“Death of our community”: East Hampton rails against Hochul housing plan
Town could have to add 600 units under governor’s proposal
Asking East Hampton town officials to welcome Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing agenda is like asking Batman to welcome crime.
Officials in the tony East End town railed against Hochul’s Housing Compact during a meeting with the town board, the East Hampton Star reported. Planning director Jeremy Samuelson even said it could bring on the “death of our community.”
Hochul’s proposal would set three-year growth targets across the state. Upstate localities would have to make changes to add 1 percent to their housing supply, while downstate localities would face a 3 percent growth target.
Areas that fail to reach the goal would then be subject to a builder’s remedy of sorts: Developers could get housing projects approved by the state, even if they did not comply with local zoning.
Critics of the status quo say localities have been using zoning for years to exclude people not like them or homes not like theirs — or even just more of the same — with the effect being an extremely tight housing market and high property values.
But some localities, especially on Long Island, are fiercely defending their right to do that.
Morgan Slater, of East Hampton’s planning department, said the legislation “effectively eliminates home rule and decades of work put into creating our own local zoning, building, and environmental regulations.”
For East Hampton, the governor’s target would translate to roughly 600 new housing units. Hochul’s goal is to add 800,000 homes statewide in the next decade to accommodate demand that has outstripped supply and prompted many New Yorkers to leave the state.
The Hamptons has a spotty record in terms of developing housing — affordable homes in particular. Many who work in the area can’t afford to live there and have to endure lengthy commutes. On the other hand, a Southampton Assembly member championed a referendum to impose a real estate transfer tax to fund affordable housing, and voters approved it last year.
Without zoning changes, though, little such housing will be built — hence Hochul’s proposal.
But East Hampton officials may not have to worry about it, as opponents in the suburbs have been vocal and have been bolstered by urbanites who argue that the plan is not progressive enough.
Rejecting the sticks in the governor’s plan, both chambers of the legislature have proposed offering $500 million to localities that meet the housing goals. The Assembly would give localities an initial payment for submitting plans to grow housing, then more if they actually work.
Studies show such incentives are ineffective, especially in wealthy towns like East Hampton.
— Holden Walter-Warner
Abandon hope, all ye who work here: Hamptons workers shut out