Bill Morris in Legal/Financial on July 29, 2022
The City of New York has asked the courts to toss out a lawsuit brought by co-op advocates that seeks to block implementation of Local Law 97, a key component of the Climate Mobilization Act. That 2019 law will fine buildings that fail to reduce their carbon emissions to prescribed levels, beginning in 2024, with a second round of fines in 2030.
In a 45-page memorandum of law filed Thursday in state Supreme Court, Sylvia Hinds-Radix, the city's corporation counsel, offered a five-point rebuttal of the plaintiffs' claims. Her conclusion: "Their complaint must be dismissed in its entirety."
The plaintiffs in the case are two Queens co-ops, Glen Oaks Village and Bay Terrace Section 1, and their respective board presidents, Bob Friedrich and Warren Schreiber. The two men also head the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council (PCCC), an influential lobbying group that represents more than 100,000 units of housing in their city. They're joined in the lawsuit by a limited liability company called 9-11 Maiden. The defendants are the City of New York, the Department of Buildings, and DOB Commissioner Eric Ulrich.
In her point-by-point rebuttal of the plaintiffs' claims, Hinds-Radix argues that Local Law 97 is not pre-empted by the state's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act; that it is not "unconstitutionally vague"; that it is not retroactive; that its penalties are not excessive; and that it does not impose a tax. The memo notes that fewer than 20% of the affected buildings are expected to face fines for exceeding their emissions limits during the first compliance round in 2024-2029.
Geoffrey Mazel, the counsel for the PCCC who is not involved in the lawsuit, says of the city's request for a dismissal: "In a case like this, the request is fairly standard and fully expected. If this case gets past the motion to dismiss, it will go to discovery and possibly to trial. And then anything could happen."
The plaintiffs are represented by the Park Avenue law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Randy Mastro, a member of the firm's team on the case, tells Habitat:"While we continue to review the city’s filing, we remain confident that the court will recognize the many fatal defects in this draconian law that will put so many small retailers and property owners out of business.”
The plaintiffs have until Sept. 30 to respond to the city's request for dismissal, and the city will then have until Oct. 28 to respond to the plaintiffs' response. The battle has been joined.
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