Oct. 29, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Western Queens residents have pushed back against elements of the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing proposal that would allow developers to put required affordable housing units in separate buildings, or not create them at all.
Mandatory Inclusionary Housing is a proposed amendment to New York City’s zoning regulations. If ultimately approved by the City Council, it would require new developments built on land that has been rezoned to increase housing capacity to include 25 or 30 percent permanently affordable housing.
Therefore MIH is particularly relevant to Long Island City, because the City is planning to upzone the Court Square/Queens Plaza region.
However, the MIH proposal offers developers certain outs and alternatives to building affordable units within market-rate buildings, which has raised a red flag to Long Island City residents.
At an information session with the Department of City Planning and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development on Wednesday night, attendees bristled at the potential for developers to build required affordable housing units in separate buildings from market-rate units.
Developers can choose either to build affordable units on the same property as market-rate, but in a separate building, or on an entirely separate property within the same Community Board or within a half-mile, DCP and HPD representatives said.
The crowd responded with skepticism.
“Separate but equal?” one shouted. Another mumbled sarcastically, “[affordable] over there.”
DCP created these options to “maximize flexibility” for developers, representative Penny Lee said.
“We want to make sure we get the affordable housing, so we want to make sure to create enough economic opportunities to make it happen,” she continued.
HPD project manager Michael LoStocco noted that, for separate affordable buildings on the same property, the proposed MIH zoning text includes language intended to prevent “poor door” back entrances and stigmatization.
However, the proposal does not address the quality of the buildings themselves – for example, building materials – because that is not a zoning function, Lee said.
Another element of MIH that raised concerns on Wednesday is the ability to waive affordable housing requirements if the Board of Standards and Appeals finds it would create “unnecessary hardship” for the developer on a particular site.
This option is not exclusive to MIH; developers’ ability to skirt zoning regulations through the BSA has long been controversial. CB 2 Chair Pat O’Brien said Long Island City has already suffered from it, and he wants the BSA exemption removed from the MIH proposal.
“That is a real problem for us,” he said. “[The BSA] often act with a nodding head and a pen that has real negative effects on the people that know exactly what’s going on in the community.”
A study conducted by the office of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer – who cosponsored Wednesday’s meeting with CB 2 – found that of all appeals brought to the BSA citywide between 2005 and 2011, 87 percent were granted. Three percent were denied and the rest were withdrawn.
Van Bramer has introduced several pieces of legislation intended to reform the BSA, which he noted at Wednesday’s meeting.
However, the DCP appeared adamant that the BSA option be included in MIH.
“There has to be an out,” Lee said. “BSA applies to development throughout the City – there needs to be an out based on unique conditions associated with specific sites.”
A public hearing on MIH – as well as another major proposed zoning amendment called Zoning for Quality and Affordability – will take pace at an upcoming CB 2 meeting, after which the Board will vote on the proposals.
That meeting will take place on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th St.
Reach reporter Jackie Strawbridge at [email protected]
LIC has enough “Sex and the City” wannabees who fold clothes at H&M for minimum wage and think they’re the sh*t because they share a small 1BR for $3000 a month. So tired of these real estate douche-bags who want to squeeze another million in tax breaks to build “affordable” housing with side-door entrances.
Wow…that was just…incoherent.
It’s quaint that you think someone folding clothing at H&M could afford to even share a 1 bedroom for $3000 a month.
This plan displaces zero people. Rent stabilized tenants aren’t going anywhere. More housing will be built which will favor local residents so that the kids of people with stabilized leases can stay in the area.
In the City more 20 somethings move out each year than move in.
It’s an amazing stat.
The reason so many move out is that the kids who grow up here don’t want to live with their parents anymore and they can’t find an apartment in the neighborhood.
Providing more housing in the neighborhood will help locals stay.
Any mention of the need for new schools with the planned upzoning, let alone the current new projects?
Oh geez really! Leave the working class alone, they are the salt of the earth!
