A city council hearing on legislation that would strengthen restriction on condominium conversion drew 250 people, all but a few angry with the plan, to City Hall Wednesday night.
The opponents--condominium owners, developers and some tenants--said they objected to provisions of the plans that would prevent tenants from purchasing their apartments as condominiums.
The new bill, which was proposed by city councilor David Sullivan, would amend the city's controversial limits on condo conversion by requiring tenants who wish to buy their apartments to obtain a hard-to-get permit from the city. Tenants who have been living in their apartments since before August 1979--when the original ordinance was adopted--are currently allowed to purchase their homes.
The amendments, which will be considered this spring by the council, would also change the "point of violation" from the occupation of a converted condo unit to the sale of an apartment for conversion purposes and make the required permits even tougher to get than under current law.
The crowd of 250" is the most angry I've seen since at City Hall since rent control was first mentioned 11 years ago." William J. Walsh, an attorney for city developers and an advocate of unlimited condo conversion, said yesterday. "The people are furious; you can't take the rights of home ownership away from tenants," he added.
Sullivan, who called the Wednesday hearing "a real conservative revival meeting," said the changes in the law were necessary to prevent the loss of rental housing and to protect elderly tenants from harrassment by developers wanting them to buy their units.
Not allowing tenants to purchase their apartments would "remove the speculative pressure on rental housing." Sullivan said, adding that under the ordinance tenants would still be able to buy their homes as a "limited equity cooperative." providing them with security but not the chance to make an "enormous" profit by reselling the condominium.
"I realize that some tenants may want to speculate, but I don't think it's in the long-term interest of the city." Sullivan added.