Crack Down on Neighborhood Scaffolding

By Council Member Erik Bottcher

Ask New Yorkers what gets on their nerves, and a lot of them will say it’s the sidewalk scaffolding that seems to be on nearly every block. Over 280 miles of New York City’s sidewalks are covered by scaffolding! This is significantly more than other comparable cities around the world.

FRANK VEILSON AND TRINA COOPER FROM THE COCORAN GROUP with Zoi at the Jane Street Garden. Photo credit: Nina Haft.

This is a public policy failure. Last month we began to take action.

I introduced City Council legislation—part of a package of bills with my colleagues—that will help reduce the amount of scaffolding in New York and increase the design and lighting standards on the scaffolding when it is necessary.

Here are the three bills I introduced:

Intro. 956—A time limit for pulling permits to do work

This legislation establishes a time limit of six months, after scaffolding is erected, for property owners to apply for work permits. Property owners who exceed this time period will be subject to fines.

Intro. 955—New lighting requirements

The current lighting requirements for sidewalk sheds are outdated and haven’t kept pace with advances in lighting technology. Not only can outdoor LED bulbs reduce energy costs by up to 90 percent, but they produce brighter, more even light than their traditional counterparts.
This bill requires the level of illumination to be uniformly distributed along the entire length of the shed with more lumens per watt.

Intro. 954—Addressing scaffolding in parks and playgrounds

For years, there has been scaffolding obstructing part of the basketball court inside Mathews-Palmer Park in Hell’s Kitchen because of an adjacent, privately-owned wall that is deteriorating. This legislation will establish heightened design standards for scaffolding that is obstructing public amenities like parks and playgrounds.

I’m proud to be working with Council Members Keith Powers, Pierina Sanchez, Shaun Abreu and Christopher Marte as well as Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine on these important efforts.