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Bloomberg pushes NYC building code revamp

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed major changes to New York City’s building code on Thursday, saying Hurricane Sandy showed that both commercial and residential properties needed additional safeguards to withstand severe weather.

At a news conference, Bloomberg unveiled the work of a task force that he and the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, convened after the storm. The task force is calling for some of the most significant building code revisions in years.

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“Sandy clearly underscored why we need to protect our buildings,” Bloomberg said in the lobby of a 520-unit residential cooperative in Long Island City, Queens, that had flooding from the East River in the hurricane. “We have to be able to withstand and recover quickly.”

“We learned a lot and we want to make sure we won’t forget those lessons,” he added.

The rules would require that doors and windows in new buildings be wind-resistant. They would mandate backup power so that stairwells and hallways are lighted during blackouts. They call for single-family homes to have control valves to prevent sewage backflow into basements.

The costs of the rules could vary widely but could reach into the millions of dollars for new commercial projects.

For now, the city will not require wide-ranging improvements to existing properties. Officials emphasized that the new rules would largely affect new construction and major renovation projects.

In his final months in office, Bloomberg is focusing on ensuring the city learns from the experience of Hurricane Sandy.

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