DOB Past Versus DOB Future Make DOB Present a Mess

By Austin Regan

The DOB keeps tripping over it’s own feet as it hesitantly stumbles its way into the 21st Century. While the department continues to promote the Central HUB with it’s ability to allow users to transmit all documents electronically and meet with examiners virtually, other sections of the DOB refuse to recognize the validity of electronic documents.

The borough of Brooklyn just announced that they will not accept forms that were virtually accepted by a HUB examiner. These are the items that appear in the virtual folder of an application which can be viewed on the web. They will only accept the original forms. This creates a bit of a conundrum since the HUB only accepts virtual forms. Other Boroughs have resisted even entering original forms if a job was filed at the HUB.

HUB approved plans arrive to the applicant via a PDF file. The file is printed out and a copy of that PDF serves as the approved DOB plans. We still hear stories of inspectors threatening to shut jobs down unless “original” plans are produced at the site! A virtual (pun intended) impossibility.

The DOB professes to be striving to serve the professionals and owners in a more efficient, user friendly manner but, apparently, not everyone has read the memo. New pilot programs are under way with a goal of making the system more automated but the old habits die hard. The friction between DOB past and DOB future will be not far from the surface for a long time to come.