Thursday, June 07, 2007

Robert Scarano is Having a Bad June

Humboldt Street

Some Carroll Gardens residents say they are disapppointed that yesterday's rally on Smith Street was more about architect Robert Scarano than about the building he is designing in their neighborhood. One resident wrote to say:
There was both some gratitude that [City Council Member Bill] de Blasio wants to point his finger at Scarano (who deserves it), but frustration that our specific development concerns were hardly heard by him...we feel we were lost in the shuffle.
Here's the text of the News 12 report on the event, which underscores the point:
City Councilman Bill De Blasio is seeking help from the state in an effort to stop an architect he says has been designing illegal buildings.

De Blasio is asking the state to revoke Robert Scarano’s license. He says the architect has been abusing a process called “self-certification.” The self-certification process essentially puts an architect on an honor system to ensure his or her designs are legal.

Scarano is no longer allowed the right to self-certify, but De Blasio is calling for stronger penalties against the architect.

Brooklyn officials claim one Scarano-designed building violated zoning codes when it was designed to be 16 stories tall. Residents are complaining that many of Scarano’s designs ignore the typical low-rise characteristics of Williamsburg.

When reached for comment, one of Scarano’s employees hung up on representatives from News 12 Brooklyn.
GL Analysis:
While there are many issues with Mr. Scarano's work, we have to say that the current effort exudes the ripe smell of old-fashioned political opportunism. The fact is that issues with Mr. Scarano's buildings have been around for years. We, frankly, place as much responsibility for the problems with the awful self-certification system that the city has used and with the Department of Buildings, which has been scandalously inept, at best, in doing its job.

Self-certification was the product of the Giuliani Administration. While it has been tightened after multiple abuses by many architects and developers, it is still there and serving as a substitute for public regulation. Why people are holding rallies now as opposed to having done so in 2004 or 2005 or 2006 is a fascinating question. So is the issue of where some of the same public officials were when other controversies arose and neighborhood activists asked them for help and got none. In fact, not too long ago, you would have had to send out a search and rescue team to find some City Council Members, Mr. de Blasio included, when issues arose.

The time would be better spent working to change individual developments that are problematic and on reforming and entire building approval and monitoring system that are in need to deep, systemic, top-to-bottom reform.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Lisanne McT said...

I guess the rally's are being held now because the damage that has been done in the last few years is visible as far as actually SEEING the end result of knocking down buidings and replacing them w/"Fedders" type buildings and the like. The average person in NYC is usually too busy trying to keep their own self afloat, NOW when that could be in danger, when YOU are the one that may be effected, when everything is more apparant that no one is really protecting you, the rally's happen. If anything comes of it who knows? The Atlantic Yards, whoever thought that despite all the outcry and protest that it would still go down in that fashion. So incredibly sad.

I found it really strange that a politician was heading up the rally at Smith St. I don't really trust him (hey, i live in the footprint of the Gowanus rezoning area)but if he helps not having something built that will destroy that whole plaza area, cool.

7:45 AM  
Blogger gary said...

Scarano is a bigger issue than just this one site, as well.

If he can be put out of business, so much the better. But I am glad to see this particular parcel getting some serious attention, even if DeBlasio has his own motives.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Jason Rowland said...

This guy has just tried to pull his shit in the wrong council district I guess. Get him De Blasio!

6:15 PM  

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