Preservation Issues

Stealth Upzoning Bill Stopped in Albany

June 29, 2016

Thanks to a last minute alert from State Senator Liz Krueger, the Conservancy and colleague groups mounted a public lobbying effort that stopped an Albany bill that would have allowed mega-towers in neighborhoods throughout the City.

The de Blasio Administration initiated the bill, in both the Senate and the Assembly, which would have removed a State cap on the height and bulk of residential buildings. There was no public notice or explanation.

After hearing from opponents, Assembly Housing Chair Keith Wright said the bill needed “further examination.” Senator Krueger called for “further vetting and amending to remove the potential for unchecked growth in neighborhoods already strained by new luxury developments and towers.”

The Conservancy issued a Memo of Opposition stating: 1. There was no study or explanation of the rationale for the bill; 2. The City just passed two city-wide upzoning measures— (Zoning for quality and Affordability (ZQA) and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH)— so there is no need to rush this bill through the legislature and; 3. There has been no analysis of what would likely be a significant environmental impact on already high-density neighborhoods and their infrastructure.

Senator Tony Avella and Assembly Members Linda Rosenthal, Cathy Nolan and Jo Anne Simon were also vocal opponents of the bill.

Our thanks to all of you who contacted your legislators. The bill is likely to come back in the next session and we will keep you notified. The De Blasio Administration needs to acknowledge and honor residents’ concerns about the growth and character of their neighborhoods and stop trying to push through changes without sufficient notice and public input.

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June 15, 2016

Harmful Upzoning Bills are Halted

Thank you for contacting your elected officials in Albany. Senate Bill 5469 and Assembly Bill 7807–bills that would have removed a State cap on residential development in the City and allow mega-towers in neighborhoods are not going forward this session in the Legislature.

The Conservancy issued a Memo of Opposition, which highlights the following issues:

1. Any vote is premature
There has been little notice or time for discussion of these amendments. We are not aware of any study or even purpose and intent paper to explain the rationale for such a change. In essence, the vote on these amendments is premature. This issue needs reasonable disclosure and discussion and should be held over to the 2017 session.

2. There is no emergency
There is no pressing need that this amendment be rushed through the legislature without due deliberation. The City Council has just modified and passed both Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) after a 6-8 month process of discussion and debate. To our knowledge the need to change or modify State law to accomplish affordable housing was never mentioned, let alone debated, in this process.

3. Environmental Impacts have not been analyzed
There has been no analysis that we are aware of, of the environmental impact of these amendments. The impacts could be significant on both the neighborhoods of these already high-density areas and on the infrastructure that supports them.

State Senator Liz Krueger’s office released this statement today:
“Citing concerns about the potential community impact of uncapping floor area ratio (FAR) restrictions in New York City, Assembly Housing Chairman Keith L. T. Wright confirmed that Assembly Bill A7807 will not be considered this legislative session. Following conversations with State Senator Liz Krueger, community advocates, and urban and zoning experts, Wright moved to block the legislation and called for further examination of the nuanced issue. FAR, a zoning tool regulating the bulk and density of buildings, is currently capped at 12. The legislation needs further vetting and amending to remove the potential for unchecked growth in neighborhoods already strained by new luxury developments and towers.”

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June 14, 2016

Keep Up The Pressure Against Harmful Upzoning Bill

Controversial bills can slip through in the closing days of an Albany Legislative Session. We can’t let that happen with Senate Bill 5469 and Assembly Bill 7807–stealth bills that would remove a State cap on residential development in the City and allow mega-towers in neighborhoods.

Thanks to all of you who responded to our alert last week. We need a final push to make sure the Assembly doesn’t move the bill. That’s where City Hall has greater influence. If we stop it in the Assembly, the threat will be over for now.

Please contact two key legislators: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx and Assembly Member Keith Wright of Harlem, the bill’s sponsor.

Please call or email them today.
Say you oppose Assembly Bill 7807. Tell them rushing through A7807 with no public input is bad planning and bad government.

Here’s how:
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
518-455-3791
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Assembly Member Keith Wright
518-455-4793
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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June 9, 2016

Tell Your State Representatives to Vote No on Harmful Upzoning Bills

*The State Assembly and Senate are about to vote on bills that will dramatically upzone large parts of New York City. *

These bills will remove a cap on residential development that has been in place for over 50 years and will allow unconstrained overdevelopment.

Tell your State Senator (find State Senator) and State Assembly Member (find State Assembly Member) to vote no on Senate Bill 5469 and Assembly Bill 7807.

Also include Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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Here’s how State Senator Liz Krueger explained the issue:
–excerpt from Community Bulletin June 2016

“Unwise legislation proposed by Mayor de Blasio … would effectively eliminate height restrictions on residential buildings in the City. For many decades, the state multiple dwelling law has limited the maximum size of residential buildings to a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 12. …The City is pushing legislation (S5469/A7807) that would remove the 12 FAR limit…

The mayor’s office wants to connect these changes in zoning to the effort to build more affordable housing, but the reality is that the mega-towers that are already being built throughout Manhattan are the opposite of affordable, and there is nothing in this legislation that would change that – all this bill would do is give the City the ability to allow even larger residential towers for the ultra-rich. And when you increase FAR you also increase the value of land, making it even harder to build affordable housing. Infrastructure in Manhattan is already strained to the limit.”

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The Conservancy supports community-based planning that allows residents to participate in guiding change and growth in their neighborhoods.

There has been little public review and no opportunity for New Yorkers to speak out on the potentially drastic effects of these bills. Pushing the bills through the last days of the legislative session in Albany without a public review is not good planning or good government.

Tell your representatives in Albany to VOTE NO! on Senate Bill 5469 and Assembly Bill 7807.

State Senator (find your State Senator)
State Assembly Member (find your State Assembly Member)
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)