Tomorrow evening, Community Board 3’s land use committee will resume an important conversation about the city’s controversial plan known as “Zoning for Quality and Affordability.” The Department of City Planning contends the citywide proposal will promote the construction of more affordable and senior housing and lead to better design. Preservation and housing activists, however, have serious doubts.
According to a document published in May, the plan could, in some cases, push building heights on the Lower East Side higher by anywhere between 5 and 40 feet. Last month, CB3 began working on a draft resolution in response to the plan. The proposal, in the form of a zoning text amendment, will eventually need to be approved by the City Council.
The community board’s draft resolution raises concerns about changing zoning in contextual districts (areas in which new construction is supposed to conform to neighborhood character). It states that a “one size fits all” approach in these districts could potentially undermine the protections put in place in 2008 when more than 100 blocks of the East Village and Lower East Side were rezoned. The resolution points out that height limits would be lifted in some instances for purely market rate projects that don’t include any affordable housing. It asserts that this provision should be removed from the plan. In another section, the resolution calls on the city to prove that the zoning changes would actually produce more affordable housing. The draft also asserts that developers should only be able to take advantage of the new provisions if they build more than the minimum 20% affordable housing in their projects.
The city has not spelled out its timetable for moving the proposal through the land use approval process. CB3’s land use committee meets tomorrow evening at 6:30 at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge St. You can look over the full Community District 3 plan in the document embedded below.