Suozzi opposes Hochul’s bill to expand accessory units in suburban areas

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U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Tom Suozzi (D – Long Island, Queens), joined some other suburban lawmakers last week to reaffirm his opposition to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s bill that would allow apartments in single-family homes that currently aren’t zoned for them.

Hochul announced the legislation last month in her 2022 executive budget proposal. It was unveiled as a part of her broader $25 billion housing plan, which has the goal of creating and preserving 100,000 units of affordable housing over the next five years. 

The bill would require municipalities to give homeowners the option to add accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to their homes in areas that are zoned only for single-family homes. ADUs are additional apartments built into existing one-family homes that can be constructed in converted basements, garages or attics as well as a separate unit adjacent to the main residence.

According to the governor’s office, the goal of the legislation is to increase the number of affordable units statewide. They also say it could provide affordable options to seniors looking to downsize but stay in the same community and children who return home during a transitional phase. It could also provide an extra stream of cash for elderly homeowners or low-income individuals.

The legislation would also mandate localities to set size requirements and safety standards for the new units. 

Suozzi – who’s running against Hochul in June’s Democratic primary for governor – and some Long Island and Westchester lawmakers are opposed to the legislation because they say the bill is a form of state government overreach and zoning decisions should be left up to individual municipalities. Additionally, they claim the proposal would eliminate single-family zoning in its current form and mandate homeowners in these areas to build ADUs in their homes.

“Governor Hochul’s radical proposal would eviscerate local zoning control, erode the authority of local governments in Westchester, and end single-family housing across New York,” Suozzi said in a release. “Instead of engaging with local communities and building consensus, Governor Hochul has chosen confrontation that will cause chaos.”

The Suffolk County Legislature also said many parts of Long Island already allow for ADUs but it should be left up to each community to decide their status.

In a written statement Hocul’s press secretary Hazel Crampton-Hays refuted the idea that this bill would eliminate single-family zoning altogether. And that lawmakers’ claims that single-family homeowners will have to build ADUs if the bill passes is false.

“The proposed bill would not end single-family zoning but would further the rights of individual homeowners to determine how best to use their property by providing homeowners on fixed incomes the opportunity to have additional rental income to stay in their homes or create multi-generational housing to care for elderly relatives, and would allow municipalities to require necessary health and safety measures for new units,” Crampton-Hays said.

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