Understanding Local Law 11 means you need to trace back its roots to history. Before Local Law 11, there’s Local Law 10. In a way, you could say that Local Law 11 is a stricter and more stringent version of Local Law 10, but both laws cover one thing: tragedy prompted the making and passage of these façade safety bills.
In May of 1979, a piece of terracotta fell off from the 8th floor of a specific building on West 115th Street, killing a Barnard college student. Serving as a wake-up call and a starting point for building façade safety, then-Mayor Ed Koch immediately signed off Local Law 10 in just less than a year. Much like today’s Local Law 11, New York City still obliged taller-than-six building storeys to façade inspection but was more lax in its implementation given that only the street-facing façade was examined, until a series of unfortunate events happened again on December 1997.
After three months when the incidents happened, this served another catalyst for change since former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani pushed for stricter regulations on building façade safety in the form of Local Law 11 of 1998, or better known in its shorter moniker of Local Law 11/98. Just recently in 2014, another façade hazard happened involving a woman falling off when her balcony railing gave way—setting the scene for much restrictive requirements on Local Law 11’s appurtenances.
All these loopholes and oversights from Local Law 10 are the very reasons why New York City aimed for an upgrade on building façade safety.
For your better understanding as a design professional or potential resident in New York City, our engineers show you the apple-to-apple comparison of the before-and-after changes from Local Law 10 to 11:
- Inspection Procedure
- Local Law 10: long-range visual inspection using binoculars
- Local Law 11: short-range visual inspection of walls using scaffolding or any other observation platform configuration
- Façade Wall Inspection
- Local Law 10: inspection only on the front façade and lateral walls 25 feet away from the street
- Local Law 11: inspection on all four exterior walls and appurtenances, except walls that are 12” or less from the adjacent structure
- Façade Condition Reporting
- Local Law 10: two options including pass or fail
- Local Law 11: three options inclusive of safe, safe with a repair and maintenance program (SWARMP), or unsafe