Proposed Law Would Require Sidewalk Scaffolding Removal After Three Months
According to the DOB, there are 9,000 sidewalk sheds in NYC. They are installed to protect people from falling masonry and other debris. However, some feel they are staying up too long. City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, recently proposed a new law that would give building owners three months, with the possibility of a three-month extension, to make repairs and remove scaffolding and sidewalk sheds. If the work isn’t completed in that time, the city will step in to do it, and charge the owner for the work. The proposal would allow exceptions for factors such as bad weather, permit delays, or in cases where removing scaffolding would be deemed dangerous to public safety.
The city began requiring scaffolding as part of Local Law 11, a 1980 city law that established regular inspections of the facades of buildings. The City Council passed the law after Grace Gold, a Barnard College student, was killed in 1979 by a piece of terra cotta that fell from an apartment house built in 1912 at 115th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.
Building owners often have no choice but to leave up sidewalk sheds, even when there’s no construction going on. Under city law, a shed is required for any building whose facade could pose a danger. Currently, the city’s Buildings Department doesn’t set a specific deadline for owners to make repairs and take down sidewalk sheds, and can issue violations only if the work isn’t completed. The bill seeks to remedy this by requiring the city to ensure that sidewalk scaffolding hasn’t been kept up for an unreasonable length of time.
The DOB requires building owners to obtain a permit to erect a sidewalk shed and to renew the permit annually until work is completed. The department will inspect the sheds for safety when it receives complaints or in special cases such as when a car hits a shed. It will give owners 48 hours to make needed repairs, and if the owners don’t comply, it will have the repairs done at the owners’ expense.