What? We stink? Please we are all flesh and blood! Go back to where you all came from!
No, but if you can’t afford to live here and don’t own your place, you don’t have some God-given right to be here. If the price of a restaurant goes up, do you ask for inclusionary seating at a discount rate? How about a Mercedes for the price of a Mazda? You are really just so special.
The new working class hard on: holding out your hand for a freebie.
So not only are you snotty and rude, you are boastful as well.
Those with less money have to live somewhere. If NYC pushes all the low wage people out, who is going to make your cronut or pick up your trash? People making over 100K a year? Instead of complaining, why don’t you get involved in making it better?
Sally, it is called a commute. People do it all over the country. Just because you work NYC doesn’t mean you have to live in NYC. Get over yourself…you are exactly the kind of whiny sponger So? was talking about. Zero pity for you and your so-called plight.
You’re just one of those “trickle-down” theorists who think poor folks should be sent off to the furthest fringes of the state so you don’t have to see them. Get lost!
No, I am one of those weirdos who thinks that people should earn their own way. Poor folks should live where they can afford, be it next door or on the other side of town. You clearly need to justify an entitlement sensibility by caricaturing anyone who disagrees with you. I wonder why…
Sounds more like segregation! Go ride your bike or walk your dog–and leave your laptop home, for god’s sake.
BlahBlah. To compare being priced out of an area with segregation is somewhere between a tone-deaf reading of a rather nasty chapter in American history and an uninspired sophomoric pseudo-argument. Please go read some history and stop thinking of yourself as a part of a maligned group of people. It is pretty pathetic.
Enjoy the selfies you send to mom thinking you made it in LIC! lol Many people who live in midtown Manhattan hold your views and feel the same about you and what they would call your overpriced “crap-box” apartment/home which is 5 minutes away from queens bridge projects and low income hoods. Give me a break! When gentrification began during the housing bubble, we (natives) all took note to how the TRASH in the hood was being replaced by the TRASH of suburbia.
Well, fortunately all you natives will soon be out priced. It will be so nice to not have you around any more whining about how great things were in the shadows of rotting industry.
Attitudes like yours is what is turning NYC in a place for only the rich and the very poor. And by very poor i mean those who rely on the government and our tax dollars to survive. I think city planners need to be careful of not misplacing the middle class and working poor. The best neighborhoods strike a nice balance with all income brackets being able to find affordable housing in the neighborhood.
Not really. Is a neighborhood better because there are working poor living there? I am hard pressed to see how. I would much rather more income inequality in exchange for less social engineering, which tends to cost a lot with little results to show for it. And I am all for slashing government assistance down to zero and seeing what happens.
True. Vote for Trump and he’ll do it.
Society, my friend, pays the price of throwing the “middle class” off the ladder of success, one way or another. Affordable housing when done properly has many benefits for both ends of the income spectrum. It’s very ignorant of you not to realize that concentrating poverty and wealth further weekends the middle class. Because the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Living in segregated neighbors increases fear of the unknown (which you obviously have). Open your eyes and see that we Americans can not truly succeed until we all have the opportunity to attain life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Affordable housing is designed to make areas of the city affordable for people who otherwise could not live there. This is very different from the macro structure of society. If the middle class no long can afford Hunters Point, then they will move a few stops down on the subway, not disappea from the countryr. The fact that you cannot distinguish between these two very different things shows just how logically deficient you are. I see zero benefit to artificially sustaining people in neighborhoods they no longer can afford, but I do see the potential to drag down property values by importing poverty. No thanks.
All they want to do is push out the regular working people who can not pay their outrageously high priced rents.
So? It’s called gentrification. Face it – this neighborhood is becoming upper middle class and no amount of social engineering/vote pandering is going to change that.
Gentrification is NOT a bad word. With ‘neighborhood improvement’ comes gentrification. With gentrification comes ‘neighborhood improvement’. They go hand-in-hand..
