City Comptroller Scott Stringer joined state Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside), Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and environmental advocates in Flushing on Monday to celebrate a newly passed law that modernizes and improves an incentive tax abatement program for green roofs.
“This bill does it all by modernizing the green roof tax credit and taking a stand for environmental justice,” Stringer said.
He and the others stood on the NewYork-Presbyterian Queens hospital campus by a building with a green roof. Fewer than 750 of the million-plus buildings in the city have the roofs, Emily Maxwell of the Nature Conservancy pointed out at the event.
Liu and Rozic carried the bills in their respective chambers, where they both passed. Gov. Cuomo gave his signature last Wednesday.
The legislation was inspired by a proposal crafted by Stringer and New York University School of Law Professor Danielle Spiegel-Feld, who attended Monday’s event. They suggested raising the tax abatement value in areas where green spaces are most needed from $5.25 to $15 per square foot. Thanks to the new bill — which also reauthorizes the program — the increase they proposed is now law. In non-priority areas, $5.25 is still the number.
According to Stringer’s office, each dollar spent on green roofs creates around $2 in benefits by making green space and stopping stormwater runoff.
“Every year, New York City gets pummeled by treacherous rainstorms,” the comptroller said. “And right now, most of that rain flows straight into the gutter, which swells our sewer system and often causes raw sewage to pour into our waterways.”
Excess stormwater runoff has been problematic in Flushing. Proponents say the new bill will help bring more green roofs to outer-borough communities where they are needed.
The original version of the tax credit program led to the roofs being built mostly in Manhattan, Rozic said.
“That’s really unfair for outerborough communities like our own,” the assemblywoman said, noting that Manhattan presently does not have the “sewage overflow issues like the ones we have out here in Queens.”
Overall, Rozic and the other speakers said the bill will go a long way in reducing costs for those who want to build green roofs.
“We want this program to be utilized,” said Liu, who served as city comptroller before Stringer. “And the incentives under this new law will be much more attractive for homeowners and property owners.”
Stringer said the de Blasio administration should raise the maximum it can abate under the tax credit from $1 million to $10 million.