NY Lawmakers on the Move April 29, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

CM Hudson’s Lauds City Council for Approving Land-Use Proposals 

City Council Member Crystal Hudson

City Council Member Crystal Hudson (D-Brooklyn) yesterday lauded the council’s land use approval of  two residential developments in Prospect Heights at 870-888 Atlantic Avenue and 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue

By greenlighting these projects, the City sets a new tone for future land-use proposals, showing that developers can and must offer more than required under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program, Hudson said..

The 870-888 Atlantic Avenue project will provide approximately 228 dwelling units, and 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue will provide approximately 210 dwelling units. In total, these properties will bring approximately 150 units combined in affordable housing. Both properties will include commercial and community facility space on the ground floor.

The Council secured binding commitments from the developers for record-setting rates of affordable housing units in these projects, raising the standard for development across our City. Per the agreement, 35% of each building’s floor area will be allocated for affordable units, 10% more affordable housing than is required under MIH Option 1. A majority of the units will be set aside for families making between $38,000 and $57,000 per year, or 40% and 60% of the area median income (AMI), respectively. A smaller subset of the affordable units will be set aside for families making 80% AMI, or $76,000 per year. 

“We’re setting down a new path today,” said Hudson. “For too long, developers have driven the land use and planning process in this City. They’ve convinced New Yorkers that affordability quotas and community demands will stifle development in a time when we need to build more to confront the growing affordability and housing shortage we’re facing. However, the truth is developers can stand to do much more. They can exceed the MIH minimums that do not meet the needs of the majority of working New Yorkers, and they can commit to improving public infrastructure in the communities they purport to serve.”

Epstein, Kavanagh Announce Bill Empowering NYC to Legalize Existing Basement Apartments

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein
State Senator Brian P. Kavanagh

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein (D-Manhattan), chair of the Assembly subcommittee on Retention of Homeownership and Stabilization of Affordable Housing and Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan), chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development yesterday unveiled legislation to pave the way for the enactment of local laws legalizing basement apartments.  

The bill (S8783/A9802) allows for the establishment of a program to address the legalization of specified accessory dwelling units in a city with a population of one million or more.

Under the bill, the City would get the local control, legal tools, and discretion it needs to create a program to bring existing illegal basement units into conformance with the state’s safety standards without having to comply with elements of the state multiple dwelling law that have historically inhibited the formalization of these units, including the State’s ban on basement apartments except in very limited circumstances. 

Currently, the application of the multiple dwelling law to two-family  homes that could in theory convert basements to livable apartments would  render many conversions prohibitively expensive due to the requirements of the multiple dwelling law.

“There are tens of thousands of New Yorkers living in basement apartments right now. They live without the same strong tenant protections that other renters enjoy. We can’t ignore the fact that illegal apartments exist. We should recognize that they are an important part of our city’s affordable housing stock and ensure that they are safe for the residents. I am proud to be joined by advocates and many of my colleagues in the State Legislature and the New York City Council in creating a pathway to safely legalize these apartments in our city,” said Epstein.

“As we learned last summer in tragic fashion, we need to take steps to ensure that tenants have affordable access to safe and dignified housing. This legislation provides the City of New York with the tools it needs to bring existing illegal basement units into conformity with the state’s safety standards. It also provides protections for the residents of these units, many of whom are immigrants, and may be hesitant to report unsafe conditions,” said Kavanagh.

CM Rivera Introduces Legislative Package Championing People-Powered Mobility

Council Member Carlina Rivera
City Council Member Carlina Rivera

City Council Member Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan)  yesterday introduced a legislative package to address systemic gaps in support and infrastructure for open spaces and green transportation in communities citywide.

The package includes four bills carried by Rivera, along with Committee on Transportation Chair and Majority Whip Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers, which equip New York City with the tools necessary to promote equitable access to open spaces and people-powered modes of transportation while furthering efforts toward climate justice and resiliency. The bills include:

  •         Greenway Master Plan: The City last issued a greenway plan in 1993 under Mayor Dinkins, but 30 years later, many of New York’s 100 miles of greenways exist only on paper, with no comprehensive network citywide. Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color have historically seen the least investment in greenway infrastructure and a new Greenway Master Plan would encourage community engagement to create and extend healthy open spaces into every corner of the City.
  •         Office of Active Transportation: With 2022 poised to be the deadliest year for traffic fatalities under Vision Zero, the City must continue to focus on making a safer, greener, and more accessible New York City a reality. The Office of Active Transportation and Transportation Advisory Board would play a vital role in addressing the concerns of New Yorkers who use active transportation, from the Deliveristas who power our City to rollerbladers gliding down Open Streets to families on weekend bike rides.
  •         Office of Pedestrians: Of the 59 New Yorkers who have tragically lost their lives due to car crashes this year alone, 29 have been pedestrians. If passed, the Office of Pedestrians could merge with the Office of Active Transportation to ensure the safety and interests of pedestrians are addressed and protected with the full force of a citywide agency.
  •         Bike Infrastructure Map: For New Yorkers who rely on the City’s network of bike lanes to get where they need to go, the lack of real-time information on bike lane conditions can be dangerous, and often prohibitive to those who may want to start biking. A real-time Bicycle Infrastructure Map hosted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) would provide cyclists with live updates regarding current conditions, including traffic congestion or obstructions caused by construction, inclement weather, and other hazards.

“Accessing safe open spaces for the enjoyment of active transportation and recreation should be a right available to all New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” said Rivera. “This package of legislation will ensure we are able to strengthen community ties and create new opportunities for neighborhood engagement in green infrastructure that serves every corner of our city.”