Community Board 11 voted at its monthly meeting this week to stand against legitimizing any illegally zoned housing units within the board’s district.
In a 41-1 vote, with three absent members and one who abstained, the board approved a resolution stating that it “opposes any proposal to permit additional housing units in violation of existing zoning laws in the city of New York.”
We all know that we do need more affordable housing, but we should make a statement that this is not a good idea for a variety of reasons,” said Henry Euler, the board member who penned the resolution. “There’s zoning issues and safety issues and I just felt that this was not a very good idea.”
CB 11 covers Bayside, Auburndale, Little Neck, Douglaston, Oakland Gardens and Hollis Hills — all neighborhoods which are known to place a high importance on following zoning laws and frequently get involved in hearings that challenge the look and feel of the area.
Janet McEneaney, who represents Bayside on the board, agreed with Euler’s resolution and said illegal housing has started to have a negative impact on the area and needs to be stopped.
“I can’t even find a parking spot anymore because of all the illegal conversions and the homes that have four, five or six families living in a two-family house,” she said. “We need affordable housing units, but they should not be in basements and attics. This is not what we need in Bayside and I do not myself want to see that happen.”
Chris Petallides, the lone vote in opposition to the resolution, said he disagreed with the wording of the document because it was “too absolute” to rule out all illegal units in general. The Little Neck resident, who works as an architect, said some units zoned illegally may not be dangerous and could help provide cheaper housing for people in need.
From the Queens Chronicle:
Community Board 9 gaveled into session under new leadership Tuesday night and engaged in a heated debate over a proposal, favored by Mayor de Blasio, to legalize some basement apartments.
The meeting was the first under new Chairman Ralph Gonzalez, who was elected by the board last month.
The Land Use Committee put before the panel a letter opposing any attempt to legalize basement apartments for a vote. The committee’s co-chairpersons, Sylvia Hack and Sherman Kane, both oppose any plan to legalize such apartments in the city.
Neighborhoods covered by CB 9 have long been notorious for being populated with illegal basement and attic apartments and some longtime board members argued that legalizing those units would only exacerbate them.
“We have to make a statement to everyone that we will not tolerate basement and attic apartments because of the greed of landlords,” said member Maria Thomson, who further noted the dangers such apartments pose to residents and firefighters in the event of a house fire and the strain illegal units put on schools and traffic.
Hack said she opposes basement apartments, though she generally supports de Blasio’s call for more affordable housing.
“People deserve better housing in a dignified way,” she said. “They shouldn’t be just thrown into a basement.”
The board ultimately voted down the letter 22-20 with four abstentions.
Etienne David Adorno, the chairman of the newly created Budget and Finance Committee, noted that in some homes, basements and attics are occupied by family members, especially among larger families, and not rented out. He voted no.
“What if it were your nephew or cousin living there and not paying rent?” he asked.