Mayor, Council agree on affordable housing 1

The City Council is set to give Mayor de Blasio a huge victory next week when it votes on his signature affordable housing bills.

The City Council at its next full meeting on Tuesday is expected to pass Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning initiatives after changes were made to both proposals, increasing the affordability of units in new developments and keeping closer track of what is being built.

The agreement was reached by de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan, Bronx) on Monday, which the mayor in a prepared statement said makes way for the strongest, most progressive affordable housing policies in the nation.

“Years from now, we will look back on this as a watershed moment when we turned the tide to keep our city a place for everyone,” de Blasio said.

As it relates to Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, which would require permanently affordable units in new developments and enlargements of more than 10 units, the plan now has four options for developers, whereas it previously only had three.

The first requires 10 percent of the units be affordable at 40 percent of the area median income. Before it had called for 25 percent of the units at 60 AMI. The second option has 30 percent of the units set aside at 80 AMI and the third has 30 percent at 115 AMI -—with 5 percent of those at 90 AMI and another 5 percent at 70 AMI.

The new fourth option has 20 percent of the units at 40 AMI.

Developers will also have no say in what option they get to pick: City officials and area Council members will make the decision before approving any development.

Other changes to MIH include the Mayor’s Office working with the Council to create a law ensuring the affordability requirements are adhered to; creating a means to track the number of units created under the proposal; providing any applications to the Board of Standards and Appeals to area Council members and community boards; and ensuring tenants living in affordable housing have access to all building amenities.

In regard to the Zoning for Quality and Affordability plan, which would relax or eliminate parking requirements for senior housing in transit zones and allow for slightly higher buildings in areas zoned for multifamily dwellings, some changes were made to the proposals that irked many Queens community board members.

For one, the Council has modified the transit map that states where parking requirements would have been eliminated, though the legislative body didn’t specify what changes were made.

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

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.

The Queens Borough Board, and the boards of all the other boroughs, voted against the plans last year.

A spokeswoman for Borough President Melinda Katz, who also opposed the plans, said the office did not want to comment on whether the Council’s modifications changed her mind on the proposals until seeing the changes officially.

Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), who earlier said the plan needed to be tweaked, now fully supports the initiatives.

“Since the current voluntary system is not doing enough to serve New Yorkers earning a wide range of incomes, it is clear that we need a program that mandates affordable housing,” Richards said in an emailed statement. “We have found that balance of responsible development, while avoiding a program that stifles growth.”

Flushing-based urban planner Paul Graziano remained skeptical of the plans, saying he’d like to see how the Council modified the transit zone map and that he believed the four tiers of affordability still do not go far enough.

“This plan only goes 20 percent in the direction it needs to to help the people who need the benefits most,” Graziano, who had visited many community boards to offer his opinion on the zoning proposals, said in a Tuesday interview.

CORRECTION

This article originally said a spokeswoman for Borough President Melinda Katz did not respond to a question about changes to the zoning plans, when in fact she did respond but declined to comment on them until seeing them officially. We regret the error.

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