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NYC addresses must be clearly marked at all entrances under new law

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“For years, New York City's streets have been like something out of a Harry Potter book”

Joseph Buxbaum via Flickr

New York City is about to get a whole lot more navigable, thanks to a new law requiring landlords to post the address of a building near each entrance. It’s been a long time coming.

As Crain’s notes, the bill was first introduced 13 years ago by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who wanted to help ensure first responders could actually, you know, locate the people to whom they were responding. Given the current state of address markers, is not as simple as it sounds: Crain’s cites a 2010 study which found that “nearly half of buildings along several Manhattan commercial corridors did not have a building number visible from the street.” (This is also why you cannot find your doctor’s office.)

Right now, regulations only require landlords to post an address at “the front entrance,” which is arguably less than clear. Or as FDNY Battalion Chief John Sarrocco put it in testimony this past fall, “sometimes the front … may mean different things to different people.”

"For years, New York City's streets have been like something out of a Harry Potter book, with storefronts and whole buildings that are only easy to find if you already know where they are," Brewer said in a statement.

Introduced by City Council member Jumaane Williams, this latest version of the bill will change that: Per a release from Brewer, the new legislation “clarifies and enhances the rules for posting address numbers so that every building entrance used for day-to-day foot traffic must be clearly marked with an address number and legible from the sidewalk.” Violators will be subject to a $250 fine on the first instance, and $50 for each subsequent violation. The bill passed City Council yesterday and is now awaiting the mayor’s sign off.

There’s just one tiny caveat: it’s not altogether clear who’s going to enforce this new law, since the Bureau of Encroachments and Incumbrances — the agency tasked with enforcing the current law — no longer exists. Accordingly, Brewer “is suggesting other agencies take over,” Crain’s reports.