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Reject Mayor's Affordable Housing Rezoning Plans, Locals Tell CB12

By Carolina Pichardo | November 19, 2015 3:09pm | Updated on November 20, 2015 12:52pm
 Community leaders presented zoning proposals to the Uptown community on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015.
Community leaders presented zoning proposals to the Uptown community on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015.
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Jacob Potent

INWOOD — Mayor Bill de Blasio's widely criticized affordable housing rezoning plans and a separate bid to rezone Inwood hit a stumbling block Tuesday, as locals turned out in force to express concern about the proposals.

Officials from the city's Economic Development Corporation presented its neighborhood planning study on the mayor's proposed zoning changes as well as its "Inwood NYC" study, which would rezone Inwood for more affordable and mixed-income housing, would rezone a swath of the area for tech and health-care jobs, and make the area more "livable."

The meeting, which also included Rodriguez as well as state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer Community Board 12 chairman George Fernandez and several community leaders, was was held to discuss a number of initiatives Uptown.

While the city has been clear about the details of its citywide rezoning plan — also known as Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) — which are intended to create 80,000 new affordable housing units and preserve 120,000 affordable units over the next decade, it has not been as transparent about its "Inwood NYC" plans, locals said. 

"The city isn't being forthcoming with the information," said Ava Farkas, and Inwood resident and the executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, who joined a housing panel Tuesday to discuss the initiatives. “The city says they want our input, but what are we supposed to be giving input to?”

Farkas said the city needed to be clear on how the mayor's plan and Rodriguez's proposal would impact Inwood — from what areas would be developed and how high the buildings would be to how they would strengthen current rent laws.

"These are concrete things," she said, "and they're not showing how this will work."  

Among the few details that have been released are that the area under rezoning review lies east of Dyckman Street to Ninth Avenue near the Broadway Bridge, and will focus only on the rail yards and empty lots on 10th Avenue near the Harlem River.

On Tuesday, locals mostly came out against all of the proposed changes, citing concerns over affordability, current rent-stabilized units and transparency.

Inwood resident, Jeanie Dudnau, 77, said that while Inwood needs affordable housing, she agreed with Farkas that the mayor's proposed changes are not the way forward.

“I would reject every single one of them,” she said of the MIH and ZQA and Inwood NYC proposals.

Community boards across the city have already voted against the mayor's affordable housing rezoning proposals, with a only handful of community boards in Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens supporting the mayor’s plan.

CB12 chairman Fernandez said his concern with the mayor's plan and the Inwood NYC rezoning proposal is whether they are going to "protect the more than 50,000 rent-stabilized units in the community."  

Fernandez, who voiced the concerns of several other residents, said he doesn't feel secure with the current laws and regulations, and fears many will be forced out of their homes with any new developments. 

"We've become fearful," he said, "and we need to be concerned about preserving our existing housing."

Espaillat and Rodriguez pledged to continue scheduling community workshops and forums as the process continues into the spring, when the community board will have to vote on the Inwood NYC. 

CB12 is expected to vote on the mayor's zoning changes Tuesday, Nov. 24, at the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center, Triangle Bldg., at 530 W. 166th St. The process will then move to the City Council.