BY RORY LANCMAN
Put yourself in Michael Hannibal’s shoes for a moment.
Michael is a homeowner in Jamaica Estates. In 2014, Michael and his family spent thousands to reconstruct their driveway and sidewalk, including their curb, to prevent rain from entering their home.
One year later, in 2015, the Department of Transportation (DOT) embarked on a citywide resurfacing initiative that included Michael’s street. While the construction improved the condition of the street in front of Michael’s home, the work done by DOT reversed the work Michael’s family did the year before.
Here was the problem: DOT failed to take into account the current height of the curb after performing its intended construction project.
As a result, the newly raised street and the curb in front of Michael’s home are now level.
A level curb can be a big problem for homeowners. Not only does the level curb cause a parking problem, but it also leaves homes like Michael’s more prone to flooding conditions.
To make matters worse, the city fines homeowners for having standing water on their property, even if DOT itself created the porous conditions. This is a slap in the face to homeowners, who have done nothing wrong, yet are left holding the bag for the city’s work.
The failure of DOT to adjust curb heights after construction they perform is completely unacceptable. And, unfortunately, Michael’s story is not a rarity. I have heard from numerous homeowners in my district concerned about declining curb heights and level curbs following street work done by DOT.
In order to tackle this problem head on, I introduced a piece of legislation in the City Council earlier this month to protect homeowners and hold the city responsible for curb heights altered by DOT construction.
What my bill says is this: If DOT is going to perform any street construction, whether it is on curbs, gutters, pavements or sidewalks, then DOT must ensure that curb heights will be maintained. It is common sense. DOT must be mindful of the condition in which it is leaving the curb, or any area for that matter, after construction, instead of leaving the homeowner to deal with consequences like flooding or fines.
I believe New York City homeowners like Michael deserve far better treatment from the city. And as tax-paying residents, it is imperative that the services we are paying for be completed in a manner that makes improvements and solves problems, instead of creating new problems.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on the City Council to make this important piece of legislation a reality.
City Councilman for the 24th District