Walking on the sidewalks of New York can be tough; you need to maneuver through streams of pedestrians chatting away on their cell phones, many walking right at you from the opposite direction, and you need to be focused on what’s in front of you.
After all, many of the buildings in New York are old, and through the years there have been numerous cases of debris falling from deteriorated facades—damaging cars, injuring—and in some cases even killing—passers-by.
For those reasons, New York City enforces a number of façade-related regulations. The most important of these is Local Law 11 of 1998, which mandates regular inspections of building facades to make sure they’re in good shape. There are approximately 12,500 city buildings subject to the inspection requirements of Local Law 11.
A Little History
To understand Local Law 11, says Alan Epstein, a licensed professional engineer, attorney and president of Manhattan-based Epstein Engineering PC, you need to first look at its predecessor, Local Law 10 of 1980. LL 10 was New York City's initial façade inspection law. It was signed into law by then-Mayor Edward Koch on February 21, 1980 and was praised for what it did.
“It was enacted in the aftermath of a tragic accident in which a very large piece of debris fell from the façade of a building, striking and killing a woman on the street,” Epstein says. “After that the City Council passed a law requiring the front façade (or street level facades) of buildings greater than six stories in height be inspected every five years visually by a licensed professional engineer or a registered architect.”