CITY COUNCILMAN WANTS TO FIGHT THE SCOURGE OF ENDLESS SCAFFOLDING, PROPOSES TIME LIMIT

scaffolding3
Even when businesses make scaffolding pretty, it sucks. Photo by trepelu.

Scaffolding shrouds acres of sidewalk on the Upper West Side, as buildings slowly make repairs to their facades or simply leave the scaffolding up indefinitely. Fed-up businesses covered by scaffolding have even held “scaffolding sales” or said they were forced to close because of scaffolding.

People hate scaffolding. We get emails like this one from Carol Colitti Levine, a local scaffolding critic: “The blight of scaffolding seems to be spreading by the day.”

Now City Councilmember Ben Kallos from the Upper East Side is trying to force building owners to take the scaffolding down within six months of erecting it. Here are the basic provisions, as detailed in a release from Kallos.

Kallos’ legislation would set the following timeline for sidewalk sheds in place for dangerous conditions:

A Times article notes that the number of sheds has grown considerably in the past couple of decades. Buildings must put up scaffolding as they fix and inspect facades which is required by law.

Today, scaffolds, which are also known as sidewalk sheds, have proliferated. A total of 6,667 permits were issued for new structures in 2015, up from 1,016 in 1990, according to city building records. The largest number of permits, 2,938, was for projects in Manhattan, followed by Brooklyn with 2,069 and Queens with 889.

Currently, the city’s Buildings Department does not set a specific deadline for owners to make repairs and take down sidewalk sheds, and can issue violations only if the work is not completed. City building officials said they did not have the legal authority to do the work for a private building owner, except in an emergency situation when the building is in danger of collapsing.

But building owners are poised to fight the law, which they say would cost them too much. “The bottom line is sometimes it’s cheaper, and safer, to leave up the sidewalk sheds than to do the repairs because the repairs can go into millions of dollars,” said Frank Ricci of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents building owners.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 87 comments | permalink
    1. West88 says:

      Imagine scaffolding only up for 6 months! This is a no brainer and I can’t imagine someone fighting to keep them up —- except landlords and building owners. Alas their power might be too much.

      The NYTimes article states sometimes the repairs can be in “the millions of dollars” which could be an argument in their favor. But if you can afford to purchase New York real estate in the millions and charge tenants, it’s the cost of business. Otherwise the city should be able to take control. These buildings are literally killing people with falling debris. Solution – fix it! Not crafting a mini fort around your building. On the northeast corner of 88th and West End – years of scaffolding came down for about 3 weeks before a piece of the building fell (not fixed despite years of time) and then the scaffolding went back up without repair work in sight. So sad. Tenants of these buildings should have more rights to fight back.

      • David Collins says:

        If you own a building in NYC and the law requires you to do something as a landlord, in this case a repair, it matters little how much it costs! As landlord you need to abide by the law and spend whatever it takes to repair the building. And if you can not afford it or refuse to do so then you should sell the building or you will need to hire a lawyer to defend yourself when the city takes you to court.

      • Stuart says:

        231 and 233 West 74 Street are right next to south side of the Fairway building. They have had scaffolding up for at least 8 years. I have never seen any work being done on these buildings, not have I seen anyone entering or leaving these buildings. Requests to the community board and the Mayor’s office regarding the staus of these buildings have gone unanswered. Does anyone know what’s going on here, and when the scaffolding will be gone?

        • Bill says:

          Wow, who is your Councilperson? This is absolutely ridiculous. Anticipate there will be a torrent of activity by the RE industry, well funded and influential, against any change.

    2. John says:

      “The bottom line is sometimes it’s cheaper, and safer, to leave up the sidewalk sheds than to do the repairs because the repairs can go into millions of dollars,”

      So this is essentially an admission that building owners are willing to construct these “sheds” and keep them up indefinitely instead of doing necessary repairs?

      I’m sorry, but impinging on public walkways with unsightly and constrictive “structures” is not an acceptable solution. Buildings should reserve for facade repairs like all other necessary maintenance and improvements.

