Advocacy Update: Zoning Proposals Voted On to City Council

It has been nearly a year since the first public documents about the Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) Text Amendment were released, and nearly a year that New Yorkers have expressed serious concerns about the proposal’s negative effects on neighborhoods citywide.

The City’s goals to increase production of affordable and high quality housing are necessary to sustain a livable city in the future, but there is no evidence to suggest that ZQA will produce a net gain of affordable housing, either by itself or in combination with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH).

The proposal threatens to dismantle mechanisms enacted to preserve community character across the entire city through increased height and density. These changes will put a further strain on streets and sidewalks, public transit, schools, and parks as a result. As written, ZQA fails to consider each neighborhood’s unique context, which must be analyzed to determine how new buildings can best be knitted into our varied communities to achieve the City’s goals.

Despite broad disapproval by an overwhelming number of community boards, elected officials, and borough boards, and a thirteen-hour public hearing held in December, the City Planning Commission approved both proposals with minimal changes. In addition to the many affordable housing and community groups opposing the plans, preservation groups including FRIENDS issued a joint statement against the City Planning Commission decision, vowing to continue to mobilize at the City Council.

Next, the proposals will be heard by the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises on February 9th (MIH) and 10th (ZQA), where modifications may be made. Council Member Donovan Richards, who chairs the Subcommittee, has said that ZQA “will not pass muster in the City Council without changes.”

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