Rally and hearing tomorrow to “Get Sheds Down”

The City Council will hold a hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, June 25, at 10a, on sidewalk sheds, aka scaffolding. The hearing addresses a package of bills that would address the maintenance and appearance of sheds as well as issue fines for unnecessary scaffolding. Councilman Chris Marte is one of the sponsors on both bills; one was done in conjunction with the Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. (I think it is so curious that the city doesn’t tell newspapers about these hearings — I got it from O., who was sent a note from Marte’s office.)

If you want to weigh in, you can show up for the hearing at 10a tomorrow, or you can submit your testimony virtually here. Or add to my running list of old sidewalk sheds from this post here. 

There will also be a rally in advance of the hearing at 9:30a on the steps of City Hall. This is being run by the Department of Buildings, which oddly seems to be in favor of taking the sheds down. (I imagine it is DOB rules that make most of them go up in the first place??)

The two bills would create graduated penalties for building owners with longstanding sheds, enforce building repair timelines, reduce permit lengths, introducing more colors for sheds (huh??), and mandate better lighting.

  • #774: Requires the Department of Buildings to conduct sidewalk shed inspections every six months and charge fees for each inspection, with the fee proportionate to the size of the sidewalk shed.
  • #970: Creates new sidewalk shed design requirements, such as allowing mesh netting as an alternative protection against unsafe facade conditions, disallowing sidewalk sheds in favor of cantilevered platforms during the construction of new major buildings, requiring that sidewalk sheds have a minimum height of 12 feet, and allowing sheds to be painted in a manner that would better blend with their surroundings.

The mayor’s “Get Sheds Down” initiative is now one year old, and his administration says that in that time, more than 4,900 sheds have come down. Of course, it doesn’t mention how many have gone up. (I was very sad to see one going into place at Balloon Saloon.) The DOB press release said that “55% of all permitted sidewalk sheds that were up when the #GetShedsDown plan was first announced in July 2023 have since been taken down…Most of the sheds up today are less than one year old.” But that sure doesn’t seem to be the case here…

DOB also recently retained the urban planning consultants Thornton Tomasetti to do a review of Local Law 11 to see whether regulatory changes could reduce sidewalk sheds that are not protecting the public.