DOB Imposes New Deadline for Parking Structure Inspections
Inspections for Subcycle 1B started Jan. 1.
If your apartment building has a parking structure, you should know that the Department of Buildings has adopted stricter inspection requirements for owners this year. In November 2023, DOB amended Local Law 126 of 2021 to require an additional inspection of parking structures that must be inspected beginning this year or later. As a result, all applicable parking structures must complete an initial safety inspection or initial observation report by Aug. 1, 2024.
This amendment to Local Law 126, which requires parking structures to be inspected every six years, came about in response to the partial collapse of a parking garage in the Financial District last April. The collapse resulted in one death, five injuries, and the evacuation of neighboring buildings. Under Local Law 126 rules at the time, the Lower Manhattan parking garage wouldn’t have had to submit its full engineering report until December 2023.
The new DOB amendments will get qualified inspectors looking at over 4,000 parking structures in the city on an accelerated timeline, and the initial inspections will help identify potential structural issues before it’s too late. We’ll go over the basic requirements of Local Law 126 and the new requirements put in place by the newly adopted rule.
Local Law 126 Basics
Local Law 126 requires owners of parking garages in NYC to hire a professional engineer registered with DOB as a Qualified Parking Structure Inspector (QPSI) to assess the condition of their parking structures every six years and file a compliance report with DOB, similar to the Facade Inspection and Safety Program (Local Law 11 of 1998). DOB maintains an active list of QPSIs at www.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/pdf/active_QPSI_list.pdf.
Condition assessment. The condition assessment is what the QPSI files with DOB at least once every six years. As part of the condition assessment, in addition to a summary of findings and recommendations, the QPSI will classify every significant condition as one of the following:
- Safe. No repair work is needed, and the garage is safe until the next inspection cycle.
- Safe with Repairs and/or Engineering Monitoring (SREM). Minor damage to the garage framing elements are found, and the QPSI will provide a timeline to address the issues.
- Unsafe. Severe damage to the garage framing elements poses a hazard to people or property.
If there is an unsafe condition, the owner must take steps to protect public safety. This might include cordoning off dangerous areas, erecting sidewalk sheds and fences, installing safety netting, and starting repair and reinforcement work. The repairs must be performed within one year of completing the condition assessment, and unsafe conditions must be corrected within 90 days of submitting the compliance report. Within two weeks of completing repairs, the QPSI must inspect the parking structure and file an amended report. Protective measures must remain in place until the report is accepted or the QPSI certifies that conditions were corrected and requests removal.
Any conditions labelled as SREM must be corrected within the time frame recommended by the QPSI. Within three years of the initial filing, a QPSI must undertake another condition assessment and file an amended report, indicating the scope of ongoing monitoring, the status of conditions identified in the initial report as SREM, and classification of any new conditions. Before the next filing cycle, all SREM conditions must be repaired, as they must be reported as unsafe if not corrected.
Staggered filing windows. The filing dates are determined by community district and grouped into subcycles. To access a map of parking structures and the applicable filing cycles, you can visit www.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/html/parking-structure-filing-cycles-map.html. At the bottom of the map, there’s a link to a downloadable list in csv file format. According to the DOB, this list was based on city records, but it’s ultimately the building owner’s responsibility to correctly identify if they meet the inspection requirements.
The first inspection cycle or subcycle lasted two years from Jan. 1, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2023. This cycle focused primarily on parking structures located within Community Districts 1 through 7 in Manhattan (Subcycle 1A). According to city data, many parking structure owners still haven’t filed their Subcycle 1A inspection reports. As of Jan. 15, of the 265 submitted reports, 116 structures have been classified as safe, 106 as unsafe, and 43 as SREM. The filing status of parking structures in NYC can be found at www.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/html/parking-structure-insp-map.html. By 2027, all of the 4,000 parking structures will have to have completed a full engineering inspection.
Subcycle 1B includes Manhattan Community Districts 8 though 12 and all of Brooklyn’s community districts. The filing period for this subcycle runs from Jan. 1, 2024, to Dec. 31, 2025. Last, Subcycle 1C includes all the community districts in the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. And the Subcycle 1C filing period runs from Jan. 1, 2026, to Dec. 31, 2027.
Penalties. The following penalties apply after the filing period ends:
- Late Filing (initial report): $1,000 per month
- Failure to File (initial report): $5,000 per year
- Failure to Correct Unsafe Conditions: $1,000 per month
- Failure to Correct SREM Conditions: $2,000 (one time)
Filing Fees. Remember that unsafe conditions must be corrected within 90 days of filing a report with an unsafe status, and an amended report must then be filed within two weeks of completing the repairs. If the repairs aren’t completed and an amended report isn’t filed within this time frame, time extension requests must be filed with DOB and are subject to review and acceptance. Here are the DOB fees for these actions:
- Initial Report: $305
- Amended/Subsequent Report: $85
- Extension Request: $65
New Inspection Rules
DOB recently amended Local Law 126 to change the designated individual performing the annual observations between filings and to require an additional one-time inspection for the remaining parking structures to be inspected in this cycle.
Annual observation. Along with filing inspections (condition assessments) based on subcycle filing periods, DOB amended rules to require that all parking structures have annual observations performed in the years between submissions. The annual observation must be based on the checklist prepared by the QPSI and included in the most recent compliance report accepted by DOB. The annual observation or checklist needs to be conducted by a QPSI.
One-time initial inspection. With DOB’s new amendments effective November 2023, all parking structures in Subcycles 1B and 1C must complete a one-time initial observation by Aug. 1, 2024. Owners of parking structures in these subcycles must hire a QSPI for a one-time initial inspection by Aug. 1 in addition to the regularly scheduled inspection during their applicable filing cycle.
For this initial inspection report, the rules say that a QPSI must assess the parking structure’s condition, including evaluation of structural components, fireproofing and fire stop systems, waterproofing systems, and wearing surfaces. The rules state that the QPSI’s observation must be based on the garage’s age, type of construction, exposure, and appurtenances, as well as the history of maintenance and repairs. This initial observation is to be filed with DOB.