      It’s amazing to me that NIMBYs blow their top if a townhouse renovation isn’t done to spec, but somehow we tolerate the conversion of our sidewalks into shanty towns.

      • Tom Lee says:

        I’ve been to well over a dozen major cities in the past few years and NYC is the only one where scaffolding takes over the streets. Not London, not Chicago, not Paris nor Barcelona. Not in Hong Kong or Sydney.

        I think this is an example of government corruption, of people, in this case the scaffolding companies and others, lining their pockets and of course lining the pockets of the NYC politicians who passed these laws, keep them alive and look the other way to the issues that are being created and the wishes of NYC residents. Half of the scaffolding does need to be there to begin with because the jobs being done are minimal and do not pose a danger. The other half needs to be there half the time that they currently are.

        • Lisa says:

          Completely agree. It is a corrupt money making scheme in NYC and kept in place by corrupt politicians. I really hope Councilmember Kallos gets somewhere with this proposal.

        • Margaret says:

          This is a great point. Boston, London, and Paris are older and as historic as NYC, and in Boston the weather is harsher, without inflicting these scaffolds endlessly. NYC needs to fix this. Whatever tradeoffs are leading to scaffolds up for years, enough is enough.

        • Chrigid says:

          Remembering Paris & Barcelona: instead of scaffolds/sheds, they wrapped the buildings in some kind of mesh and worked inside that. Might take up a bit of sidewalk, but not all the way out to the curb.

    3. jezbel says:

      I moved back to NYC 2 years ago after a long absence. My bldg is directly across the street from the condo reno of the Astor on B’way between 75th & 76th. That building has had scaffolding since before I signed my lease – more than 2 full years. I find it completely unacceptable that I’ve never seen the front of that building or the fronts of any of the the stores in that building. Additionally they dump the refuse from those mini construction dumpsters (about 25 of them) which they keep on 76th street in front of my bldg, next to my bedroom & living room, every morning at about 7:30 AM. They’ve never moved it to the 75th St side. I think it’s only fair to spread the misery around a bit. The dust in my apt is so bad I have to clean and vacuum every day.

      • Margaret says:

        Tthe Astor’s scaffolding has been up since at LEAST summer 2014. I was just thinking yesterday how in-the-way it is, and how long it’s been up.

        Don’t even get me started on the scaffolding on Amsterdam that blocks Tessa.

        Kudos to CM Kallos for this bill.

      • Lance says:

        There are many others in your position. Ironically enough even with all this scaffolding a baby was killed by falling bricks on a building right up the street from me on West End Avenue not that long ago.

    4. Sean says:

      We need to shed a little light on all of this. Some of these structures have been around for decades. The people have a right to air and light.

    5. jeff Berger says:

      The church on the corner of 86th and Columbus has had scaffolding since at least 2000! I am glad that it has not hurt the business at Barney Greengrass but someone has got to do something about this! Why have the church owners not been forced to do something about the sheds? Does anyone know the story here?

      • Joan says:

        I think you mean the corner of Amsterdam.

      • Eric says:

        I agree that these permanent scaffolds are a blight on the city. I don’t think they’ll ever tear down the scaffold around the church on the corner of 86th and Amsterdam. It looks like the building was constructed with poor quality stone and pieces are always going to be chipping off. The scaffolding is an eyesore surrounding another eyesore. Wish that thing could be torn down, it’s slowly crumbling away into an urban ruin.

      • tostonesfix says:

        My understanding is that they keep it up to shelter the homeless.

      • B.B. says:

        One assumes you mean West Park Presbyterian Church on 86th and Amsterdam.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West-Park_Presbyterian_Church

        Scaffolding has been up for ages for a good reason; the structure is unsound and it provides safety to pedestrians. Otherwise there is a chance of bits falling off the thing hitting someone below.

        Congregation wanted to demolish and rebuild but such plans were scrapped by the so called “Friends of West Park” (who no doubt have many members and or support from those living in the buildings on either side of the church with lot line views/windows), that fought to see the building preserved.

        In the end pressure was brought to bear and NYC landmarked the building. Well enough but the congregation cannot afford to make the major repairs required.

