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Two Views on Zoning Text Amendments: One Writer Claims They Will Bring Big Buildings and Infrastructure Problems, Other Believes They Will Help Combat Rising Rents

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Massive citywide zoning changes move forward against our will

March 16, 2016 Op Ed by Patricia Dorfman

The City Council is set to approve two major zoning amendments next week after reaching a deal with the Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday.

The amendments, known as “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” and “Zoning for Quality and Affordability,” are designed to promote affordable housing and higher quality buildings in the City.

The amendments, for the most part, kick in when an area is upzoned—like what’s expected to take place in the Queens Plaza/Court Square section of Long Island City.

The MIH amendment makes the concept of larger buildings palatable when an area gets rezoned. City Planners will tell us that bigger buildings make sense when they rezone a neighborhood—since, hey, they include affordable housing.

There seems to be a rush on the Council’s part to push these changes through. Yesterday, the council announced a quick deal with the mayor signing off on the text amendments after requiring the mayor to make more of the affordable units available for those with low incomes.

Prior to Monday’s deal, opposition against the amendments was strong. It is still too early to tell how people will react to the council deal.

However, in its initial form it was panned by residents mainly due to the strain it would cause on the infrastructure, not the income level of the affordable tenants.

Passage would be in defiance of 50 of New York City 59 community boards that voted against these proposals, as did four out of five borough presidents, including Melinda Katz of Queens.

The plans seem to have been generated by asking big real estate how they could afford to provide more affordable and senior housing – by giving them, say, more floors, in exchange for more affordable units versus luxury.

Builders wanted the large scope to make the deal attractive. No pilot projects or community based-solutions were on the table.

So to get the 200,000 affordable and senior housing units that de Blasio is determined to build over the next decade, we are bringing in multitudes of wealthy renters, and billing taxpayers for what comes next.

I see four major negative consequences of these zoning amendments:

1) New York City becomes less habitable as we are subject to massively increased construction, more buildings, greater building height, danger to landmarks and markedly increased density. How many buildings will be built to have a portion constitute 200,000 units? Too many. Why so close to Manhattan? Because that is where luxury renters will pay more.

2) In our city’s past experience, luxury unit proliferation creates higher rents, displacing residents and driving out small business. Who will be able to afford the new retail spaces but banks and chain stores?

3) Local voices are stomped on, as we see already with the dismissal of our community boards’ and borough presidents’ concerns.

4)The billions needed for infrastructure will fall to taxpayers for already inadequate public transit, green space, sewers, schools, hospitals, parking, and civic services. And where will the space be to create the infrastructure with a newly crammed landscape?

Asking big real estate advice made some sense, but their solution was like having the foxes redesign the henhouse. The results will not be affordable nor be about affordability. They are effectively a Trojan horse for big real estate. The results will not be about affordable housing. And if we are going to pay billions anyway for infrastructure to support the new construction and population, why not use our money to just build affordable housing without overdeveloping the city?  How about fixing current infrastructure?

There has been little widespread protest from the Democratic Party or “Democratic Machine.” Unsurprisingly, public backing has come from NYC’s most powerful unions.

And for such a large issue, the rush, the future impact, there is a shocking lack of meaningful examination or editorial concern from major media.

What can New Yorkers do right now to stop the permanent over-development of all five boroughs, set to go through?

Email or call your Council Member today and ask that both proposals be rejected. I have contacted my Council Member, whom I support, and whom I trust to vote against the proposals.

But the Speaker and a majority of council members must be in opposition for these amendments to be stopped.

Owners and developers are entitled pursue profits but not at the expense of the City, against our will, with our legislators not yet hearing us.

Long term solutions to help equalize the “stacked deck,” decades in the making, favoring big real estate interests, might include:

1) Pass the Small Business Job Survival Act, which gives more negotiating tools to renters, and would slow the property speculation turning the city upside down, and displacing small businesses.

2) Make more community-based the boards of directors of the 71 NYC Business Improvement Districts to half small merchants and residents, not a landlord majority, and impose board term limits.

3) Vet projects through local community boards.

4) Phase out the taxpayer-financed Board of Standards and Appeals, which can a provide loophole for developers.

(The author is Director of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce)


Wolkoff development of the old 5 Pointz site. City required 20% of the units to be affordable

The developer of the former 5 Pointz site is required to put aside more than 200 units for affordable housing.

Zoning text amendments help combat rising Long Island City rents

March 16, 2016 By James Gaine, Long Island City, Queens

You can’t help but notice how quickly New York City is changing, especially since most of the changes coincide with higher rents, fewer and fewer available apartments, and accompanying changes to the character of our neighborhood.

I moved to Long Island City 26 years ago, and those changes are as noticeable here as they are all over our city.

There used to be a time when for many of us in Queens, Manhattan was the competitive, expensive part of New York that gave this city its reputation as one of the most expensive real estate markets in the US. But now, places like Long Island City have become fair game for developers to build large, expensive, and often out of context new apartment buildings. For working people in Queens, that means a direct hit on affordability and on what “home” looks like.

