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Scaffolding Reform Press Conference and Hearing

Today, the NYC Hospitality Alliance participated in a press conference and submitted testimony at a City Council hearing in support of a package of legislative proposals to reform scaffolding (sidewalk sheds) laws to help get them down sooner, and address other related issues. We have long advocated for scaffolding reform because of the negative affects it has when erected for long periods of time above restaurants and bars.

The following is a copy of the NYC Hospitality Alliance testimony:

The New York City Hospitality Alliance (The Alliance) is a not-for-profit association that represents thousands of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs across the five boroughs. We submit this testimony in support of scaffolding (sidewalk shed) reform. 

It's no secret that scaffolding plays an important role in protecting people from falling debris from building construction. But it's also no secret that when scaffolding is left up for extended periods of time -- often for many years -- it has a devastating impact on small businesses, ranging from a significant loss of sales that can also lead to a reduction of employee hours and layoffs, and has even been a contributing factor to some business closures. 

Years ago, The Alliance surveyed our membership, in partnership with the NYC Department of Small Business Services asking about the impact of scaffolding on their businesses. The responses showed when scaffolding is left up unnecessarily, it too often poses a significant and sometimes existential threat to our city’s restaurants and the jobs of New Yorkers. To sum it up, when scaffolding goes up, business goes down. 

Today, our concerns are compounded because of a potential policy we recently learned of in which the Department of Transportation may choose to prohibit outdoor dining under scaffolding, which it currently allows, restricting countless restaurants from offering alfresco dining for years on end because the miles and miles of scaffolding covering our city that stays up for so long. This policy would further harm restaurants and hurt the appearance and upkeep of the sidewalk because it is often the sidewalk café that keeps the scaffold covered sidewalk activated with people, ensuring it is more often cleaned, and deters unwanted/undesirable activity. We urge that today’s legislation adds a provision stating that a sidewalk café cannot be prohibited simply because scaffolding is present.

It is for these reasons that we support today’s package of legislation and urge the City or New York to take more steps to safely and more quickly get scaffolding down.

Thank you Mayor Adams’ administration including DOB Commissioner Oddo and Chief Public Realm Officer Liu, Manhattan Borough President Levine, Council Member Powers, Sanchez, Abreu, Botcher, Rivera, Stevens, Marte, and others for their leadership and support to reform scaffolding laws.