        So the place stands surrounded by scaffolding until such time funding can be secured for repairs and or ways are figured out what to do with the thing. However the church was “saved” which is all some persons cared about.

        Long story short that scaffolding isn’t likely going anywhere for a long time.

    6. Anon says:

      Some of the white brick wedding cake buildings have completely redone their bricks in recent years because the shiny white bricks eventually start popping off. I doubt replacing every brick on a mid rise building can be accomplished in 6 months.
      Including a link to a Times story about changing the facades.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/nyregion/white-brick-buildings-begin-to-show-their-age.html

      • Peter says:

        I think your are talking about 1% of the buidlings, while 50% of the building seem to have scaffolding.

        And while it may not take 6 months, I can’t imagine it taking much longer. Entire buildings, including facades, are built in under a year.

    7. Johnny One Note says:

      I brought this issue to the attention of our very own council member rosenthal at least two years ago. i addressed in regarding the scaffolding on Amsterdam Ave (west side street) and the local business cardiology that was really suffering because of its prolonged use. well cardiology has closed the staffolding is still up and council member rosenthal is still in office.

    8. brad says:

      Why dont they start with the Dept of Buildings building at 280 Broadway,the scaffolding has been up since the year 2000.

    9. Glen says:

      Leaving the scaffolding up because it’s cheaper than making the repairs makes no sense, unless the goal is to have the building eventually fall down. I realize that some repairs may take more than six months, but at least the Owner should have to prove that progress is being made. A lot of scaffolding is up longer than it took the building to be put up in the first place; further the scaffolding becomes street shelters for the homeless.

      • Lukas says:

        Yes!

        I had heard that the scaffolding companies left them there until they had a use for them at another job so to minimize taking them back and forth to their home base outside of NYC.

      • B.B. says:

        Scaffolding will remain up until or when repairs are done to the satisfaction pedestrian safety below is no longer an issue.

        If things were done as they should with the Esplanade, that poor child (Greta Greene), might be still with us.

        Doing anything regarding buildings in NYC is maddeningly complicated and expensive. Things often come down to (sadly) cost of repairs, who is going to pay, and how things are done.

        It isn’t just say in rent controlled or stabilized properties that costs of doing needed repairs to masonry/structure becomes an issue. Heated debates have broken out in some our very best condo and co-op buildings when the board presents their plans to address such issues. Plenty of ears perk up when they hear how much they will be assessed to cover said repairs.

        • Nathan says:

          BB – we get why scaffoldings are used. That is not the issue. The issue is why are they up before boards decided on a plan of action and/or after the work is completed.

          I think we have all been around long enough and are not naive enough to believe that it take 6,12,18,24 months to inspect a 12 story building facade.

          As others have pointed out – 50 story buildings are completed from scratch in less time than that.

          Arguing scaffoldings are fine the way they are now because of safety would be like saying the speed limit should be 10 miles per hour. At some point it just becomes ridiculous.

          • B.B. says:

            Shall make it clear then; the scaffolding goes up soon as an issue or possible is detected. Reason is purely for public safety and or liability.

            As another posted stated it can take a very long time before a “course of action” is even decided upon and or even begun. In the meanwhile property owners are supposed to leave pedestrians or anyone else on streets below unprotected?

            Again if the Esplanade has been properly and correctly inspected at the time, scaffolding would have gone up and that poor child would still be with us.

            • Robert says:

              Again, problem spotted, scaffolding goes up, problem worked on, problem fixed, scaffolding goes down. Period. The end. In 90% of the cases given this is done every five years, the start to finish time should be a matter of weeks or a couple of months. Scaffoldings are up for years so something needs to change. If they go up when problem is spotted and then sit there for two years without the problem being addressed then we have an issue and are creating other problems on top of the one that we had to begin with.

    10. Howard Freeman says:

      Follow the money.

      Residents hate the scaffolding; owners hate them, too, because it’s a financial burden, a hedge against a lawsuit. But what are the top 3 scaffolding companies, who are they owned by, to which politicians do the owners give money?

