While the neighborhoods shattered by Hurricane Sandy are far from being back to normal, the faceless bureaucratic mechanisms of the City and the Long Island Power Authority seem to be kicking back in. Homeowners are being ticketed by the DOB for fallen trees on their properties, and LIPA is charging customers a "delivery fee" for returning their power, even though it was out for weeks—mainly because of the utility's incompetence.
As the New York Times put it, "the storm struck the city’s trees like a chain saw on methamphetamines," knocking down more than 8,000 in the street and many more in parks. In Queens, homeowners with downed trees say that the DOB is handing out violations that warn that they could face legal action if the trees aren't removed.
“People are stressed out, they are in a situation that is really horrible and then they got these violations,” the president of the Queens Civic Congress, Richard Hellenbrect, tells the Daily News. State Senator Tony Avella added, "This is one more example of the insensitivity sometimes of the city. They really need to retract these violations." Though the citations do not carry a monetary penalty, they stay on the books indefinitely and give the city legal recourse to act.
WNYC reports that LIPA is tacking on a delivery fee of more than $10—something ConEd and other utilities in the region have refused to do. "I'm flabbergasted," a LIPA customer in Northport says. "I just don't understand why they think it's necessary." More than half of the 86% of LIPA customers who lost power were without it for more than a week. LIPA will be refunding customers who were billed for "estimated" usage, but is sticking by the fee, calling it "the very minimum it costs LIPA to provide a 24/7 connection to the electric system." A spokesperson tells WNYC that the charge will be discussed at a meeting on Thursday.