One of the major problems is that the City enjoys "sovereign immunity" (re:
Magna Carta--you can't sue the King). Hence, there is no economic incentive to
get it right. The result is undertrained, overworked, underpaid inspectors.
Interestingly, we pay their salaries through the permit fees (and the State
Attorney General has ruled that excessive fees may not go into the City General
Fund because it is equivalent to a non-voter approved tax increase).
Since the threat of legal action has now disappeared under Aase, better
inspection by City Inspectors and design professionals seems to be the only real
hope for consumer protection.
BTW, the court appeared to be well aware of the project's defects and the
ramifications of their ruling. There were apparently numerous "friend of the
court" (amicus curie?) briefs filed, perhaps including one from SEAOC. The
court just didn't feel that current law permits an award in the absence of
damage. (I guess they reasoned it would be like suing someone for running a red
light if he didn't hit anybody.)
Unfortunately, this ruling will probably accelerate the tendency for bad
(cheap)engineers and builders to drive the good(expensive) ones out of the
market. Sort of a Gresham's Law effect. You need a diligent Treasury Dept. to
protect the currency and a diligent Building Dept. to protect the housing stock.