LANDMARK WEST! asked BFJ Planning to review Mayor De Blasio’s City Planning proposals “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” and “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing”. Click here for a copy of their full critique.
Below are some of their key findings:
Both ZQA and MIH affect the whole city and raise the question as to why the administration is not pursuing a more deliberative process for a zoning initiative that purports to address the important issue of creating affordable housing.
It would seem not only prudent but good government to engage in more careful analysis of these proposals rather than to discover once it is a “done deal” that many unintended consequences or collateral damage has resulted.
The initiative itself is city-wide and raises the question of whether “one size fits all.” …the Upper West Side is a neighborhood that will be more greatly impacted by these proposals than others.
The impact of these changes will affect more than the height or bulk of buildings. It will ultimately result in new development that could eliminate existing affordable housing and small businesses through rising rents.
ZQA and MIH set proposed building density and height changes on a collision course with not only contextual zoning district protections, but also landmark and historic district protections.
The proposed amendments would impact CB7 with height (up to 40 feet) and FAR [square footage] (averaging 20 percent) increases that are far above technical adjustments. Instead, they present much more substantial height and density increases.
ZQA effectively erases differences in allowable heights between wide and narrow streets.
ZQA would allow encroachment into the rear yard. Extensions of buildings are not desirable as a matter of public health, safety and quality of life.
ZQA exempts affordable housing from the Sliver Rules that limit the heights of buildings on lots less than 45 feet wide. This may encourage the demolition of existing, relatively small, residential buildings that contain dwelling units that are currently affordable. In addition, it may result in new, narrow buildings that are significantly taller than their neighbors and out of character with their built context.
[Special permit and variance processes] may lead to developments that enjoy increased bulk and density without providing the promised affordable housing.