In 2018, former mayor Bill DeBlasio and the City Council passed Local Law 97. Praised as an environmental game changer that would lower climate change emissions of large buildings - which make up 72% of all emissions in New York City - the bill, which was passed quickly and with little understanding of what it would actually do, will start on January 1st, 2024. Steep fines and penalties will be applied to all violators, particularly after January 1st, 2030.
When Local Law 97 was originally written, it was promised by the authors that coops and condominiums would be exempt from the law. However, this was not the case when the law was passed.
If Local Law 97 isn't amended, the collateral damage that will occur to our middle-income coops and condominiums will be catastrophic. To quote an article on the subject in the New York Times from March 10th of this year:
Glen Oaks Village is a cooperative of more than 2,900 apartments in 134 low-rise buildings in northeastern Queens. With over 100 acres of manicured lawns and tidy brick houses, it has more in common with the suburbs of Long Island than the towers of Manhattan. To comply with Local Law 97, the co-op board plans to replace all 94 of its gas-and-oil boilers with more energy-efficient models. It could take between five and 10 years and cost around $24.5 million, said Bob Friedrich, the board president.
But even that investment will not be enough to avoid paying penalties of around $700,000 a year, starting in 2030, because the property would still produce too much pollution, he said.
"They are not looking at the real-life cost of this," Mr. Friedrich said, noting that the penalties would force the board to sharply increase maintenance fees.
"I'm terrified of it," said Arlene Bett, 60, a longtime resident who has paid off a small one-bedroom apartment in the complex but worries about her $500-a-month maintenance fee ballooning. "I will not be able to afford it, and there's no place cheaper," she said.
A greener option would be to replace the boilers with electric heat pumps, but that would cost close to $10 million more, Mr. Friedrich said.
In Council District 19, just a few of the places that would be most affected by Local Law 97 are Clearview Gardens, Bay Terrace, Cryder Point and Le Havre.
The City Council MUST amend Local Law 97 to address this situation. Otherwise, the law will bankrupt some of the most affordable housing and the main avenue to first-time homeownership in the city: moderate- and middle-income coops and condominiums.
The end result must include:
- A "carve-out" provision based upon income / property assessment.
- Financial assistance / subsidies from the City and/or State to retrofit with the best technology available, followed by a removal of penalties once the retrofit is completed.
- A mandatory transition for the large power generating plants in New York City (Con Edison, etc.) that still mostly rely on fossil fuels - hooking up buildings to the current grid will only increase the demand and will not end climate-change emissions whatsoever.