I am a banquet waiter at Le Parker Meridian, and have been a proud member of the Hotel Trades Council for 32 years. I live in Long Island City, Queens, and I have lived here for 26 years.

There is no place I would even dream of calling home except for right here in Long Island City. So for me, the rising rents and changing neighborhood are extremely worrisome. What if my friends and family leave because they can’t afford it anymore? What if I can’t afford to grow old in my own neighborhood? Where would I even go? As someone who makes a living by welcoming and hosting visitors to our city, it seems crazy that I wouldn’t be able to afford living here myself.

New Yorkers need to see real action so we don’t have to ask ourselves these questions every day.

That’s why I support the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) proposals announced yesterday, and I am proud that our Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer supports them as well.

The MIH proposal includes a requirement for 25-30% of all new development to include affordable housing. In other words, real estate developers can’t get approval for new buildings without ensuring that a portion of them will be affordable. And ZQA will change building rules so that new buildings can more closely match the ones around them, and even more importantly, help enable more housing for senior citizens. Seniors have been neglected for far too long, and we have an opportunity to make sure that New York can be an affordable place for people of all ages.

I’m extremely thankful that Jimmy worked hard with the Council, the Speaker, and the de Blasio administration to improve the plan by making changes in response to our community’s feedback, and to make sure that the quality and character of our district will be preserved under the proposal. MIH and ZQA not only set minimum affordability requirements for the first time but also offer enormous tools to leaders like Jimmy to work to ensure that new developments do the most good and the least harm to our neighborhoods.

I’m calling on the City Council to pass these proposals as soon as possible. If MIH and ZQA become law, our government will have taken the biggest step it ever has to ensure that NYC remains a city for everyone.


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Joe at the Berkley

James Gaines You may want to do a little historical fact checking. Manhattan wasn’t always a Borough of wealthy neighborhoods the overwhelming majority of those wealthy neighborhoods were all once poor, working class and middle income neighborhoods. Queens had huge waves of displaced Manhattan residents from declines of such neighborhoods as the Lower East Side, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem and from the gentrification of Yorkville and Greenwhich Village as well. That’s exactly how I arrived in the 60’s. It would be sad if you were not able to afford to grow old in your current neighborhood but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. You will have officially become a New Yorker if you were priced out of “your neighborhood” just like me my neighbors, co workers and our relatives were and continue to be. Victims of our own success.

Save Sunnyside

Stop your whining folks, these are the people you elected to represent you!

Now you got a knife right in your back from them!!!!!!!!!!



Why on earth should we help pay the rent of James gaine? Why should he receive a break while others do not ? This is starting to sound like a form of rent control


-Merriam Wbester

Full Definition of commerce:
1: social intercourse : interchange of ideas, opinions, or sentiments
2: the exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale involving transportation from place to place

Funny seems to reach the legal definition of “commerce”. Nice try..It would be commerce to a partisan like you if it were a Republican administration involved..


-Rocky Strange how you and luvu2 keep answering for each other. Forget to change the name in the name field before hitting comment button….Republican party of the stupid….

Rocky Balboa

Great minds think alike. Keep voting for the one term mayor and watch your neighborhood turn into garbage! Silly girl!

Tab hunter the second

Bernie gonna get your money Angela and takr ýour home


@Sean Where are the facts that the Ny Post has an agenda? Oh, there is none! just your stupid opinion again!!!!!!

Joe at the Berkley

-Rocky This is the second time you posted a link claiming an article is related to the topic of discussion and it’s not. First the link to the Frontpage rag and now this ridiculous rant in the NY Post. Michael Goodwins article is nothing but a rant. Do you know the difference between analytic journalism and a rant? Obviously not. Go look it up, you hysterical fool and stop wasting peoples time and humiliating yourself.


-Sean you’re catching up with Rocky in the idiot department and too lazy to google a simple well known fact. NY Post is owned by News Corp. The executive chairman of News Corp. is Rupert Murdoch who gave $1 Million dollar to every Republican governor in US. Facts. Agenda. Also another fact for you, the biggest share holder of News Corp. is a Saudi Prince hence their deliberate misinformation. You and Rocky really need to educate yourselves. You’re way too gullible. The more you know the harder it is to be lied to. Knowledge is power.


@Sean As i said, where are the facts? You just rambled off a bunch of BS… Show us all here your facts, with the documents to prove it, otherwise, it’s all horsesh*t…

Why did Sunnyside get stuck with idiots such as yourself, why couldn’t your family have stayed on the 7 train a few more stops before they decided to rent an apartment?


-Sean You sound like Whitney Houston in her infamous interview with Barbara Walters “show me the receipts.” Rupert Murdochs Million Dollar donations to Republican governors has never been disputed by Murdoch and has been openly spoken about by Murdoch. Is it that hard to do a simple Google search? Are just acting out because you’ve been duped by your deceptive news source? Are you angry because these facts are not the facts you want to hear? Sean, I doubt if your family has been in Sunnyside before my family, my family has owned bars, restaurants, rental properties and homes in Sunnyside since the 1930’s. It’s obvious by reading the posts you have been providing to this comment stream that you’re a poorly educated transplant. Probably from a place where it’s impossible to make a decent living because of gullible and poorly educated constituency voting in bad policies and politicians.


