The sidewalk shed was one of nearly 8,000 around the city and was one of the city’s oldest. It was scaffolding like these that prompted City Councilman Ben Kallos to introduce a bill last November that aimed to require scaffolding to be taken down within six months of it having gone up. Kallos argued that some property owners opt to keep the sheds in place for extended periods of time to put off making costly facade repairs. In 2016, the Department of Buildings (DOB) found that the city was home to nearly 2,000 “dormant sheds” where repair work wasn’t being carried out on building facades that posed safety hazards. Even the DOB headquarters at 280 Broadway in Manhattan has had a sidewalk shed around it since 2008.
The bill must pass through the State Assembly and the Senate before it can move forward. Per the Times, the Assembly has been “generally supportive of a ban but not a fee,” however, the Senate has not weighed in yet on the proposal.
Last week, New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr., and Councilman Ben Kallos announced plans of their own to introduce a bill that would ban the sale of disposable plastic bottles at the city’s parks, beaches, and golf courses, reports the New York Times. The proposed ban hopes to encourage more people to rely on refillable bottles, and while sales of beverages in plastic bottles would be prohibited, park visitors would still be allowed to bring in their own plastic bottles.
“New Yorkers love convenience, especially because we are always running from one place to another, but this will make us pause and realize the impact that our actions are having on our environment,” said Espinal in a statement to the Times.
“The loophole being abused here is just an example of what residents have endured from overdevelopment in our city,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who is one of the parties of the suit.
In summer 2016, developers were hit with a stop-work order from the DOB over a four-foot lot that DDG carved out on the property in order to allow for a taller building. After the stop-work order, DDG increased the lot’s size and the DOB allowed construction to resume. However, community members continued to express opposition and proceeded with their third appeal at the time.
While its a step in the right direction, annoyed New Yorkers are saying its not enough and call for legislation that will penalize property owners who keep the sidewalk sheds up for extended lengths of time to avoid making necessary repairs. “We already know how big a problem it is, and unless the city is willing to take steps to get the scaffolding down, it doesn’t matter,” City Councilman Ben Kallos told the Times. He has proposed a bill that would require building owners to make facade repairs within three to six months so that scaffolds aren’t up for longer than that.
As a result of the new map, the DOB was able to order 150 scaffolds to be dismantled since work had been finished. Though the database consolidates data, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will help scaffolds come down any quicker. “We’re erring on the side of safety to keep them in place so no one gets hurt,” said DOB Commissioner Rick Candler.