Like some semi-permanent mole, a block-long sidewalk shed has smothered the Milford Plaza Hotel near Times Square for a staggering 23 years, the New York Post reports, as part of a scathing expose on the number of blue plywood structures and metal cages affixed to local buildings in the name of inspections or facade repairs. The Post crunches the numbers on the trend: Scaffolding equipment and construction sheds in the city hit a high in 2012, with over 8,000 of the unsightly structures gaining permission to attach themselves to buildings. The reason? City laws requiring more frequent facade inspections?one every five years for buildings over six stories?took effect after it was determined that loose bricks falling from aging exteriors posed a real safety threat to pedestrians. Ironically, even the Department of Buildings offices are shrouded in the light-blocking, sidewalk-obstructing stuff. It's not just about aesthetics and convenience; we too don't want anyone to get hurt by old stone crumbling off the city's older buildings. But so many of these scaffolding-using projects get stalled or are unduly lengthened because of inefficiency or bureaucracy?and the city is much, much uglier in the meantime.