Friday, February 29, 2008

Serious concerns about the rezoning

Where should a concerned citizen go to comment on the rezoning?

The plan itself is in many ways the creation of Community Board 3's zoning Task Force (197 Task Force). They are proponents of the plan, so, while it would certainly be important to let them know how you feel, if you want to have an effect on the final outcome, it might be more effective to appeal to the more impartial full Community Board and to the Borough President, who also gets to review the proposal. The Community Board will be holding a public hearing on the rezoning as soon as DCP releases the Environmental Impact Statement, expected by or in April.

Concerned citizens are organizing around the rezoning too. E-mail me at
for contacts and updates.

Meanwhile, I would like to draw your attention to three troubling features of DCP's Final Scope of Work:

1. The IZ affordable housing is not required on-site. Since renovation of existing affordable housing qualifies for the IZ bonus, off-site allowance means that, in effect, the R8B alternative for the avenues upzones them from current FAR 3.44 to FAR 4.6 without the promise of adding a single unit of affordable housing to our community.

This feature of DCP's Final Scope of Work is contrary to every principle and goal with which CB3 entered the rezoning project.

1st Avenue, for example, is lined with four and five story buildings dating from the Civil War and earlier. Very few structures there are taller than five stories. Under this alternative, the avenue will be vulnerable to as-of-right additions and redevelopment that will transform it beyond recognition. We will see primary and secondary displacement of both residents and businesses in addition to loss of light, context and history without benefit to the local community.

2. DCP proposes to include R8B zones in the commercial discontinuance exemption clause (article V, 52-61). Under this proposal, all commercial storefronts in R8B will remain available for commercial use regardless how long they fall out of such use. This will allow yet more nightlife establishments in oversaturated areas.

3. The C6-3A alternative (8.5 FAR, with off-site IZ renovations of existing units counting toward the bonus) upzones "the affected area" from current FAR 6 to FAR 8.5, once again without the promise of a single unit of new affordable housing. This again is contrary to the principles enunciated by CB3, dangerous to the Chinatown community and without redeeming value for either Chinatown or the LES.

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