Reducing Sidewalk Shed Scaffolding in NYC

New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently launched a plan to reduce sidewalk shed scaffolding, including a reevaluation of the FISP program.

New York City Mayor Adams recently launched a new initiative called "Get Sheds Down" with the aim of reducing sidewalk sheds or scaffolding in the city. This ambitious plan seeks to improve the pedestrian experience and revitalize the urban landscape, all while ensuring public safety remains a top priority.

The "Get Sheds Down" initiative comes at a time when the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) is under reevaluation. FISP, also known as Local Law 11, is a program that mandates periodic facade inspections for buildings over six stories. These inspections are essential to identify potential hazards and mitigate risks posed by aging building facades. As part of the "Get Sheds Down" plan, the Mayor intends to reevaluate Local Law 11 inspections, assessing whether they can be made less frequent and less burdensome without compromising pedestrian safety.

One of the exciting possibilities in achieving this objective involves the utilization of drone technology for facade inspections. Drones have already demonstrated their value in various industries, and their potential for building inspections is particularly promising. Borough President Mark Levine's previous initiative, "Shed The Shed," had already highlighted the potential of drones for facade inspection back in March 2023.

By incorporating drones into the facade inspection process, building assessments could become more efficient, cost-effective, and less disruptive to both pedestrians and building occupants. Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras can navigate the exteriors of tall buildings, capturing detailed imagery of facades that would otherwise be difficult to access. This would enable inspectors to identify potential issues such as cracks, loose materials, or other structural concerns without the need for extensive scaffolding or sidewalk sheds.

The use of drones in facade inspections could also allow for assessments without imposing a significant burden on building owners or businesses. By adopting a proactive approach to monitoring building facades, potential risks can be identified and addressed promptly, reducing the need for prolonged sidewalk sheds and scaffolding.

However, it's important to note that while drones offer numerous benefits, they are not meant to replace traditional inspection methods entirely. Certain structural assessments might still require physical inspections or hands-on evaluations. Nevertheless, integrating drones into the inspection process could complement existing practices, making the overall process more efficient and less intrusive for New Yorkers.

As the "Get Sheds Down" initiative moves forward, the Mayor's office, along with the Department of Buildings (DOB), will need to collaborate with experts, stakeholders, and the public to ensure that any changes to the Facade Inspection Safety Program strike the right balance between safety, efficiency, and regulatory compliance.

Mayor Adams' "Get Sheds Down" initiative presents an exciting opportunity to reimagine the city's urban landscape by reducing sidewalk sheds and scaffolding while maintaining a commitment to pedestrian safety. By reevaluating Local Law 11 inspections and exploring the integration of drone technology, New York City can embrace innovation while ensuring that its architectural heritage remains safe and inviting for all.

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