Lancaster Out

As reported everywhere, Department of Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster resigned today. I’ve harped repeatedly on the failings of DOB, but don’t see this as much more than blaming the messenger. As many of the commenters at City Room noted, Lancaster inherited an incredibly dysfunctional agency, and did much to turn it around. Interestingly, DOB seems to finally be catching up with volume of construction – as Gowanus Lounge noted just this morning, there seems to be a marked increase in the number of Stop Work Orders appearing throughout Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

As I’ve said before, the real issue with DOB is that it is both an expeditor of construction and development and a public safety agency, and those two goals are often not compatible. Construction is an inherently dangerous industry, and DOB needs to do a better job of regulating construction professionals (contractors, expeditors, architects and engineers). But in order to do that effectively, DOB would probably need to make the development process less efficient – and that goes against its grain.

Lancaster’s resignation does nothing to address this inherent imbalance. Hopefully her successor will be able to.