QUEENS — Community Board 6 rejected Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposed citywide neighborhood zoning changes that seek to increase the number of affordable and senior housing, citing a variety of concerns including "poor wording" of the legislation as well as parking and overcrowding issues.
The plan consists of two proposals — "Zoning for Quality and Affordability” and “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing" — which are part of Mayor’s initiative to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years.
The plan would increase maximum building heights in exchange for including a percentage of affordable and senior housing units.
On Thursday night, the Board, which represents Forest Hills and Rego Park, shot down both of them, even though the Board's planning and zoning committee recommended to reject only one of them ("Zoning for Quality and Affordability”) and to approve the other ("Mandatory Inclusionary Housing").
Some community members took aim at the fact that the proposal would eliminate parking requirements for some affordable and senior housing buildings located in a designated "transit zone," which falls within 1.5 miles from subway lines.
In the case of CB6, that would include the area along Queens Boulevard, on the grounds that city officials say their research shows that many seniors and people with lower incomes don’t drive as much.
“Trying to add more people to the Queens Boulevard corridor and not providing parking in those buildings, when the MTA admits severe overcrowding on the Queens lines … I think is shortsighted,” said Steven Goldberg, chair of the committee, who voted against both proposals.
Goldberg was also concerned that the proposals give too much flexibility to developers who would not be required to built affordable housing units under the same roof as market-rate units.
Developers of smaller buildings that could not accommodate affordable housing could also choose a "payment-in-lieu" option, in which they would pay a fee into a fund that would finance such housing elsewhere.
"But who's going to manage that fund?" Goldberg said. "Who is going to decide how these funds are going to be used?"
“I think this is bad legislation,” Goldberg added. “I think we are inviting a whole host of new problems by supporting this poorly worded legislation.”
Some board members said they were upset because in their opinion the proposal would take away their ability to decide how their neighborhoods should be shaped.
“I don’t like the mayor coming in or the City Planning coming in and telling us how we are going run our neighborhood,” said another board member Robert Silva, who called the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan "social engineering."
Only a handful of board members defended the proposals.
“I believe that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program is,” said Peter Beadle, also a board member. "All it does is that going forward, if you are going to build in that high-density zone then you are going to be required to have affordable housing, you are going to be required to have housing for our senior citizens."
"So I don’t quite understand this fear that this is somehow going to completely change our neighborhoods when the fact is that we are going to see that development anyway, because it’s already happening."
Currently, all community boards are reviewing the two proposals which will later be considered by borough presidents, as well as the City Council.
The Queens Borough Board, which comprises of all community board chairpersons and borough's councilmembers, is scheduled to vote on the proposals on Monday.