City Council Deal Saves Mayor’s Controversial Zoning Plan: Here’s What You Need to Know

by Barbara Eldridge - March 16, 2016

Mayor de Blasio has won.

He and the City Council have hammered out a compromise on the mayor’s contentious affordable housing plan — the one some Brooklyn residents feared would wreck their neighborhoods with tall buildings and out-of-control rents. Now the City Council is expected to vote yes on it next week, according to the New York Times.

The compromises won by the City Council will make the affordable units more affordable, in addition to lowering the height cap of new buildings in some areas. These and other changes were enough to satisfy the City Council that the plan will be a boon for affordable housing in the city.

The mayor has agreed to alter his zoning proposals:

  • New affordable housing units will be less expensive — the mayor agreed to lower income requirements at both the top and bottom of the required range, with future residents earning between 40 percent and 115 percent of area median income rather an 60 percent to 120 percent.
  • The percentage of affordable units will be smaller. Developers would be required to set aside 20 to 30 percent of developments for affordable units on sites that take advantage of a rezoning — not 25 to 30 percent, as originally proposed.
  • The city will study new ways to create affordable housing units with even lower income requirements, possibly creating new additional programs to work in conjunction with developers.
  • Parking lots in transit-starved neighborhoods and near senior housing will not be made available to developers.
  • New buildings constructed under the regulations will have a lower height cap in some areas.
  • Last year, Brooklyn’s community boards mostly rejected the plans, as did the borough president and Brooklyn Borough Board — many citing issues of affordability and fears that implementing the plans would only speed up gentrification and displacement. The City Planning Commission then approved the proposals, but it’s the City Council’s ULURP vote that makes the official decision whether to implement them.

    Mandatory Inclusionary Housing would require developers to set aside a standard percent of developments for affordable units on sites that take advantage of a rezoning.

    Zoning for Quality and Affordability would alter the zoning code, changing the bulk of buildings by increasing height limitations and easing setback restrictions, among other amendments to the current code.

    Another part of the plan is a proposed rezoning of East New York. The local community boards and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams rejected it. As well, the local City Council members said they opposed it. The Times story about this week’s compromise did not specify if City Council intends to approve that too as part of the deal.

Full article in Brownstoner