City Council caps emissions at many rent-stabilized buildings

Bill subjects properties with 35% or fewer regulated units to Local Law 97

New York /
Oct.October 29, 2020 01:45 PM
Costa Constantinides and REBNY's Jim Whelan (Photos via Facebook, VoteCosta)

Costa Constantinides and REBNY’s Jim Whelan (Photos via Facebook, VoteCosta)

The exemption for rent-regulated buildings from the city’s emission caps is about to end for some of them.

The City Council on Thursday voted in favor of a bill that subjects certain rent-regulated buildings to the requirements of Local Law 97, which imposes heavy fines on buildings that contribute too much to global warming.

The year-old law aims to cut citywide greenhouse-gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. The new measure, sponsored by Queens Democrat Costa Constantinides, would tweak the law to include buildings where up to 35 percent of units are rent-regulated. But it would give them two more years to comply than buildings already covered by the law have.

The original law carved out buildings with at least one rent-regulated apartment, instead subjecting them to less stringent energy conservation reporting requirements. The blanket exemption of rent-regulated apartments largely sprung from concern that landlords would hike regulated rents to pay for green retrofits through the state’s Major Capital Improvements program.

But last year, as part of a major overhaul of rent regulation, the state limited such rent hikes to properties where more than 35 percent of the apartments are rent-regulated. That freed the City Council to extend emission caps to under-35-percent buildings without triggering rent increases for their regulated units.

The latest version of Constantinides’ bill, released this week, gives those buildings until January 1, 2026, to meet their emissions cap and then until May 1, 2027, to submit an initial report documenting their compliance.

“Our work today will help New Yorkers get back to work in good jobs that make our air cleaner, kick-start the renewable energy revolution, and chart a course to a brighter, greener, safer future,” Constantinides said in a statement.

The measure does not address the real estate industry’s primary complaint about Local Law 97: that it penalizes owners with densely occupied buildings. The Real Estate Board of New York said this week that though it backs “practical measures to limit carbon emissions and stop climate change,” it isn’t clear that Constantinides measure will meaningfully reduce carbon emissions.

“The city has not done the analysis to identify how many buildings will be impacted or even where these buildings are located. It has no solutions as to how these critical goals will be accomplished,” the trade group’s president, James Whelan, said in a statement. “The city is setting owners up for failure, forcing them to pay fines instead of helping these cash-strapped, rent-regulated buildings invest in making environmental upgrades.”





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