Brooklyn Borough Board Rejects Mayor’s Affordabilty and Zoning Proposals


    The people have spoken, and they don’t like Mayor de Blasio’s controversial proposals on zoning and affordable housing. Brooklyn officials and politicians met publicly at Brooklyn Borough Hall Tuesday night and overwhelmingly voted to reject the two proposals.

    The rare and unusual vote by the Brooklyn Borough Board was part of an obscure aspect of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process.

    Brooklyn Board BP Adams

    The Brooklyn Borough Board

    The Brooklyn Borough Board is composed of Borough President Eric L. Adams, Council Members from each Brooklyn district, and the chairpersons of Brooklyn’s 18 community boards. The group voted heavily against both proposals.

    The two hotly contested proposals, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability, both present significant alterations to Brooklyn’s zoning code and affordable housing requirements. The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing proposal would require developers to set aside 25 to 30 percent of developments for affordable units on sites that take advantage of a rezoning.

    The Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal would alter the zoning code, changing the bulk of buildings by increasing height limitations and easing set-back restrictions, among other amendments to the current code.

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    How the Vote Went

    The group resoundingly rejected both proposals. Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability received mirror votes, with 20 against, one in favor, and two abstaining during both votes.

    The single favorable votes came from Community Board 18 (representing Canarsie and Marine Park) in the case of Zoning for Quality and Affordability, and Community Board 11 (representing Gravesend and Bensonhurst) for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.

    Council Member Stephen Levin and Council Member Robert Cornegy abstained from voting both times.

    Notably, the resolutions were phrased in the negative (Brooklyn Borough Board Resolution to Disapprove According to Modifications to the Quality and Affordable Housing Zoning Text Amendment or Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Zone Text Amendment respectively) and thus Council Members and chairpersons in fact voted in the affirmative in order to disapprove the proposals. “A yes vote means you’re voting with your Borough President,” BP Adams clarified to confused representatives.

    The results of the Brooklyn Borough Board stand in line with borough community boards’ votes, most of which opposed the propositions as well, as Brownstoner has reported.

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    A Quick Meeting

    There was little public discussion of the proposals, and the meeting was over within an hour.

    “There are too many generalities, and I have concerns regarding AMIs,” Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo told Brownstoner, referring to Area Median Income. AMI is used to calculate eligibility for affordable units. Critics say it leads to the creation of affordable units that are too expensive.

    The proposals would also not be good for her district because it already has so much senior housing, she added.

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    What the Vote Means

    The vote is advisory, but it can have repercussions. The Brooklyn Borough President will also weigh in on the matter separately from this vote.

    If his vote is also negative, then the City Council will be required to have an additional hearing on the matter. Ultimately, the City Council and the Mayor have the final say.

    However, Tuesday’s vote also gives insight into how Brooklyn is feeling on the matter: Overwhelmingly negative. The proposals have been criticized on a variety of grounds, as Brownstoner has reported extensively.

    Some fear changes to the zoning code could wipe out hard-won contextual zoning, which keeps heights low in historic and residential districts, even if they are not landmarked.

    [Photos: Hannah Frishberg]

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