Point of View

We’ve got to do something about those sidewalk sheds

Posted

On Dec. 16 at city comptroller Scott Stringer’s town hall meeting in Riverdale, I addressed some of the issues associated with sidewalk sheds and how the installation of them is too often an unbridled business practice that needs proper remediation.

A report published by the comptroller’s office prior to that date indicated concern with some of the abuses associated with the sheds throughout New York City.

To refresh, contractors dealing with Local Law 11 provisions or other building façade work are appropriately required to protect areas used by pedestrians, and they usually do so by subcontracting the installation of sidewalk sheds. The businesses that install the sheds generally appear eager for the work, and upon contracting, usually do so very rapidly — often long before work on the building actually begins.

Then they are required to leave them in place after work is completed and after it is certified by a professional engineer, until a housing department inspector comes out and OKs the engineer’s approval and certification of the completed project.

Then, and only then, can the sheds finally be removed — at the convenience of the shed contractor, of course.

During the entire time that sheds are up, landlords, cooperative apartment shareholders and condominium owners must shoulder the unnecessary burden of costs associated with the sheds outside of the time that work is being done on the buildings. Central to this discussion is that cooperators and condominium owners must pay for the sheds individually out of their household budgets via maintenance or assessment costs (and not out of profits as landlords may).

Important too is the less frequent event that finds landlords and building owners (other than cooperators and condo owners) walking away from their premises, leaving the sheds in place without governance — resulting in the potentially unsafe structures remaining as unnecessary and unsightly sources of sight pollution to our city landscape.

The cost of erecting and maintaining the sheds is generally calculated by the foot by the day, includes all of the “down” time before any work begins, and then often long after the work is completed — and not until the building department inspectors OK their removal.

We strongly urge the that the comptroller and other city officials address the practice of erecting sidewalk sheds too soon and leaving them up too long; the disregard by the building department of a professional engineer’s assessment and approval of work that has been safely and properly completed; and the delay in getting the building department inspectors to sites once work on facades is completed.

Failure to remedy these conditions will allow the continued, unfair and unnecessary financial burden that is now borne by residents in the many buildings that are affected by Local Law 11, or otherwise require façade maintenance. 

The Association of Riverdale Cooperatives & Condominiums strongly urges that you and your colleagues in city government aggressively pursue the issues described, and seek proper remediation.

The author is president of the Association of Riverdale Cooperatives & Condominiums, representing nearly 20,000 units of housing in the northwest Bronx.

Stephen J. Budihas,

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