By Jon Cronin
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability zoning proposal received lukewarm receptions this fall from the community boards and the Borough President.
The MIH proposal would mandate a certain percentage of new apartment complexes have affordable housing and if not the builder must contribute to a fund that would create affordable housing. The ZQA would create more affordable senior housing, but would not give parking to housing within one half mile of transportation hub.
Katz echoed the sentiments, saying she had “several concerns with the proposals, namely the impermanence of senior affordable housing, the effect of eliminating parking for residents in a transit desert like Queens, the scores of extensive contextual rezonings previously issued throughout the five boroughs, and the insufficiencies in skilled labor commitments.”
“This is not about whether one is for or against affordable housing,” Katz said. “Everyone shares the goals and recognizes the need to aggressively expand affordable housing stock to meet the ever-growing demand. When we do it, however, it must be done right. The breadth of neighborhoods in a city like New York requires far more nuanced and strategically planned rezonings instead of a wholesale ‘one size fits all’ approach. I was proud to be a part of creating thousands of units of affordable housing in the City Council and look forward to continuing that goal.”
“Further, in a transit desert like Queens where subways reach only a third of the borough, there must be the same mandate to build parking as there is for market housing,” Katz continued “In the borough of families, we must ensure that working families are able to get to their jobs, and that elders are able to lead dignified, productive and active lives. We need to continue to allow for access to parking for all constituencies.”
At a November press conference de Blasio said of the Borough Board vote against his proposed housing plan, “I obviously respect our community boards. I – as a Council Member for eight years, I worked very close with the community boards in my district. We must create a vast amount of –more of affordable housing. We must preserve a huge amount of affordable housing, or else people will not be able to live in this city. It’s as simple as that.”
Katz recently noted, “Ultimately they have to listen, because ultimately the council members votes on this. So if your community board votes it down and you’re the council member and you have the community boards, the civics and the borough president writing letters against it.”
She added that, “The council members are gonna have to figure out how to make it work for them. If I were the mayor, I would look at it and say let’s just pass an affordable housing component.”
She believes, “The mayor’s biggest problem is the contextual zoning amendment that went with it. Higher building, changing the envelope.”
Katz said that she had been an advocate for affordable housing when on the City Council, “All my major rezonings when I was Chair of the City Council Land Use Committee, they all had a affordable housing component: Hudson Yards was 28 and a half percent, Williamsburg was the 33 and a third percent, Willets Points was 33 percent,” she explained.
She concluded, “They need to listen to the community boards and the civics cause the council members will listen.”