HAMILTON HEIGHTS — Community Board 9 joined more than a dozen local boards in voting against Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposed changes to city zoning.
The main point of contention by the board was the affordability index used in the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan, which most board members said was out of reach for people that live in Hamilton Heights. Affordability is determined by Area Mean Income (AMI) from New York City, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester counties.
“One thing we really want is 40 percent AMI or maybe lower because right now 60 percent or 80 percent AMI is considerably higher than what this community can support,” said board member Daniel Cohen. “Why would we do that to ourselves?”
The proposal would require developers who want to increase the limit on a building's size to set aside 25 to 30 percent of the development for families making between $46,600 to $62,000 a year.
Several community boards have criticized the zoning text changes over their affordability component. State Senator Bill Perkins called the use of the phrase, “a lie” because they are not reflective of income levels in individual neighborhoods.
In Queens, 10 out of 12 community boards rejected the proposed zoning changes. In the Bronx, 9 out of 12 community boards also voted no. On Wednesday the Bronx Borough President rejected the zoning changes.
Apart from affordability issues, Hamilton Heights residents were also concerned about an option for developers of buildings between 11 and 25 units to pay out of the MIH program.
Regarding the Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) change critics dislike that the Sliver Law — which protects mid-blocks from out-of-scale developments — will no longer apply when affordable housing is part of the project.
Community Board 9 is the only board in Harlem that has voted on the zoning amendment proposal, which doesn’t call for a specific rezoning but changes to the framework of how rezonings would happen in the future.
On Tuesday, Borough President Gale Brewer penned a letter to City Planning asking for specific changes to both zoning proposals — including adding a 40 percent AMI option to meet the needs of people making lower incomes.
East Harlem’s community board is scheduled to vote Monday. During a public hearing earlier this month, several residents asked them to vote against it out of concerns about the affordability of the units and other issues.
Central Harlem’s community board hosted a presentation but is not scheduled to vote on it this month.
The Borough President is scheduled to vote on Nov. 30 and City Planning is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Dec. 16. After that the zoning changes will go before the City Council.