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Queens Chronicle

Council OKs MIH and ZQA by wide margins

NYC will become a place where ‘everyone’ can live, de Blasio says

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Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2016 10:30 am

After months of tense debate, the City Council Tuesday voted to approve Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning initiatives to create more affordable housing in the five boroughs.

“New York City is not the only city struggling with an affordable housing crisis, but it is the only one to pass a plan that will benefit half a million low-to-moderate income people, build and preserve over 200,000 affordable housing apartments, and require developers to build affordable housing,” de Blasio said in a statement issued shortly after the vote.

Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, which will require permanently affordable units in new developments and enlargements of more than 10 units, passed 42-5.

Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) was the only Queens Council member to vote against it.

Zoning for Quality and Affordability, which will relax or eliminate parking requirements for senior housing in transit zones and allow for slightly higher buildings in areas zoned for multifamily dwellings, passed 40-6 with one abstention. The Queens legislators who said no are Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Grodenchik.

The Council and de Blasio disagreed on the initiatives until last week, when Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan, Bronx) announced changes to the plans.

On MIH, the Council added another level of affordability for new units and made it so the lawmakers choose how many affordable units a developer will be required to include in the structure. It also creates a tracking system to follow how many units are created under de Blasio’s plan.

When it comes to ZQA, the Council is calling for changes to the transit map that states where parking requirements would have been eliminated. 

Both plans are part de Blasio’s goal to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024.

All but two Queens community boards voted against ZQA and MIH last year, with most of them citing the reduction in parking as their main concern.

CB 1 voted in favor, but with the caveat that some parking spots be kept. Community Board 3 voted for the plans as proposed.

During the Council’s vote, several lawmakers took time to explain why they were voting in favor of the two bills.

Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) thanked the community boards whose areas he represents, including 1 and 3, for their input on the bills, and praised the Mayor’s Office for keeping track of the panels’ complaints.

But not everyone was happy with the Council’s vote.

Protestors opposing the plans chanted during the meeting and some, according to published reports, superglued their hands together, making it harder for security to remove them from City Hall.

One protester started having back spasms and required medical attention.

Mark-Viverito called for a pause to the meeting while the ambulance treated the protester and stood by the person’s side until help arrived.

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