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City Council looks to slash Local Law 97 fines for co-ops, condos

A new bill before the City Council looks to dramatically reduce the fines for certain co-op and condo building owners who fail to comply with a landmark climate law seeking to restrict building emissions — and it’s gaining traction with a near majority backing the legislation.

Queens Councilwoman Linda Lee is pushing a bill that would soften penalties and emissions requirements for co-op and condo buildings that must comply with Local Law 97, which mandates buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to cut their greenhouse gas emissions with a series of escalating carbon caps. The proposal amounts to a significant rewrite of Local Law 97 that Lee’s office says would impact 10% of the 50,000 buildings covered by the climate law.

Under the bill, co-op and condo buildings would be able to count gardens and other green spaces as part of their square footage when calculating their emissions limits. The change would increase the amount of carbon those buildings are allowed to emit and effectively mean owners would need to spend less on carbon-cutting retrofits to comply with the law.

“Local Law 97 is great in terms of its intent, but I think where we need to work on it is, pragmatically, how is this going to get implemented and carried out on the ground, right?” Lee told Crain’s, adding that her eastern Queens district has the largest number of co-ops and condos in the city. “I think, practically speaking, it set a really high bar that really could impact people financially in a negative way.”

The influential Real Estate Board of New York also supports the bill.

Mayor Eric Adams’ administration, meanwhile, has been lukewarm on the measure. City Hall declined to comment, but the Department of Buildings told Crain’s it does not support Lee’s bill. Buildings Department spokesman David Maggiotto emphasized in a statement that “this administration is committed to fully enforcing our nation-leading climate law.”

Building owners who skirt Local Law 97 could face fines of $268 per ton of emissions over the limit — a penalty that for some properties could stack up to six figures or more annually. But that levy would be significantly lightened for co-ops and condos if Lee’s bill becomes law.

Lee’s bill would also require the Department of Buildings to consider adjusting emissions limits for co-ops and condos if they’ve taken certain steps to reduce their carbon footprints, such as converting from oil to gas or installing solar panels.

“Local Law 97 is building a cleaner future for New York,” said Eric Weltman, a senior organizer with Food & Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based NGO that advocates for climate-friendly policies. “The corporate real estate industry’s bald-faced effort to gut the law will only take our city backwards.” You can read more here

We are watching this topic very closely. We sell a lot of coops and condos. Local Law 97 in its current form is likely to induce large assessments for owners to comply. It's a hot button issue in NYC and we will continue to keep you informed.  


Warm regards,

Stacey Froelich

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