The Manhattan Borough Board today voted against Zoning for Quality & Affordability and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, Mayor de Blasio’s twin zoning proposals aimed at creating more affordable housing.
The borough board is made up of the chairpersons of each community board and members of the City Council. The vote was 12-0 with four abstentions. The resolution detailed several improvements that would need to be made in the plans in order for the group to offer its support.
In a statement, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said:
I hope the roadmap set out by our Manhattan Borough Board today will lead to major changes in the Zoning for Quality & Affordability and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plans… I’m glad the administration has finally begun taking our concerns seriously, but these plans need major changes before we can accept them.
Zoning for Quality & Affordability would change building guidelines throughout the city, including building height. Mandatory Inclusionary Housing would trigger at least 25% affordable housing in new projects located within newly rezoned neighborhoods. Local activists believe many of the changes amount to a giveaway to real estate developers without much in return. The borough board wants smaller increases in height limits than the mayor proposed, assurances that new senior housing would be permanently affordable, lower income eligibility guidelines, among other modifications. More details will be available here later today.
Community Board 3, which covers the Lower East Side, rejected the proposals last week. While the borough board’s recommendations aren’t binding, the City Council must approve the zoning text amendments before they are implemented.
This evening City Councilman Alan Gerson and the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors are holding a "Stakeholders' Meeting" to discuss proposed zoning changes to the East side of the Bowery. The west side of the block was included in the recent rezoning of the Lower East Side, but not the east side. The plan devised by the Bowery Alliance would restrict the height of buildings to 8 stories and protect certain buildings that are historically significant. The gathering will bring together residents, business owners, developers and community groups to talk about the proposal, in advance of an upcoming meeting of the Department of City Planning. The meeting will be held at 6:15 at P.S. 131, 100 Hester Street (Forsythe).
A large crowd came to a town hall meeting last night to speak out about the problems impacting Chinatown and its neighboring communities. The forum was sponsored by the Chinatown Working Group, a coalition of community organizations. The participants were greeted by protesters outside chanting, "Chinatown not for sale… Lower East Side not for sale."
Chinatown Working Group Chairman Jim Solomon said the idea is to come up with a comprehensive plan for the neighborhood encompassing housing, education, open space, cultural preservation, transportation and social services by the end of the year. Acknowledging skepticism that the organization's plans will actually be implemented, he emphasized the involvement of a broad cross-section of the community and elected officials. Solomon expressed some frustration that the protesters chose to stand outside rather than join the conversation.
It was impossible to miss the political subtext last night. City Councilman Alan Gerson, facing several challengers in September's primary election, addressed the forum, saying he's accomplished a lot for Chinatown but that "there is much more to do." Gerson reminded the crowd that he has pressed the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to withhold funds for the Chatham Square street redesign until community concerns are heard. He called on the LMDC to release $10 million to expand affordable housing in Chinatown and the Lower East Side.