe that I have stated all the desires of the organizations which I have the honor to represent and would only say in conclusion that I appear here only by courtesy of the Chairman of the Commission, in the absence of the Chairman of the Delegates, Mr. Schoonmaker, whom I would request may be heard now.
Mr. ELKUS: Is he here now.
Mr. ARCTANDER: He is here now.
Mr. CHARLES BUEK addressed the Commission.
Mr. BUEK: I represent the Real Estate Owners and Builders Association. We are very heartily in favor of this consolidation.
We believe it would be one of the best things that could happen to New York real estate if it could be brought about. We have gone very carefully through this tentative plan or bill and have embodied some of our suggestions in the shape of a communication here. I would like to be permitted to read it, may I?
Commissioner DREIER: Yes.
By Mr. ELKUS:
Q. May I ask how many members you have in your association? A. About sixty. I won't take up the time of the Commission by reading the whole of it, but to lay stress upon two matters to call your attention to. We think that in this consolidation the new department of buildings should not have any control over buildings so far as their sanitation or use is concerned. We think that the purview of the department of buildings should cease when the building is completed. After that whatever belongs to the sanitary part of it should be under the board of health. Whatever belongs to the fire prevention and so on should be under the purview of the fire department, as in years past when the chief of the battalion or the captain of the company sent his men through the building and examined the conditions and found whether things were right or not. That can readily be done under this bill. The business of the building department should end, we think, when the building is completed and turned in, and the owner should then have a clean bill of health so that he can know that hereafter he will not be liable for any demands so far as the structural part of the building is concerned.
We would like to speak also with reference to the board of standards and appeals. The establishment of this board is, after the general consolidation, probably the most important feature of the bill. Its functions are delicate, its powers varied and extensive, and its composition will be of the utmost importance. It should before all be a board of experts, of men of experience in building and familiar with its various problems and its phases. No others can intelligently pass upon the many questions of materials and methods that will constantly come before it, both in the laying down of rules and regulations, and the decision on appeals. Unless its members are experts, known as such, the board cannot command the confidence of the building public. I believe that would require no argument. The questions that come up are technical entirely and no one but experts can pass upon them. It should also be entirely nonpartisan. Politics should in no wise enter into it. The board as constituted in the bill does not seem to meet these requirements. To have the chairman pass upon his own orders and decisions makes the board anything but impartial.
By Mr. OLVANY:
Q. Mr. Buek, may I ask you whether you represent the real estate owners of all of the boroughs or only of one borough? A. Only of Manhattan.
By Mr. ARCTANDER:
Q. In your experience have you found that the building department inspectors were practical men? A. Some are and some are not.
Q. Have you found in your experience that the inspectors of the tenement house department were practical men? A. Never had experience with them. I have never built a building under the tenement house law. Since the tenement house law has been in effect I have built no more tenements or apartment houses. T don't know anything about them.
The paper submitted by Mr. Buek is as follows:
1. The new department should have jurisdiction over fire escapes, fire towers and all other means of exit in case of fire in a building
2. The act should provide for the boiler inspection by the department of high pressure boilers only. The police now claim jurisdiction in some cases over low pressure boilers intended for heating only.
3. The bill should include not only structural changes in bakeries and food products manufactories, but structural changes in all buildings, as the health department has frequently issued such orders in respect to other buildings.
4. All matters of construction, arrangement, plumbing and ventilation, now under the authority of the tenement house department should decidedly be included in the new department.
5. The definition of a tenement should be so amended as not to include three family houses, and it would be well if the old distinction between tenements and apartments could be restored.
6. The definition of a factory should be amended so as not to include small workshops or workrooms where but few people are employed.
7. It is decidedly our opinion that the bill should designate the bureaus into which the new department is to be divided, but that the number of inspectors should be left to the board of estimate and apportionment, with perhaps a maximum fixed in the bill.
8. An officer or employee should give his whole undivided time and attention to the public business, but this provision should not apply to members of the board of standards and appeals.
9. If this provision is made to apply to others than officers and employees of the department, it would seem to invest the commissioner with judicial powers which should belong to the courts.
10. Instead of using the words “ between sunset and sunrise,” would it not be better to substitute “between 6 P. M. and 8 A. M."?
11. The provisions of paragraph 21 apparently vest in the commissioner of buildings an undesirable and unsafe power. It would make him virtually the ruler of the city and all building, and the business of renting and selling would be practically at his mercy. It is too great a power to confer on any man, however competent, wise and upright. We believe the broad general principle should be laid down that the supervision of the department ends when the building has been finally turned in as completed in compliance with the law; that the owner who has so complied in good faith shall be entitled to a clean bill of health and free from further requirements. It follows that it shall have no concern with cases of disease, sanitation and nuisance, which may safely be left to the department of health to deal with, which alone is properly equipped for that purpose. The jurisdiction over vessels and piers would seem to belong to the department of docks.
12. Every citizen should have the right to be heard in court and the words "may be granted a hearing” should be changed to “shall be granted a hearing.”
13. To give the city a lien on property for the expense of executing orders which very often might be uncalled for and