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New Bills: Curbing to Cutting Trees

by Courtney Gross, Sep 17, 2007

After approving the biggest rezoning plan in the city’s history at its stated meeting on September 10, several City Council members introduced legislation to take care of smaller, quality of life issues, such as regulating curb cuts, air conditioners and trees on construction sites.

Curbing Extra Curbing

Since 2004, Councilmember Vincent Gentile has introduced legislation twice calling for the restoration of curbs that have been illegally cut - which eliminate parking spots and allow cars to enter driveways - as well as for the notification of community boards when a construction project plans to propose one. Each time the legislation has stalled in the council’s transportation committee.

But he is trying again. Gentile, who represents Bay Ridge, often sees parking spots whither away as curb space is taken over by extra large driveways for particular residences, said his spokesman Eric Kuo. Under legislation introduced with Councilmember Domenic Recchia at the council’s stated meeting on September 10, (Intro 619), applications for curb cut permits to the Department of Buildings would have to be examined and forwarded to community boards for review.

" When someone does an illegal curb cut that takes away another parking space," said Kuo. "The intent is to get rid of illegal curb cuts. It's already been a big problem in our neighborhoods in Bay Ridge."

In companion legislation introduced by Gentile and Recchia, (Intro 620) residents could be fined for illegal curb cuts on their property. When illegal curb cuts are found, according to the bill, the Department of Transportation would require property owners to restore the curb or cover the cost for the department to do so. Kuo could not estimate how much the fines for such restoration would be.

According to the legislation, it is unclear how the transportation department would be notified of illegal curb cuts or how the restoration would be enforced. Kuo said they would work with the community and the council's transportation committee staff to work out the details.

Conditions for Air Conditioners

When residents of her Upper West Side district were reportedly ticketed for not using brackets to support air conditioners, Councilmember Gale Brewer introduced legislation that would clarify when brackets would be necessary.

The bill (Intro 618) requires brackets be installed when air conditioners cannot otherwise be safely attached to building facades. Because of new technology and updated units, brackets are often unnecessary.

Trees At Construction Sites

Councilmember Michael McMahon also introduced legislation (Intro 621) that mandates that trees larger than a six-inch diameter be protected during construction. When construction occurs on any building, curb, sidewalk or roadway a protective guard would have to be erected around the tree, under the new bill.


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