Part of the reason that Sunnyside Gardens residents worked so hard to become a designated historic district was because the strong protections granted by the Planned Community (PC) zoning law were not being enforced by the Department of Buildings. The LPC seemed the perfect agency to enforce the PC zoning, which was intended to protect the scale and historic open spaces of the neighborhood. However, now the Department of City Planning has proposed a revised zoning that emasculates the PC zoning and the LPC has not begun to address district-specific regulations that might continue the protections City Planning proposes to remove. Really. The current PC zoning disallows driveways, curb cuts, paving front yards, fences and barriers in common gardens or across common walkways, building enlargements or additions, garages or carports, sheds, porches, decks and tree removal. See this fact sheet for details. The current rezoning proposal allows all these things [except curb cuts] as-of-right (see the proposal for details), relying on the LPC’s existing rules, regulations and standard practices to guide development within the planned community.
At this point, the City Planning Commission has passed the proposal and it is up to the City Council to deny it. Unfortunately, the local Council member Eric Gioia, who was in favor of the landmark designation, has not pledged his full support in defeating this damaging zoning change. Especially since CM Gioia has announced he is running for citywide office as a candidate for Public Advocate, this is an instance where every voice counts and every voice will be heard. The City Council will be deliberating on this plan at City Hall on Tuesday.