    11. Steen says:

      Go Councilmember Kallos! This is a reasonable recommendation and should get passed. The number of sidewalk sheds in my neighborhood is ridiculous and definitely forcing businesses to close.
      The next law should be a rent blight law that forbids commercial landlords from keeping a street front business vacant for more than 3 years. I get that some spaces are tough to rent, but if a store on Broadway is vacant for more than 3 years, the landlord wants too much rent. And no, popup stores shouldn’t reset the clock.

      • Juan says:

        One would think that it would be a major financial burden to keep a store empty for years, but apparently it is not – I think there is some sort of a tax loophole that makes it a lot less painful – would love for someone smarter than me about such things to enlighten us as to how this works.

        • Woody says:

          What possible kind of tax loophole could exist that makes it profitable for a landlord to not have a tenant? Such comments are beyond absurd especially when one says they ‘think’ it exists with doing a little research.

          • Juan says:

            Wow – thanks for the snark.

            I am not an accountant and I have a job that prevents me from spending hours doing research, but perhaps this article will enlighten you – about halfway through it notes that “there are tax deductions to be claimed.” I’m not exactly sure how it works and I’m sure that it doesn’t completely offset the cost of an empty store, but it helps. There was some basis in fact to my comment, and I thought someone else reading this might be able to further educate us.

            http://www.governing.com/columns/assessments/gov-gentrification-local-business-extinction.html

            • Woody says:

              The article says “The immediate result of the present churning isn’t always a brand-new bank or drugstore. Often it’s a storefront that stays empty for months at a time. Landlords sometimes jack up the rent not because they have a chain tenant in the wings, but because they hope to snare one. The landlords call them “credit tenants.” In the meantime, there are tax deductions to be claimed.”

              The last line about tax deductions is so vague and poorly written that it must have been intended to mislead people. There are no tax DEDUCTIONS. There are EXPENSES that can be deducted whether the storefront is rented or not. There is no tax benefit from not having rental income to pay those expenses.

          • B.B. says:

            Maybe not “profitable” but yes, there are various tax deductions available for vacant rental properties.

            https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch09.html

            From a landlord’s point of view it is often better to leave residential or commercial space vacant rather than enter into a new lease. This can be especially true in places like New York where both sets of tenants can have various legal protections that make getting rid of them quickly difficult.

            As one has said before, many of these vacant commercial spaces are not owned by huge RE “families”, but co-op and condo buildings.

            Thanks to recent changes in federal tax laws they can now earn and keep more income from such commercial rental. As such what often went for small money before said changes (many buildings were happy enough to get rents that paid their property taxes), now can and are seeking more. In the meanwhile long as the space is being “actively” offered for rent but remains empty, the board can take various tax deductions.

          • Woody says:

            This article says nothing about tax loopholes.

            What it does say is:
            “There are potentially some tax benefits for the owners of empty storefronts. But the more likely explanation is that landlords are willing to lose a tenant and leave a storefront empty as a form of speculation. They’ll trade a short-term loss for the chance eventually to land a much richer tenant, like a bank branch or national retail chain, which might pay a different magnitude of rent.”

            I don’t understand how you make that leap from ‘potential’ benefits with absolutely no reference to any solid facts about how an owner would receive tax benefits. The author clearly says that to mislead people who don’t know anything about tax laws.

            • Juan says:

              Woody, what’s your problem? It seems like you won’t be satisfied until you prove that you are right and everyone else is wrong. And you seem intent on doing that in the rudest way possible, rather than saying, for instance, that you have expertise in the area and others are incorrect.

              Clearly there was reason for me to believe that there might be tax benefits to leaving stores empty. I might be wrong, but I was not completely misguided. The potential tax benefits do not make it lucrative for the owner to leave it owner, but, if they exist (note that I said if), they would soften the blow and make it easier to wait for the beloved bank tenant everyone aspires to.

              Happy holidays. If this is your biggest problem in the world, then your holidays really will be happy as you live a charmed life.

    12. tostonesfix says:

      I always assumed scaffolding was some kind of Mafia scam.

