Nearly 9,000 scaffolds that entomb 190 miles of City sidewalks may soon be dismantled, under legislation introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos. Unnecessary scaffolding also known as “sidewalk sheds” would have to be removed if seven days pass without construction work.
Sidewalk sheds are temporary structures, made of wooden planks, boards and metal pipes to protect pedestrians from dangerous conditions that are being corrected or new construction. Scaffolding is not only an eyesore but attract crime such as drug deals and provide an alternative to shelter for homeless. Many sidewalk sheds persist for years, sometimes more than a decade. There are several sidewalk sheds in Council District 5 represented by Kallos that have been up for years, over two years at 340 East 64th Street and 301 East 95th Street and over three years at 349 East 74th Street. Often times, it is much more expensive to fix a dangerous condition than to leave a sidewalk shed up indefinitely
Kallos’ legislation would set the following timeline for sidewalk sheds in place for dangerous conditions:
- 90 days for building owners to fix a dangerous condition,
- 90 additional for building owners days to fix the dangerous condition upon extension,
- After 180 days, the city would do the work to correct the dangerous condition and bill the owner for all costs.
- Work could not be interrupted for more than 7 days without a mandate to take down the sidewalk shed or face heavy penalties.
Under the same legislation, new construction would need to continue without more than 7 days of interruption until the new development is safely capped off or completed. Exemptions in the legislation provide for weather, stop work orders, time awaiting permit renewals or in cases of safety risks.