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Legislation Package to Address Scaffolding

Bills aim to speed up the process for taking down scaffolding, allow for less intrusive alternatives to be used, ensure the scaffolding better integrates with the building, and consolidate façade inspections on any given block in NYC

Council Members Erik Bottcher, Keith Powers, Pierina Sanchez, Shaun Abreu, and Chris Marte have introduced a package of legislation to address scaffolding in New York city.

"All too often, these 'temporary' structures stay up for years at a time, and in the process hurt small businesses, make streets feel less safe, and rob New Yorkers of their streets. The oldest scaffolding in the city dates back to 2006 - a time when George W. Bush was President, the iPhone had yet to be released, and The DaVinci Code was all the rage. Much has changed in the world since then, but the scaffolding endures," said City Council Member Eric Bottcher in his March 16, 2023 press release, after having introduced the following bills:

Introduction 954 protects our City’s green spaces by requiring scaffolding to avoid obstructing playgrounds and parks. Scaffolding in these areas would have to be a minimum of 12 feet high and avoid use of cross-bracing.

Introduction 955 makes scaffolding brighter and safer - especially at night - by updating lighting requirements to LED lights that have at least 90 lumens per watt as opposed to the current 45.

Introduction 956 establishes penalties for property owners who fail to apply for a work permit within 6 months of installing scaffolding.

“New York City is the only city in the world with sidewalk sheds all over the place. This is a public policy failure. That’s why I’m so proud of this package of legislation that my colleagues and I are introducing to reduce the amount of scaffolding as well as heighten their design and lighting standards. Thanks to my colleagues for their incredible support in moving this important legislation forward,” said Bottcher.

City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers is introducing five bills as part of this package of legislation:

Introduction 970 will establish new design requirements for scaffolding, such as allowing the structures to be painted in several different colors and raising their minimum height to 12 feet, as well as creating alternatives to scaffolding.

Introduction 972 will create timelines for the removal of scaffolding if no active construction is taking place over an extended period of time. Instead, the City would be allowed to step in and correct unsafe conditions on building façades, and then bill the property owner.

Introduction 973 will allow newly constructed buildings to have their first façade examination take place in eight years instead of five since they use safer materials. It would also require the Department of Buildings to coordinate inspections on the same block so façade repairs happen simultaneously.

Introduction 971 will protect the City's tree cover. It will require any trees that are damaged or removed when setting up equipment to be repaired or replaced within six months.

Introduction 452 will allow the City to establish a pilot program to use drones, in conjunction with physical examinations, for the inspection of building faces.

“Scaffolding shouldn’t be one of the first things people associate with NYC,” said Powers. “It's time we reclaim our streets, and I’m proud to be introducing a series of bills that represent a comprehensive approach to reforming a well-intentioned but outdated system. These bills will dramatically improve our streets and I look forward to seeing them become law.”

City Council Member Chris Marte is also introducing a bill as part of this package:

Introduction 966 requires the Department of Buildings to inspect scaffolding every six months and issue an administrative fee per inspection.

“The only thing that’s more overdue than our city’s ever-present scaffolding is the solution to address it. Estimates show there’s enough scaffolding to border all five boroughs 14 times. My legislation won’t allow the city or contractors to ignore these eyesores any longer and will mandate periodic inspections to see if any construction is even happening, and invoke penalties for scaffolding that’s overstayed its use.” said Council Member Marte.

"Old, rotting scaffolding sheds not only blight our city's beautiful architecture, they obstruct sidewalks and damage green space. We must commit more resources and attention to getting scaffolding down efficiently," said Council Member Shaun Abreu. "This package of legislation does just that. These bills streamline the scaffolding process while promoting necessary alternatives to scaffolding for safe building compliance. It has my full support."

“For as long as I can remember, sidewalk sheds have been eyesores in our city, making our streets feel darker and less safe. With building owners leaving sidewalk sheds up for longer and longer, it is past due that we institute reforms and provide support. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this issue,” said Council Member Pierina Sanchez. 🀰


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