Boro board: Zoning plan lacks parking 1

Members of the Borough Board were briefed on the city Planning Department’s plan for rezoning of residential areas. The members expressed skepticism over the proposal to reduce or eliminate parking for developments near public transit.

Members of the Borough Board on Monday expressed skepticism toward the city’s plan to relax parking requirements for senior and affordable housing located near public transit under a citywide rezoning proposal, saying that it would exacerbate an already big problem in Queens.

“Where are they going to go? This is crazy,” Community Board 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri Jr. said. “I think this plan needs to be shelved and started all over again, because again it’s Manhattan-centric.”

The members of the board were briefed on the city Planning Department’s proposed rezoning of residential areas to promote the construction of senior and affordable housing, as part of Mayor de Blasio’s initiative to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing.

The plan would allow for “different types of senior housing,” relax density restrictions for new developments and increase maximum height allowances in some areas.

But the part of the plan that irked most board members was the proposal to reduce or eliminate the requirement for parking for developments located near major public transportation hubs.

City planning officials told the Borough Board that, according to their research, people living in lower-income areas tend to own fewer or no cars.

They said the level of car ownership decreases as residents’ income goes down.

Several board members disputed that sentiment.

“I can’t think of any development in this borough where parking wasn’t an issue to some degree,” said Betty Braton, chairwoman of CB 10.

Joseph Hennessy, chairman of CB 6, added that many senior citizens still own cars and don’t get around using public transportation.

“My wife can’t use public transportation,” Hennessy said.

Braton, too, added that many people in her district use cars to get around, despite living near public transportation.

Dolores Orr — chairwoman of CB 14, which represents the Rockaways — said the agency was not looking at the “quality of public transportation” in the areas where it seeks to loosen the requirements.

Much of the eastern end of the peninsula would have less restrictive parking requirements for affordable housing if the zoning is adopted as it was presented on Monday.

“If I were to take public transportation to here, it would take me an hour and a half,” Orr said referring to the travel time between the peninsula and Borough Hall in Kew Gardens. “Driving, it takes me 30 to 35 minutes.

Arcuri added that parking is already hard to find, a point echoed by several other board members.

“On alternate-side parking days, you cannot find a spot in Ridgewood unless you double park,” he said.

City planning officials also said the parking requirements are being eased up because the cost of providing off-street spots, such as in private garages, can hamper the development of units.

Danielle DeCerbo, director of governmental affairs at the planning department, said the final text of the proposal, which will be voted on by Council member, has not yet been written up but would be available for the public to review before a vote is taken.

Residents have until 5 p.m. on April 30 to make comments on the draft proposal.

Comments may be sent to Robert Dobruskin, director of the department’s environmental assessment and review division, at New York City Department of City Planning, 22 Reade Street, 4E, New York, NY 10007 or emailed to ahousing@planning.nyc.gov.

Borough President Melinda Katz said in an emailed statement on Tuesday that she shared the members’ concerns about the lack of parking in the plan.

“Our current mass transit system — including subways, buses and Access-A-Ride — is simply insufficient in reliability, frequency and reach to warrant stripping parking requirements,” Katz said.

She added that she is happy the agency is looking to increase the number of affordable units across the borough and city.