City Condemns 100 Buildings After Sandy
Long Beach expected to life zoning processes for residents looking to rebuild.
As thousands of Long Beach residents plan to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy walloped the city last month, several buildings will likely have to see the wrecking ball first, according to Scott Kemins, the city’s building commissioner.
About 100 buildings are condemned and may need to be knocked down based on the city’s first assessment of damaged homes following the storm, Kemins told Patch at Tuesday’s special City Council meeting. “Most of them in the West End and Canals,” he added about the flood-damage buildings.
The council voted to approve a public hearing to amend the code of ordinances so that homeowners can bypass the Zoning Board of Appeals to apply for a height variance of 23 feet to rebuild their homes, based on regulations set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, the building department must still approve their rebuilding plans.
“Part of that publication for public hearing for the zoning code will allow somebody to build a reasonable FEMA-compliant house without having to waste three or four months going to the zoning board,” Kemins said the resolution.
Long Beach is in a flood zone and FEMA regulations require that all new homes built in such areas must be raised at least eight feet above street level, and any homeowner with a mortgage is required to have flood insurance.
Kemins noted that new FEMA-compliant houses built in the West End suffered less damages than neighboring homes set at ground level, in part because they don’t allow for parking, utilities, storage or entrance to the house. “There’s nothing down in that lower level,” he said.
The apartments and condominiums that line the beach sustained varying degrees of damage, since they are all designed differently, but none were condemned, Kemins said. While some residents have been back living in some of those buildings for a week or more, others buildings remain vacant.
“Avalon Towers at 10 West Broadway, they sustained a lot of damage,” he said. “They lost their boilers but they actually have a temporary boiler that was delivered on the side of the building and we’re hoping that by next week that we’ll get their residents back in.”
Among the hardest hit buildings in the city are those run by the Housing Authority. “Some of the residents are living in them and they all have power, but only one of them has an elevator and none of them had head because all the boilers got destroyed," he said.