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
deemed unsafe 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-damaged buildings.
Kemins added later that homeowners and their insurance companies will decide whether or not their homes will be knocked down. "The city will not be knocking any houses down," he said.
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,”
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.
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.