      • Pat says:

        Basically.

        No other city in the world comes close to the shit show that NYC has gotten itself into with scaffoldings.

        Between the sirens that you can here from two miles away, the scaffoldings everywhere and the garbage piling up on the side of the street, NYC is becoming a lovely place to live 🙁

    13. Carlos says:

      Doormen of residential buildings love scaffolding in the winter as they then don’t have to shovel. And I love scaffolding on rainy or snowy days when I don’t have an umbrella as it keeps me dry. Otherwise, I hate it. I am a parent with a large stroller who tries very hard to be considerate of others and stay out of the way, but scaffolding narrows the sidewalk and makes it hard to do so.

    14. F.C. Rosenberg says:

      The time limits proposed are simply not realistic. Much exterior work is weather-dependent, and a hazardous condition found in the fall may not be repairable until the following spring. In addition, the work will often require developing architectural plans, getting approval from the Landmarks Commission and Buildings Department, soliciting bids, etc. Made-to-order items such as terra cotta ornaments may take many months. This can take far more than six months. And the work itself may take longer.

      • Old Judge says:

        Why put up scaffolding before you have a plan?

        • Eric says:

          Often, the wear or damage to the facade is visible by visually inspecting it from street level, or by lowering a “window washer” hoist. At that point, it is necessary to put the scaffolding up to guard against anything falling off (and to guard against liability).

          • Jim says:

            And sometimes the work simply takes a long time as in the case of my building where new repair issues were uncovered as the work progressed.

        • K8 says:

          The city requires facade inspections of buildings more than 6 stories in height every 5 years. A facade inspection may result in observation of an unsafe condition (or aside from the facade inspection, a chunk of a building may just fall off a building that’s less than 7 stories, making it unsafe). The shed legally has to go up immediately following notification of an unsafe condition in order to protect pedestrians.

          • Bob says:

            The average building being 10-15 stories high, if that, an inspection should be a matter of weeks, more so given that they are done every five years. What can happen in five years that would require 12-24 months of facade work? If that is the case, that every five years you need to do two years worth of facade work, then me think they building is so poorly constructed that it will just collapse!

        • Marci Cohen says:

          Ask our jackass Board President that question. Our building has had scaffolding up since last Spring.
          Now that the dimwits on the Board actually came up with a “plan”, the scaffolding should only be up for another 9 months “or so.”

      • Christine E says:

        Then just file for an extension.

    15. SS says:

      Does this bill mean the city will make permitting, inspections and other functions faster to account for deadlines? Will the city really start doing facade work and take responsibility if it’s done poorly? I doubt it.

    16. Yes. I have been writing about this even before moving here last spring. “Scourge of Scaffolding” on UWS. sidetrek.nyc

      How can building owners say it is financially better to lose tenants, and customers of tenants by keeping up these steel shrouds?

    17. Lucien says:

      The issue is very complex because on one hand they are unsightly and hurt businesses under them but on the other it is there to protect pedestrians getting killed by falling bricks. If scaffolding laws were not enforced we would be complaining about that. If a time limit is imposed landlords will remove them too early (to avoid a fine) and then there will be an increase in accidents.

      However, it is awful that a business get into a lease and they are stuck there as they lose money. The worst case was at 101 West 78th Street which has scaffolding up since 2012 and caused a seafood restaurant to close. (BTW: I don’t know anything about construction but if it takes you 4 years to convert a building to condos and you still aren’t done – you probably will never be done.) There should be a city clause that allows businesses to break their lease if a building puts up a scaffolding longer than 10 months.

      • Margaret says:

        That scaffolding, Columbus at 78th, is horrific. It’s ruined a neighborhood business and blighted the avenue for years. It should absolutely come down in months, not years.

