Mayor Adams, housing and NYC – New York Daily News

For nearly 50 years, most of New York City has simply said “no” to meaningful affordable and fair housing development. The creation of historic districts (mostly in Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn), outer-borough downzonings, and peculiar zoning rules for specific neighborhoods have all restricted growth and contributed to a severe housing emergency.

Given what those neighborhoods tend to have in common, this persistent culture of “no” has made our city both segregated and unfair. That is why the Adams administration’s City of Yes framework is such a welcome development.

Citywide zoning text amendments are not easily accomplished, but they are absolutely vital to pursue.

Affordable housing has been heavily concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods in which the city acquired large amounts of land during the foreclosure crisis of the 1970s and ‘80s. As a result, some Council districts have produced huge amounts of affordable housing, and others, almost none at all.

Private rezonings, in which individual developers propose an upzoning to facilitate new, typically mixed-income housing, often face a hostile reception. Sometimes this is due to local antipathy towards deeply affordable housing, sometimes to local opposition to housing that is thought to be not affordable enough, and sometimes it’s simply blowback against someone who dared to want to erect a new tall building.

All this opposition is not surprising, given that recent research has shown that voters in the U.S. support new housing in general, but tend to oppose specific local projects.

The Adams administration is taking concrete action to fight these lamentable trends. The “City of Yes” proposal, which incorporates three citywide zoning text amendments, would make the production of affordable housing dramatically easier across the five boroughs.

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First, it would make special rules, currently only available for senior housing, available for all affordable housing, which means that affordable buildings could be built significantly taller and with more apartments than before.

Second, the proposal would reduce off-street parking requirements. Parking, which typically has to be put in underground or street-level garages, is an enormous expense that adds tens of thousands of dollars onto the cost of every apartment. And not requiring parking in new buildings is the fastest way to both reduce traffic and get cars off the road.

Finally, City Planning has proposed relaxing density requirements that force new developments to be predominantly two-bedroom units, in spite of the market needing studios. Without adequate studio apartments and single-room occupancy buildings, renters (like this author) shack up with roommates who can collectively outbid families for two- and three-bedroom units, even though we might prefer to live alone.

The proposal would accomplish many other laudable goals, such as allowing elevated solar panels, making commercial spaces more flexible, and finally killing the ghost of the problematic Cabaret Law, all of which should be encouraged for sustainability and equitable economic development.

However, the three aforementioned housing proposals would be the most impactful, and the Adams administration and the Department of City Planning should be applauded for proposing them.

The City Council, the borough presidents, and the community boards have been calling for more affordable housing for many years now, and they now have to opportunity to approve a zoning framework that will facilitate more affordable housing across the city. It’s time to say “yes” to the City of Yes.

Lloyd is director of policy at the New York State Association for Affordable Housing.

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