Turn to Tara: Gov. Hochul vows to crack down on public safety and code violators
Gov. Kathy Hochul says that she plans to crack down on public safety and code violators during her next four years in office.
The discussion with News 12's Tara Rosenblum comes on the heels of the ongoing "Playing with Fire" investigation, which revealed a pattern of bad landlords, overworked inspectors and poor code enforcement across Rockland County and New York state.
"More needs to be done. This is a local issue, but we're happy to support financially to give the resources to have more robust investigations. We can find out so much and prevent tragedies when you can investigate on the front end. So, the state is helping as well."
A series of tragedies from the collapse at Surfside that killed nearly 100 people to the deadly fire at Evergreen in Spring Valley has put the issue of code enforcement under the microscope.
Surfside was one of the deadliest collapses in U.S. history, and Evergreen was a preventable tragedy that public safety advocates had long predicted.
Both incidents spurred promises of change. As Hochul heads into her first full term in office, she said safety is priority No. 1.
Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick co-sponsored legislation that would allow Rockland County municipalities to take unpaid building code violations and tack it on the tax levy bill.
"Then if they get too much, the county would be able to seize that property for unpaid taxes," said Reichlin-Melnick.
Another bill would stiffen the penalties for illegal conversions in homes to as high as $10,000 for a first-time offense.
Reichlin-Melnick said both bills would go a long way to tackle some of the troubling problems exposed in the "Playing With Fire" report.
However, Reichlin-Melnick lost his bid for office on election night so Republican Bill Weber will have to carry on that fight in Albany.
Weber tells News 12 he is reviewing the issue of code enforcement and will get back to News 12 on his policy recommendations shortly.