New inspection requirements for parking garages aim to enhance safety measures
New inspection guidelines have been implemented by the Department of Buildings (DOB) aimed at keeping structures safe and safeguarding against hazardous conditions.
"Please hire an engineer, please get us the report," said Yegal Shamash, the Department’s chief structural engineer and assistant commissioner at the Department of Buildings.
Shamash’s urgent message is for the owners of some Manhattan parking garages who have missed a recent deadline to provide inspection reports to the department.
This initiative falls under the Department's Periodic Inspection for Parking Structures (PIPS) program, with the first deadline occurring last December for garages in the Upper West Side, Lower, and Midtown Manhattan. Owners are required to hire a qualified inspector and submit reports to the DOB every six years. The program will include all garages by 2027.
While the department says the majority in the first group have complied, it has issued 400 civil penalties for failure to submit reports.
"So every month there’s a $1,000 a month civil penalty, and at the end of the year, there’s another $5,000 penalty," said Shamash.
Back in April of last year, a lower Manhattan parking garage collapsed killing one person and injuring others. On Wednesday, that structure has been removed. Shamash said the new PIPS reports may have prevented that. The inspection requirements aim to catch potential problems before incidents occur.
“Parking garages are open to the elements. They degrade faster than buildings that are enclosed that do not have cars driving in with salts and other corrosive elements,” said Shamash.
“It’s important that parking structures are inspected, it’s important that the owners do the maintenance on the parking structure to make sure that the general public is safe to enter a parking structure,” he added.
Recent submitted reports from the first Manhattan grouping revealed approximately 13% of structures are unsafe- some having issues such as cracking and deteriorating masonry.
Shamash highlighted that the majority of reports reviewed were deemed safe for use.
"About 87% is safe or what we call the middle ground, which is safe with engineering and repair monitoring," said Shamash
To facilitate public awareness, the DOB has developed an online mapping system where individuals can check the status of parking structures. Shamash encourages drivers to utilize this resource, stating, "Everyone driving around can go right on there, right on their cellphones, take a look at the parking structures, see if the report was submitted, see if it was inspected, and what’s the condition of the building."
He also added that for property owners, they too can utilize the department's website to find qualified structure inspectors and submit the required reports.