Scaffolding sheds: they keep us safe, but they also seem to never go away.

Local lawmakers are hoping to change that sluggish timing with new legislation.

On Thursday, Manhattan lawmakers unveiled a package of bills for the City Council, hoping to bring down the structures faster while also penalizing building owners who keep them up too long.

What You Need To Know

  • On Thursday lawmakers introduced legislation at getting the pesky green sheds removed faster and more efficiently

  • One lawmaker noted that Manhattan has the most scaffolding of the city with over 4,000 sheds, that stay up an average of over 400 days

  • Package of legislation would fine building owners that don't get work done on their building in a timely fashion, reform the design of scaffolding and look to allow alternatives like nets to be used when appropriate

“Off with the sheds! New Yorkers deserve sunlight and to not be buried under endless scaffolding in this city,” Manhattan Councilman Keith Powers said, one of the prime sponsors of the package of bills.

Among the bills would be one that allows scaffolding to be different colors to blend in with the exterior of buildings; another that would fine building owners who fail to complete work within a timely manner; another that would require property owners to get permits within six months of placing up scaffolding or face a fine.

Lawmakers say the issue is most prevalent in Manhattan with over 4,000 sheds — with the average shed staying up over 400 days.

“They say that over 280 miles of sidewalk are covered by a sidewalk shed in New York. That is not something you see in other cities around the world,” Manhattan Councilman Erik Bottcher said.

One of the biggest offenders is the city, representing about 10% of the scaffolds overall.

“Scaffolding stays up even longer on city-owned buildings, longer than it does on the private buildings. And that’s unacceptable we should be setting the standard,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said.

Scaffolds weren’t always a city staple. They became required under local law in 1980 under Mayor Ed Koch after a Barnard College student was killed when a piece of terra cotta fell on top of her.

The law required inspections of facades every five years which overtime has turned into building owners keeping the structures up in-between inspections.

“We need to remove these unsightly sheds in a timely manner. Do it in a way that is also safe. These sheds are impeding people’s ability to get from one corner to the next. They’re attracting congregate sites, they’re not well lit,” Councilman Shaun Abreu said.

Other parts of the package look to address public safety issues associated with the sheds, like increased lighting, higher minimum heights around playgrounds and open spaces.

One bill would allow for drones to be used in addition to physical inspections. One other bill that would serve as a last resort of enforcement would allow the city to finish work on a building if an owner refuses and bill them later.

Lawmakers say the plan is in the early stages as cooperation from city agencies, especially the Department of Buildings and City Hall, will be necessary to get some reforms passed into law.