City Council members criticized the de Blasio administration last week for concentrating neighborhood rezonings in low-income, minority neighborhoods—yet the council itself is fueling the trend.
“It doesn’t seem like [City Planning] has a citywide plan to address the housing crisis,” Councilman Antonio Reynoso, D-Brooklyn, said at a budget hearing Thursday. “It feels like [the city] has a piecemeal approach of going into poor neighborhoods and rezoning them.”
The administration’s plan is to rezone 15 neighborhoods where boosting the allowable size of buildings is supposed to trigger development with affordable housing. So far, the administration has completed the task in Brooklyn’s East New York, Far Rockaway in Queens and East Harlem. The city shortly will approve the Jerome Avenue corridor in the Bronx and has several more in its sights.
But these neighborhoods are not chosen based only on planning principles or to most efficiently ease the housing crunch. Rather, City Planning Director Marisa Lago said at the hearing, City Hall prioritizes areas with amenable council members and neighborhoods.
“Absent community interest, it would be an exercise in futility,” she said.
A willing council member is crucial because the City Council has long deferred to the local member’s wishes when it comes to land use, giving representatives veritable veto power over applications.