New study backs City Hall in zoning dispute with advocacy group

Report claims stricter affordability quotas would hurt development
May 08, 2017 05:00PM

Rendering of One Flushing (Credit: Bernheimer Architecture via Crain’s)

A City Hall-commissioned study claims that more stringent affordability and local-labor requirements in rezoned districts proposed by a coalition of advocacy groups would backfire.

The coalition in question, Real Affordability for All, argues that the City’s Mandatory
Inclusion rules should require developers that benefit from rezonings to set aside a higher portion of units as affordable than currently mandated and also require the hiring of local construction workers.

Although City Hall opposed RAFA’s proposals, it offered the group a concession in the form of a study on their feasibility. That study, written by law firm Carter Ledyard & Milburn and consulting firm BAE Urban Economics, is now out. It claims that a requirement to hire local workers or those who have completed state-mandated apprenticeship programs would make the city vulnerable to lawsuits.

“Adopting such a program in the zoning ordinance would likely violate federal and state laws and exceed the city’s zoning authority,” the report states.

The report also questioned RAFA’s recommendation that 50 percent of units at new developments be set aside for households making between 30 and 100 percent of area median income (the city currently mandates 30 percent of units), arguing that the change would make development financially unfeasible in many areas.

In a statement, RAFA called the study “deeply flawed” and claimed it skewed numbers in favor of the city’s position. [Politico]Konrad Putzier