Posted by courtwatcher on August 22, 2001 at 10:07:57:
In Reply to: NYC Department of Buildings LAWSUIT posted by Abe Lincoln on August 22, 2001 at 09:24:53:
Good luck on this one. I'm have a verified artists "certification" from the Dept. of Cultural Affairs (required for residents of SoHo) and have lived in a "loft law"-covered building in SoHo for 20 + years. During that time the residential tenants in our building have been involved in numerous legal proceedings and the issue of the enforcement of zoning / certificate of occupancy has come up. In our building there were violations regarding both residential (non-"certified" artists) and commercial (non-allowable uses). However, at the level where we were playing no judge wanted to deal with zoning issues.
You are probably aware that in SoHo, being a manufacturing district, the zoning regs normally do not allow retail businesses on the street level (even though that is about all that exists now throughout SoHo); what is allowed in street level spaces is wholesale business / manufacturing business.
So if you are a retail businessperson and open up this Pandora's Box... who knows where it might lead you.
The crux of the situation seems to be that since NYC is (and always has been) a city of commerce - above all else - then those in power make certain that business interests rule.
In principle you are correct: the city is not enforcing its own zoning regulations and is, in fact, encouraging those regs to be broken and violated on a regular basis.
As a practical matter: your fight will be long and very expensive -- though you should win based on the law. (However, a recent ruling allowing new residential construction at the edge of SoHo - on Houston St. between Mercer / Wooster - shows how little respect the courts have for zoning regs.)
Again -- Good Luck.
: I'm putting together a group of artists and small business owners to instigate a CLASS ACTION lawsuit against the NYC DOB for not enforcing existing CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCIES in SOHO and NOHO.
: As a small business owner, it's hard to compete with high-income residential rent. CERTIFIED artists are the only people that should legitimately be living in commercial lofts. The rest of the lofts SHOULD be rented to small businesses, galleries, etc.
: A NYC realtor told me that only 10% of the co-op boards that require artist certification actually ask for it for it's residences. Various NYC realtors have shown me commercial spaces and said... "it's ok to live here if you want... the landlord won't mind." Even though it breaks C of O.
: I'm mad that zoning laws are being broken and I want to make a change. I've contacted various lawyers and have been compiling a list of specific violators. Again, I'm not going after specific co-ops, just the DOB for not enfocing the law.
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