The Real Deal New York

De Blasio wins business groups’ support for zoning plan

REBNY and Partnership for NYC back proposals at public hearing

December 16, 2015 06:00PM
By Konrad Putzier

From left: REBNY's John Banks and Partnership for NYC's Kathryn Wylde

From left: REBNY’s John Banks and Partnership for NYC’s Kathryn Wylde

The Real Estate Board of New York and the Partnership for New York City, two powerful business groups, are throwing their weight behind the de Blasio administration’s citywide zoning plan. The backing gives the proposal a much-needed boost after four borough boards recently rejected it.

The zoning proposal, which will go before a vote in City Council in 2016, has two components, dubbed Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning and Zoning for Equality and Affordability. The former would mandate residential developers in rezoned neighborhoods to allocate a portion of units as affordable. The latter would allow developers in rezoned neighborhoods to build higher with fewer architectural restrictions.

At a public hearing held by the City Planning Commission on Wednesday, REBNY announced its support of the proposals.

“Our housing and affordable housing problem is in part a result of too restrictive land use regulations, including absolute height limits and use and bulk and parking regulations which are outdated,” the statement reads. “We commend the administration’s effort in (Zoning for Equality and Affordability) to have the city’s land use policy address our most urgent housing needs.” REBNY backed the mandatory inclusionary zoning plan as well, arguing that it “can support housing production.”

Still, the trade group also voiced a number of concerns, most notably that the affordable housing requirement could make development unfeasible in certain neighborhoods despite tax exemption benefits.

The Partnership for New York City, which represents the city’s largest employers, backed the proposal with reservations.

“Zoning actions to increase density and reduce costs are among the only significant tools the city has to induce the development of housing that responds to the needs of our growing population of low, moderate and middle income New Yorkers,” the nonprofit’s president Kathryn Wylde said in her testimony at the public hearing, according to a transcript.

“Municipal mandates are not popular with the business community. Nor do we agree with social engineering that requires affordable units be located within developments or districts that command the highest market rates,” she said.

Despite these reservations, Wylde argued that the proposals would help create much-needed housing and “should be adopted quickly.”