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Proposed Bill Requiring Sprinklers To Be Installed In NYC Apartments Meeting Strong Opposition, Including By Co-Author

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A rare coalition of tenants and landlords joined Wednesday to oppose a controversial City Council bill.

It would require 1.5 million New York City apartments to install automatic fire sprinklers, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

There are some who say that a bill requiring automatic sprinklers in city apartments is best described by the proverb, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

The bill would require buildings over four stories to install costly sprinklers. And that means co-ops, condos, rental buildings even New York City Housing Authority housing.

Stuart Saft represents a tenants group.

"It's an idea whose time has not come and I cannot imagine a time when it would make sense to open a million and a half existing apartments to solve a problem that doesn't exist," Saft said. "A large portion of these million and a half apartments are fireproof already."


Joseph Strasburg is president of the Rent Stabilization Association, a landlords group.

"By opening up the walls and opening up the roofs, you are now going to create a problem with the lead dust and asbestos, which is actually going to increase the cost and create health problems," Strasburg said.

Experts estimate it will cost about $20,000 per apartment to install sprinklers and another $30,000 in water upgrades per building.

"We've estimated that the base cost of doing a 70-unit building would be between $1.5 million and $2 million," Saft said.

The bill was first introduced by Councilman Barry Grodenchik after a 2017 fire in the Bronx in which 12 people died. However, it has become so controversial that Councilman Ben Kallos, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, told Kramer he took his name off because it was "too toxic."

FLASHBACK12 Dead In Belmont, Bronx Fire

Even Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca admitted tenants will get hurt because they'll have to move out of apartments while the work is done.

"The installation of sprinklers can be invasive work," La Rocca said.

Dozens of people signed up to speak about the bill. A vote has not been scheduled because, sources told Kramer, there's a lot of internal opposition.

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