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Press Conference Raising Objections & Calling for Changes to Citywide Rezoning Plan

The Mayor’s proposed citywide rezoning proposal, ‘Zoning for Quality and Affordability’ will weaken neighborhood zoning protections. The proposal as currently structured includes many benefits for market rate developments, with some additional very generous benefits for developments that may include only a relatively small fraction of affordable or senior housing.

Elected officials, neighborhood groups, and community leaders from across the city participated in a press conference organized by Village Preservation, the Historic Districts Council, and Landmark West on the steps of City Hall to respond to the proposal on Wednesday.

City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez, Corey Johnson, Ben Kallos and Inez Barron and a broad array of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and citywide neighborhood, civic, and preservation groups joined us to raise objections and call for changes to the plan. Criticisms focused on the gutting of neighborhood zoning protections in residential areas which communities fought for years to secure; the plan’s failure to take into account neighborhood-specific conditions by lifting height limits across the board by as much as 31%; and the majority of the plan’s proposed increases in allowable height and bulk applying to entirely or largely market-rate or luxury developments, not affordable housing or housing for seniors.

Watch the video of the press conference here;  view pictures here; and read the full press release here.

The press conference immediately preceded the first public hearing on the proposal at the Department of City Planning, which focused on the scope of the required environmental review for the plan. Read Village Preservation’s testimony here, and testimony by various Manhattan elected officials here. This begins the approximately seven month public hearing and review process for the citywide rezoning plan, which will include public hearings and votes by each of the city’s community boards, the five borough presidents, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council. 

A major component of the plan is the proposed lifting of height limits in most “contextual” zoning districts throughout the city.  These are neighborhood zoning protections intended to ensure that new development fit the scale and character of the surrounding community, covering neighborhoods across the city (see map showing affected zones here). Within these zones, under this plan the allowable height of new development would be lifted by as much as 31%.

The increases in the allowable height of new development would in many cases apply to purely market-rate or luxury residential developments.  Further increases in the allowable height of new developments would be offered in a fraction of these areas for ‘inclusionary’ developments, which are 80% market-rate/luxury and 20% affordable (see map here for those areas where the market-rate bonuses apply along with additional height bonuses for ‘inclusionary’ developments). The plan never requires the inclusion of affordable units in new developments, and the maximum height bonus is offered to developments with only 20% affordable housing, not 100%.

The proposal also grants generous increases in the allowable height and size of new developments that contain just a small percentage of senior housing. As currently structured, the plan does not require that developments contain 100% senior housing or even more than a small percentage in order to qualify for the entire height and bulk bonus for “senior affordable housing.”


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