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Council bill will ruin affordable co-op and condo housing

If you live in a co-op or condominium and are an owner or renter, hold on to your wallets because the City Council has a bill poised to create financial havoc in the co-op and condo communities. Intro. 967, sponsored by Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) (“Gennaro pushes to make city green with jobs,” Fresh Meadows Times, July 16) will require significant spending in the tight budgets of co-ops and condos. Although Gennaro says he is working on the language to mitigate its effect on co-ops and condos, the only acceptable fix is to eliminate them from the legislation.

Intro. 967 would require all large buildings, including co-ops and condos, to undergo periodic energy audits. These audits are not cheap and if one finds your building is not energy efficient and can be modified to save energy, you will have no choice but to do so. The goals are worthy, but what about costi If you do not have $5 million lying around to replace old windows or boilers in your building, the obscure city Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability will require you to finance the project.

These decisions are best made by an elected board of directors that knows its buildings, budgets and shareholders. A board may have other priorities for its shareholders’ money, such as sidewalks, handicap ramps, driveways, elevators, roofs or lobby renovations. Under Intro. 967, these board decisions will be superseded by some city bureaucrat who does not live in your co-op and will not be paying the assessment or maintenance charges required to pay for the project that he has determined your co-op should be required to pay.

Intro. 967 would allow buildings to apply for a one-year waiver, but to be eligible, they must first meet the definition of a “financially distressed” building. Surely that moniker will not help with sales and property values and perhaps do even more damage than the actual spending of funds you do not have. If the board believes the project is unaffordable given its limited resources, the OLTPS can force your building to take out a loan to finance the project or assess your shareholders. The determination of affordability will no longer be made by an elected board of directors, but by this city agency.

Unfunded mandates, which were once the bane of local municipalities, are now spreading to the city residential housing stock. City legislators — many of whom have never stepped inside a co-op — are offering up a devastating bill in a green veneer that has red all over and will wreak financial havoc on co-ops by mandating huge expenditures for green projects.

This bill is everything that is wrong with politics in New York today. Council members, many with limited understanding of cooperative housing, believe they are in a better position than duly elected boards to manage co-op financing.

We are determined to fight this legislation and protect our co-ops and shareholders. Intro. 967 threatens to destroy affordable co-op housing through its budget-busting edicts — compromising a co-op’s ability to keep maintenance affordable and commensurate with shareholders’ ability to pay. It will challenge fiscally prudent co-ops’ ability to maintain sound debt levels.

Cooperative housing is the last bastion of affordable housing in the city and this bill will kill the goose that laid the golden egg in the name of a green and clean environment.

Bob Friedrich

President, Glen Oaks Village

City Council Candidate

Bob Ricken

President

North Shore Towers

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