Playing With Fire: Rockland County Executive Day doubles down on fight to bring landlords into compliance
Rockland County is beefing up its legal muscle to go after chronic code violators in the county.
Just three months ago, a fire along Lake Street killed five young people, reigniting public outrage over lax code enforcement in Spring Valley and beyond.
In the days following the tragedy, News 12's cameras rolled as hundreds of building and fire code violations were issued at a dozen other properties connected to the same developer - Jacob Jeremiah - who owns the home where the fire broke out.
"When we saw what happened to Jeremiah's properties, we served them with 250 violations - to Jeremiah's ownership," said Rockland County Executive Ed Day.
The county has been in charge of the village's Building Department for a little over a year in what amounted to a historic takeover of a local municipality.
To date, Day says his task force has conducted nearly 1,000 inspections, resulting in about 8,000 violations. He tells News 12 that he still continues to encounter the same obstacle when those violations are issued because too often chronic offenders get off with paying smaller fines when they head to court only to get written up for the same code failures over and over.
"Some landlords are either fighting us at every step or they are paying a fine - it is definitely not fixing anything," says Day. Day says that's why the county hired 10 new attorneys whose sole focus will be to mount more intense legal challenges.
"We're not just out trying to give people a hard time. We're not just a government agency that's just trying to collect money. We're out there trying to save lives right now," says Day.