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After a long absence, the legally required public bench at Trump Tower’s privately owned public space is finally back in place. Together with the previous removal of two sales kiosks that had illegally occupied the POPS for years, this marks a long-sought successful outcome to efforts by the Department of Buildings, APOPS|MAS, and media reporting to secure compliance with the space’s applicable legal requirements.
It has been over a year since the saga continues. After two hearings in March and April, 2016 that were adjourned at the request of Trump Tower representatives, the City’s Environmental Control Board (ECB) has scheduled a third hearing for June 23, 2016 to adjudicate the building’s continuing failure to re-install a legally required 22-foot public bench along the Fifth Avenue corridor wall across from the elevators. The hearing will also consider the imposition of a $10,000 penalty associated with two sales counters, now removed, that remained in place after the ECB ruled in January 2016 that they were illegally occupying the public space. That penalty would be on top of a $4,000 penalty previously paid by Trump Tower for the violation.
David Greenfield, Chair of New York City Council’s Land Use Committee. Image courtesy of council.nyc.gov.
New York City Council’s Land Use Committee, chaired by Council Member David Greenfield (pictured left), held a public hearing on June 29, 2016 to examine city oversight of privately owned public spaces. Sixteen councilors, including Chin, Gentile, Dickens, Garodnick, Mendez, Koo, Lander, Levin, Rose, Williams, Barron, Cohen, Kallos, Reynoso and Torres attended the hearing. Witnesses testifying included Edith Hsu-Chen, Director of the Manhattan Office in the Department of City Planning, Anita Laremont, General Counsel to the City Planning Commission, Patrick Wehle, Assistant Commissioner for External Affairs in the Department of Buildings, Joseph Ventour, Chief of Special Operations in the Buildings Department, APOPS founder and Harvard professor Jerold S. Kayden, and representatives of various civic groups interested in POPS. The Committee discussed a bill, proposed by Greenfield, Richards, Chin and Kallos, that would require the Department of City Planning to provide a periodic report to the City Council about every privately owned public space in the city, including all POPS locations, whether a POPS is required to file a periodic compliance report, whether the report was filed, and whether the filing indicated that the location was in compliance. DCP would also be required to create an online map displaying the location of every privately owned public space. The Department of Buildings would be required to provide an annual report to the City Council about the compliance status of every privately owned public space. The report would also include the number of complaints filed about any given space, whether any enforcement action was taken by the Buildings Department, and whether the Buildings Department had authorized any closure due to an unsafe condition or construction. Information about the hearing, including a video of the hearing and a transcript, can be found at the City Council’s website here.