Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a number of new initiatives at this State of the City speech yesterday, but the one that is generating the most controversy so far is his plan to rezone Sunnyside, Queens, to allow for 11,250 affordable housing units at Sunnyside Yards. The responses ranged from critical—Governor Cuomo's office released a statement saying that "the MTA uses Sunnyside Yards as an important facility for our transportation system," and the Post's Steve Cuozzo derisively points out that "It took nearly 10 years ... to plan, fund and construct [a platform] at [the Hudson Yards] site — which is all of five acres. Sunnyside Yard is 167 acres."—to the tepid. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Sunnyside, said in one breath that he supported the mayor's plan to increase affordable housing, but that he wasn't sure if it was a good fit for his neighborhood. "We're just not going to build 30, 40, 50-story residential towers in Sunnyside—that's just not going to happen," he said. "We are not embarking on a mission to build towering skyscrapers where they don't belong," de Blasio said in his speech. "We have a duty to protect and preserve the culture and character of our neighborhoods, and we will do so." But in the infamous anti-development Sunnyside, people seem to be having a difficult time imagining how that will happen.
Also controversial was the proposed rezoning of East New York, where residents are worried that the market-rate housing that would have to accompany affordable housing development would inevitably lead to gentrification, pushing out longtime residents. Though the administration touts the positives—better infrastructure, better schools, and less crime—local sentiment has risen to oppose basically all rezoning or new buildings of any type. "We see what's going on around in the city," a local community board member told the Times. "No to that in East New York. No. No."
Other proposals put forth by de Blasio included a dramatic increase in ferry service to all five boroughs by 2017; rezoning in East Harlem, Long Island City, Flushing West, the Bronx's Jerome Avenue corridor, the Staten Island's Bay Street corridor; stronger rent control laws; homes for homeless veterans; raising the minimum wage to $13; and 1,500 units of affordable housing for artists and musicians.
· De Blasio Heralds Sunnyside Yards as Next Stuy-Town, Unveils Other Housing Details [NYO]
· De Blasio Housing Push Faces Hurdles as Neighbors, Politicians Raise Questions [WSJ]
· Trepidation surrounds de Blasio's Sunnyside Yards plan [Capital NY]
· New York's Next Great Political Battle Will Be a Railyard in Queens [Daily Intel]
· De Blasio Announces LES Ferry, Affordable Housing For Artists and Musicians [Bedford + Bowery]
· Here Are the Highlights of de Blasio's State of the City Speech [Daily Intel]
· Some See Risk in de Blasio's Bid to Add Housing [NYT]
· All Five Boroughs May Get Affordable Ferry Service [Curbed]
· De Blasio to Roll Out New Affordable Housing Strategies [Curbed]
Photo by Harris Graber