Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Help Me Howard: 24 Permits
If you are going to do work around your house or condo, odds are you need a permit. If your association wants to do work, do they need a permit as well, or do they need 24 permits to change 24 front doors? It sounded outrageous to them, so they did what everyone with a problem does: dial up Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Stephen Hayes: "I've lived here for 15 years and have been the condo association president for that length of time."
The condo president at Coronet Towers for 15 years, but not your normal, let's-pick-on-people, slap-'em-with-special-assessment-fees-each-month kind of board leader.
Stephen Hayes: "We maintain our own building. Somebody does the painting, somebody does the power wash, change light bulbs. We all have our little jobs. We keep the association dues low."
Thanks to the work from the residents, their property looks nice. But recently, a new Hollywood Code Enforcement officer stopped by to introduce himself...
Stephen Hayes: "...and to say he was about to make some changes in the neighborhood, and make it nicer around here, which I agreed with."
Unfortunately for the residents, the new code enforcement officer thought their building needed to be painted. They got together and did it. Then he drove by and saw them working on a door.
Stephen Hayes: "He saw us changing "102" and wrote us up because we needed a permit to change a door. To change a door!"
The 24 wooden front doors at Coronet Towers have lost a battle with termites, so to follow the code, they went to Hollywood City Hall to get a permit to change them...and got floored.
Joe Heller: "They told us we needed a permit for each door of the complex, telling us it's $100 dollars a door."
Not one permit to change 24 front doors. The association had to pull 24 permits, including 24 applications, to change 24 doors, and each permit would cost $100 dollars.
Joe Heller: "That's 24 doors. That's $2,400. It seems a little extreme."
Stephen says the new steel doors and frames would cost about $350 dollars, till you start pulling a permit for each door.
Stephen Hayes: "You want to charge me almost 30 percent of your fee for each door?"
Stephen says it's clear to him what the government is doing by forcing him to pull 24 permits instead of one permit for the job.
Stephen Hayes: "They're raising money. It's all about money. What isn't about money? It's all about money."
Needless to say, the residents who are used to keeping costs low by doing the little things themselves are not happy residents, and neither is the man who leads their association.
Stephen Hayes: "These are local folks. They get up to go to work every day. I can't bang them over the head every time I turn around for another $60 a month or $180 a quarter. Just can't do it. They haven't got it."
Well, Howard, a condo association is in charge of changing all the front doors. Can they be required to pull individual permits for each door, or can one permit do the entire job?
Howard Finkelstein: "The law gives the city wide latitude on how they control the issuance of permits. That means, under certain circumstances, they could require several permits. But the law also says they cannot use the permitting process to make a profit, and requiring 24 permits costing $2,400 dollars rather than $100 dollars for a small building could violate the law. So my conclusion, the city cannot do this."
I then called the City of Hollywood. Their spokesman, Jamie Hernandez, called me back within 30 minutes with good news for the Coronet residents. He told me the condo association only needed one permit to replace the 24 doors because they have a folio number for the common condo area. The permit would cost about $120 dollars to install the 24 doors.
Howard Finkelstein: "The fee for a permit can only be to cover the permitting process, approvals and inspection of the job. How do you know if a permit is costing you too much? There is no law that covers that. It's sort of the old line, 'You just know it when you see it.'"
The Coronet residents can now spend their money sprucing up the place, instead of paying for permits.
Stephen Hayes: "Oh, sure, we are ecstatic. We couldn't have paid that 2,400 bucks. Couldn't have done any better than this. You people really helped us out."
We have dealt with Hollywood twice in the past few months. Both times, they resolved the problem within hours. It's nice when a city responds. That's what every government agency should be like: responding quickly, decisively, and most important, correctly, not just to us but every taxpayer.
Feel like you have had a door slammed in your face? Need someone to open things up? Permit us to help. It won't cost anything whether we solve one problem or 100, although 100 might take a while.
With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.
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