QNS and the Mayor’s Office are proud to present a weekly column in which Mayor Bill de Blasio answers your questions about issues that concern you the most. If you have a question about anything going on in the city, in your neighborhood, or on your block, we want to hear from you! Email us at editorial[@]qns.com and Mayor de Blasio will get you an answer!
#1 What are the homeowners’ responsibilities for maintaining their sidewalk, and what kind of penalties could they face if the city finds that their sidewalks are broken?
Unless a tree is the cause, it is the property owners’ responsibility to repair a damaged sidewalk. If damaged by a tree, a property owner can file a report with the Department of Transportation or 311 and the city will address the problem.
If a sidewalk is damaged, a property owner might be issued a violation. If you received a violation, you may take one of the following actions:
• If the defects marked on the violation don’t exist on your sidewalk, you should appeal the violation. If you can’t find the marked defects, then you may appeal the violation by requesting a reinspection within 45 days of the original inspection date. The re-inspection may be scheduled up to 45 days after you make the request.
• If you agree with the Notice of Violation, you should get a sidewalk construction permit and sidewalk contractor licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs. You can get more information about sidewalk repair and maintenance, including tips for hiring a contractor, at www.nyc.gov/sidewalks.
• If you do nothing, the city MAY hire private construction firms to make the repairs and bill you for the cost.
#2 There are individuals who sell used cars and park them on city streets rather than in driveways or lots. Are they allowed to do that? How can residents report illegal car sales on public streets?
A business that sells used cars, trucks and/or motorcycles must have a DCA Secondhand Auto Dealer license. Based on the State Vehicle and Traffic Law, a person that sells five or more vehicles in a calendar year and/or displays three or more vehicles for sale at the same time or within a calendar year and on their property, requires a license. It is illegal for Secondhand Auto Dealer to offer to sell vehicles parked partially or completely on the sidewalk or street. Curbstoning is the common term for the process of selling cars on the street without having a license from the city or state. New Yorkers should report curbstoning to the NYPD.
#3 Could you explain the city’s grading system for restaurants and bars and why they’re important to consumers? How often are restaurants inspected and graded?
The Health Department conducts unannounced inspections of restaurants at least once a year. A restaurant’s score depends on how well it follows city and state food safety requirements. Inspectors check for compliance in food handling, food temperature, personal hygiene and vermin control. Each violation of a regulation gets a certain number of points. At the end of the inspection, the inspector totals the points, and this number is the restaurant’s inspection score — the lower the score, the better the grade.
The Health Department’s grading system not only represents effective and transparent public policy, but promotes a uniformly high standard regarding restaurant cleanliness and safety.