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For Immediate Release
April 1, 2010

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

Heavy Rainfall This Year Could Compromise Stability
of Retailing Walls

Homeowners Can Call 311 to Request a
Penalty-Free Inspection at No Cost

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today launched the Department's sixth-annual No-Penalty Retaining Wall Inspection Program. Under this program, homeowners may call 311 to request an inspection of their retaining wall without the penalty of violations. This annual program comes as New York City has experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall this year, which can compromise the stability of retaining walls. During an inspection, Department inspectors conduct visual examinations of retaining walls and record structural conditions, such as bulging, displaced material, or leaning of the wall. If repairs are needed, or violating conditions that are not immediately unsafe are found on these walls, the Department will defer issuing violations until May 31, 2010 to allow property owners time to take corrective action. If dangerous conditions are found upon inspection, the Department will take immediate action to force correction of the unsafe condition. This program is being offered today through Monday, May 31, 2010.
 
"With such heavy rainfall this year, the stability of retaining walls can be affected, and therefore, it is important for homeowners to examine their walls," said Commissioner LiMandri. "Just by calling 311, our inspectors will help property owners determine if their walls are secure without the threat of violation. I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of this free program so we can better protect our homes and each other."

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. Every homeowner is required by law to maintain their walls and their properties in a safe condition at all times.

To strengthen oversight of these walls and improve safety, Mayor Michael R. 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.

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. As part of this program, the Department inspected 88 retaining walls across the five boroughs in 2009.

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

New Yorkers are encouraged to call 311 to report non-compliant conditions or 911 to report emergencies at construction sites.

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Carly Sullivan (212) 566-3473

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