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Borough President Katz Votes Against Mayor's Affordable Housing Zoning Plan

By Katie Honan | December 1, 2015 5:38pm | Updated on December 2, 2015 8:30am
 Borough President Melinda Katz said she opposes the mayor's zoning text changes for affordable housing, citing numerous concerns.
Borough President Melinda Katz said she opposes the mayor's zoning text changes for affordable housing, citing numerous concerns.
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KEW GARDENS — Borough President Melinda Katz has joined the growing list of borough presidents opposed to Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing zoning proposals — citing issues with senior housing and prior neighborhood-specific zoning throughout Queens.

Katz is the third borough president to come out against the plan, following Manhattan's Gale Brewer and the Bronx's Ruben Diaz.

“This is not about whether one is for or against affordable housing,” Katz said in a statement about her suggestion to vote against the proposed “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” (ZQA) and “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” (MIH) zoning text amendments.

“Everyone shares the goals and recognizes the need to aggressively expand affordable housing stock to meet the ever-growing demand. When we do, however, it must be done right."

Concerns about the proposals were brought up at a meeting last month with representatives from the borough's 14 community boards.

All but two of the boards voted against the proposals, citing issues with parking and previous zoning, among other concerns.

Here's an interactive map outlining how each community board voted:

The lone supporters of de Blasio's proposals — Community Board 1 in Long Island City and Community Board 3 in Jackson Heights, Corona and East Elmhurst — said they had reservations about the changes but ultimately wanted to support any move for affordable housing. 

Katz said the uniqueness of the city's neighborhoods "requires far more nuanced and strategically planned rezonings instead of a wholesale ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach."

More than 40 neighborhoods in Queens have already been rezoned over the last decade, she added.

“Each of those rezonings was carefully sculpted with extensive neighborhood participation, solicited by City Planning, in consultation with the respective city council members and community," she said.

Gale Brewer, Manhattan's borough president, spoke out against the plan Monday — saying the mayor shouldn't have criticized the city's community boards, most of whom have voted against his plan.

De Blasio said, among other things, that the boards "don't have a perfect vantage point on their communities."

Brewer said de Blasio "shouldn't have said that. It was wrong," adding that community board input is vital to the process. She expects to give her recommendation on the plan on Dec. 11.

In the Bronx, Borough President Diaz, the borough's city council representatives and all of the borough's community boards also voted against the plan. 

Diaz said the speed of the mayor's plan was "disrespectful" and suggested the "accelerated timeline" was built to limit community input.

"Mayor de Blasio and the Department of City Planning are moving too fast," he said at the November hearing. 

Katz, despite voting against the changes, commended de Blasio "for his laser-focus on utilizing the tools of government" to build affordable housing.

"He deserves much credit for moving the citywide discourse on affordable housing toward real solutions," she wrote.

A spokesman for the mayor, Wiley Norvell, said they "believe that good community process makes for better policy, and we appreciate the feedback we’re getting."

"These policies represent the strongest mandatory affordable requirements in the nation, and will ensure that new development better fits our neighborhoods’ needs and character," he wrote.

"Without these policies, new rezonings could not require permanently affordable housing, and we’d continue to see luxury-only development in many parts of the city.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer's stance on the zoning proposal. While she has publicly opposed the plan, she has not yet voted against it.