The Director of Planning and Development or designee may order any building which, in his/her opinion, is unsafe or is not provided with sufficient means of egress or exits to be vacated forthwith.
All buildings or structures or portions of buildings or portions of structures which are structurally unsafe, unsanitary or which constitute a fire hazard or are otherwise dangerous to human life or which, in relation to existing uses, constitute a hazard to safety or health by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence or abandonment are severally, for the purpose of this article, unsafe buildings. All such unsafe buildings are hereby declared to be illegal and shall be abated by repair or demolition in accordance with the procedure of this article. The Director of Planning and Development or designee has the authority to order a building or structure or portion of a building or portion of a structure to be demolished rather than repaired.
The Director of Planning and Development or designee, after consulting with the City Forester, has the authority to order a tree or trees or parts of a tree or trees to be removed if the tree is dead or parts of the tree are dead and any branches or parts of the tree have fallen or are falling constituting a hazard to any building or structure or person.
Whenever the Director of Planning and Development or designee shall find any building, structure or portion thereof to be unsafe, as defined in this article, the Director of Planning and Development or designee shall cause service of notice upon the owner and all other persons having any interest in such property upon which the unsafe building is located, either personally or by registered mail, addressed to his/her last known address as shown by the records of the Assessor's office of the City and/or in the office of the County Clerk, containing a description of the premises, a statement of the particulars in which the building or structure is unsafe or dangerous and an order of the Director of Planning and Development or designee requiring the same to be repaired or removed; and if such service is made by registered mail, the Director of Planning and Development or designee shall cause the posting of a copy of such notice on the premises.
If the Director of Planning and Development or designee finds that there is actual and immediate danger of failure or collapse so as to endanger life, such notice shall also require the building, structure or portion thereof to be vacated forthwith and not reoccupied until the specific repairs and improvements are completed, inspected and approved by the Director of Planning and Development or designee.
The Director of Planning and Development or designee shall cause to be posted at each entrance to such building a notice: "THIS BUILDING IS UNSAFE AND ITS USE AND OCCUPANCY HAS BEEN PROHIBITED BY THE DIRECTOR OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE CITY OF ITHACA, NEW YORK OR HIS/HER DESIGNEE. IT SHALL BE UNLAWFUL FOR ANY PERSON TO REMOVE, DEFACE OR DESTROY THIS NOTICE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE DIRECTOR OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT OR HIS/HER DESIGNEE."
Such notice shall remain posted until the required repairs are made or demolition is completed. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation or their agents or servants to remove such notice without written permission of the Director of Planning and Development or his/her designee, or for any person to enter the building except for the purpose of making the required repairs or of demolishing said building. The owner of the subject building or structure shall be responsible for obtaining the requisite permit pursuant to § 146-5 before commencing the repairs or demolition.
In cases of emergency which, in the opinion of the Director of Planning and Development or his/her designee, involve imminent danger to human life or health, he/she shall promptly cause such building, structure or portion thereof to be made safe or removed. For this purpose, the Director of Planning and Development or his/her designee may at once enter such structure or land on which it stands, or abutting land or structure, with such assistance and at such cost as may be necessary. The Director of Planning and Development or his/her designee may order that adjacent structures be vacated and may protect the public by appropriate barricades or such other means as may be necessary and for this purpose may close a public or private way.
The notice shall contain the time within which the owner so served shall commence the repair or removal of such unsafe building.
The notice may also be filed in the office of the County Clerk, which notice shall be filed by the Clerk in the same manner as a notice of tendency pursuant to Article 65 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules and shall have the same effect as a notice of tendency as therein provided, except as otherwise hereinafter provided in this subsection. A notice so filed shall be effective for a period of one year from the date of filing; provided, however, that it may be vacated upon the order of a judge or justice of a court of record or upon the consent of the City Attorney. The County Clerk shall mark such notice and any record or docket thereof as canceled of record upon the presentation and filing of such consent or of a certified copy of such order.
The notice shall further contain a statement that a hearing can be requested in writing to the Director of Planning and Development within five business days of receipt of the notice.
If a hearing is requested, the same shall be held before the Building Code Board of Appeals not less than two weeks nor more than four weeks after the request for a hearing is received. The person requesting the hearing shall be notified in writing at least seven days prior to the hearing of the time and place of the hearing.
In the event that a hearing is held or if the owner does not appear and it is determined by the Building Code Board of Appeals that there is an unsafe building located upon the premises and the owner fails to commence the repair or removal of the unsafe building within the time specified in the notice of determination, the Director of Planning and Development shall notify the Superintendent of Public Works that the owner has failed or refuses to repair or remove the unsafe building within the time provided.
Removal or repair by City; costs. Upon notification that the owner has failed or refuses to repair the unsafe building, the Superintendent of Public Works shall cause the repair or removal of the unsafe building. After the work has been completed, the Superintendent of Public Works shall file in the office of the City Chamberlain a verified statement of all the direct costs of the same, together with a charge of 50% in addition thereto as compensation to the City for administering, supervising and handling said work.
Assessment and lien. Upon receipt of the verified statement, the City Chamberlain shall enter the same in his/her records as a lien against the premises and shall add the same to the next assessment roll of general City taxes and shall collect and enforce the assessment in the same manner by the same proceedings, at the same time and under the same penalties as the general City tax and as a part thereof, except that, in addition to the penalties heretofore stated, interest shall accrue from the date of filing to the date of actual payment at 12% per annum.
