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March 23, 2016

REZONING PLANS APPROVED:
WHAT WE WON,
WHAT WE LOST,
WHAT WE STILL NEED TO DO

Dear friend,

Yesterday the City Council voted to approve modified versions of the Mayor’s citywide rezoning plans, ‘Zoning for Quality & Affordability’ and ‘Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.’  The plans have been modified considerably since they were first introduced, and we won some incredibly important, hard-fought changes.  But the plans also include some elements we strongly opposed, and these lay out much work we need to do from here.

In summary:

What We Won: As a result of our advocacy, the proposed increases in allowable height for market-rate developments in contextual zoning districts were entirely eliminated.  Thus in our contextual zoning districts in the Far West Village and in most of the contextual zoning districts in the East Village we fought so hard for, the height limits remain intact.  We also won elimination of the proposed changes to the ‘sliver law,’ which prohibits certain narrow, overly-tall buildings from being erected on residential streets, and the proposed expanded allowances for rear yard incursions (i.e. being able to build new buildings all the way to the back of a property, eliminating the required rear yard).  So these existing protections remain in place.

What We Lost:  In ‘Inclusionary Zoning’ districts in our neighborhood, height limits have been increased ONLY for new developments that include 20% affordable or senior affordable housing, though the increase in height was reduced in some cases.  Where height limits were 80 feet, the Mayor proposed 105 foot height limits, but the City Council only approved 95 feet (this applies to Avenues A and C, 1st Avenue, and 2nd Avenue north of 3rd Street, and most of our proposed University Place/Broadway rezoning).  Where height limits were 120 feet, the Mayor and City Council agreed to increase them to 145 feet (this applies to Avenue D, Houston Street, 2nd Avenue below 3rd Street, 3rd/4th Avenue corridors [including midblocks], and part of our proposed University Place/Broadway rezoning)The stronger height limits we fought for governing new market rate developments in these areas remain in place

GVSHP opposed these increases in height limits because our studies found that the limits rarely interfered with the production of the 20% affordable housing (as the City claimed), and that increasing the height limits alone was unlikely to result in increased production of affordable housing, just taller buildings.  GVSHP proposed instead a narrower, more targeted approach that would ensure that in the rare cases where existing height limits might interfere with full inclusion of affordable housing,  new buildings could exceed height limits only to the degree necessary to include the affordable housing, rather than lifting height limits for such developments across the board.  The Mayor and City Council refused to consider this alternative.

Example of new development in existing contextual zone on Second Avenue in East Village which fits in with surroundings.

What We Still Need To Do: GVSHP has and will continue to closely monitor new developments in  our neighborhood to ensure that they only get the additional bulk and height the law allows if and when they are providing the required affordable housing, which has been an ongoing concern of ours. Another concern is that the Mayor’s plans make the creation of new affordable housing contingent upon massive future upzonings that will shatter the scale and character of neighborhoods while also vastly increasing the amount of market rate, often luxury, housing produced at the same time. The Mayor has also indicated that he will only consider new rezonings which include such massive upzonings.  This is evidenced by his continued rejection of our University Place/Broadway rezoning proposal and our South Village rezoning proposal, as well as the massive upzoning he has planned for the St. John’s site.

Many preservation and affordable housing groups agree that this is a troubling approach, which will actually decrease the affordability of neighborhoods while destroying their scale and character.  We are reaching out and working with other groups to push for needed zoning changes that maintain neighborhood scale and character while including provisions for affordable housing.

Your advocacy and participation made a HUGE difference!  We flooded the Mayor and the Council with thousands of emails and showed up in force at hearings and rallies, and as a result, much of our neighborhood and many other neighborhoods were protected from much of the worst of this plan.  THANK YOU!

But we still have a lot of work to do.

HOW TO HELP:

•    Fight for changes to the proposed St. John’s Rezoning  and to protect the nearby South Village > >

•   
Call for zoning protections to prevent high-rises in the University Place/Broadway corridor
> >


Sincerely,

Andrew Berman
Executive Director



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