Local Law 97 hurts NYC middle class: Forcing homes to go all-electric or face steep fines is unfair and unjust

Let’s face it: New York City is a hard place to be middle class. Hardworking families have been pushed out for years thanks to little support from New York City government. The few avenues to secure homeownerships, including co-ops, have been demonized by the far left which is more interested in winning Twitter fights than helping New Yorkers. For those of us in Eastern Queens, Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Eastern Bronx, we care that we can continue to call our neighborhoods home, but recent extremism has made this American dream almost impossible.

The City Council has long hampered co-op and condo owners with excessive regulations and nonsensical policies. And next year they are imposing a new tax: Local Law 97. Since large buildings are the biggest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, the Council has decided to come down hard on property owners with crushing fines that do nothing for New Yorkers. They talk as if they are taking on big business, but instead they are attacking the middle class, including seniors, families, and all the hardworking people who are sick of being left behind. Our community is not the polluter that this law makes it out to be, and the slander needs to stop.

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My home of Glen Oaks Village is a garden co-op community with an average sale price under $400,000. Glen Oaks is not the billowing polluter they make us out to be. But we have to keep ourselves warm, and like most buildings across the city, we use gas boilers. For that, we will be heavily punished. How many other co-op and condominium owners will suffer from this tax?

Turns out, a lot. Some recent data from Level Infrastructure calculates the projected fines that buildings will face citywide, as well as district-by-district. In 2024, when the law takes effect, 3,780 buildings could face fines of up to $213 million.

To comply even partially, Glen Oaks would be required to spend $24 million replacing our boilers. Even if we were able to do so, we would still face fines of almost a million dollars. Without replacing them, the fines would reach almost $2 million annually. The rise in costs will come out of the pockets of the seniors and families and will drive people out of their homes. It’s unconscionable.


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And there’s more: of the $1.3 billion in fines that could be collected by 2040, none of it can be earmarked for green initiatives. Under New York law, the money collected must go into the city’s general fund.

Additionally, these forced upgrades will be powered by New York’s dirty electrical grid, meaning even those that comply will be fined for continuing to “contribute” to emissions. New York City will be fining people for using the grid — absolving themselves of responsibility and forcing New Yorkers to subsidize their bloated budget. What does an electric boiler matter if 90% of New York’s electrical grid is powered by fossil fuels? Where is the feasibility study showing the grid could even handle the electric demands required by LL97?

Even if the grid somehow goes green soon (it won’t), electrifying buildings is complicated and expensive. Many buildings will need major upgrades. They will have to tear out existing equipment and install new infrastructure like heat exchangers, which is costly and disruptive to residents. Finally, electricity is significantly more expensive than gas, so our operating costs will go up, adding to the burden. When you electrify all the buildings in the city, while putting pressure on vehicles to go electric, demand for electricity will explode, along with the cost. We cannot afford that, and it’s ludicrous to pass on these costs to New Yorkers.

But the biggest perversity? The city’s own buildings, including NYCHA, are exempt from these rules. The hypocrisy is a slap in the face to homeowners and anyone who cares about the environment. We should see this law for what it really is: a tax brought to you by big government run amok.

This must be stopped. The city needs to provide incentives, not punishments. If our gas boilers are so awful, offer a program to replace them, instead of passing on the costs to the middle class. If this law is so important, include city-owned buildings and NYCHA housing. We want to see these progressives put their money where their mouth is.

Co-op and condo residents have been repeatedly left behind. If our council members care about the condo and co-op residents across the city, including the first-generation homeowners, working families, and native New Yorkers, they need to help us out, or leave us out.

Friedrich is president of Glen Oaks Village in Queens.


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