Government and Municipal Parking Garage and Structural Inspection Laws
Why does the government make parking garage and structural inspection laws?
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a well-known English proverb whose author and date are unknown, but has recently been attributed to Ben Franklin as making the phrase popular in modern America. In 1733 Franklin used the phrase in a letter after learning about the City of Philadelphia’s fire-prevention methods. His letter noted that preventing a fire is far easier, despite the need for forward-thinking, than rebuilding after one is.
Using this same logic, many municipalities and local governments have taken a similar approach to parking garage maintenance and structural integrity. New laws are being enacted that focus on enforcing parking structure inspections and condition assessments by qualified engineering professionals. These new laws are intended to provide an “ounce of prevention” and offer parking structure owners, occupiers, investors, and the local community a “pound of cure” to reduce potential garage collapses.
Preventing Collapse and Saving Lives
Recently, New York City instituted a new parking inspection law. Modeled after the 2018 State of New York parking inspection law (Section 1202.4 of Title 19 NYCRR), the City of New York has revised NYC Construction Codes §28-323 and RCNY §103-13 to keep buildings, local communities and parking structure end-users safe.
Launched on January 1, 2022, owners of parking structures must now hire a New York State licensed and registered professional engineer (Qualified Parking Structure Inspector) to inspect the parking structure and file a condition assessment report with the New York City Department of Buildings at least once every six years.
With the recent parking structure and concrete building collapses that occurred in Baltimore, Boston, and Miami, the City of New York is seeking to prevent any potential risk to life, commercial property, or personal belongings with this new law.
Structural Inspection Laws: Here to Stay
While New York City’s parking garage inspection law is new, these types of laws have been increasingly studied and implemented across North America. For example, the City of New York modeled their law after the State of New York enacted theirs in 2018 after a series of collapses. The province of Quebec, Canada, with its long winters and low temperatures, has enacted a parking inspection and maintenance law to ensure multi-story parking structures do not risk structural integrity since they are subjected to the effects of the freeze-thaw cycle, de-icing salt and abrasives. And in light of the 2021 Surfside condo collapse, Kansas City, Missouri is considering enacting preventative measures to ensure owners and occupiers are safe.
And while these laws have just recently been enacted, it’s important to keep enforcement. According to the Miami Herald, in 2008, the State of Florida approved a strict inspection regime for the state’s aging stock of concrete high-rise condos. The rule didn’t last long, and just two years later, amid a concerted pushback from condo lawyers and property managers, Florida repealed the law, citing a need for “cost savings” for condo associations and unit owners reluctant to pay for inspections and any resulting repairs. Since 2010, there have been a number of fatal collapses that may have had the ability to be prevented with enforced inspection laws, including the Surfside condo incident.
Listing these examples is not intended to cause fear, but to demonstrate the need to perform these necessary preventative actions. If you are a parking structure owner or owner’s representative, we know you care about the tenants and community that your garage serves. We want to help you better serve them.
The process to get started may seem difficult, but StructureCare is here to help. As the nation’s leading structural engineering firm focused solely on maintaining the integrity of parking structures and garages, we are certified by both the City and the State to provide the required inspections necessary under this law.
Not heard of StructureCare yet? We are parking structure management with no hassles or surprises, here to help you when you need it most.