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De Blasio's Rezoning Plan Backed by City Council After Changes Are Made

By Jeff Mays | March 14, 2016 8:23pm
 The City Council is set to approve Mayor Bill de Blasio's two affordable housing rezoning proposals after altering the plans to include more affordable housing and to allow for more parking in areas with the least access to public transit.
The City Council is set to approve Mayor Bill de Blasio's two affordable housing rezoning proposals after altering the plans to include more affordable housing and to allow for more parking in areas with the least access to public transit.
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Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office

NEW YORK CITY — The City Council is set to approve Mayor Bill de Blasio's two affordable housing rezoning proposals after altering the plans to include more affordable housing and parking in areas with the least access to public transit, according to Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

"The Council’s response to the proposals for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability represent months of thoughtful deliberation, community consultation and negotiation with our partners in the administration," Mark-Viverito said Monday at City Hall.

"Our work has resulted in a plan that addresses the magnitude of our city’s affordability crisis by encouraging smart, sustainable affordable housing production — while also supporting local residents and their communities."

READ MORE: Here's What You Need to Know About the Mayor's Citywide Rezoning Plan

Under de Blasio's Mandatory Inclusionary Housing zoning plan, new construction would have to include a certain number of permanently affordable housing units.

Under the mayor's proposal, there were three options developers could choose from, including making 25 percent of the units affordable for those making 60 percent of area median income, or AMI. That amounts to an income of $46,620 for a family of three.

► READ MORE: What is AMI?

Another option would make 30 percent of units affordable for those making 80 percent AMI — or $62,150 for a family of three. A third option dealt with people who made 120 percent of AMI.

The City Council added a fourth option to the plan that would make 20 percent of units affordable for people who make 40 percent of AMI, which would mean an income of $34,520 for a family of four.

Real Affordability for All, the leading coalition opposed to de Blasio's plan, had pushed for another option that would make 30 percent of units affordable to people making 30 percent of AMI.

The group threatened to perform acts of civil disobedience in front of City Hall, but gave support to the proposals over the weekend after de Blasio agreed to study ways to deepen the levels of affordability. 

"This is a major victory for our coalition and for countless New Yorkers. Through intense advocacy and organizing, we demanded a better plan with deeper affordability, and that’s what the New York City Council has secured," said Maritza Silva-Farrell, campaign director of Real Affordability for All.  

The mayor's plan also includes Zoning for Quality and Affordability, where developers would be allowed to increase building heights and reduce parking requirements to spur construction of affordable and senior housing.

Mark-Viverito said the City Council's plan would "modulate parking changes in neighborhoods with poorest transit access."

The alteration echoes a complaint heard from community boards across the city — which overwhelmingly rejected both proposals — that the proposals were too cookie-cutter and should be tailored to the needs of specific neighborhoods.

The City Council changes "substantially modified the proposals to fit the specific and diverse needs of the neighborhoods we represent," according to Mark-Viverito.

De Blasio endorsed the changes in a statement Monday.

"We look forward to seeing these vital reforms enacted in the days ahead. New York City is now on the verge of implementing the strongest, most progressive affordable housing policies in the nation," the mayor said. "Years from now, we will look back on this as a watershed moment when we turned the tide to keep our city a place for everyone.”

The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development also praised the plan, calling the 40 percent AMI option "significantly more affordable than any other policy in the country."

But the group also said in a statement that 30 percent of New Yorkers — including seniors, single parents and minimum wage workers — make less than 30 percent of AMI and will not qualify for the program.

"We hope and expect to see the Administration work now with local community groups to find additional ways to reach the deep levels of affordability that meet the true needs of the neighborhoods where rezonings are proposed, many of which have local median incomes far below the levels that will be served by MIH," the statement read.