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Queens Chronicle

DOB violations for trees tipped onto homes by Hurricane Sandy

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Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 5:15 pm | Updated: 7:11 pm, Fri Nov 2, 2012.

Jaqueline Califano greeted Tuesday morning sans electricity with a mammoth, century-old tree sitting atop her Auburndale home. She called 311, reported the problem and got assurances from the Parks Department that the issue will be addressed – eventually.

Ditto Con Edison, which knows the downed tree took power lines with it, leaving several poles precariously leaning at three homes on Jordan Street between 33rd and 34th Avenue.

On Halloween, another city agency greeted her: the Department of Buildings. The damage caused by the tree on top of her house? It’s a violation. The agency also cited the owners of two other homes the tree is currently using as an ottoman.

“They were very nice. I don’t know if they’re just covering themselves,” Califano said, adding that the inspectors said to keep them in the loop if the tree’s status gets worse. “At this point, the houses are habitable. We’ll do pretty much anything out here to get tree.”

The violation did not bring a fine with it, only the promise to make sure the situation was addressed in the future. The violation also didn’t bring the promise of an expedited tree removal.

The Chronicle was unable to reach the DOB for comment.

Califano and her neighbors’ situation drew the ire of State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside). He’s beginning to wonder if the Bloomberg administration and Con Edison’s map of New York only depicts Manhattan.

“It’s just insane. Imagine a homeowner just had a tree land on their home, no power and now a city agency is knocking on their door and handing them a violation?” Avella asked. “Aren’t these people dealing with enough?”

The DOB told Avella the violation is a means of tracking the storm’s impact, and a way for the homeowner to keep an official record of the damage to their home.

“They don’t need a violation to do that. You can use a camera,” Avella said, also expressing skepticism a fine won’t eventually follow.

“I just don’t trust them,” he said.

Califano, however, sounded serene about the situation. Her family is a collection of outdoors buffs. No electricity – no problem. She’s more concerned about those leaning poles, and the power lines that look ready to snap. The violation isn’t a big deal.

“As long as there’s nothing, no fines or anything are attached to it,” she said.

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