City Poised to Allow Buildings to Install Temporary Flood Barriers on Sidewalks

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Many buildings battered by superstorm Sandy have begun to consider installing flood doors, flood gates and other forms of flood barriers to prevent surging water from entering. Yet some New York cooperatives and condominiums, among others, have been stymied by the fact their buildings extend out to the property line — and so any flood barrier would have to be on a City-owned sidewalk. Local Law 109 / 2013 allows certain aspects of that, but the entirety of it now hinges on a pair of rule changes proposed by the City’s Department of Transportation.

Next month, the DOT will hold public hearings over new rules that will allow it to issue permits and revocable consents for the installation and maintenance of flood-mitigation systems on public streets and sidewalks. The rules also set requirements, including New York City Department of Buildings and New York City Fire Department approvals, and timeframes for installing and removing flood-barrier components during and after severe weather-related events.

Getting Your Footing

For example, your co-op or condo may want to install a flood-mitigation system that needs footings permanently installed at or below the sidewalk, to order to quickly install the main portions of your flood barrier in preparation of a what the DOT calls a “trigger event.” These include hurricanes, tropical storms or other severe weather events that the National Weather Service or the National Hurricane Center forecast to affect the City.

The rules will amend two sections of the Rules of the City of New YorkSection 2-10(e)(1) will require permits for the placement of all above-groundcomponents of a flood-mitigation system, andsection 2-10(e)(2) will require permits only for at or below-ground components that remain in place at all times in order to expedite installation of the above-ground system components.

Going the Distance

There’s a host of fine print in the proposed rule changes, such as that you can’t install component with 15 feet of a subway entrance, a bus stop, a newsstand or a fire hydrant, 14 feet of a mailbox, five feet of a café, bench or tree, and four feet of a street light or a parking meter, to name just a few examples. Condo and co-op boards will need professional assistance by both an attorney and an engineer or architect in order to know if it’s even worth seeking a permit.

The hearing will take place August 7 at 55 Water Street, Bid Room A, inManhattan. Anyone can comment submit comments to the DOT through the City of New York Rules website at; by email to; by to Michelle Craven, 55 Water Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10041; or by fax to her at 212-839-9685. You can speak in person for up to three minutes by first calling 212-839-6550. Disability accommodation and a sign-language interpreter are available if you contact the DOT by July 23, 2014. Read the proposal here.

The City’s Local Law 109 / 2013 allows flood-barrier footings to be installed flush with City sidewalks up to 12 inches from your property line.


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