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City Council Tightens Parking Garage Inspections with Trio of New Bills

New York City

Parking garage inspections, New York city council, co-op and condo boards, garage collapse.

One person died and four were injured when a parking garage collapsed in Downtown Manhattan in 2023.

May 24, 2024

One good turn deserves another. After tightening parking garage inspection rules in the wake of last year's deadly collapse of a garage in Downtown Manhattan, the New York City Council has passed three bills that further tighten the screws on garage owners, including co-op and condo boards.

All three bills were approved by wide margins, despite receiving lukewarm comments from the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) commissioner at a city council hearing late last month, Gothamist reports. They now head to Mayor Eric Adams’ office for review.

The three bills build on a law first passed in 2021 — before the deadly collapse — and then tightened after the collapse. The first bill would require the DOB to conduct a load-bearing capacity study for parking garages, assess buildings’ integrity, and submit any findings to the mayor, the city council and the public. Another would double civil penalties for certain safety violations related to parking structures, while the third would amend a 2021 law to increase the frequency of inspecting them from once every six years to once every four years. The latter bill would take effect in 2028, after the initial six-year inspection period.

“It’s the government's responsibility to guarantee the integrity of the infrastructure that shapes our communities, and that certainly includes parking structures,” says Crystal Hudson, the Brooklyn Democrat who sponsored the measure. "Last year's tragedy was preventable, and hopefully this bill will prevent future tragedies from occurring."

The 2021 law requires safety inspections at every New York City parking garage, with deadlines set by borough. Structures south of Central Park and on the Upper West Side were due for an inspection by the end of last year, while garages in the rest of Manhattan and Brooklyn have until the end of 2025 to comply. Garage owners in the rest of the city have until the end of 2027.

But it is the first of the three new measures, the one requiring the DOB to conduct load-bearing capacity studies, that is most troublesome for the agency. Testifying at a city council hearing last month, DOB Commissioner James Oddo said: “While the department is supportive of the intent of this legislation, it does not have the capacity to perform the comprehensive study being proposed in-house, given the various factors that must be taken into consideration in order to complete the study.”

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