New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

NYC MAYOR'S RACE 2021: ERIC ADAMS

NYC Mayor's Race 2021: Eric Adams

Habitat, the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums and the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council interviewed New York City mayoral candidates about their thoughts on issues facing the co-op and condo community. These interviews were conducted prior to the June 2021 primary.

Geoffrey Mazel:

Good morning. My name is Geoffrey Mazel and we are thrilled this morning to be with mayoral candidate Eric Adams. As you can see from his background – that is not virtual – he's a very hardworking man and a very busy man these days. And we thank you for joining us. I am a co-op attorney and a legal advisor to the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council, whose members represent over a hundred thousand residents in New York City. 

It has been estimated that over a million New Yorkers live in a co-op or condo. We have a few questions for you that are of interest to these folks. First question, the burning question that everyone wants to know in our community: have you ever lived in a co-op? Have you ever served on a board of directors?

Eric Adams:

Yes, I have been on the co-op board, and I have lived in a co-op. Actually, the foundation of who I am today, believe it or not, is because of a co-op. I was able to save enough money. I was able to really invest. It helped me so much. My first co-op on Prospect Place, I remember the address: 425 Prospect Place. 

Geoffrey Mazel:

Oh, I used to represent them. I know the building; I know exactly where that is. 

Eric Adams:

You know, what's interesting is that that building became an anchor for the revitalization of that entire area. It was all working middle class, Brooklyn Heights New Yorkers. It dealt withe block association meetings. And so it really became an anchor. All co-ops and condos are the anchors of the city. 

Geoffrey Mazel:

I agree with you on that.

As mayor, you'll inherit a city that is on the leading edge of climate mobilization, but as we all know, it's an expensive proposition. Co-ops and condos are specifically included in the Climate Mobilization Act, while other forms of housing, including rental and NYCHA housing, are not included. Co-ops and condos need help to meet these ambitious carbon neutrality goals. What ideas do you have with respect to this end? 

Eric Adams:

No, we are often thoughtful around families, one- or two-family houses and helping them with rebates, abatements, and all sorts of ways to really help compensate for what we ask in the mandates we hand down; we rarely do it for our co-ops and condominiums. We need to rethink that. As I stated, they have been impacted disproportionately throughout the years. There should be funds set aside to help with some of these mandates that have been handed down with our co-ops and condominiums. I am open to doing that, to coming up with clear ways. It's a win-win: we're asking you to retrofit your buildings. Dealing with carbon emissions is good for our environment, and we should assist in the process of doing so we don't have an overburdened of unfunded mandates. 

Geoffrey Mazel:

Okay. I'm sure you're aware that for decades co-ops and condos have asked for the same tax treatment as other homeowners. New York City has the tax commission that is reviewing and has come up with suggestions. How will you, as mayor, address the issue of property tax reform?

Eric Adams:

In this space? I am not the choir. I helped write the song. I met with Martha Stark during the time she was going to put in this call to reform our unfair tax laws. I was going to do an amicus court brief, but because I was an elected, I was not allowed to do so. My home in Bedford-Stuyvesant is impacted by these unfair tax laws. I'm happy the lawsuit was put in place with Judge Lippman and Martha Stark, the former finance chair. What I am looking forward to do – I was hoping that they would hand down the mandate to the city, but they didn't. This is going to fall in the lap of the next mayor. I'm going to immediately put in place a binding committee to look at these tax laws and come up with real solutions to alleviate co-ops and condominiums and many of the property owners in poorer communities. Billionaires are not paying their share of taxes. And this is an unfair system and we're going to fairly look at it. Within the first year, we're going to come up with a real resolution to finally resolve this issue. 

Geoffrey Mazel:

And hopefully any committee formed will have representation from the co-op/condo community, because the current commission that Mr. de Blasio put together did not have any representation from the co-op/condo community.

Eric Adams:

Unacceptable.

Geoffrey Mazel:

That's what we said. Again, we're speaking about unfunded mandates. In addition to the Climate Mobilization Act, a large part of co-op and condo budgets go to building facade maintenance, elevator control, upgrades, fire safety, energy benchmarking, signage, et cetera. These are costly and competing requirements that have a significant impact on the cost of maintaining buildings. What will you do as mayor to help meet these multiple requirements and which mandates are particularly important to you and would you pursue?

Eric Adams:

Well, you have to always look at safety. Safety is crucial. You want a safe building and I believe you're seeing a lot of these mandates, because many people who are handing them down never really sat on a co-op board, never really saw the balance of making sure maintenance or common costs are held down so that you can keep the lights on. But I know it too well, as I stated, this is how I started out – the foundation of my living arrangements. And so I'm going to continue. As the mayor of the city, we're going to use real funds and say, as we hand down these mandates, how do we also help really supplement the cost of carrying out these mandates? These repairs are sometimes insurmountable for the co-ops and the condos throughout the city. We're not doing our share as a city, to help those who have stabilized this entire city of New York. And so the goal is to look at everything from elevator repairs, mandates around how you're repairing and retrofitting. In all of these areas I believe it is crucial that we play a role in using grants and funding coming from the city and leveraging the state to assist us in taking a part of the course that we are handing down to the co-ops and condominiums in the city. 

Geoffrey Mazel:

Okay. Last question. It's a little open-ended so feel free to embellish anything you would like to say to the one million co-op/condo residents in the city of New York, and hopefully many thousands of them will be watching this video at some point in time. 

Eric Adams:

Yes, the prerequisite to prosperity is public safety and justice. I am clear on that. For 22 years, I wore a bulletproof vest and stood on the street corners, protecting children and families. I'm watching the city that I loved and I turned around as a law enforcement officer, I'm watching a city slowly lose the quality of life that we have fought so hard to gain. And when you go to sell your co-op or condominium, there are two questions. People ask for the most part, how good are the schools? How safe is the area? If we have an unsafe city, it is going to not only impact on your physical being and the quality of life, but it's actually going to impact  your property value. I'm going to make sure our city does not go backwards. I'm going to make sure that you don't see the permanent, complete overrun of homelessness, dirty streets, the lack of city services, and align our agencies to function instead of being dysfunctional. This is an important time for me, and this is an important time for so many New Yorkers. We're going through a difficult moment. We've been there before. We've turned around the city then, and we've got to turn around now. Trust me, in two years, you're going to see a different city. That's going to improve the quality of life that we expect in the city. Thank you so much for having me on.

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