Preservation Issues

Residential Cap in Jeopardy Again - We Need Your Help

May 9, 2018

Alert: Contact Your State Senator Now!

The State Senate Rules Committee has once again quietly passed out Senate Bill (S.6760), a bill that would remove a State cap that controls residential density. It could be voted on today. It is urgent that you contact your State Senator’s Office and urge him or her to vote against this removing the cap.

This is the second time the Republican-controlled Senate Rules Committee has moved this bill this year, with no public knowledge or debate. Most people, community boards, and even elected officials, have no idea this is happening.

Thanks to your help, supporters in the Senate, and the Assembly’s refusal to act on this issue, we defeated the prior attempt to open up neighborhoods across the City and State to out-of-scale development. Mayor de Blasio, backed by the Real Estate Board of New York, says lifting the cap is the “first step” to getting more affordable housing. It is not! This should be the last step after careful community outreach and planning and after we see the impact of the recent citywide upzoning.

This is not good government.

Click here to Contact Your State Senator

You can also visit www.mygovnyc.org to find your State Senator

Tell them to vote no on Senate Bill S.6760 and to stop the attempt to remove the 12 FAR cap which has prevented large-scale development in residential neighborhoods. Tell them New Yorkers deserve a say in how their neighborhoods evolve and demand a full debate on this issue. It’s time to stop these repeated attempts to end-run the public process and hand even more of New York over to large development.

Mayor de Blasio, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), and the Regional Plan Association (RPA) say eliminating the cap will provide more affordable housing. We say it’s a giant gift to developers with no guarantee of truly affordable units.

Protect your neighborhood. Act now.

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March 29, 2018

Thanks to help from all our members, it looks like the State Legislature will not lift a State cap on the size of residential development. This is a major win!

While nothing is final until the State Budget is passed, we have learned from Albany contacts that our City Senators and Assemblypersons stood with us. Please thank your Senator and Assemblyperson and Speaker Carl Heastie.

This was the second time the de Blasio Administration tried to lift a longstanding State cap on the size of residential development, without telling the public or requiring any debate. Lifting this cap would be the first step to City-proposed upzonings in residential areas throughout the boroughs. Contextual areas throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn where residents achieved height limits on side streets would be vulnerable. This would also increase pressure for larger buildings in historic districts.

Both the Real Estate Board of New York and Regional Plan Association supported lifting the cap, suggesting that the larger buildings would contain affordable units. There was no analysis of how many currently affordable units would be lost or how area schools, streets and transit would be impacted. Nor was there a public discussion of the contributions of historic and contextual districts to a livable City.

The Conservancy will remain alert in case there is another push to lift these restrictions before the Legislative session ends. Many thanks to the entire NYC delegation, especially State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, and Assemblypersons Daniel O’Donnell and Jo Anne Simon. Borough President Gale Brewer also appealed to Assembly Speaker Heastie on our behalf.

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Mayor Seeks Larger Buildings in Residential Neighborhoods
Preservation Alert: We Need Your Help Today!

March 26, 2018
The State Legislature is in closed-door negotiations and wants to pass the state budget by the end of this week. We need the Assembly to stop an attempt by the de Blasio Administration to remove a state cap that controls residential density. The Senate already voted to remove the cap and put it into budget negotiations.

We are asking you to contact Speaker Carl Heastie Today!

Tell him… the Assembly has to stop the attempt to remove the 12 FAR cap, which has prevented large-scale development in residential neighborhoods. There has been no public debate on this issue. This is not good government. New Yorkers want a say in how their communities develop.

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This is the second time Mayor de Blasio has led a behind the scenes effort to eliminate a cap that controls the density of residential neighborhoods. If the cap is removed, already dense areas of Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn could see even more out-of-scale buildings.

Mayor de Blasio, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), and the Regional Plan Association (RPA) say eliminating the cap will provide more affordable housing. We say it’s a giant gift to developers with no guarantee of truly affordable units.

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Preservation Alert: Threat to Neighborhoods

March 15, 2018
The de Blasio Administration is once again seeking to remove a 58 year-old state cap that controls the density of residential neighborhoods. If the cap is removed, already dense areas of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn could see even more growth and buildings that are out of scale with their surroundings.

The State Senate has just passed a bill (S.7506A) eliminating the current cap of 12 FAR. We need your help to defeat similar bills in the Assembly (A.9500B, A.9509B) and stop it from being included in the final budget. The Legislature is aiming to pass the budget within the next two weeks.

Mayor de Blasio, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and the Regional Plan Association (RPA) say eliminating the cap will provide more affordable housing. We say it’s a giant gift to developers with no guarantee of truly affordable units.

Please email your Assemblyperson now and tell them: “Don’t Lift the Cap! Eliminating the current 12 FAR cap in residential neighborhoods must not be included in the final budget resolution. It won’t solve the problem of affordable housing and will damage livable, diverse, and already dense neighborhoods.”

Here’s why: There has been no public debate on eliminating the cap; no study of how increasing the density will affect already overcrowded roads and subways; eliminating the cap will target contextual districts where residents fought for limits on height and bulk; and there is no need to do this until we see some results of a recent citywide upzoning which allows taller buildings throughout the City. So far, residents in areas that were specifically upzoned to allow affordable units under Mandatory Inclusionary Housing have fought out of scale buildings with units that are not affordable to people living in the area.

REBNY says the bill would impact a few areas that are already at 12 FAR. But an RPA report shows that much of Manhattan, including contextual areas on the East and West Sides, Long Island City and Downtown Brooklyn would be affected. Historic districts aren’t included. But eliminating the cap will put increasing pressure on those areas as well.

Protect your neighborhood. Act now.

Citywide Alert!

February 28, 2018
The Landmarks Conservancy is working to stop a second attempt by the de Blasio administration to lift a state-mandated cap on the height and size of residential buildings. This could lead to out of scale buildings in neighborhoods throughout the City.

The Conservancy fears that lifting the cap would escalate development pressures in historic districts, neighborhoods that qualify as historic districts but lack protection, and contextual zones where communities often spent years achieving height limits on residential streets.

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and Regional Plan Association (RPA) both support eliminating the cap. They argue that the City needs additional density, significant new housing and the “affordable” units that the larger buildings would supply. They also say that new projects would go through ULURP, the City’s public review process, where communities would have opportunity to comment. But RPA recently collaborated on a study which showed that ULURP is flawed. Projects are often fully formed before starting the process and hard to stop. Community Boards are often no match for highly paid real estate attorneys and consultants promoting new development. In many recent cases, communities resisted proposed projects with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing because the projects would be out-of- scale with the neighborhood and the “affordable” units would be too expensive for current residents.

The Conservancy worked with State Senator Liz Krueger and colleague groups to stop a similar effort two years ago when the City tried to push it through with no public notice or input. We are working with them again. The State imposed the 12 FAR cap in 1961 to protect the character of residential neighborhoods.

We will again ask for your help when we have specific bills introduced in the Legislature.