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Apr 19, 2011 4:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Report Shows Uptick In Housing Investigations In Springs

Apr 19, 2011 5:26 PM

Code enforcement activity in the first quarter of the year appears to have been driven primarily by complaints of housing violations in Springs, according to data released by the East Hampton Town Ordinance Enforcement Department.

The department looked into 75 suspected cases of housing violations, like overcrowding and too many parked vehicles, townwide between January 1 and March 31, more than any other type of violation, according to a quarterly report released by the department.

A majority of those cases—51 in total—were in Springs, which has experienced a population boom in recent years. Residents of the hamlet have mobilized against overcrowding, illegal multi-family homes and illegal apartments in recent months, citing climbing school district taxes and a declining quality of life.

Fifty-two of the housing violation cases townwide were spurred by complaints from the public, according to the report. The rest were uncovered in patrols or by other agencies. Activists in Springs have been encouraging their neighbors to report suspected violations.

The data is hard to put in context because the report is the Ordinance Enforcement Department’s first such update in recent memory. But David Buda, a founding member of The Springs Concerned Citizens who has called on the town to do a better job pursuing housing violations in the hamlet, said the department has responded to an outcry by undertaking more investigations.

“I have to say it’s very encouraging that there’s a tremendous increase in enforcement action, there’s been a tremendous effort made by the Ordinance Enforcement Department,” he said. “And there’s been some evidence of significant results, but not every case results in significant results, and many of the cases, the important cases, become very protracted because of difficulties.”

While the number of investigations is encouraging, Mr. Buda said, there is a key factor missing from the report.

“It doesn’t show the important thing, which is what is the outcome of the cases, what is the result in terms of activity at the justice court, and sometimes that result can be very disheartening.” Mr. Buda, who attends hearings as part of his group’s “Court Watch” program, said one major violator on Three Mile Harbor Road was recently fined $500 despite being charged with dozens of housing violations.

“The real question one has to ask the Ordinance Enforcement Department is are they satisfied with that kind of result for that kind of case?” he said. “I would not be.”

Public Safety Division Director Patrick Gunn and Director of Code Enforcement Betsy Bambrick did not return calls seeking comment on the data.

The quarterly report shows that the 75 townwide housing violation investigations are at various stages, including 38 that are in court, 19 that are still under investigation and 15 that were determined to be unfounded.

Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said the Town Board directed the Ordinance Enforcement Department to focus on housing violations, but did not target Springs or any specific area.

“We did say we want priorities set up, and focuses, and one of those focuses should certainly be health and safety in people’s living areas,” she said.

The Ordinance Enforcement Department opened 265 cases overall during the period covered in the report, with other categories including lighting, zoning and safety violations. Environmental violations, which involve litter, protected land and sign codes, came in second to housing townwide, with the department opening 73 cases.

The report may separately count multiple suspects who are related to the same home, upping the recorded number of cases, Mr. Buda noted. He said his group will continue to encourage Springs residents to take action against suspected violations.

“I think the fact is that as good as the Ordinance Enforcement Department is, they can’t do the job by themselves,” he said. “They have to rely on vigilance from concerned citizens who report violations.”