Other remedies. Notwithstanding any provision herein to the contrary, the City may, at its election, institute suit against the owner of said premises for the direct costs, together with a charge of 50% in addition thereto as compensation to the City for administering, supervising and handling said work, and enter judgment thereon against the owner personally for the aforesaid amount. The imposition and collection of any fine or penalty hereinafter prescribed shall not bar the right of the City to collect the cost of the removal or repair of any unsafe building as herein prescribed.
Completion of work within reasonable time. The failure of the owner to complete the repairs or to remove the unsafe building within a reasonable time after due notice shall subject the owner to the same procedure and penalties as herein set forth.
Transfer of title. The transfer of title by the owner of premises upon which an unsafe building is located shall be no defense to any proceedings under this chapter.
Once a building has been deemed unsafe, the property owner shall prevent any person access to or the right to reside in such a building, whether or not for consideration. Once a building has been deemed unsafe, the property owner shall prevent any access inside the building except for purposes related to repair or demolition of the building, except with the written permission of the Director of Planning and Development or designee. The property owner shall be presumed to be aware of access to or occupancy of the building. Violations of this section shall be subject to the penalty provided for failure to comply with a written order of the Director of Planning and Development in § 146-50 herein.
[Added 3-6-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-07]
After a building has been declared unsafe by the Director of Planning and Development, renting to any tenant is prohibited. Any person, including property owner, landlord, or property manager who rents to a tenant any part of an unsafe building shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction thereof, shall be fined in an amount not to exceed $500, and not less than $250 for each violation, or imprisonment of not more than 30 days, or both. Each day of rental shall be deemed a separate violation. It shall be a separate violation for each tenant to whom any person is renting any part of an unsafe building.
[Added 3-6-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-07]
There shall be a Building Code Board of Appeals consisting of three members to be appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the Common Council for terms of three years each. This Board shall be composed of one general contractor, one registered architect and one licensed professional engineer. No member of the Board of Appeals shall sit in any case in which he/she has a personal interest; and in any such case, the Mayor shall appoint a substitute for such interested member.
Any person ordered to repair, remove or vacate a building and who is in disagreement with the judgment of the Director of Planning and Development or designee may appeal to the Building Code Board of Appeals, provided that a written statement setting forth the reasons for such appeal is filed with the Secretary of the Board within five business days of the service of the order upon such person. The Director of Planning and Development or designee shall notify such person of this right to appeal and of this five-business-day time limitation. Upon receipt of such appeal, the Board shall hold a hearing within 30 days and, after review of all evidence, shall affirm, modify or annul the action of the Director of Planning and Development or designee.
Before the demolition or removal of any building or structure is begun, a verified application shall be prepared by the owner, architect, builder or contractor, on appropriate blanks furnished by the Director of Code Enforcement, containing a statement of the facts in relation thereto and as to the location and ownership thereof. The application shall be filed with the Director of Code Enforcement at least 10 working days before the proposed demolition, except in the case of buildings previously declared to be hazardous or unsafe. The Director of Code Enforcement shall notify the Department of Planning and Development and the Landmarks Preservation Commission of all requests for demolition permits immediately upon official receipt of such request and at least five working days before issuing the required written permit for the demolition of any building or structure. The official requirement for a ten-day delay may be waived by both the Department of Planning and Development and the Landmarks Preservation Commission by written notice to the Director of Code Enforcement. Such permit shall expire by limitation two months from the date of its issuance.
Before any permit is issued granting authority to wreck a building or structure for which such permit is required, the person, firm or corporation engaged in the work of wrecking the same shall file, when required by the Director of Code Enforcement, a bond or public liability insurance continuing a personal injury and property damage provision, which bond or insurance policy shall be approved by the City Attorney, to indemnify, keep and save harmless the City against any loss, cost, damage, expense, judgment or liability of any kind whatsoever which may accrue against or be charged to or recovered from said City or any of its officials from or by reason of or on account of accidents to persons or property during any such wrecking operations and from or by reason of or on account of anything done under or by virtue of any permit granted for any such wrecking operations.
Said bond or public liability insurance shall be in amounts to be determined by the Director of Code Enforcement, who may require additional sums as protection for the City as may be necessary from time to time thereafter.
In demolishing any building or structure or part thereof, story after story shall be completely removed. No material shall be placed upon a floor of any building in the course of demolition, and the bricks, timbers and other parts of each story shall be lowered to the ground immediately upon displacement. The material to be removed shall be properly wet to lay the dust incident to its removal.
When any building or structure over 40 feet in height is demolished, a shed or other protection may be required by the Director of Code Enforcement.
Furthermore, before any permit is issued as aforesaid, the Director of Code Enforcement shall determine the reasonable time required for the demolition or removal of the building or structure involved, and the permit shall be issued on the condition that demolition or removal is completed within the time limitation specified; and the contractor shall be required to provide security, in the form of a surety bond or certified check, to insure compliance with the time limitation as set by the Director of Code Enforcement, in amounts to be determined by the Director of Code Enforcement and in a form to be approved by the City Attorney.