New York City launches plan to overhaul scaffolding, 'sidewalk sheds'

If you walk the streets of New York City, you're bound to encounter it – scaffolding, or as Mayor Eric Adams calls it, "sidewalk sheds."

As resilient as the city's rat population, the constructions of tarnished metal and muted colors have become an integral part of the city's landscape, and while they block the snow and rain, they can also block the sun. 

Some of the city's scaffolding has been up for weeks or even months, and in the case of one bit of scaffolding on Central Park West – since Oct. 17, 2008.

Now, New York City is looking to fix the problem by revamping its "sidewalk shed" program. 

What is the ‘sidewalk shed’ program?

Deputy Mayor for Operations, Meera Joshi, revealed the comprehensive plan. 

It includes a clock ticking the moment a shed goes up, with penalties issued after 90 days and recurring penalties imposed every subsequent month, reaching a maximum of $6,000 per month.


Scaffolding eyesore: City council push for streamlined repairs process

It’s been an issue for years and years and now city council members are pushing for a more streamlined process when it comes to repairing building facades.

The permit length for sheds will also be reduced to 90 days instead of the previous one-year timeframe.

The Department of Buildings will be more proactive, requiring quarterly checks for compliance from businesses. 

Businesses must file an application for repairs within three months and obtain a work permit within six months. The repairs are mandated to be completed within two years. 

The city will also aim to encourage the use of netting rather than traditional scaffolding to enhance the appearance of the structures.

Recognizing some businesses may require financial assistance, the city is looking into creating a loan program to support their transition to the new standards.

City Council Member Keith Powers, a vocal proponent of the plan, believes the changes are long overdue. 

"We have been talking about this for a long time, all the small issues that add up to quality of life," Powers said.