City Council passes de Blasio’s zoning and affordable housing plan
In a major victory for Mayor Bill de Blasio, the City Council voted overwhelmingly to pass his citywide zoning plan that is aimed at spurring more affordable housing. “I know it’s going to make a difference for thousands and thousands of people,” de Blasio told Politico last month. In a jab at former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he added, “But I also realize what could’ve been done if, 12 years ago, this vision had been put in place.” As part of the deal, the administration made several concessions, including lowering the income requirements for the affordable units to 40 percent of the area median income from 60 percent and accepting lower building heights.
City considers tighter rules on pedestrian plazas
Naked women covered in paint, costumed Elmo characters and singing buskers could all be a thing of the past under a proposed City Council bill that would give the Department of Transportation and community members the power to decide exactly how pedestrian plazas are used across the city, Politico reported. Community boards, borough presidents and council members can have a public review and work with the Department of Transportation to create rules for each pedestrian plaza, said Councilman Corey Johnson, who introduced the proposed legislation. If passed, the law would impact 49 existing plazas in the city and another 22 that are near completion. Last year, amid controversy over topless women performers in Times Square known as “desnudas,” Mayor de Blasio issued recommendations to regulate panhandlers and performers as well as reduce congestion, but the plan was criticized for a lack of detail.
Crane rules rolled back
Following a deadly crane collapse in February, the Department of Buildings has once again updated its interim rules on crane use, prohibiting from city streets the type of crane configuration that was involved in the February collapse and lifting the temporary ban on crawler cranes during wind speeds of 20 miles per hour. Cranes will now be prohibited from operating whenever winds exceed 30 miles per hour, the limit prior to the accident. The city will also require a licensed engineer to be present in certain conditions. Mayor de Blasio lowered the limit to 20 miles per hour two days after a crane’s boom crashed and killed a pedestrian in Tribeca. But crane companies complained that the new policy was forcing frequent shutdowns as well as hurting their business, Crain’s New York reported. More changes could be in store. A complete review of citywide crane operations is expected to finished by late May.
25 Kent in Williamsburg hits zoning snag
A massive eight-story office building envisioned as a new tech hub in Williamsburg’s industrial sector is facing its first zoning-approval hurdle. The local community board last month rejected a request to change zoning laws so that the 480,000-square-foot tower at 25 Kent Avenue can be built, DNAInfo reported. It was the first step in the city’s zoning-approval process, which is expected to finish in the spring. Community members expressed concerns that the zoning change would encourage more skyline-altering plans. The brick and glass building, which includes manufacturing space, two public plazas and ground floor retail, is being developed by Rubenstein Partners and developer Toby Moskovits of Heritage Equity. Moskovits, who is a member of the community board, recused herself from the meetings. The zoning proposal will now go to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.