The City Council has now heard two days of public testimony on Mayor Bill de Blasio's controversial new zoning proposals, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA). As expected, Council members had several questions for the Mayor's plan, which was defended at the hearing by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen; the commissioner of the Department of Housing and Preservation, Vicki Been; and the chair of the City Planning Commission, Carl Weisbrod.
The most pertinent of them related to the loss of parking, how "affordable" the affordable units would be, and changing the architectural characteristics of neighborhoods, as has been detailed in the New York Times, City & State, and in some very specific detail in DNAinfo. The key questions:
· The Council had questions on the band of affordability proposed as part of MIH. At present the lowest range of affordability starts at 60 percent of AMI, but council members were concerned that could exclude large groups of people seeking affordable housing in the city. In response, the administration said developers could offer a range of affordable units in a specific building, allowing them to price anywhere between 40 and 80 percent of AMI, to use an example.
· There was concern, in regards to ZQA specifically, that it would eliminate parking, and Council members weren't entirely convinced by the de Blasio administration's selection of neighborhoods they deemed to have a good access to mass transit. The de Blasio administration wasn't too keen to come to a compromise on that.
· The Council questioned the size of the apartments that would be created under ZQA, some of which could be as small as 275 square feet.
· The Council also had problems with increasing the height of buildings for senior affordable housing, especially in neighborhoods where those buildings would be taller than the neighboring ones. To that, the administration said it was more important that seniors had access to affordable housing and that there was an ability to install elevators to allow for greater mobility.
The City Council now has until next month to vote on both the rezoning proposals.
· Here's What the City Council Wants to Change in de Blasio's Rezoning Plan [DNAinfo]
· CITING BENEFITS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS, DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION CALLS FOR ZONING CHANGE [City & State]
· At Council Hearing on de Blasio's Housing Plan, Many Voices Rise [NYTimes]
· Change de Blasio's Rezoning Plan or We'll Kill It, Council Tells City Hall [DNAinfo]
· NYC's Controversial New Affordable Housing Proposals, Explained [Curbed]