Can lifting a size cap on residential buildings create more affordable housing?

RPA report suggests lifting 1961 state law


A new report recommends axing a law that restricts the size of residential buildings as an avenue for creating more affordable housing.

The Regional Planning Association suggests repealing a 1961 state law that limits the square footage of residential buildings to 12-times their lot size, Crain’s reported. The report argues that lifting the cap in wealthier and whiter areas — like Tribeca, Midtown, the Financial District and the Upper West and East sides — would open the door for more housing in transit- and job-rich areas.

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“This would help transit-oriented development, diversify wealthy areas and provide real affordable-housing options, and it does it without a public subsidy,” Moses Gates, director of community planning and design for the RPA, told Crain’s.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has voiced support for repealing the law, as has the Real Estate Board of New York. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, however, didn’t seem so hot on the idea when it was brought up at a recent Crain’s breakfast.

The RPA released a report in November backing the idea of a pied-à-terre tax and tweaking the city’s zoning rules to allow for single-family homes to easily convert to two-family homes and to legalize accessory dwelling units (such as basements, though insurance could be a problem). [Crain’s] — Kathryn Brenzel