Investigations

Eyewitness News uncovers several unsafe balconies

Monday, September 23, 2013

When Jennifer Rosoff fell 17 stories from her balcony, it was long past due for a safety inspection.

Eyewitness News' investigation has found this is likely true for hundreds of high-rises, perhaps thousands.

Eyewitness News randomly checked the Department of Buildings own data base for 100 buildings with balconies in Manhattan.

31 of those buildings, according to DOB records, have failed to meet their deadlines for mandatory, 5-year façade inspections.

"How dangerous it is when you look at city with all these terraces and balconies and to think just your investigation shows that no one is watching out for this, no one is inspecting," said Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President.

Manhattan's Borough President and Democratic Nominee for Comptroller put out a report last year calling for a separate agency that focuses ''solely on inspections and safety ".

He says Eyewitness News' findings underscore the need for reform of Buildings Department oversight.

"We have got to ensure that we have an inspection system that is fail safe," Stringer said.

Eyewitness News also discovered that of the 31 buildings out of compliance, not one had been fined, including some buildings more than a year past their inspection deadline.

"That is unacceptable. The building inspection system has failed the inspection by ABC and must remedy immediate action before someone else gets hurt," City Councilman Peter Vallone said.

Part of the problem could be a backlog in updating the inspection data.

Eyewitness News found these two high-rises on the East Side that are in full compliance and deemed safe by the city, yet the data base record mistakenly shows they have missed their filing deadline.

For six weeks, Eyewitness News has tried to get accurate information on the total number of buildings out of compliance with façade inspections and those with the most fines. But the Buildings Department would not tell Eyewitness News and declined an on-camera interview.

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