    18. robert says:

      There need to be some caveats to this new rule and/or law. Concrete work is not supposed to be done if the temp is below 32, or will be while it cures.(The number may be a bit higher/lower depend on the use of heaters etc.) But must façade work is done in good weather.
      As an example a small bit of terra cota came off my building a couple of Decembers ago. They put up scaffolding the next day but cold not start the work until the snow and ice had abated in late March. When they got into it they found that large sections of the building needed massive repairs. Not just the terra cota and brick work but also the steel structure under it. Several beans had to be replaced at the 12th & Penthouse levels. The work took almost two years and we have scaffolding bolted to the side of the building the entire time so the could work.
      Must buildings start repairs thinking they will only take a set time, but when they start removing damaged parts of the façade the usually find extensive water damage behind it.

      Also what if the delay is not the building owners fault. Case in point the building on B’way that had the Empire Chinese restaurant in it that burned over a year ago. They are still arguing with the insurance companies. The owner wants to fix the building but can not until he gets the insurance money. A year latter he is still waiting.

      • John says:

        There must be a determination as to whether a good faith effort to make timely repairs is underway, or whether scaffolding has been put in place as an indefinite solution in-lieu of repairs.

        • K8 says:

          Buildings who have unsafe notifications are required to file extension of time requests if the nature of the repairs take longer than 90 days to correct. Each extension is good for up to 90 days, at the discretion of the DOB. Failure to make repairs to unsafe conditions beyond those extensions results in a failure to maintain violation.

    19. West88thStreet says:

      THere were many months when all four corners of 88thst and West End Ave. had scaffolding. One of these buildings just had the scaffolding removed after 15 years and repairs to the building. This is an outrage and whatever the reason, something must be done.

    20. Catherine Arcure says:

      I agree with this complaint. I have been in many cities and have never seen this proliferation of scaffolds up for endless amounts of time. It is a scam of sorts which is an inconvenience to not only store-owners but buying public and is an eyesore. These are put up only at the convenience of the scaffold people with no thought to how it affects others.

    21. Mary says:

      I agree some buildings do leave the sheds up for far too long with no work being done. But what will happen for very long term projects where work is being done? My building had the shed up for at least a year. And work was being done for most of that year, excluding bad weather days and holidays. The repairs needed were extensive and necessary to keep the corner of the building from falling off. What provisions will there be for rule make for jobs that take longer than six months to complete?

    22. Giulia says:

      Great. Does this mean we’ll finally have an end to the three-years-and-no-sign-of-work shed that’s been up at 111th and Broadway since the Citibank burned down?

      • K8 says:

        That shed won’t come down until the unsafe building behind it does, at a minimum. Then there will have to be a fence around the resulting hole.

    23. Joe says:

      I hate the scaffolding but you have to also look at the costs involved for these fixes. My family owns a small building on the UWS. Rent stabilization is killing the ability to easily make renovations and these are 100 year old buildings. Only being able to raise rents 1% – 2% on people paying $700 a month for an apt which should be renting for $1900 a month is unfair. So the government is part of the problem here

      • Cato says:

        Did your family not know about Rent Stabilization, and that the building contained rent-stabilized apartments, at the time that you bought it?

        Don’t real-estate investors do “due diligence” anymore?

        Or did your family buy the building with full knowledge that there were protected tenants living there — but with hopes that the tenants would leave?

        In any event, the building likely would have cost your family a lot more to buy if there were no protected tenants living there. So your family got a discount, and probably a deep one, for buying a building whose tenants were protected by law.

        In short: Whose fault is it that you own a building protected by Rent Stabilization? You bought a building with a low rent-roll, and therefore at a low price. Why are you now complaining about it?

      • Westside Gene says:

        It’s all the fault of Rent Stabilization!!!. Landlords buy buildings cheap because they have rent stabilized tenants. Then they whine about how they can’t afford to make repairs. If you can’t afford to make necessary repairs, sell the building. I’m sure you will find willing buyers (at the right price).

    24. Wijmlet says:

      Much of the East side of Amsterdam Avenue between 79 and 73 Streets has been scaffolded for years! Depressing

    25. Patrick C. says:

      Before we blame the landlords, can someone explain to me how a property owner can take down a scaffold when the work requiring to keep the scaffold up is never given a permit by the city?

      I work on construction projects. Under de Blasio, I tell people I work worth to budget no less than 1 year just to obtain city approval in Landmarked districts. More commonly, it can take up to 2 years. This is before any actual work can start.

