A new bill introduced to the city council by two Queens Democrats would push back enforcement of Local Law 97 by a decade, part of an effort to protect middle-class co-ops and condos in the outer boroughs.
The legislation, Intro 1197, sponsored by Council Members Linda Lee and Sandra Ung, would reduce penalties for emissions in excess of pre-set limits for co-op and condo properties whose average per unit assessed value — a percentage of market value used to calculate property tax bills — is below $65,000. The bill, which has 12 co-sponsors, would eliminate those penalties entirely until 2036, a decade beyond what the original 2019 law prescribed. Afterwards, penalties would be halved for these properties until 2041, before being halved again until 2046.
“Local Law 97's current structure unintentionally jeopardizes the housing stability of many working and middle-class condo and co-op owners," Lee says in a statement. "Our bill will provide the necessary adjustments, acknowledging the past efforts of many co-ops and condos to reduce emissions and their use of open spaces to mitigate environmental impacts."
The bill comes just weeks after the Adams administration unveiled a second round of rules governing how the law will be implemented, most notably giving property owners a two-year break from penalties, until 2026, if they can demonstrate a “good faith effort” to decarbonize their properties. The rules lay out specific criteria for what constitutes such an effort.
The new bill would also change the formula for calculating a building’s emissions limits, allowing co-op and condo complexes to include outdoor open and green space when calculating the “gross floor area.” The change would effectively raise the emissions limits for these properties, as a building’s square footage is a major component of the formula, and thereby expose them to fewer financial penalties while allowing larger amounts of carbon emissions. This facet of the legislation is especially prized in many of the sprawling garden apartment complexes in eastern Queens.
Geoffrey Mazel, counsel for the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council adds, “We are not looking to dismiss Local Law 97 but to refine it. Many homeowners are under pressure to meet the city's sustainability mandates. This new legislation seeks a middle ground that upholds both environmental goals and homeowners' economic well-being."
Environmentalists dismissed the claim. “Linda Lee’s bill would raise pollution, destroy jobs, and increase utility bills by allowing building owners to skate away from upgrading energy [of] wasteful, polluting properties to high energy efficiency,” Pete Sikora, the climate campaigns director at New York Communities for Change, tells amNY. “The real estate lobby can spend all the money it wants to fear-monger about Local Law 97, but in real life the law’s pollution limits are fair, affordable, and achievable.”
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