Daily News Sept. 26, 2016 (Editorial Board) (SEE POLL BELOW)
By wielding the power of “no” more befitting a small child than an elected official, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has stopped a worthy plan for affordable housing dead in its tracks.
Thus, for the second time in as many months, an individual council member has vetoed a project aimed at increasing the supply of apartments with reasonable rents amid an uproar by anti-development constituents.
Mayor de Blasio has made building affordable housing a top priority — cheered on by the City Council’s progressive posse as long as developers build anywhere but in their districts.
He’ll kiss goodbye his dream of building 80,000 affordable units unless Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito stops empowering her members to put the interests of neighborhood naysayers over the good of New Yorkers at large.
The city’s oldest affordable apartment developer, Phipps Houses, last week withdrew a proposal to build 209 homes for tenants of modest means on a parking lot at the rim of the Sunnyside Rail Yard in Van Bramer’s Queens district.
Phipps had embarked on the city’s routine land use approval process, which journeys from community board to borough president to City Planning Commission to Council and finally to mayor.
Or should have. Van Bramer short-circuited the review before it began, declaring that he would vote no when the Council’s turn came to consider the project. Then he took petulant offense at the mayor’s promise to have “a polite but firm conversation with the councilman,” retorting, “I don’t work for the mayor.”
So, although the City Planning Commission last month unanimously approved Phipps’ plan, under custom zealously embraced by Mark-Viverito the local Council member’s position dictates that of the Council as a whole — making it pointless to proceed to a vote.