NYC’s Local Law 97 is a threat to affordable housing

The bozos who run our city came up with a new way to make New Yorkers hesitant about moving to Florida take the plunge:

Freeze ‘em out.

Among the disastrous effects of the folly called Local Law 97, which requires most apartment buildings to change their heating systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is that electric heat  – the city’s preference – doesn’t  work as well as boilers that burn fossil fuels.

Bob Friedrich, board president of Glen Oaks Village in northeastern Queens, the city’s largest garden-apartment complex, warns that heat pumps for electrical systems “are only efficient for temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Below that they become less efficient to heat a home.”

In other words, he said, “Get out the heavy coat and gloves.”

The law to take effect at the end of the year can only drive more middle- and working-class homeowners owners out of town. Friedrich calls it “insane.”

Residents of Glen Oaks Village and the Bay Terrace Cooperative, both in Queens, face staggering future costs for “environmental” overhauls.

The loony law spells financial ruin for many of the city’s 3,700 co-op and condo buildings, which are home to  800,000 apartments. It  requires buildings with more than 25,000 square feet to either switch to electric heat or replace their boilers so as to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Warren Schreiber, board president of Glen Oaks for twenty-five years, said, “I’ve never had an issue that actually kept me awake at night.”

The new law, signed on Earth Day in 2019 by Bill De Blasio, won't impact the former mayor's Brooklyn property portfolio.
The new law, signed on Earth Day in 2019 by Bill De Blasio, won’t impact the former mayor’s Brooklyn property portfolio.
John Roca

Unlike at rental apartment towers owned by real estate companies with substantial revenue bases, the costs of heating conversions in co-ops and condos will be borne by individual shareholders and owners either as assessments or whopping hikes in monthly maintenance costs.

But do it, the city demands — or face gargantuan fines. The Real Estate Board of New York estimates that affected buildings would face more than $200 million in penalties if they can’t comply with the changes, rising to $900 million by 2030 when emission rules would be even tougher.  

Climate change might well be occurring albeit much more slowly than New York Times panic-pushers want us to believe. But that we must freeze their patooties off to stave off a strictly theoretical climatic holocaust belongs to the Sci-Fi Channel.

Building managements, including at the Upper East Side high-rise where I live, are all grappling with the law’s ramifications.

But the most pain will be felt by residents of modestly-priced buildings that do not have large reserve funds or other resources to pay for the “woke” diktats.

At  the 200-unit Bay Terrace complex in  Bayside, Queens, Schreiber said,  “We don’t know how we’re going to pay for this.”

He can’t even figure out what steps would put the complex in compliance because the rules are too dense to follow.

To go all-electric would cost Bay Terrace $3 million for heat pumps alone, he said, in addition to myriad other expenses needed for conversion.

Shareholders would pay huge assessments or a 30 percent hike in monthly maintenance. Schreiber noted, “We don’t have million-dollar luxury units like in Manhattan. We are a middle-income and working-class co-op. We have lots of teachers, civil servants, single-parent households and senior citizens.

"The city is out of control," said Robert Friedrich, board president of the Glen Oaks Village co-op on Union Turnpike in Queens.
“The city is out of control,” said Robert Friedrich, board president of the Glen Oaks Village co-op on Union Turnpike in Queens.
William C Lopez

“Many seniors would have to downsize” to smaller units to afford to stay.

At sprawling Glen Oaks, home to over 10,000 residents in 134 buildings. “We have 96 boilers” that would all have to be replaced, Friedrich said. “We’d have to spend $24.5 million for new boilers we don’t need.

“Even if we put in the most efficient boilers,” he said, the fines would be a little less but “would not go away” entirely because emission-reduction thresholds are impossible to meet without switching to an electric system.

“I’ve been the board president for 25 years and never had an issue that actually kept me awake at night.”

Warren Schreiber, board president, Bay Terrace Co-op

But “switching to electric  would cost $35 million and saddle our working-class homeowners with the highest electrical rates in the country,” Friedrich said. He called it “the largest unfunded mandate the city ever imposed on their constituents.”

If Glen Oaks made no changes at all,  “We’re facing $1.1 million in fines every year,” Friedrich said.

The law was passed by the City Council and signed by former mayor Bill de Blasio with hoopla on April 22, 2019 — Earth Day. Happily for de Blasio, the two  buildings he owns in Brooklyn are too small to require the changes.

While the middle class gets screwed, lower-income housing such as the city’s own slum empire of NYCHA unsurprisingly get big breaks on deadlines and implementation.

A coalition of co-op and condo leaders is suing to block  the new law and some Council members introduced a bill to delay it.

 But get ready to bundle up.