The broken window theory and Greenwich government

Waiting for Tesei

Waiting for Tesei

An errant parker drove through the Starbucks window at the Whole Foods plaza over two months ago and today the storefront is still boarded up with plywood. An employee told me that they are still waiting for the Building Department to approve the replacement of the glass. That’s two months and counting.

The broken window theory of crime postulates that unrepaired broken windows are a sign of neighborhood neglect and abandonment and that in turn encourages first, more vandalism and then more crime of all types. I’m not suggesting that Greenwich is in for a crime wave but boarded up storefronts certainly create a look of indifference and urban decay, which, presumably, not even our Building Department wants.

I know nothing about the facts behind Starbucks’ difficulties with our regulatory agencies but the employee’s story jibes with what I’m hearing from my builder friends: it is becoming increasingly difficult to get even the simplest inspections and sign offs from the Building Department and Planning & Zoning, and the delays in completing even the simplest projects are mounting. Given the unceasing efforts to add regulations to every aspect of life here in Greenwich, this doesn’t bode well.

What’s the solution? Presumably, a leader in the First Selectman’s office to address the issue and take charge of solving it. Peter Tesei is clearly not that person, and God forbid we let a Democrat in to add to our woes. Between an out of control budget – ours is 50% larger than Fairfield’s a city of exactly our size – bad decisions on adding to and maintaining our infrastructure and a bureaucratic nightmare in Town Hall, we ought to be able to do better.

31 Comments

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31 responses to “The broken window theory and Greenwich government

  1. Anonymous

    this is exactly why we’re choosing to buy in adjacent towns. looking at rye brook and stamford. headache, hassles, and expense ain’t worth it.

    • infoDiva

      Rye Brook has no town unless you think a strip shopping center is a good substitute. And the last time I did the math, taxes there were more than 2x higher than they are in Greenwich. The two towns aren’t even remotely comparable.

      • FRF

        I have a buddy who just bought in Pelham (wtf?) all so he could have a big 7 bedroom house for a million bucks.
        But the real problem, after he pours another 200k into it (to make the draft less notable) is the property tax. 35k a year!
        And if you look at the history on zillow, the taxes have risen 8-10 % a year for the last 10 years. Ouch.

        • anon

          $35k is chump change for Pelham and Pelham Manor. Big houses on roads like Witherbee easily pay twice that and more. I have a friend whose taxes went from $34k to $88k from 2005 to 2009, the double jump came from ’08 to 09. 8,000 square foot house on very little land.

      • Cos Cobber

        I dont know why anyone would think the headaches and hassles are unique to Gwich. Broadly speaking anytown in Westchester is more regulated than anytown in Fairfield County. Yes Stamford might be easier, but its also a ‘city’ of 125k, so maybe not. Darien and NC are hardly ‘live free and die’ towns too.

    • ML

      Good luck with that. Thats the dumbest reason I have ever heard of for not buying in a town and voluntarily paying higher taxes for less services.

  2. Anonymous

    Vote Walt

  3. D

    I’m surprised they need a permit to replace it… Is there anything you can do without a permit?

    • David Smith

      You can pee in a public park.

      You will get busted for peeing in a public park, but not possessing the proper paperwork will not be part of the charges.

  4. Once

    I left the construction business about ten plus years ago. Since then the office was remodeled and staff added. The staff was never reduced to adjust for the recession so they have probably convinced themselves they need to add more staff due to the increase in construction in the last six months. The best way to convince the town to increase staff is to dawdle and hold back approvals.

  5. Anonymous

    D: yes, you can. Just do the work and pay a fine. Been there, done that.

    This town is so f’d up it’s unreal. None of the local officials, and i dare say NONE of them, could earn a living in private sector if their livelihoods depended on it. Inept beyond compare.

    • AJ

      If you do work without approval they can make you tear it all down and start all over again. If you live in Greenwich, own a business and want to get things done all you have to do is take the people in Town Hall who are important to your business to lunch on a regular basis, and become their friend — not on a phoney basis: I’m sure you know how to talk to people. This is not bribery; it’s how business is done.

  6. ajnock

    Urgency is not a word in a bureaucrat’s lexicon.

  7. Reader

    The Greenwich Y has been looking to open its renovation for months, but the inspectors have been delaying approval. I hear that every time one of the objections is fixed, they find another. Out of control bureaucrats.

  8. Walt

    Dude –
    As you so aptly point out, the broken window is in fact an appropriate allegory for what plagues us. Bureaucratic red tape, shoved down our throats by pencil necked douche bags who use rules and regulations to make up for their lack of testosterone.

    They contribute nothing, suck off society like leeches, and think we work for them. This is ultimately unsustainable, and it will end badly.

    HOWEVER, and more importantly, what are you doing hanging around Starbucks? Do you dress up in a red smoking jacket, use a cigarette holder, and sit in a corner pretending to write poetry, while slurping down your $3.49 CAPPUCCIONO? WELL DO YA PUNK!!

    Should we start calling you Biff? Has croquette season started yet? Maybe Suzy should start tracking your shenanigans.

    You blue blooded little sniglet.

    Your Pal,
    Walt

  9. ajnock

    I just called the town and spoke to the guy in charge of commercial permits. He said the permit has been issued so maybe it’s a Starbucks issue or a contractor issue.

    • Libertarian Advocate

      When was the permit issued? This morning, after this post appeared, or before? Knowing THAT would be informative.

  10. Citizen Oversight Board (COB)

    Put in your bylaws a provision to set this up. Makes the government more accountable to the people. A complaint is documented and people can lose jobs for moving too slow. The town worker will be shitting corn on the COB.

  11. Al Dente

    Boarded up windows, vandalism, factories shut down, and then the whores come: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRzrenuYYmw

    • Chris R.

      ha ha! a not unfamiliar word that came to my mind when trying to navigate the adjacent Whole Foods parking against a tide of SUVs

  12. boredatwork

    Anyone else think this is a little silly?

    “Slusarz added, “Nobody was hurt…Fortunately, the gentleman made evasive maneuver that kept it from having a much greater tragedy than it could have been.” The car would have driven straight into the coffee shop, Slusarz said.”

    The evasive maneuver which might have worked even better would have been to PUT HIS FOOT ON THE BRAKE.

    • Seems to be a common occurrence of late. This, last week, at our village market in RI. A senior citizen, a woman, story is that she had a mini-stroke, a TIA. Hard to believe no one was hurt but look at the damage to the shop. They’ll need more than a new wondow!

  13. David Smith

    I have always believed in several things: Freedom of speech, truth as an absolute defense, and honesty (otherwise known as public shaming).

    I wonder what the bureaucrats would/could do if the shop posted a big sign on the plywood stating “Request for permission to replace this window was submitted to (personal name of supervisor of appropriate agency) on (very explicit date i.e. non of that numbers stuff w/o the first 20).

    Then, if they ordered you to take it down, be exactly as slow as they are. Or alternatively, hire a tagger to keep replacing it (of course YOU will never prefer charges, even if he’s caught).

    • David Smith

      PS
      Heck, be really honest. Post it on BOTH sides of the board so passersby and customers can all read it.

      • Anon2

        David: while I think your ideas are great, one aspect you haven’t included: public apathy. Most people, quite frankly, don’t give a damn.

        • David Smith

          The people forced to drink their coffee in the dark will probably care.

          Also, my suggestions are CCHHEEAAPP!

  14. Cos Cobber

    Beachside camp fires to be banned in CA….next up, birthday candles and methane gas generated by humans.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323398204578491433233053980.html

  15. Accolay

    Calling either Fairfield or Greenwich a city will not make you Mr. Popular in either of those TOWNS, Chris.