‘It needs to go:’ Neighbors fed up by sidewalk scaffolding — and new bills eye punishing landlords

Posted at 1:09 AM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 11:38:09-04

Technically, they're called "sidewalk sheds."

But neighbors across the city know them as the ever-present scaffolding that never seems to disappear.

"All this does is make the neighborhood look ugly," said a gentleman who identified himself as Mr. Kent.

There is a building on the northwest corner of Third Avenue and 115th Street. According to a new city database, the sidewalk shed has been up for 3,422 days.

"It needs to go," said Theresa Rowell.

The city requires that building owners set up sidewalk sheds when the facade or exterior of a building exhibits certain conditions. Every five years, owners have to submit a new independent inspection and description of the condition. Permits for sidewalk sheds can be renewed.

NYC Department of Buildings has added a new interactive map of sidewalk sheds in the boroughs. It provides information block by block about the structure's purpose and original permit.

You can look up information about scaffolding and sidewalk sheds on the Buildings Department website by clicking here.

"It combines an enormous amount of information that we have and puts it on a very usable platform for people to be able to check," says NYC Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler.

The city can issue monetary fines for violations of building codes or require immediate action for immediate dangers. Demolition can be ordered when a building is found to be structurally unsound.

Property owners say the exterior-repair cost is expensive.

NYC Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side) has introduced several pieces of legislation related to this issue.

"Actually do work without interruption for seven days or more and they would have to get it done in three to six months. If they couldn't or couldn't afford it, the city would step in and make landlords pay," Kallos said.

Some of the bills have not yet been scheduled for a hearing.