New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Michael Scotto

NY1 Councilman Targets a Blight on the City - Thousands of Buildings Surrounded By Scaffolding, Sometimes for Years by Michael Scotto

Councilman Targets a Blight on the City - Thousands of Buildings Surrounded By Scaffolding, Sometimes for Years

They are a common sight around the city -- scaffolding surrounding buildings. But once they go up, many scaffolds do not come down for years -- creating eyesores and quality-of-life problems in their neighborhoods. One Councilman is trying to change that. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report:

When Fernando Salomone opens the door to his fire escape, he often finds trash spread across the top of scaffolding surrounding the building next door.

"You see fresh food. There's a sandwich over there, diapers over here," he said, examining the scaffolding.

Salomone says it's been a problem since he opened his gym on Broadway and West 104th Street nearly three years ago. Sometimes it is so bad, he leaves his windows closed to keep out mice and the smell of rotting trash.

"I'm on Broadway, it should be clean," Salomone said. "If I throw garbage from the window, they will give me a ticket, right?

"No one does anything with this garbage."

The scaffolding surrounds a city-owned building that is used as a homeless shelter. It went up four years ago to prevent parts of the deteriorating facade from falling onto the sidewalk. But since then, the city hasn't done anything to repair that facade.

"I think the city should be embarrassed about any scaffolding around any city building," City Councilman Ben Kallos said.

This scaffolding highlights a citywide problem of landlords erecting sidewalk sheds and not taking them down.

One building has had scaffolding since 2006. Another in East Harlem has had one for ten years, as has a building in Chelsea, all of which are seen in the video above.

Kallos has proposed legislation to end the nuisances and eyesores of perpetual scaffoldings.

"Anytime somebody puts up the scaffolding, they have to immediately start work or take it back down, and if they can't afford to do the work, the city would end up doing for them and charging for them later," Kallos said.

There are 7,800 active sidewalk shed permits, half of which are in Manhattan.

A law requires owners of buildings taller than six stories to erect scaffolding every five years to inspect the facades.

Landlords who don't make the repairs in 90 days face fines of $1,000 a month. But some choose to leave the scaffolding up and pay the fines to avoid costly facade repairs.

The de Blasio administration said it is reviewing Kallos's bill.

As for this sidewalk shed on Broadway, it is expected to come down soon, but it will then be replaced with another sidewalk shed. Once that happens, work will finally begin on the building, with repairs to the façade expected to be completed in 2019.

NY1 These Manhattan Residents Call for City to Limit Some Mega Towers by Michael Scotto

These Manhattan Residents Call for City to Limit Some Mega Towers

"I think every New Yorker is tired of super tall towers going in that have no place in residential neighborhoods, and for the first time residents have banded together and fought back," Manhattan City Councilman Ben Kallos said.

NY1 Annual Hope Count to Document Number of City's Homeless by Michael Scotto

Annual Hope Count to Document Number of City's Homeless

The Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services will provide support for meals, legal services, supportive housing and other programs benefiting the city's homeless.

Council Member Ben Kallos tells NY1 it's meant to help New Yorkers struggling to stay afloat. 

"These are actually services for anyone who's homeless, at risk, or even just hungry. And so, we have between the churches, synagogues, and non-profits we have meals, lunch and dinner, even sometimes breakfast. We also have food pantries," said Kallos. "One of the things that we're really focused on is trying to find additional beds so people have a choice." 

The taskforce is comprised of a handful of religious centers, non-profit groups, the Department of Homeless Services and Human Resources Administration.

NY1 Exclusive: First Look at Second Ave. Redesign Plans by Michael Scotto

Exclusive: First Look at Second Ave. Redesign Plans

City Councilman Ben Kallos says residents might be pleasantly surprised by the changes to Second Avenue.

"We haven't had parking on Second Avenue for quite some time, so having any parking back should be a good thing for drivers and riders alike. People will no longer be going the wrong way on the First Avenue bike lane because they will have a bike lane to go downtown," Kallos said.