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Beep, seven Council members reject DeBlasio’s upzoning

The Brooklyn Paper
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It is a thumbs down for upzoning.

Borough President Adams, Council members, and community board leaders voted against two zoning changes Mayor DeBlasio is pushing as part a plan to increase the city’s housing stock and lower New Yorkers’ rents at a Borough Board meeting on Tuesday night.

The panel’s vote is only advisory, but adds to a growing chorus of opposition to the plans — the Manhattan, Queens, and Bronx borough boards have already rejected the proposals, along with the majority of Brooklyn’s community boards.

It also gives the first insight into where the borough’s Council members might stand when they cast the deciding votes next year. Most Brooklyn pols kept mum on their opinion leading up to the board vote — seven did not show up at all — but a spokeswoman for one pol said her boss thought it was important to stand in solidarity with community members.

“I think it sends a strong message that the majority of the delegation is in unison,” said Jennifer Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D–Williamsbu­rg).

Seven of Brooklyn’s 16 Council members ultimately voted against the proposal — Reynoso, Laurie Cumbo (D–Clinton Hill), Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park), Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park), Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island), Jumaane Williams (D–Canarsie), and Inez Barron (D–East New York).

The board voted 20–2 with two abstentions to reject the so-called “Zoning for Quality and Affordabil­ity” proposal — which would loosen building-size restrictions and parking requirements on new developments, especially those containing below-market-rate housing — and 20–1 with three abstentions against a second proposal that would require big housing developments on rezoned land to include so-called “affordable” units.

The two abstentions came from Robert Cornegy (D–Bedford-Stuyvesant) and Stephen Levin (D–Boerum Hill) — Cornegy because the two community boards in his district were divided, and Levin because he said he wanted more time and community feedback before making up his mind.

The board’s “no” votes came with a hodgepodge of recommendations to improve the plan — amongst others, retaining parking spaces in transit-starved nabes like Bensonhurst and Greenpoint, more incentives to prevent developers from turning senior housing into market-rate housing in the future, more protections against big buildings that will stick out in low-rise areas, and amending the mandatory below-market housing scheme to include smaller developments.

Coucil members Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay), Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick), Mathieu Eugene (D–Flatbush), Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), David Greenfield (D–Borough Park), Brad Lander (D–Park Slope), and Darlene Mealy (D–Brownsville) were no-shows.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

marsha rimler from brooklyn heights says:
Councilman Levin always needs lots and lots of time before he makes up his mind. On the BPL library issue he has had over 2 years to take a leadership role
and speak out as to how we can solve the problem of meeting library capital needs without destroying libraries. So far has been risk adverse and silent except for last week when he began asking reasoned questions. Lets see where this goes...
Dec. 2, 2015, 12:33 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
It's particularly disappointing to see Antonio Reynoso vote against affordability and reducing parking requirements. Seems like just yesterday he was being praised for his forward thinking about transportation issues. Now this?

I also kinda remember him saying on Twitter that he'd be open to reducing parking requirements, but I'm not even going to try to look that up now.
Dec. 2, 2015, 2:09 pm
BrooklynSandy from Ft Greene says:
To be noted...because the Community Boards are only advisory...there needs to be a 2/3 majority vote in the City Council to prevent de Blasio's scheme from going into effect.

All City Council Members must be pushed with enough protest to force a rejection.

REBNY's de facto purchase of many of our Council Members...whether in allowing our patrimony of libraries to be bartered away or our contextual communities encroached upon...this is as good a time as any for residents to put the brakes on a runaway rout of neighborhoods by the greedy.
Dec. 2, 2015, 4:29 pm
Park Sloper from Park Slope says:
Where was Brad Lander? What's his vote on this issue?
Dec. 2, 2015, 5:08 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
BrooklynSandy, you can have "contextual communities" or you can have affordable ones. I completely understand that the Community Boards and other I've-Got-Mine types like the contextual types. But there's no reason to let them get away with pretending they're helping the poor, the middle class, or the young. It's a recipe for displacement--but the brownstones are still pretty.
Dec. 2, 2015, 6:38 pm
Julian from Fort Greene says:
Very encouraging to see this many Council Members getting out ahead of the vote, showing principle and seriousness on the Mayor's attempt to homogenize all five boroughs and all the neighborhoods in them to make them all equally vulnerable to his zoning mash letter to developers who've given so generously to him in his climb through City politics. The zoning leaves thousands of low- and middle-income families ineligible for the affordable units, falling between income bands. This Mayor is so fixated on building 200,000 affordable units that he doesn't care or maybe doesn't notice ZQA/MIH isn't helping too many on the renting end but it sure is great for developers. I think the Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan borough boards have all voted the initiative down, led by the borough presidents. So what does de Blasio say? "Drop dead! You're only advisory." And then declares war anew on the carriage horses. Political genius.

We see Mike from Williamsburg is taking pot shots again at other posters. He doesn't advance thoughts or arguments so much as ridicule people who do.
Dec. 3, 2015, 1:53 am
Teresa says:
Let's just agree to take anything Mike says with a grain of salt. He's a Trump supporter after all. His half a decade dalliance in Brooklyn living certainly must be coming to a close soon enough.
Dec. 3, 2015, 8:35 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
People get mad when the only place De Blasio wants to upzone is East New York, because that focuses all development in one community. And the same people are mad when upzoning is proposed everywhere equally.

It's almost as if these people refuse to engage with the problem of housing New York's growing population. Sometimes the excuse is there's not enough subsidy. But the answer to that is never to allow taller buildings to get more market rate units to subsidize more affordable units (or subsidize the same units more). The answer is never to allow less parking to allow more affordable units.

One thing is clear. Opponents do not care about affordability. They use renters and the poor as tools to advance their own selfish interests. It's disgusting.

Yes, Julian, I mean you. Teresa's case for taking me with a grain of salt would have more merit if she were more accurate. Perhaps Julian could talk to Teresa about whether engaging with ideas is needed or if incorrect potshots are better.
Dec. 3, 2015, 10:25 am
Marlene from Brooklyn says:
Thank you Allegra for reporting this news in such a straight forward manner. It is also very heartening to see that there are some elected officials willing to look more deeply into what is actually being put forward in this zoning compared with the reality of such zoning achieving the stated goals.

According to census data, in 1950, Brooklyn housed than 250,000 more people than it does today. At that time there was far fewer dwelling units and dwelling places were very affordable for working families. The cost of housing in Brooklyn is clearly a far more complex situation that goes well beyond supply and demand. Particularly, given the massive amount of international investment money that has been moved form other markets and put into Brooklyn development, we can begin to see that values vrs supply and demand of housing in Brooklyn are manipulated by many other factors which this administration and their zoning resolution just ignore.

But it is time that the elected officials step up and have a real discussion about what is best for our communities and look to correct the actual factors that are behind the unreasonable cost of housing for working families in Brooklyn.
Dec. 3, 2015, 11:07 am

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