The ubiquitous New York City sidewalk shed is a necessary evil. New construction is a healthy thing that, whether we like it or not, kicks up dust. And ours is a nearly 400-year-old metropolitan area where countless aging buildings need routine inspection and repair to stay safe and legal. Workers need places above street level to do their work, and pedestrians below must be protected from falling tools, bolts, beams, plywood, and debris.
But if the scaffolding, which is unpleasant to walk through, stays there too long, it becomes an unseemly plague that plunges entire blocks into darkness.
Which is exactly what has happened. Last year, informed the Independent Budget Office of the city that the scaffolding in the streets of the city has tripled in the last two decades, with 57% of those installed for the repair of facades remaining standing for more than a year. A new report from Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine makes it clearer: Scaffolds are on city streets for an average of 498 days, and more than 230 have been in place for more than five years. Infuriating.
Levine presents five strategies to get rid of sheds faster, including helping buildings get work done faster; resolve disputes that often set projects back months or years; holding building owners, including the city government itself, which is one of the biggest offenders, accountable when they take forever; and adjust local law that prescribes periodic inspections. In some cases, he smartly says, we should let drones take the place of humans to check the outside of buildings; and certain structures should have a slightly longer inspection schedule instead of the five-year mandate.
When then-Building Commissioner Patricia Lancaster sat down with this Editorial Board in 2007, she conceded that because of the risk of falling debris, she “crossed the street, thank you very much,” rather than walk under the insufficient protection of the rickety sidewalk. . sheds Today, the most important pest is the scaffolding that goes up and never comes down. tackle it