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Lead bills focus of public hearing.

Two lead abatement proposals will be discussed in a public hearing before the Housing and Buildings Committee at the City Council beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9, in the Committee Room and both look onerous to the real estate industry.

Currently, under Local Law 1, as determined by a court decision, technically all lead must be completely abated.

Due to the tremendous costs and health risks involved with completely containing or removing all lead from apartments, the city and the real estate industry have been working to ameliorate and change the law while still protecting those people at risk.

John J. Gilbert III, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, said if the owners have apartments with children and peeling paint they face terrible liabilities until and when the City Council addresses the issues and changes the current Local Law One.

"My fear is that the hysteria generated by certain people will cloud the truth and the real issue and will force people to do things that don't make sense and lead to the loss of housing stock," he confided.

Dan Margulies, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), will be among those testifying at the public hearing on Friday. Other comments from the public are invited.

One measure that will come under City Council review is Local Law No. 553, introduced by Council Members Archie Spigner, Harrison and Rivera and is an administration bill, partially shaped by the Mayor's Task Force on Lead that included real estate industry leaders and Spigner.

The other measure, No. 377, has been introduced by Councilmembers Michels, Eldridge, Duane, Fields, Fisher, Freed and Maloney. Councilmember Stanley Michels was the original sponsor of the current Local Law One that requires total abatement of lead.

Under the new Michels proposal, the city could find a lead paint hazard on radiators, fire escapes and backyard walls and would include places where a child or children under six or a pregnant woman or women reside or spend a significant amount of time, such as a grandmother's pregnant of a friend's house.

If the building was erected prior to 1978, the Michels bill continues, "it shall bee presumed that the peeling substance contains... lead." This shall constitute a Class C immediately hazardous violation and the presumption "may be rebutted" by the owner of the dwelling.

In neighborhoods where more than .05 percent of children six years of age and under annually have blood levels equal to or greater than 20 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood inspections will be made of all apartments in the neighborhood.

"We're completely opposed to the Michels bill," said Margulies, a member of the Mayor's Task Force on Lead. Even the administration, he said, feels it is not properly targeted.

Because the bill looks for lead outside the apartment it begins to make the landlord responsible for the walls outside. "Once you get outside the apartment you being to get into ambient levels and who is responsible for it?" Margulies said. "One thing the city would like you to forget is that the streets are more hazardous than most apartments."

Margulies said the main subject of the hearing will probably be the Administration's bill as the Michels bill was already the subject of a hearing.

The Mayor's proposal differs in that a presumption of lead-based paint would exist in buildings erected prior to 1960 in which paint is peeling, cracking or blistering on the interior walls, ceilings, doors, windows, moldings or chewable surface in which a child of six or under resides. The commissioner by rule, could change the age of the child in requiring the work.

The city can order the reduction of the hazard or perform the work itself and place of lien for the costs. Any amount of lead in excess of one microgram per square foot would be considered a hazard.

"At least the administration bill recognized that peeling paint in a 1950 building could be on a piece of 1980 sheet-rock and lead free," Margulies said. "The problem that needs to be addressed is usually more one of a dust hazard and there are different levels of abatement levels appropriate under different circumstances."

"In looking at the administration bill that is the subject of the hearing, it does not substantially change existing practice except by implication and will evidently leave us at the mercy of the rulemaking procedure," Margulies added. "All it does is say it will be done the way the commissioner said it is to be done."
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Title Annotation:lead abatement proposals to go before Housing and Buildings Committee of New York, New York City Council
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 7, 1992
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