You are reading

Some But Not All CB 2 Concerns Addressed In Council’s Zoning Amendment Compromise


The Queens Borough Board rejected the zoning amendments

March 15, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge

The City Council has reached a compromise with Mayor Bill de Blasio on two zoning amendments that are crucial to his affordable housing plan for the City.

The zoning amendments, called Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), were designed to promote the construction of affordable housing and high quality developments.

However, local communities including in western Queens found several problems within the zoning amendments, on top of a fundamental concern with the City’s push to create more housing in already crowded neighborhoods.

The Council has “heard New Yorkers loud and clear,” in the words of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and offered numerous modifications to the original MIH and ZQA proposals.

MIH requires developers to include affordable housing units in their projects, if building on land that has been rezoned to increase housing capacity. As a part of their compromise with the Mayor, the Council added requirements to MIH that lowers the income levels that would be incorporated into these developments.

MIH VisualThe Council also created a new way for developers to build affordable housing that accommodates families making around $31,000 per year – lower than the income brackets included in the original MIH proposal.

The compromise also aims to get rid of escape hatches that would enable developers to skirt affordable housing requirements.

This issue was brought up by Community Board 2 during the discussion of the text amendments.

Under de Blasio’s MIH, developers can waive affordability requirements by claiming financial hardship through the Board of Standards and Appeals. Long Island City residents, who have long seen developers bypass zoning requirements through the BSA, took issue with this possibility.

The Council has added steps to this process, including notification of any BSA application to the affected community board and council member. Permits will also expire in four years unless significant construction has begun.

The Council deal also attempts to de-incentivize the construction of off-site affordable housing, which is permitted through MIH, and which raised red flags at a CB 2 discussion last October.

New rules state that offsite housing must produce five percent more affordable units, and developers will not be granted additional height for their market-rate projects if they put affordable housing offsite.

Within ZQA, the elimination of certain parking requirements at affordable housing in districts that are served by public transportation was a major source of contentioun in western Queens.

The Council is working to carve out modifications to the “transit zone” defined by ZQA where these parking reductions applied. A spokesperson said that the modified transit area is still being drawn up.

While these modifications tailor MIH and ZQA to local concerns, the endgame remains the creation of new housing stock in New York, which has put western Queens residents on edge for months.

Pat O’Brien, chairman of Community Board 2, told Borough President Melinda Katz when the amendments were being discussed, “we don’t have an infrastructure that can bear what the result of this could be.”

He has repeatedly characterized the zoning proposal as “trying to fit 10 pounds into a five-pound bag.”

Astoria’s community board approved the zoning amendments last fall, but on several conditions, including that any rezoning be accompanied by an upgrade in infrastructure, such as schools, utilities or mass transit.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer represents Community Board 2 and the Dutch Kills section of Community Board 1.

A spokesperson said Van Bramer is still determining his position on the new versions of MIH and ZQA and how he intends to vote is “not yet public.”

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 

“A spokesperson said Van Bramer is still determining his position on the new versions of MIH and ZQA and how he intends to vote is “not yet public.”

Oh boy, you know what this means. He is going to sell us out.


Just build affordable housing please. Enough snobby yuppies and hipsters here already. Better yet LIC is overcrowded. just STOP BUILDING PERIOD….


Yes! There is no more room! Just one example: when a person can’t get on the overcrowded E train at 7:30am, which is right before the massive rush hour, it’s a problem! It will only get worse much like the 7 already has!


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams explained that the school lost nearly a quarter of its students at the height of the pandemic due to the economic effects of the lockdown on low-income Queens households.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

These Queens eateries are participating in the upcoming NYC Restaurant Week

NYC Restaurant Week is underway, so nix that skillet and bring family and friends to your favorite neighborhood spot, or get inspired and break bread somewhere new and different. During this special citywide culinary event, food-lovers will enjoy curated menus and prix-fixe prices that are easy on the wallet.

Bookings began on Jan. 17 and are available until Feb. 12, and you can reserve a table at 30 participating Queens restaurants, along with hundreds more across the five boroughs.