Labor Unions & Housing Activists Begin Push To Sway New York City Council On Zoning Proposals
(NEW YORK CITY) - Now that New York City Council Members have had a chance to recover from the more than 20 hours of public testimony that was recently given on zoning proposals, a host of Labor Unions and activists are beginning to push their preferences in private. Both affordable housing advocates and a Construction Union Trade Group are promoting a third zoning proposal they said would ensure low-income residents are housed and Workers are well-paid when developers benefit the most from building larger residences.
City Councilman I. Daneek Miller’s office was scheduled to host a City Council Member briefing late last week, where the Real Affordability for All Coalition was expected to explain how it would like to see the zoning template carve out protections for lower-income families - and the Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET) is slated to launch a public campaign to add Training and Safety Standards to the zoning text as well.
The City Council has until March 25th to approve two zoning proposals passed by the City Planning Commission.
The first measure, called Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, would allow larger buildings in rezoned neighborhoods as long as a portion of the residences are rented at below-market rates.
The framework could be implemented via three templates: One would reserve a quarter of units for households with incomes that average out to 60% of the mean area income, a federal benchmark of the metro area that currently amounts to $47,000 for a family of three; Another would set aside 30% of apartments for those with incomes averaging out to 80% of AMI; and a third template available outside the Manhattan core would require that 30% of homes be filled with families earning, on average, 120% of the AMI.
The second proposal, Zoning for Quality and Affordability, endeavors to support senior care facilities and mixed-income developments. It would allow taller homes for the elderly in low-density districts as well as reduce - and in some cases eliminate - the number of parking spaces developers are required to include while creating senior homes and mixed-income developments near subways.
Any modifications the Council proposes would be sent back to the City Planning Commission, which would then be given 15 days to ensure that the changes were sufficiently studied in the city’s prior review.
Several Council members and sources said revisions eyed by the Council are not believed to need further city review, including adding in tiers that ensure some of the average AMIs are met through housing for low-income families, mandating that developers build more affordable units when they are constructed on a different site than market-rate counterparts, and replacing the third template targeting Middle Class Families with one that aims to house lower- income residents.
But groups like the Real Affordability for All Coalition and the Greater New York LECET argue a shrewd study of the administration’s current plan shows it falls short.
Both are pushing City Council members to adopt a Floor Area Affordability Bonus Program, which would offer developers a bonus - or permission to build larger than authorized under zoning - provided that half of the homes created are affordable to current neighborhood residents.
The Real Affordability for All Coalition said every time a community is up-zoned, only part of the maximum allowed density should be automatically available.
The remainder, it argued, should be doled out in bonuses that trigger mandates for cheaper housing and local hiring.
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