    26. Lincoln Center says:

      The scaffolding that has surrounded John Jay College for years had suddenly disappeared a week ago. Guess what! It’s back but replaced with newer planks and this is city property.
      Almost every block from West 57th/9th Avenue-West End to West 86th along every avenue has scaffolding. Some are years old and are dangerous to walk under. I was told that it is too expensive to remove (regardless if needed anymore) and the city just does not care anymore!

    27. Mark says:

      Where will the homeless guys do their
      pull-ups????

    28. Upper West Side Wally says:

      Does anyone have any actual proof that politicians are ‘lining their pockets’ through long-term scaffold/stoop shed placement? Who would pay them under the table? Joe’s Scaffolding from Kew Gardens? Building owners?
      And if so, why would those same politicians want to put an end to this golden egg-laying goose?

    29. K8 says:

      I work in the restoration field, so I’m very familiar with sidewalk sheds and the repair work that is required all over the city. While some building owners are certainly delinquent in starting or performing repairs at all, there is a real logistical problem with limiting repairs to 180 days from when the shed goes up at an unsafe building.

      -Once unsafe conditions are identified, the owner has to hire an architect to prepare a full repair scope, which includes surveying/inspecting the building, preparing drawings, details, specifications, and bid form.

      -Then an available and interested contractor must be found to bid the project (this takes time for a contractor to prepare a bid, even if there are not multiple bids to be considered by the owner).

      -A contract must be drafted, reviewed, and signed.

      -The drawings need to be filed with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (if applicable, which usually takes at least a month, often more), the Department of Buildings (can take a month or more), and at rare times, the Loft Board (giving an estimate on that is ludicrous).

      -Then neighboring buildings often have to give permission for the contractor to access their rooftops to install protection (if the work will occur on a facade above a neighboring building’s rooftop). The DOB does not have a method to force neighboring buildings to allow access, and contractors will not trespass without permission.

      -Then once work starts, much of the work is weather-sensitive. Some work cannot be performed in the rain, high winds will stop work for safety reasons, and with masonry work, most materials must be installed when temperatures will remain 40 degrees or above for 72 hours. If a job is not completed by the fall, it will often need to be put on hold for 2-3 months while winter temperatures are not consistently above 40 degrees overnight.

      -A sidewalk shed providing pedestrian protection at an unsafe building cannot be taken down until (a) a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (architect or engineer) files an amended facade report confirming that all unsafe conditions have been remedied, AND (not OR, but AND) (b) the Department of Buildings reviews and accepts that report (DOB review can take 8 weeks).

      While the intent of this sidewalk shed limit is admirable, in practice, it is completely unrealistic.

      • Angeline says:

        Exactly right. Putting the scaffolding up is just the start of the repair process for the building owner.

        The negotiation process with the neighbors can take years because some ask for millions!

        The city does not make it easy to distinguish between owners who are working hard behind the scenes to get the job done and lazy/cheap owners.

        When you add all this up, even with the use of nonunionized labor, construction costs for residential cab run up to $500/sqft. How in the world can we create new low-income housing at these price points even if the land is free?

        Relax the rules, and the unscrupulous take advantage.
        Tighten the rules, and the most scrupulous owners suffer.

    30. Sam says:

      I have a brilliant idea and it even MAKES MONEY FOR OUR SUFFERING.

      Instead of forcing buildings to do work within 6 months, make THEM PAY A SIGNFICANT FINE for every day past 6 months. The fine needs to be significant enough to hurt some and be based on the taxes that the building pays, not just a fixed fine for all buildings.

      This is brilliant because it aligns everyone. It hastens buildings to do work efficiently and quickly, and we citizens get money from buildings who go past 6 months which will lower our taxes, however little it may be.

      • 92nd Street says:

        That is an ideal Sam – but if the Landlord has made the repairs in time and the lag is due to the City and it’s approvals, then the Tax Payers (all of us) should cover your penalty. Welcome to reality.

