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Brooklyn Community Board 6 approves Zoning for Quality and Affordibility

Up with upzoning! CB6 approves city’s zoning changes

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brownstone Brooklynites should get on board with Mayor DeBlasio’s plan to loosen height and design restrictions on construction in historic nabes in order to help house the borough’s booming population, says a panel of residents from several townhouse-rich areas that okayed the scheme on Tuesday.

“I think we have a tendency in brownstone neighborhoods to treat the place we live a little too much like a museum,” said Community Board 6 member Eric McClure, who voted in favor of the plan. “We need to enable population growth and accommodate people.”

McClure and 20 other members of Community Board 6 — which encompasses Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, and Park Slope — approved the plan, while eight members voted against it.

The citywide scheme would alter so-called “contextual” zones — charming historic areas where the size and shape of new buildings must adhere to the local aesthetic — to allow developers to build an extra five feet higher and have more design options, in the hope that it will encourage them to create more housing with more attractive designs.

The changes would — in theory — allow folks in those areas to build grander ground floors, court yards, and fancier facades.

An earlier version of the proposal allowed construction to rise an additional 10 to 15-feet along some commercial thoroughfares, but the Department of City Planning reduced the allowance after preservationists — including a vocal Slope contingent — protested, and that compromise helped win many residents over, said a local administrator.

“I think that’s where many of our members recognized that the Department of City Planning’s revisions to what they original proposed were much more in keeping with our expectatio­ns,” said Community Board 6 district manager Craig Hammerman.

The panel also voted 24–5 to approve a separate but related city proposal that would require developers seeking land rezoning in certain areas to dedicate at least 25-percent of units in their buildings to below-market-rate housing.

The board gave its blessing with one condition — that developers should not be allowed to build the so-called “affordable” units off-site in a different building, which is currently considered kosher.

But not all members were on board with the proposals. Naysayers claimed the schemes were crafted by developers for developers, and real estate tycoons could not be trusted to solve the city’s housing woes.

“We’re relying on the wrong people to build affordable housing,” said Glenn Kelly, who mounted a staunch opposition to the plans. “The developers were the ones who worked with city planning to come up with this idea. There was no community input, we only got to look at it at the end and tweak it.”

The Department of Buildings will be responsible for ensuring developers don’t abuse the more lenient regulations, but Kelly claimed the city bureau is more chihuahua than watchdog when it comes to regulating big buildings — it is only effective when slapping homeowners with violations, he said.

“If I want to put an extension on my house, they’ll put me through the ringer, if they want to build 400 units of housing, they’ll get carte blanche,” said Kelly.

Community Board 6 wasn’t the only advisory body to vote on proposals Tuesday night. Community Board 2 — which encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Downtown, Fort Greene, and Clinton Hill — backed up its land-use committee’s previous decision to oppose the upzoning but endorse the mandatory below-market housing measure.

And at a poorly attended meeting that stretched late into the evening, Community Board 1 — which covers Greenpoint and Williamsburg — voted to approve compulsory below-market housing proposal, before realizing it didn’t have enough members for a quorum, and shunting the rezoning decision to a future executive committee vote.

The community boards’ votes are purely advisory — the Council will ultimately decide whether to approve the proposals or not.

— Additional reporting by Allegra Hobbs and Lauren Gill.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

loosers from Brooklyn says:
How could we have a community board so obtuse that they don't see overpopulation as a problem but rather something they have to accommodate.

Instead of resisting and putting limits on how many people a community can handle, we have these individuals that allege to be community leaders, pushing us into the pitfalls of over development.

The question is, "who are they really accommodating, the people that live here, or the ones that's don't, of are they just plants for developers?"
Nov. 12, 2015, 10:09 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
It's generous to say that CB1 "realized" they didn't have a quorum in the middle of the votes. Instead of doing a roll call to start the meeting, they passed a motion to say they had a quorum, which is the first time they had done that in the couple years I've been attending those circuses.

Good for Eric McClure and CB6! Nobody on CB1 cares one whit about accommodating a growing population. They want the (de facto racist) local community set-aside for affordable housing to be increased to 75%!
Nov. 12, 2015, 10:09 am
BKmanhatman from Nubrucklyn says:
The question is as long as it's for building more housing units and that includes affordable housing.
But if the new zoning rules allow for just luxury condos or high ceiling townhouses for the wealthy than these rule changes need to be scrutinized.
Nov. 12, 2015, 10:51 am
CB1 MEMBER from WILLIAMSBURG says:
To clear things up
First of all, CB1 is at the forefront in pushing for affordable housing. They have been one of the only community boards pushing developers to include affordable housing for years and have gotten many for the neighborhood. Other community boards should take our lead and follow in our footsteps.

