Q&A: Assembling Peaceably

Q When is a Place of Assembly Permit required for the private common areas (for example a roof, lobby or basement) of a cooperative building? Particularly when those areas are used for many shareholders and residents to assemble for annual shareholders meetings or social events, such as viewing the fireworks from the roof?

—Common Area Man

A “As a matter of public safety, New York City requires a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PA) for all premises where the certificate indicates that 75 or more members of the public may gather indoors, or 200 or more may gather outdoors—for religious, recreational, educational, political or social purposes, to consume food or drink, or any similar group activities, according to NY Code § 27-254-5,” says Michelle Maratto, a managing partner at New York City-based firm Itkowitz PLLC. “So start by checking your building’s certificate of occupancy, which you can find on New York City's Department of Buildings' website.

“For example, if the certificate of operation for the co-op's indoor lobby notes that it can accommodate 525 people, a PA would be required for the lobby because the certificate indicates that 75 or more members of the public may gather indoors. Your building lobby quite likely already has a PA. Frankly, obtaining an initial PA is something the original sponsor should have already completed.

“The roof is another question. If the certificate of occupancy for that building does not

indicate that anyone is allowed on the roof, a PA could not be obtained. Moreover, in that case, the building should bar all legal emergency access to the roof. If the certificate of occupancy indicated that more than 200 people could be accommodated on the outdoor roof, then a PA would be required.

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