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For Immediate Release
March 25, 2009

BUILDINGS COMMISSIONER ROBERT LIMANDRI LAUNCHES ANNUAL NO-PENALTY
RETAINING WALL INSPECTION PROGRAM

Participating Homeowners Can Call 3-1-1 to Request an Inspection and Will Not Be Issued Violations

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today launched the Department's annual No-Penalty Retaining Wall Inspection Program. Under this program, homeowners may call 3-1-1 to request an inspection of their retaining walls by a Buildings Inspector without penalty of violation. During the inspection, Building Inspectors will conduct visual examinations of retaining walls and record structural conditions such as bulging, displaced material, or leaning of the wall. If repair is needed or violating conditions that are not immediately unsafe are found on walls, the Buildings Department will defer issuing violations until June 1, 2009 to allow property owners time to take corrective action. If immediately-dangerous conditions are found upon inspection, the Buildings Department will take immediate action to force correction of the unsafe condition. This program will be offered today through Monday, June 1, 2009.

"Retaining walls can cause serious damage to the public and neighboring properties if they are not properly maintained," said Commissioner LiMandri. "This program is designed to encourage homeowners to check their walls and take action if they are unsafe. By simply calling 3-1-1, homeowners can have an inspector come out and assess their wall at no cost, potentially avoiding serious problems in the future."

Retaining walls are designed to hold back soil that would move to a more natural slope or incline if the wall was not in place. As temperatures rise and the seasons change, retaining walls can become particularly susceptible to deterioration which can put nearby buildings at risk. To strengthen oversight of these walls and improve safety, Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation in August 2008 requiring property owners to perform periodic inspections of their retaining walls every five years and submit reports on the stability of the wall to the Department.

Homeowners are required by law to maintain their walls in a safe condition. The inspection program was launched in 2005 to raise awareness about retaining wall maintenance following the collapse of a retaining wall above the Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan. In 2008, the Department inspected more than 85 retaining walls across the five boroughs as part of this program.

To learn more about the  retaining wall maintenance, visit the Department's website at www.nyc.gov/buildings.

New Yorkers are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to report non-compliant conditions or 9-1-1 to report emergencies at construction sites.

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Kate Lindquist (212) 566-3473

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