@Sean Just as we all figured, you have NO facts! Why should we have to look up some BS you made up on google? If it’s on Google, why didn’t you post it to back up your so called “facts”.
Go back to watching your Barbara Walter interviews?! Lol. You’re a bigger jerk than I thought.

And… “Your family”, NOT YOU, owneD, not ownS bars, properties etc.. I’m sure it’s easy to figure out why they didn’t succeed in the hospitality industry. Bwahaha!!
Lastly, yes, I do believe your family has been here since the 1930’s, that’s when the poorest of the poor moved here to work the farms 🙂 That’s what your family has in common with the folks your mayor is moving into the pan am hotel & any other free space he can find. Thieves & crooks.


-Sean “show me the receipts” the angry teabagger. Wow, you really showed your stupidity and lack of education. Typical teabagger reaction, just ignore easily verifiable facts and they’ll go away and your silly little delusional fantasy will remain true in your small angry mind. No matter how you slice it you’re still being manipulated and deliberately being misinformed by Fox News in the name of Murdochs political agenda. Something Murdoch has openly admitted. As for the Irish who first moved to Sunnyside in the 1930’s being the poorest of the poor that is absolutely incorrect. According to the 1930 census the people of the enumeration district that included Sunnyside were in the income bracket well above the poorest of the poor. Fact. But then again facts truth and history don’t matter to an ignorant and arrogant teabagger like you. Also, there was a large Jewish community in the district at this time as well but being devoid of facts and history, you wouldn’t know this. You sound like you have a contempt of poor and (or) Irish people. Only a real New Republican teabagging uneducated weak minded fool would show a contempt of a people who value hard work and education. I also forgot to mention my family also owned a moving company as well. Since you neglected to ask, to get the facts, since you already knew it wouldn’t fit with your angry narrative., as if that would matter to an imbecile like you. The family business’s were all fairly successful affording all of us nice homes, vacations and access to great educations. The family is filled with lawyers, NYPD Detectives, nurses, engineers and even a Pulitzer prize winning writer. This would probably just add to your anger and frustration. Whats the matter Sean -show me the receipts? Life in the city is too hard for you sweetie, you can’t swing it with two thirds of your menial wage salary going to rent and you still have to live with two roommates? Everyone else is out enjoying life eating and drinking in restaurants bars you can’t afford. Driving cars you can’t afford to park. Going on magnificent vacations you can only dream of.The mayor is worried about people in the lower class, the one you’re quickly approaching, and doing nothing for an ungrateful angry bitter loner like yourself. Are you this angry because you’re a loser? That would explain all the denial. Have a good day angry under achiever.

Joe at the Berkley

I think the jerk posting under Sean “show me the receipts” is actually the person who posts under Rocky Balboa. There can’t be two people this stupid in the same neighborhood.


@Sean I think you need a valium darling… You spend an awful lot of time on the internet, looking up the 1930 census, and info on your idol, Murdoch, to make yourself feel smarter lol! Btw, i never saw proof of some saudi prince owner forcing the Ny Post to deliberately misinform the public, is that on google, maybe bing? 🙂

Perhaps you should go on one of those fancy vacations you write about that you & your drunk/Irish family take to the Rockaways, Bear mtn or Flushing Meadows Park? ***Insert incredible hearty laugh here.

Or maybe just get yourself a cat, i heard it’s calming & gives you a reason to get up in the morning.

Being as you have all these *ahem successful peeps in your family, “once again, not you, but your distant make-believe family” i’m wondering if you might have a wee lil irishman that’s a City Council leader? lol
That might explain your crusade to be 100% right (in your own mind) in remarks on silly stories in the Sunnyside Post??? I guess that just come from the Pulitzer Prize gene that was passed down your royal lineage *sarcasm

And yes wee lad… I AM A TEABAGGER! And by you knowing that, it only proves to me that you & your family were victims of my teabagging your eyes at the pool/beach! Your welcome!

Now go run along baby sean, you need to rest.


His mother is Irish, you tool.
How was happy hour at the gin mill today?

Rocky Balboa

There is no such thing as “affordable housing”; somebody (the taxpayers) is paying for it. Please read Michael Goodwin’s excellent analysis on how this is all a sleight of hand to make it look as if the mayor is reducing ‘homelessness”. The taxpayers will be on the hook for this “affordable housing” to the developers. As for our infrastructure, it is already being clobbered.

Joe at the Berkley

Affordable housing is housing deemed affordable to those with a median household income as rated by country, State (province), region or municipality by a recognized Housing Affordability Index. Rocky please stop posting idiocy the world is watching along with your neighbors, relatives and co workers. Grow up.


Our politicians are the best con men around. They learn it from developers. Just take a look at what NYC’s most famous King of Crass is doing to the entire nation. Shame on all of them.


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