New York City Council members feeling the heat from thousands of angry co-op and condo owners are urging state pols to OK tax breaks over a new “green” mandate that could cost more than $20,000 per unit.

The City Council had actually approved the mandate, the Climate Mobilization Emissions Law, in 2019 requiring residential buildings to initially curb their greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and ultimately by 80% by 2050.

But as the Big Apple’s already-financially-pressed residents flood members with complaints about how much more the regs will cost them, local pols are turning to Albany for help, seeking their approval on proposed related city tax breaks.

New York City co-op and condo owners have pushed their City Council members to urge state lawmakers to pass tax breaks over the new “green” mandates. Christopher Sadowski

The council and mayor have control over property-tax rates but not over the type of proposed breaks involved here, which must be approved by the legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The “green” edict’s cutbacks begin this year, with a co-op and condo advocacy group saying residents could face fines totaling $200 million in 2024 and $1 billion in penalties by 2030 for failing to make the required upgrades.

Building Department officials last week said they were staffing up to enforce the law, City Limits reported.

The mandate requires buildings with more than 25,000 square feet to replace their old heating-oil and natural-gas boilers and switch to electric heat to cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions.

Thirty-three council members signed two letters sent to state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie saying the mandate will require approximately 15,000 property owners to invest as much as a total of $15 billion in capital improvements by 2030.

“These costs will be particularly difficult for residential buildings as NYSERDA [the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority] estimates that the upfront cost of retrofitting a larger multifamily building in New York City can surpass $20,000 per unit, with only limited annual energy cost savings,” said a Feb. 21 letter drafted by council Finance Committee Chairman Justin Brannan and signed by 23 others.

“Facing this reality, more tools will be needed to help building owners make these investments,” the missive said. “Indeed, we hear from many property owners in our districts who are currently unable to afford such improvements.  

“This is particularly true for residential buildings including residents of affordable cooperative and condominium buildings, many of whom will bear these costs in the form of higher maintenance fees.”

A separate similar letter co-signed by nine members of the council’s bipartisan Common Sense Caucus was also sent to the legislative leaders.

The council members urged passage of a measure drafted by state Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblyman Ed Braunstein — the proposed GREEN Buildings Act — which would require the city provide tax abatements to co-op owners for up to 10 years to help alleviate the costs of the green retrofitting to electrify their buildings.

“We believe that an abatement and exemption can be crafted to target the property owners who need the most assistance,” Brannan and the other council members said in their letters. “The combination of these benefits will make it more affordable for building owners to make the investments needed to reduce their emissions, improve local air quality, and decarbonize.

“This will be especially helpful for the many residential buildings in disadvantaged communities that are most heavily impacted by upcoming penalties.

The mandate will require buildings over 25,000 square feet to replace heating-oil and natural-gas boilers with electric heat.
The mandate will require buildings over 25,000 square feet to replace heating-oil and natural-gas boilers with electric heat. Shutterstock

“This legislation will deliver clear wins for our environment, our economy, and our constituents. We hope you will consider passing it as quickly as possible so together we can achieve New York City and State climate goals.”

The council members emphasized that the mandate to decarbonize buildings falls in the line with the New York State Climate Leadership and Protection Act 

But one co-op owner, Jane Menton of Sunnyside Towers in Queens, said the council is part of the problem by passing an unworkable law. She said the council should amend its own law to take the burden off co-op and condo apartment owners.

“The state didn’t pass the law. The federal government didn’t pass the law. The city passed the law,” Menton said.

“They’re trying to protect the law. They’re trying to have it both ways. It’s unfortunate because the law is unworkable. They are not doing their part to make the law workable,” Menton said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams last month said he would consider giving middle-class co-op and condo owners a property-tax rebate to help ease the costs of the building upgrades.

Queens Councilman Vickie Paladino has proposed a “mend it, not end it”  bill in the council which seeks to delay the enactment of the law for seven years. She has not yet garnered majority support to pass it.

Source link