New York City is implementing a stricter inspection rule for parking garages to prevent potential structural failures. The move move comes in response to the partial collapse of a parking garage in Lower Manhattan earlier this year that killed the garage’s manager and injured several others.
The new rule requires that engineers complete an initial visual inspection, in addition to completing the more in-depth condition assessment required every six years under current law.
The Lower Manhattan parking garage in the collapse, located on Ann St., would have been required to find a certified engineer and submit its full engineering report by Dec. 31 under the current law. The collapse led the city to shut down at least seven sites it considered unsafe.
“The new regulations will get qualified individuals looking at more of the over 4,000 parking structures in the City on an accelerated timeline, helping us identify potential structural issues before disaster strikes,” a DOB spokesman says.
New York City data indicates that many parking garage owners have still not filed their inspection reports, which are due by the end of the year for structures located in Manhattan's Upper West Side and south of Central Park. Of the 95 parking garages that have submitted reports so far city-wide, 41 have been marked safe, 18 as SREM (safe with repairs or engineering monitoring) and 36 as unsafe.
Garages in the rest of Manhattan and Brooklyn have until the end of 2025 and owners of the nearly 2,000 garages in Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island have until the end of 2027. For those groups, the initial visual inspections of the parking garages must be complete by August 2024.
By 2027, all of the 4,000 parking structures will have to have completed a full engineering inspection under the PIPS program, the spokesman says.
The new inspection program mandates parking garage owners to hire private engineers registered as Qualified Parking Structure Inspectors (QPSI) to inspect their parking structures, the DOB spokesman said. As of Oct. 23, there were approximately 85 individuals registered as QPSIs in the city, according to the spokesman. By November the agency expects to have about 100 QPSI registered.
Any licensed engineers with three years of structural engineering experience and knowledge of parking structures who wish to register as a QPSI are encouraged to submit an application to the DOB.
“The Department does not have any concerns about the number of QPSI currently working in the city or their ability to file the newly required assessment reports by the Aug. 1, 2024 deadline,” the spokesman says.
The NYC DOB’s periodic inspection for parking structures (PIPS) program launched on Jan. 1, 2022. The new rule that will go into effect in November will be implemented as part of the department’s 2022 NYC Construction Code revision process. The proposed rule change was first announced at a public hearing in August after the Ann St. collapse.
The new rule does not remove or change the existing timeline for the PIPS program’s requirement for submitting an engineering report.
The observation reports must include visual assessments of the parking structures and a future checklist that can be used by the property owner during their required annual inspections, another existing PIPS program requirement the statement said. If the inspector finds unsafe conditions during their observation, they are required to immediately notify the DOB.
NYC DOB's investigation of the Ann St. parking structure collapse is still ongoing.