If judges can keep killing rezoning plans, NYC’s housing stock will never grow
The city badly needs housing. New zoning rules can help foster it, along with hundreds of millions’ worth of neighborhood goodies from builders and the city. And all with few tenants displaced.
That was the plan for a section of Inwood in Manhattan, where the new rules were expected to lead to 2,600 new affordably priced homes. Who could object, right? Ha! This is Gotham, remember.
All it takes is some anti-change sticks-in-the-mud and the all-too-common errant judge and . . . poof! The new rules are sidelined, development stifled, the area potentially left to languish.
Alas, that’s what happened in Inwood when Judge Verna Saunders nixed the City Council’s green light for the new rules there last December. And if this kind of thing isn’t stopped — in this case, by the Appellate Division, which heard the case this month — the city will never grow or expand its housing supply.
Saunders’ decision came after years of planning by the city: locking down developers, completing all the legally required reviews and the months-long ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Process) and winning needed political support.
Then along came a disgruntled group called Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale looking to block any change at all (for who-knows-what reason). It sued, claiming the city didn’t do a proper environmental review, and Saunders agreed — claiming the de Blasio administration failed to sufficiently study the racial and socioeconomic impacts of its rezoning.
Yet the city did do that. It merely found that adding residents to the community — while displacing virtually no one — meant there’d be no harm done, so no further study was required.
“The Supreme Court applied the wrong standards to the city’s environmental review,” argued the city Law Department’s Scott Shorr. The law gives agencies “room to exercise their discretion about which impacts to analyze, how to analyze them” and “how deeply to analyze them.”
It’s not just Inwood that stands to lose. If higher courts let judges like Saunders override the discretion legally granted to city officials, no investor will sink money into any project here. Development will come to a complete halt. You can forget about boosting housing anywhere in Gotham.
The appellate courts need to put an end to it.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article