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Why was the multiple violator only fined $500? Must be more to the story. Are the judges reluctant to assess harsher penalties or is $500 the maximum penalty allowed under the law? Maybe it's time for a dedicated housing court to expedite court proceedings.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Apr 20, 11 2:46 PM
4 members liked this comment
The article refers to the very recently decided case brought by the Town against Carlos Cando as owner of the single-family residence at 312 Three Mile Harbor Road, in the Olympic Heights section of East Hampton. Court Docket #11030044 alleged 8 counts of violating Twn. Ord. # 255-11-64C ("Partial Occupancy or Rental") for 7 keyed bedroom doors and 1 keyed basement access door. That Ordinance prohibits: "Rentals to, or use or occupancy by, any person or persons of less than the entire residence, ...more
By davbud (127), east hampton on Apr 20, 11 11:03 PM
2 members liked this comment
The above post has been submitted by David Buda.
By davbud (127), east hampton on Apr 20, 11 11:05 PM
maybe everything was cleared up pretty darn quick and nothing is wrong with this picture Bub . .. would that be OK with you?!? Don't know if it was the landlord or the tenants "at fault" . . .but you keep watching vigilante Buda . . . you keep watchin 'til everyone is flushed out and your taxes go down in Springs and your property value goes up . . . were there any of those "illegal children" in that houselhold?!?!? yes yes, you keep a good watch on things now, y'hear?
By BonacP (22), East Hampton on Apr 21, 11 12:04 AM
So, Bonac, what would you propose as the appropriate resolution of this situation? It sounds like you see nothing wrong with this fire-trap flop house. More/as likelly you also have illegal renters lining your greedy pockets at the expense of their misery and public health and safety.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Apr 21, 11 2:13 PM
How unfortunate that some on this site, because they do not use their own names, feel it necessary to call people incendiary names rather than engage in thoughtful discussion about serious issues facing East Hampton residents. Mr. Buda and several Springs residents, have been working within the law, with Town officials, and with their neighbors here in Springs, to find solutions to illegal and very dangerous housing conditions that exist not only in Springs, but in other neighborhoods as well. ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Apr 21, 11 1:24 PM
2 members liked this comment
Hopefully after reading the fines placed on a landlord with a home containing seven individually locked bedrooms housing probably illegal workers, we in Springs realize we are just being paid lip service by a bunch of politicians that don't live here and are just trying to shut us up. I think these newly formed associations to protect the taxpayers in Springs , should look a little further and find out where all these folks work and who they work for. A good start would probably be the people that ...more
By glorydays (6), east hampton on Apr 22, 11 8:50 AM
People have a right to live in peace and feel safe in their homes. What kind of community is Springs becoming when fringe vigilante groups labeling themselves "concerned citizens" are conducting citizen patrols? I urge anyone who sees Mr. Buda or anyone else on or near their property to call the police. We can not allow Springs to have a shadow government that latinos and others fear. This is still America !
By taxpayer61 (3), Hampton Bays on Apr 22, 11 9:04 AM
I'm with you taxpayer61! Not a landlord of "illegals" or or anyone else Zaz - so definitely not a rich greedy landlord! Just sayin' maybe this WAS an "appropriate" solution and disposition . . . and Ms. Campolo? Good for you for using your name . . . but I don't need the Budas or anyone else spying on my property, or accusing me of being "one of those" who is a little more tolerant of all of my neighbors! And Bub, I didn't read there were any children in that house - as I remember 4 people ...more
By BonacP (22), East Hampton on Apr 22, 11 1:57 PM
Hey East Hampton, we have same problems over here next door Southampton. The problem is when Code Enforcement does it's job the Justice Court doesn't do it justice (no pun intended). What we all need to do is start keeping report cards on the judges. Election time we bring out the results and hold them accountable, we in the Western half are currently doing that. I can't wait till November....shame on the Justices...Kooperstein, Wilson, Burke, not so much for Sciavonie. We think she is doing a pretty ...more
By The Crow's Nest (65), Red Creek on Apr 22, 11 2:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
Taxpayer...you don't live in Springs and don't know what you are talking about. Neither Mr. Buda nor anyone else is trespassing on anyone's property nor is anyone "spying" on anyone as Bonac P writes. BonacP is probably one of the perpetrators of the illegal activity here. Springs residents are very united in their desire to rid the community of illegally overcrowded houses that are causing our taxes to go up and our property values to go down.We are finding that some of the homeowners of illegally ...more
By rational (7), east hampton on Apr 22, 11 5:24 PM
Wilkinson said he would address the enforcement issue, the issue which Mcgintee used to get elected in 2003, and Wilkinson, unlike McGintee and the Dems, is doing it. You can see the methodical process Wilky used to get where we are. Identify the best staff to lead the effort, create a organizational structure that would be most effective, then go out and do the job. Pat Gunn, Bambrick and the new structure is working. Wilky took criticsm that he wasn't doing it fast enough, but what he was ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on Apr 22, 11 7:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
Bonac P, what Mr. Buda and others in Springs is doing is not spying and certainly they are not acting as vigilantes. If one lives next door to a house that has deplorable conditions, where there are an inordinate amount of automobiles to the size of the property, reporting possible violations is not spying. Vigilantes do not work with law enforcement and the local authorities. Mr. Buda and Springs' residents are working with the Wilkinson administration and law enforcement authorities. So, using ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Apr 23, 11 9:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
I never thaught I'd say it-- I agree with conn on one point. But didn't Quig try to legalize overcrowding? Wasn't that what caused Mr Buda and others to form this watchdog group? Wasn't citizen outrage and involvment expressed at subsequent TB meetings which caused Quig to not speak of her grand idea again? The evidence seems to be Wilk addressed the "inforcement issue" only after he was faced with Quigs gaff and public anger. Good for you Mr. Buda. Your right. And by the way enforcement now doesn't ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on Apr 24, 11 12:47 PM
And how, exactly, Ms. Campolo, would you "help" those poor children and those that are being 'taken advantage of" Bub?? By sending them all back where they came from? PUH-LEEEZE!
By BonacP (22), East Hampton on Apr 25, 11 8:52 AM