I wasn’t saying it is. I would like to see further gentrification continue in this neighborhood, as it has improved it substantially.
I’m sorry, how does all of this residential building “improve the neighborhood”?
There are no real improvements to anything else, yet we’re just going to shove more people into the space and make everything residential with “retail spaces” that will sit empty. It’s the opposite of an improvement if you ask me.
Hmmm….industrial shithole replaced by luxury apartments. Well, that is one way. Also flushing out a bland culinary landscape and replacing it with more diverse cuisines is another. I would chalk up Gantry Park as another improvement. Please, remove your rosy glasses when viewing the past.
I can agree that Gantry park is definitely an improvement. However, LIC wasn’t the “industrial shithole” you believe it was. There was an actual sense of community which is worth a hell of a lot more than any luxury apartments and self-entitled residents.
And in my opinion, the ‘culinary landscape’ is still beyond bland. You must remove your rosy glasses, or rosy tastebuds, while making that assessment. The only notable places are Mu Ramen and Casa Enrique. Two locations does not a landscape make.
No, it was an industrial shithole. There may have been a community in said shithole, but it was in the shadow of industrial decay. Anyway, I will trade “community” for property value and aesthetic any day of the week…the community I choose to be a part of is not bound by geography but by friendship and common interest. Just because you live next to me doesn’t automatically mean we have a relationship beyond the functional.
I find it laughable to say that the culinary landscape had not improved. On the metric of diversity, you are patently wrong (sorry, different regions of Italy don’t count). While I do agree that there is still a lot of room for improvement, the neighborhood is moving very much in the right direction.
If you miss the old LIC so much, I am sure Newark or some rotting steel belt city in the Midwest should suit you just fine. Otherwise, accept the direction things are moving in or move on.
Some people say gentrification is socially bad, but from a financial standpoint its great for the city and businesses in the area. Most people moving to gentrified neighborhoods have higher incomes than the ones that were there before. The home prices become higher (more property tax revenue), new businesses open (more tax revenue) and people moving in generally have fewer or no children (less stress on school districts). Then again, people that have lived in the area can be pushed away if they can’t afford to live there anymore. It’s an interesting phenomenon.
Right, that’s worked so well for businesses in Manhattan. Empty storefronts everywhere, but banks, Starbucks, and Duane Reade/Walgreens are plenty.
Absolutely…it isn’t like there are any restaurants, grocery stores, or other stores in Manhattan. I mean, it is just empty storefront after empty storefront. Or not. Last time I checked, vacancies are near zero in Manhattan. Not sure what parallel universe you are talking about. Really, what businesses exactly are missing in Manhattan that Amazon.com or other vendors on the Internet cannot replace?
Frank, you are clearly a real estate broker/developer, work for the mayor/VanBramer, or whatever. Near zero vacancies is a blatant lie. You must pull that info from the same place that says crime is down.
Aside from the obvious way of looking at street front properties, there are ample data out there supporting a tight commercial market. Since Google seems beyond you, here is 10 seconds of my time. Now please provide data that support this so-called glut of vacancies in the City. While you are at it, find data supporting an increase in crime broadly across the City; as I recall, the “increase” in crime is restricted primarily to existing high crime areas (shall I Google that for you too?
Gentrification – When a bunch of white people move in and open cup cake shops.
This is the equivalent of Shell Oil executives doing a ‘walking tour’ through an amazon jungle village, getting excited at all the prosperity the new drilling rigs will bring.
Rent-stabilized doesn’t mean it stays the same. They will push you out and up any way they can. “Maintenance” is a con word 99% of the time.
Gentrification is good for the city for the short run but it’s not sustainable in the long-run. Trends and fads change. Property values go up and also down. With gentrification I have seen and witnessed more poverty and more income inequality.
Soon the upward spiral of desirability and increasing rents and property values will erode the very qualities that began attracting new people to Long Island City in the first place.