Secondly its also better to get some than none! As per Rabbi Neiderman( well said). If developers are pushed they'll just move on to somewhere else where no variance is needed. Then all those empty lots and parcels could just stay the way they are, desolate rat infested useless land as they have been for 100 years. We are rejuvenating and beautifying this area, its a lot more i can say for other CB's. Proud of CB1
Nov. 12, 2015, 4:30 pm
BrooklynSandy from Ft Greene says:
A joint letter of protest from the Ft Greene Association and the Society for Clinton Hill about the bait and switch scheme of MIH and ZQA-rife with loopholes and disingenuous promises which become a de facto give away to developers- was sent to Community Board 2 and to Carl Weisbrod of the NYC Dept of City Planning:

To: Carl Weisbrod, Director
NYC Department of City Planning
22 Reade Street, New York, NY 10007-1216
Email: AHOUSING@planning.nyc.gov
and
Shirley A. McRae, Chairperson
Robert Perris, District Manager
Community Board Two, Brooklyn
360 Jay Street #8, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Email: cb2k@nyc.rr.com

From: Society for Clinton Hill, Anne Bush, President
300 Dekalb Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11205
Email: amb9018@gmail.com and
Fort Greene Association, Richard Norton, Acting Chair
Box 170563, Brooklyn, NY 11217-0563
Email: denorville1066@msn.com

To Whom it May Concern:

Members of our respective organizations have been following the recent rezoning proposal designated "Zoning for Quality and Affordability" with respect to its potential effects on communities across New York City. Our members have read the material published by the NYC Department of City Planning; attended the NYC Department of City Planning presentation at Pratt Institute on September 28; and held a joint meeting addressing the issue on October 14, at which we hosted both Benjamin Dulchin of the Association of Neighborhood Housing Development and Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council.

We oppose this rezoning proposal on the following grounds:
1) if approved, it will grant benefits to developers City-wide without any mandatory requirement for affordable housing to be included in the larger buildings it permits, and without regard to neighborhood-specific restrictions implemented over many years at the request of, and subsequent to much labor contributed by, local groups like our own. This proposed legislation reads simply as a giveaway to developers; it may also incentivize them to acquire and raze smaller buildings currently occupied by tenants paying affordable rents, displacing them in favor of larger buildings catering to market rate tenants.
2) In the words of HDC's position paper on the subject, "it takes the context out of contextual zoning. It arbitrarily raises height limits and diminishes yard requirements across the city...not based in the actual built fabric of our city's neighborhoods. New York thrives because of the diversity of its neighborhoods, yet this proposal's approach will deal with each neighborhood as the same, with a one-size-fits-all approach....It should be prescribed that only units constructed for affordable or senior housing receive height bonuses, which would incentivize construction of the housing stock that is the genesis of this proposal and that the City so desperately needs. At this moment, the proposal incentivizes all development, without any guarantee that it will actually house New Yorkers who are rent-burdened...Bigger buildings do not equal lower rents; if that were the case, West 57th Street would be Manhattan's newest neighborhood for the middle class. There is also no explanation of how building higher will mandate construction of quality buildings."

3) With affordable housing non-mandatory in this proposed rezoning initiative, and no mechanism for insuring that it would produce "Quality" of any kind, the City is asking us to believe that height limits alone determine a developer's decision to opt to produce affordable housing. But developers are much more likely to take advantage of the increased height and density offered in this proposal by constructing market rate housing at a far greater profit.

This proposed zoning resolution, as drafted, guarantees neither quality nor affordability; it is simply guaranteed to enable developers to make more money. We therefore urge our elected representatives to resist the pressure from the real estate industry that produced this proposal. We further urge that all height increases for solely market rate housing in contextual zones, as well as for so-called "Quality" housing in non-contextual zones, be removed from this initiative in favor of a per-project evaluation showing that such changes would actually, in each specific case, provide substantially more affordable housing - whether for seniors or others - in perpetuity.

Sincerely,

Anne Bush
President, Society For Clinton Hill

Richard Norton
Acting Chair, Fort Greene Association

cc: Public Advocate Letitia James – ljames@pubadvocate.nyc.gov
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams – askeric@brooklynbp.nyc.gov
Representative Hakeem Jeffries -
Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley -mosleyw@assembly.state.ny.us
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery – montgome@nysenate.gov
City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo – lcumbo@council.nyc.gov
District Leader, 57th AD, Olanike Alabi – olanike.alabi@gmail.com
Nov. 12, 2015, 6 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I'll give credit where it's due--Rabbi Niederman was the only person who talked any sense on Tuesday night. Of course, I think most people on the board agreed with him--they just LIKE the idea of developers going somewhere else because they fundamentally resent change and people who don't look like them moving to the neighborhood.

But CB1's record speaks for itself--it has been extremely effective in gentrifying Bushwick by closing down growth in CB1's area.
Nov. 12, 2015, 6:01 pm
Ian from Williamsburg says:
This is disastrous central planning changes citywide that are I'll advised by developers looking to put up cheap housing and a mayor with an arbitrary subsidized housing quota. Few are paying attention to the supreme court challenge of providing priority in subsidized housing to local residents. This form of discrimination means anyone from Louisiana to North Dakota will have equal access to cheap NYC housing thereby doing little to help New Yorkers and exacerbating low income crowding in the city. Next time let the trained and educated planners plan rather than these unelected community boards.
Nov. 13, 2015, 11:16 pm
JohnMan from Newkirk Plaza says:
Please upzone CB 14!
Nov. 13, 2015, 11:21 pm
TOM from Sunset Park says:
Ian from Williamsburg: Thank you for the Fascist perspective. Isn't that what wasn't liked about Robert Moses?
Nov. 30, 2015, 9:19 pm

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