East New York: To Rezone or Not Rezone?

Photo by Edrei Rodriguez

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Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to upzone East New York is not moving easily through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. On Monday, the City Council held a hearing on the controversial plan.

But where do you stand?

What the de Blasio administration wants

More affordable housing. The current proposal would give developers permission to build higher structures in the nabe, creating nearly 6,500 more new apartments — half of them affordable — in East New York, Ocean Hill, and Cypress Hills over the next 15 years.

Supporters of the proposal argue that by allowing the construction of slightly taller and denser buildings and investing in infrastructure, the rezoning would bring new life and retail to the area, improve public safety, and help forestall displacement of current residents.

What the critics want

More-affordable affordable housing. And anti-gentrification measures. A number of critics claim that the income targets of the new affordable units are higher than what current neighborhood locals are able to afford. With this influx of new residents paying higher rents, current residents worry that they’ll be priced out of their own neighborhood.

The rezoning plan has been rejected by the area’s two community boards, disapproved by the borough president, and approved by the City Planning Commission.

Borough President Eric Adams would also like to see the plan altered to require new affordable units be permanently affordable, and for more anti-displacement measures to be put in place. And local City Council Member Rafael Espinal would like lower rents for the subsidized apartments and a local hiring requirement for new area businesses.

Some East New York preservationists are also calling for protections for the area’s historic buildings.

The City Council’s official vote will take place by mid-April, according to the ULURP timeline.

East New York Brooklyn Subway February 2016

East New York. Photo by Edrei Rodriguez

Five facts:

    • A three-person household would need to make $19,989 to $69,930 a year to qualify for one of the new affordable units, according to City Planning.
    • East New York’s median household income was $31,986 in 2012, according to the most recent census data.
    • The city will spend a portion of its $1 billion infrastructure fund to support the rezoning, including developer subsidies, Politico noted.
    • Rents in East New York rose by 26 percent between 2000 and 2013, while the average rent increase in Brooklyn was 16 percent, the New York Daily News quoted Housing Commissioner Vicky Been as saying.
    • East New York’s zoning has changed little since 1961.

Do you think the rezoning needs to include more affordable housing options? Should it happen at all?

Related Stories
De Blasio’s East New York Rezoning Plans Not Affordable Enough, Group Says in New Report
De Blasio Promotes East New York Rezoning Plan to Skeptical Locals
Borough President Adams Says No to Mayor’s Affordable Housing Plan for East New York

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