Emily Myers in Bricks & Bucks on December 20, 2023
The roll-out of the city’s garage inspection program has just been accelerated. The city has posted a new deadline that requires all buildings with garages to complete an initial safety inspection of the structure by b.
“That is very impactful for any garage owner, especially if they budgeted for inspections and repairs according to the original submission deadlines,” says Prabhu Perumalsamy, principal of the architectural and engineering consulting and design firm O&S Associates. Publicly available data suggests 1,174 garages or around a quarter of the city’s 4,456 parking structures are within co-ops or condos.
The Department of Buildings (DOB) says this is not the same type of report as those with the December 31st deadline. “What is due in August is an initial observation report, which is less comprehensive,” says David Maggiotto, DOB’s deputy press secretary. However, if any unsafe conditions are found DOB needs to be informed immediately. “The owner has to either put in shoring, close off the area or add any other protection the engineer specifies to maintain the safety of the structure,” Perumalsamy says. The new deadline for the one-time report is an attempt to get all garage owners to look into the structural condition of their parking facilities. It was prompted by the fatal collapse of a parking garage on Anne Street in Lower Manhattan earlier in the year.
The city’s garage inspection program requires owners to hire an engineer to inspect parking structures and file a condition assessment report with DOB at least once every six years. Different parts of the city have different deadlines for filing comprehensive parking reports. The deadline for lower Manhattan and the Upper West Side is days away, on December 31st, 2023. The filing deadline for garages in Upper Manhattan, the Upper East Side and Brooklyn is December 31st, 2025. Owners in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island must file reports by December 31st, 2027.
The existing timeline for engineering reports is unchanged but the new inspection requirement adds an additional one-time initial observation report for approximately 3,000 parking structures with comprehensive report deadlines beyond 2023. Hundreds of co-ops and condos are likely affected. The new report must be created under the supervision of a qualified parking structure inspector (QPSI) and must include an assessment of the parking structure, as well as an observation checklist for the owner.
According to DOB data, only about 10% of the 1,023 parking structures with a deadline of December 31st 2023 have filed reports. “Our hope is that we continue to receive parking structure inspection reports leading up to that deadline,” Maggiotto says.
The penalty for late filing of a mandated parking structure inspection report is a civil penalty of $1,000 a month, for 12 months. If an owner fails to file a report for 12 months, an additional $5,000 penalty will be issued, taking the total penalty to $17,000.
The accelerated time frame for inspections raises the question of whether there are enough QPSIs to complete the work. There are about 100 registered parking structure inspectors in the city. DOB says the ratio of parking structures to qualified inspectors is smaller than the ratio of building facades to qualified exterior wall inspectors. While they are confident the work can be done on time, they are encouraging licensed engineers interested in qualifying as parking structure inspectors to submit an application to DOB.
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