A push by Mayor Bill de Blasio to allow developers to build taller buildings across the city as long as they include affordable housing was met with vehement opposition at a public hearing on Wednesday.
Critics blasted the mayor's Zoning for Quality and Affordability initiative — part of de Blasio's 10-year affordable housing plan designed to change regulations so that building new housing is easier and cheaper — during the Department of City Planning's hearing at their lower Manhattan office.
Their main complaint was the lack of transparency the mayor's office has offered to date. The city has not publicized the plan enough in order to push it through without substantial community input, according to the lineup of speakers — ranging from elected officials to everyday citizens, and even a former member of the City Planning Commission.
“If not for the fact of emails flying from Greenwich Village… to civic groups in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx," said Ed Jaworski, president of the Marine-Madison-Homecrest Civic Association in Brooklyn, "this might have been held before two people.”
Amending the city's zoning regulations will allow the city to create badly-needed senior housing and "encourage better quality buildings that contribute to the fabric of neighborhoods," according to DCP director Robert Dobruskin, who led the hearing.
But organizers who fought to secure neighborhood-specific construction regulations around the city — in places like Greenwich Village, The Rockaways, and Bay Ridge — fumed at the possibility that the city could undo their work.
Several speakers accused the de Blasio administration of working to make things easier for developers while demanding too little in exchange.
Kelly Carroll, director of advocacy and community outreach at the Historic Districts Council, said the proposal could "incentivize demolition of existing housing in order to replace it with new development" that could be built with bigger height limits.
"Bigger buildings do not equal lower rents," Carroll said. "If that were the case, West 57th Street would be Manhattan’s newest neighborhood for the middle class."
City & State has published the 5 challenges to de Blasio's affordable housing plan:
1. Comprehensive community planning takes a lot of time (shouldn't be rushed)
2. Comprehensive community planning takes resources (which City Planning doesn't have)
3. Comprehensive community planning takes more than zoning (hello, infrastructure)
4. Comprehensive community planning begins in the community (doesn't exclude communities)
5. Community planning hasn't delivered in New York City in the past (because developers rule the Council)
And here's one more from the Times Ledger.
In a statement, Paul Graziano, an urban planning consultant and a historic preservationist, said the 160-page document proposes changes that are a “giveaway to developers under the guise of promoting increased affordable and senior housing.”
CB 7 member Tyler Cassell, a member of the board’s land use committee, agreed.
“If the city wants affordable housing, they should stop selling off city properties for a dollar to developers and build housing projects like they did in the 40s and 50s,” Cassell said.