There are now 9,000 sidewalk sheds in the Naked City, according to the Department of Buildings, which amounts to a cool 1 million linear feet, enough to encircle the island of Manhattan six times. The sheds mean well. They’re there to protect people from falling masonry and other debris, the kind that tumbled from an upper Broadway building and killed a pedestrian in 1979, leading to today’s Local Law 11 facade-inspection laws.
But sidewalk sheds have been known to overstay their welcome, like a drunken uncle, sometimes sticking around for a dozen years or more, providing magnets for drug dealers, homeless people, trash, and worse. To remedy the situation, city councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, proposed a new law on Tuesday that would give building owners three months, with the possibility of a three-month extension, to make repairs and remove scaffolding and sidewalk sheds, the New York Times reports. If the work is not completed in that time, the city will step in to do it, and charge the owner for the work.
Already there is pushback from the city’s sidewalk shed-lovers. Carl Hum, a senior vice president for the Real Estate Board of New York, said Kallos’s proposal was “ill conceived and should be reconsidered.”