Op-Ed
by Bob Friedrich & Bob Ricken
Jul 29, 2009 | 2406 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If you live in a co-op or condo and are an owner or renter, you better be holding on to your wallets because the City Council is at it again with a bill that is poised to create financial havoc in the co-op and condominium community.

Intro 967, sponsored by Councilman Jim Gennaro, will require significant spending in the tight budgets of co-ops and condos. Although Councilman Gennaro says he is working on the language to mitigate its affect on co-ops and condos, the only acceptable fix is to eliminate them from the legislation altogether.

Intro 967 would require that all large buildings, including co-ops and condos undergo periodic energy audits. These energy audits are not cheap, and if one finds that your building is not energy efficient and can be modified to save energy, you will have no choice but to do so. Sure, the goals are worthy, but what about cost?

If you don’t have a mere $5 million laying around to replace old windows or boilers in your building as outlined in your energy audit, the obscure Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability (OLTPS) 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, handicapped ramps, driveways, elevators, roofs, lobby renovations or pointing. Under Intro 967, these board decisions will be superseded by some city bureaucrat who of course does not live in your co-op and will not be paying the assessment or maintenance charges required to pay for the project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 do.

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 the “Financially Distressed” moniker won’t help with sales and property values and perhaps do even more damage than the actual spending of funds you don’t have! If the board feels the project is unaffordable given its limited resources, the OLPS 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 instead by this city agency, a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

Unfunded mandates which was once the bane of local municipalities is now spreading to the residential housing stock of our city. City legislators 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.

Bob Friedrich is President of Glen Oaks Village co-op and a candidate for the NY City Council from the 23rd Council District in Queens. Bob Ricken is President of North Shore Towers.
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