New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Sidewalk Scaffolding, the Unwanted Neighbor


Int. 1389-2016

Int. 1353-2019


New York City Department of Building Scaffolding Tracker 



In 2019, The New York Times reported on the shocking 1,400 buildings around the City with sidewalk sheds that aren't up because of ongoing construction but because they have failed to fix façade issues for which the Department of Buildings has issued a whopping $31 million in violations that have gone unpaid. 

Since I was elected we've been working to pass legislation I authored to force landlords to make repairs and get sidewalk sheds down as well as force the city to inspect every sidewalk shed so they never fall on anyone else. In 2017, the City Council held a public hearing on my original scaffolding bill (Int 1389).  This hearing was a pivotal step in getting the City to reform the laws governing the use of scaffolding. Under my bill, which is still undergoing changes and updates, landlords would have up to 90 days to fix dangerous facade conditions and an additional 90 days for owners to fix dangerous conditions upon extension. After the 180 days, the city would step in to do the work to correct the dangerous condition and bill the owner for all the costs. For more information on the bill see coverage in The New York TimesPIX11, FOX 5, New York 1.

In 2019, after the death of a pedestrian in midtown due to a falling piece of a building, Fox 5 covered my criticism of the fact that we are still inspecting building facades with centuries' old techniques such as binoculars, telescopes, and even feeling bricks with our hands. As reported by Fox 5 and the New York Post, this led to the City Council hearing legislation that I am co-prime sponsor of which would study the use of drones for facade inspections.

In December of 2019, the Department of Buildings adopted many many of the reforms I have been pushing for when it announced facade inspection reforms doubling their façade inspection team staff, adding more frequent and thorough inspections of buildings, and following my legislative proposal for the city to make repairs and bill the owner for the most hazardous conditions.  You can read more in Crain's New York and The City.

As reported by ABC 7, my legislation which I continue to push would regulate how our City is using scaffolding. It would also make sure that the nearly 350 miles of scaffolding covering New York City's sidewalks are safe and not at risk of falling. As reported by New York Daily News and Gothamist under the current laws, scaffolding is self-certified for safety by the contractors who install it, without any independent inspection by the city’s Department of Buildings. Under my legislation, scaffolding would be required to undergo safety inspections by the Buildings Department every six months at the expense of the building owner with fees escalating to incentivize the scaffolding to go down.


Press Coverage

New York Times
Facades on 1,400 Buildings in New York Are a Threat to Pedestrians

New York Times 

Sidewalk Scaffolding, the Unwanted Neighbor, Is Under Scrutiny

Partial balcony collapse in Chelsea is latest in rash of structural failures in NYC

Lawmakers Take Aim At The Hundreds Of Miles Of Scaffolding Around NYC

CBS Radio 880
New York Councilman: Accidents Are Proof New York Needs Tougher Scaffolding Laws by Mike Smeltz


Press Releases

Statement on Fatal Façade and Scaffolding Collapse on East Side by Council Member Ben Kallos, Friday, July 17, 2020

Collapsing Scaffolding Targeted for Inspections by Council Members Kallos, Adams, Chin and Ampry-Samuel, Thursday, January 24, 2019

Fight to Get Scaffolding Down Continues in Second Term with Reintroduction by Council Member Ben Kallos, Tuesday, January 30, 2018

STATEMENT: Council Member Ben Kallos on Scaffolding Incident in Upper East Side that Left an Injured Pedestrian, Friday, May 11, 2018

Miles of City Sidewalks to be Liberated from Needless Scaffolding by Proposal from Council Member Ben Kallos, Tuesday, December 6, 2016


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