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Sides Battle Over City Scaffolding Regulations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A New York City councilman has declared war on building scaffolding, claiming landlords should be forced to take them down if no work is being done.

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) is seeking a new law that imposes a time limit of 90 days to fix a dangerous condition, with the possibility of a 90 day extension if needed.

"Sidewalk sheds are the guest that you invite to your home but never leaves," he tells CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer.

The City Department of Buildings says that only two percent of the city's scaffolding could be safely removed, and that most of it is necessary to protect pedestrians.

Kallos says residents have other safety concerns.

"They're concerned that it attracts homeless, who might sleep there for the night instead of being in a shelter. They are concerned about urine that collects under these sheds, and they also criminal activity," he said.

The scaffolding at 1772 2nd Avenue has been up for six years. Residents in the neighborhood are growing tired of the graffiti and pigeon droppings that have accumulated.

"Why is it there? It makes the street ugly," said one woman.

"I don't like it," added another man. "It's an eyesore."

Frank Ricci from the Rent Stabilization Association, a landlord group, defends keeping the scaffolding in place. He claims it's left up to keep pedestrians safe until landlords can get the money to make necessary repairs.

"If the sidewalk shed's not there and something falls off and someone gets hurt, we're all going to be very upset," he adds.

CBS2 reports that there are 7,700 buildings in the city with scaffolding, resulting in over 300 miles of street sheds.

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