Council Member Kallos Statement on MIH/ZQA Vote

03/17/2016
Council Member Kallos gave the below remarks upon voting in favor of both Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability at today's hearing of the Committee on Land Use.
 
"Thank you to the Speaker, Chair Greenfield, Chair Richards, and the Council Staff for your hard work amending both proposals to reflect the voices and expertise of our communities.
 
I have spent the past year fighting to improve Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) to build affordable housing for all New Yorkers while protecting light and air by limiting building heights. 
 
Last year, I joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and many of my Manhattan colleagues in the Council in calling for changes to Zoning for Quality and Affordability that threatened our neighborhoods, particularly our side streets, with height increases that would have led to over development. In response to our advocacy, Department of City Planning Chair Carl Weisbrod agreed to remove the proposed height increase to R8B and limit height increases in R6B and R7A thereby protecting quiet midblock of side streets throughout Manhattan.
 
Still, the proposal would have considerably weakened the Sliver Law, removed the hills and valleys that give our mid-blocks character and provide light and air, and allowed additional height in cases even when no affordable housing was being built. All these issues were identified by studies my office funded by Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District and CIVITAS. Community Boards 6, 8 and 11 that I represent in Manhattan noted these issues when they voted against the original version of ZQA.
 
I addressed these issues in statements before the Manhattan Borough Board as well as my testimony at the City Planning Commission’s hearing and our Zoning hearings, where I also asked for deeper and broader affordability in Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.
 
 
I joined the Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development (ANHD) and Real Affordability For All (RAFA) in calling for deeper affordable housing, so that when we give up density, we get housing for all New Yorkers, including those who need it most. We also fought for our brothers and sisters to ensure subsidies provide local jobs and improved construction safety.
 
As Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus, I joined Progressive colleagues in the Council in a letter seeking deeper affordability, additional affordability to disincentivize off-site housing, among many other key improvements.
 
As Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations with oversight on the Board of Standards and Appeals, I fought for financial hardship review by HPD with all application materials posted online in real time. These are the first of many BSA reforms to come.
 
I have also authored Introduction 1015 co-prime sponsored by Housing Chair Jumaane Williams and Council Member Rosie Mendez that has already been heard and would create a database for all affordable housing units, require enforcement by HPD with steep fines, and centralizing application for new and existing affordable housing.
 
After lots of hard work from the Council, I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to have negotiated these final changes:
 
Zoning for Quality and Affordability: 
  • In addition to eliminating height increases in R8B contextual districts, we reduced the height increases in other contextual districts, including bringing the maximum R10A increase from 50 feet to 25 feet.
  • In R10A districts, the initial proposal would have made narrow streets as tall as wide streets, eliminating the hills and valleys. This is no longer the case.
  • We are no longer giving heights away for free and tying additional heights in contextual districts in Manhattan to affordable housing.
  • Districts over saturated with nursing homes, such as mine, where rent regulated affordable housing would be displaced in favor of $15,000 a month beds paid for by Medicaid, will remain protected by a special permit.
  • Seniors would have been squeezed in 275 square foot micro units, which will now be a minimum of 325 square feet.
  • Originally, NYCHA tenants and tenants would have been walled in by new construction 40 feet from their windows, with luxury units built high above them, but will continue to be protected by a 60 foot requirement between buildings.
  • The original proposal would have re-opened the zoning loophole that we passed the Sliver Law to close, and we have kept this loophole shut.
Mandatory Inclusionary Housing as amended will: 
  • Provide housing for lower income New Yorkers, by requiring housing 10% of housing at 40% of the AMI, when selecting 25% at 60% of AMI. 
  • Provide an option for 20% at 40% of AMI in addition to other options.
  • 40% of the AMI targeted at an average family income of $24K for singles or $31,000 for a family of three.
  • Finally, MIH will also be more transparent, as we have required HPD to create a system to track, register, and monitor the new affordable units created as would be required by Introduction 1015.
  • HPD projects will provide funding and incentives for local outreach and hiring.
  • Department of Buildings will impose requirements and fines that will make construction safer.
For these reasons, I vote aye on both text amendments."