The ABCs of Municipal Government Cutting Through the Red Tape

You may live in the most well-run and self-sufficient building in the city, but no building is an island, not even in developments from the sprawling Stuyvesant Town- Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan to Co-op City in the Bronx to the small six-story condo building on the Lower East Side needs to utilize a plethora of municipal services and interact with the various city and state agencies that run them.

Due to the always difficult bureaucratic red tape, sometimes dealing with these agencies isn’t as easy as just picking up the phone. A well-run building is best served when those in charge know how to contact the right departments about the right problems at the right times. Navigating city and state offices can be one of the most important things that a co-op or condo does to keep everything running smoothly. Here is a look at some of the offices and agencies that should be on any manager or board member’s speed dial.

The Mayor’s Office

It would be nice to think that Mayor Bill de Blasio and his staff are ready to assist residential owners with all of their problems but in fact, there isn't a lot of direct interaction between Hizzoner's office and individual co-ops and condos.

According to a mayoral spokesman, most calls that come in regarding anything to do with co-op and condo issues are directed to different offices in the city. The best way to reach city officials is through the citizen’s hotline. All calls to 311 are answered by a live operator, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offer immediate access to translation services in over 170 languages and online on the web in 50 languages at www1.nyc.gov/311/index.page. To contact the mayor’s office log onto www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor.

The Buildings Department

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) ensures the safe and lawful use of over 975,000 buildings and properties by enforcing the city’s building code, electrical code, zoning resolutions, New York state labor law and New York state multiple dwelling law. The DOB maintains a database of buildings maintained by the city. According to a spokesman, the department’s main activities include performing plan examinations, issuing construction permits, inspecting properties and licensing trades. For more information on the DOB, visit the department's website at www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/home/home.shtml. The main phone number is 212-566-5000.

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