Scaffolding covers roughly 200 miles of New York City streetfront, with nearly 4,000 sites in Manhattan alone — a blight that, as Miranda Devine wrote in Monday’s Post, plagues no other major city.
Though nominally about safety, these “sidewalk sheds” actually invite crime and disorder — “a haven for muggers,” as Devine notes, as well as “an open invitation for homeless encampments.”
The root cause is plainly Local Law 11, passed after falling masonry killed a Barnard student in 1980. As amended over the years, the statute now requires inspection and repairs to the facades of all buildings higher than six stories — every five years. And other city rules make scaffolding insanely expensive to erect — perhaps $12,500 for a 200-foot length of shed.
So many landlords just leave it up, year after year. The average life is now three years, and some have lingered for 20.
It’s not just the private sector: NYCHA is notoriously bad on this front, and even the Department of Buildings HQ has been shedded-up for more than a decade.
City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-UES) has a couple of bills to force landlords to take scaffolding down more rapidly, but the real estate industry fights furiously to avoid the added costs.
What’s needed is leadership to forge some compromise to end a mess unique to New York. If cities can avoid eternal scaffolding everywhere else in the world, it can be done here, too.