First, New York City’s powerful real estate interests got together and killed a pied-a-terre tax on wealthy absentee homeowners. Now those powerful interests have been joined by labor unions and co-op and condo advocates in a campaign to kill another controversial proposal: a bill before the city council that would mandate costly retrofits to reduce buildings’ carbon emissions.
The bill’s opponents have sent a letter to its sponsor, Queens Democrat Costa Constantinides, and several members of the committee he chairs, Crain’s reports. The signatories include the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums, the Rent Stabilization Association, the Real Estate Board of New York, the building-staff union 32BJ SEIU, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the United Association of Plumbers.
The letter levels two major objections to Intro. 1253, which Mayor Bill de Blasio and environmental groups hope to see passed by Earth Day, which is less than two weeks away. It opposes the bill's complex formulas for capping building emissions based on building class and size, arguing that by basing its limits on floor area, rather than use, it would penalize density. It also says that the measure would discourage businesses and institutions from maintaining extended hours, and that it exempts structures of under 25,000 square feet, thus obligating larger buildings to do all the labor of decreasing carbon output.
The letter also contends that the bill will be a burden on low- and middle-income co-ops. To alleviate some of this burden, the group proposes grading every building's efficiency on federal Energy Star standards, which account for differences in a structure's utilization of space.
Constantinides told Crain's he is receptive to tweaks to the bill – but not to downgrading its high standards for emissions reductions. He noted that the city, state and federal governments and private sector all offer an array of instruments for financing building retrofits and transitioning to renewable energy.
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