Help Me Howard shows you can fight City Hall, but not Mother Nature

Posted at 5:41 PM, May 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-02 17:41:41-04

HOWARD BEACH (PIX11) — Bobby McGuire feels tied up in red tape.

The retired city firefighter owns a four family building in Howard Beach. The heavy rain at the end of March flooded out the heating system. And the city Department of Buildings won’t issue an emergency permit so he can make repairs.

“All the tenants are looking at me like I did something wrong,” he says. “Meanwhile it had nothing to do with me.”

The holdup: the city wants Bobby to file new plans first. It can’t locate old ones filed before Bobby bought the building and an old work plan filed back then makes it look like the boilers and hot water heaters are on the second floor instead of in the basement.

Queens landlord faces city red tape when trying to make repairs for tenants

Bobby says he spent $30,000 to repair the damaged boilers, that were again destroyed by heavy rains.

“All I want them to do is give me a permit to do the work first. I’ll have the plans to follow, which is what an emergency permit is all about.”

We got the Department of Buildings to understand the situation and Bobby got the emergency permit just hours before he had to explain to a judge why the repairs hadn’t been made. It seems two of his tenants were impatient and went to court. He faced the possibility of steep fines even though his hands were tied.

Bobby was grateful for our effort. But it wasn’t enough.

Almost as soon as the repairs and remodeling were complete, the skies opened up again. Bobby says he got flooded with seven feet of water. The new heating units were ruined.

Bobby doesn’t know what he’ll do now.

“Seven feet of water,” he says. “Four brand new boilers, four brand new heaters totally shot. We just did $30,000 worth of work in this building. Finished last Monday. For this to happen twice in one month, there’s something drastically wrong with the drainage system in this neighborhood.”

He says he can’t afford to keep replacing the boilers and heaters. He wants the city to check the drainage.

We’ll let you know about developments.