Real Estate Industry Braces for Democratic State Senate

“The Democratic majority gives us a chance to enact legislation—it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park,” he said. “We’re up against a very powerful adversary.”

 

ON THE CITY government level, REBNY and RSA suffered a blow last week in their uphill fight to stave off a property tax hike, as Mayor Bloomberg said he would seek City Council approval to rescind a 7 percent property tax cut. The two organizations had argued strenuously against a tax increase.

The issue goes before the Council at a time when the ability of the real estate industry to affect city legislation is also challenged by a new campaign finance law that seeks to curb influence from lobbyists and any companies with business before the city; this includes property owners seeking land-use changes. Whereas unions and tenant advocacy groups still can donate at existing levels and help with get-out-the-vote efforts—one of their political strengths—those with business before the city are restricted to less than one-tenth of the standard contribution limits.

Mr. Spinola of REBNY acknowledged the law presented an obstacle, but denied that the industry would suffer because of it.

“Nobody has stopped asking us for the same thing; they would just like us to be more creative on how we do it,” Mr. Spinola said of fund-raising efforts. REBNY, he said, is considering putting money in campaigns independent of individual candidates, which are not subject to the same limits but can support or criticize candidates.

“The issue is, we will have every right to express our voice—for or against issues as well as for or against individual candidates, and we will do so,” he said. “I don’t expect to give up any influence.”

With additional reporting by Jimmy Vielkind

ebrown@observer.com