    31. Big Earl says:

      We had scaffolding in front of our building for 5 years. It was a nightmare. Who was to blame? Mostly our idiot President of the Board! Clueless gentleman that dropped the ball during the project and as a result the building and the neighbors suffered for 5 years. Too late for us, but bring this on for the next time.

    32. moefoe says:

      51 west 86th street has had scaffolding up for over 10 years. The building looks the same as it did back then. Weinreb Management owns it and it is an eyesore of a “doorman” building.

    33. Dan says:

      I understand the sentiment but the proposed rules are unworkable. I’ve dealt with many Local Law 11 projects for my coop. Once you put up your sidewalk shed, it now takes weeks to get a NYC DOB safety inspector on site and green light the job. Then any delay due to weather, materials or staffing can easily put a project back more than a week. Need another DOB inspection? Wait some more. And we’re expected to take down the sidewalk sheds every time the job stalls for more than 7 days? Crazy.

      OTOH those buildings that put up sidewalk sheds for years WITHOUT doing any reconstruction work ought to be forced to make the building safe and take down the sheds. Those buildings are the real culprits here. Not the ones that are undertaking necessary LL/11 repairs.

      • Sally says:

        And I suspect the building on Amsterdam & 76 is one of those where it’s cheaper to keep up the sheds than do the repair work. It’s been up for at least 5 years.

    34. joe Lichtig says:

      One plus is they protect us from rain and snow.

      Sometimes the scaffolding stays up while building repairs are held up for various good reasons.

    35. Wessie says:

      Good step in the right direction, but more should be done.

      1) General RE tax break for buildings subject to landmark status, including historical district as maintenance in compliance with landmark requirements is significantly more expensive. Those funds could be added to a reserve fund for repairs.
      2) Limit to scaffolding period as suggested.
      3) Any sidewalk cafe or other sidewalk permits are suspended for the time scaffolding is up (i.e., they must be removed).
      4) Rental properties affected by scaffolding (i.e., each rental unit in the subject building) will receive an increasing discount to their rent after the initial 90 day period, up to 100% of the rent for scaffolding still up after 1 year.
      5) rent discount for businesses with sidewalk cafes starts on day 1 of scaffolding.

    36. David Collins says:

      When a problem is spotted, scaffolding or other protection should immediately go up. But that should not be the end of it – for months or even years. The problem should then be worked on within days/weeks and fixed as quickly as possible. The scaffolding should then go down. Scaffoldings are up for years so something needs to change. If they go up when problem is spotted and then sit there for two years without the problem being addressed then we have an issue and are creating other problems on top of the one that we had to begin with.

    37. chrigid says:

      I’d be happy to see the scaffolds–or some kind of arcades–in place forever.

      They shield us from the sun, rain, snow.

      The summer sun can be brutally hot, and during cooler months, when the sun is low on the horizon, it can be blinding if you’re walking south.

      Once, in Europe, I traveled for half an hour using arcades (and one church) during a rainstorm, and arrived at my destination a little damp. If it was New York, I’d have had to cancel so I could go change my clothes.

      People in Europe seem to have no trouble finding their stores, businesses and restaurants in the arcades.

      • B.B. says:

        While one has enjoyed wandering the various arcades of Paris, do not think idea would translate well for much of Manhattan. Avenues are too wide and clogged with motor/vehicular traffic.

        http://www.travelmag.com/articles/walking-the-arcades-of-paris/

        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/11/travel/11culture.html

        Now if you are speaking of covered walkways such as what is seen along La rue de Rivoli, in particular Les Grands Magasins du Louvre, that is another matter.

        However keep in mind the same issues that arise from scaffolding also apply to covered walkways/sidewalks; how do businesses alert those passing to their presence.

        The other worry is what happened with arcades/covered walkways in Paris and anywhere else they went up; the places soon became well know for vice (prostitution) and crime. Reason is simple; the protection from elements offered by such structures also gives the same from those passing on or across the roads. Thus various persons can ply their trade “in the dark” if you will. It takes putting boots on the ground (sidewalk/street patrol on foot) to police such areas. Though today imagine cameras could be employed.