Brooklyn pols want building inspectors to use drones
by Benjamin Fang
Dec 26, 2019 | 764 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A group of city lawmakers is pushing two pieces of legislation to allow the use of drones for building inspections.

On Sunday, City Council members Justin Brannan, Robert Cornegy and Ben Kallos joined Borough President Eric Adams at City Hall to unveil the package of bills.

The announcement comes after Manhattan architect Erica Tishman was fatally struck by a falling piece of building facade while walking in Midtown.

After the deadly incident, reports surfaced that the Department of Buildings (DOB) had issued a violation to the building owners earlier this year. While the landlord paid the $1,250 fine, they never made the necessary repairs.

The agency ordered the installation of a sidewalk shed after Tishman’s death, according to lawmakers.

“Government in the 21st century can no longer be reactive, it must be proactive,” Adams said in a statement. “The horrific and preventable death of Erica Tishman this week was a tragic reminder that we need forward-thinking solutions and real-time governance strategies that ensure the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers.”

Adams added that the legislation he helped introduce will make building inspections more cost-effective, save building owners and the city millions of dollars, and help take down sidewalk sheds that stay up for years.

“Most importantly, it will keep New Yorkers safe,” he said.

One of the two bills would require that an initial drone inspection be conducted within 48 hours of a 311 complaint or DOB violations.

The other piece of legislation authorizes the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to use drones for initial facade inspections on NYCHA developments.

Under current city law, it’s illegal to fly drones in most areas in the city.

In addition to introducing the legislation, Adams and Brannan recently submitted a request to the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO) to produce a cost-benefit analysis of done inspections compared to traditional exterior building inspections, which includes the cost of scaffolding.

“The city of New York should be a world leader when it comes to incorporating the latest technologies as a means of creating efficiencies in government,” Brannan said in a statement. “Drone technology is an effective new tool for the toolkit for quicker and cheaper initial facade inspections that should save both lives and money.”

Cornegy, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, said in a statement that the local law governing unmanned aerial vehicles or drones is from 1948.

“No one could have imagined the technology that would be available to us 71 years ago or 21 years ago,” he said. “That’s why the legal changes we press for today are so important.

“As we continue to examine the precise failings that led to Erica Tishman’s death, this legislation will serve as part of crafting the measures that will bolster safety for New Yorkers,” Cornegy added. “Let that be part of how we honor Erica Tishman’s life.”
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