East Flatbush

Legal loophole helps East Flatbush developers evade parking mandate

“It’s what you call crookedness.”

August 5, 2019 Victor Porcelli

Not only are nine different developments being built along one street in East Flatbush, but many of them will avoid providing the parking normally mandated by the city through a unique loophole: assigning two addresses to a single building.

According to the city’s Zoning Resolution, developments constructed on small lots — under 10,000 square feet — are required to provide parking for at least half the units in the building. If that amounts to five or fewer parking spaces, however, the parking requirement can be waived, meaning developers of those sites don’t have to provide any parking at all, according to an official at the Department of City Planning.

Along New York Avenue in East Flatbush, many of the newly built developments contain 16 or more units, based on the mailboxes outside, which would require them to provide a minimum of eight parking spaces — too many for the requirement to be waived. However, because addresses along the stretch have been separated by four instead of two numbers, developers have a way out of it — splitting each building in half, then giving different addresses to each half, thereby eliminating the parking requirement.

For example, on New York Avenue, addresses used to jump from 1515 to 1519 to 1523. But a new apartment building at the lot previously known as 1519 New York Ave. has also adopted the previously unused 1517 address, splitting its 16 units into two groups of eight. With only eight units each at 1517 and 1519, each address is only required to provide four parking spots (even though they are within the same physical structure) — just under the five-space minimum for requiring parking.

Rosalyn Singh, who lives on New York Avenue, said that the ongoing development has already made it more difficult to find a parking spot on the two-way street.

“Parking is crazy on this block; there is no parking on this block now,” Singh said.

Richard Strauss, who also lives on the block, pointed to how — no matter the number of addresses — it is clear that there is only one building on the site.

“They’re dividing the lots into two addresses. They are obviously the same building,” Strauss said. “They’re trying to make some kind of loophole to get around [providing parking].”

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Although the area is less than a 10-minute walk from the Flatbush Avenue station, which provides access to the 2 and 5 trains, 59 percent of residents in the immediate ZIP code own cars, as compared to 45 percent of New York City residents, according to the American Community Survey.

There has been a larger push for more lenient parking requirements citywide, often coming from those who say housing should be prioritized over parking. In 2016, car storage requirements for senior and subsidized housing were abolished in large chunks of central Queens, the east Bronx and southern Brooklyn, as reported by Streetsblog. On Thursday, the New York Post reported that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said that there was too much parking in the city on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”

“We need to break the car culture. It is choking our streets. It is literally killing people,” Johnson said. “And that means we need to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists and mass transit over private automobile use.”

This is not the only part of the neighborhood that is currently experiencing this level of development. Due to the area’s zoning, apartment buildings as tall as 70 feet can and have been built there, many on lots that were once occupied by single-family dwellings, bringing more people and more competition for parking to the majority car-owner community.

This has longtime residents frustrated at the exploitation by developers of a loophole whose use is going to impact their quality of life.

It may not be illegal, but, said Singh, “It’s what you call crookedness.”

Candor Capital, Pinnacle Real Estate Ventures and CPF NY, the developers of 3206-3208 Glenwood Rd., 1506-1508 New York Ave. and 1620-1612 New York Ave., respectively, did not respond to requests for comment.

Efforts to reach developers of the remaining sites referenced in this article were unsuccessful.

Continental Capital Group, the developers for both 1603-1605 and 1620-1622 New York Ave., had two numbers listed on the Department of Buildings: one was not in service and the other went to a man who said the developer “is actually not me, they used my number by accident.”

A representative of CityScape Builders, which is the developer for 1525-1527 New York Ave. said “I don’t have time for this,” and promptly hung up.

A representative of CPF NY, the developer of 1610-1612 New York Ave. — which from a photo, is clearly a single structure with a wall in the middle — said “it’s intended to be two different buildings, that’s just a fact.”

Update (Aug. 6 at 3:45 p.m.): This story has been updated with the names of the developers on Glenwood Road and New York Avenue.

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7 Comments

  1. jackson92186

    The policy of requiring being spaces to be provided when you build something is one of the most destructive land use policies we have in this country. I’m not an advocate of using loopholes as a means to and end, but pushing the high cost of parking into the already high cost of housing makes our city more expensive and encourages the most dangerous, inefficient, and polluting means of urban travel: automobiles. If people are so concerned about using public spaces for the storage of their private vehicles, they should pay for the ability to do so. Most people in this city do not own cars and or makes no sense to force the majority that do not to pay higher housing costs and sacrifice public space to accommodate them.

    • Brooklyn

      The argument for polluting cars is over as EV’s are superior to combustion vehicles and will soon replace them.

      Further, bikes have become a public nuisance, on sidewalks, chained to public poles/private fences, and disobeying every traffic law as if there weren’t any.

      However, to suggest that car owners should be forced into unreliable buses, rat infested smelly subways, or bikes that are mis-leading people to a horrific death almost daily, is absurd.

      People should have their choice and no one should make it for them.

      Whatever the average percentage of car ownership is, is what the builder should be required to provide 100% of – which should include their frontage less the space the driveway takes away. Additionally, there should be no exemption for the size of the buildings as what goes for one, goes for all. Lastly, on-site required parking should be free to the residents (included in the rent) so that vehicles aren’t parked in the street to avoid the parking cost.

      Further, all on-site parking should provide EV charging to rid the city of combustion cars. And the city needs to start installing on-street EV priority charging spots and increase the number of them as the number of EV’s increases. Buses should be EV as well as the current combustion type creates the highest concentration of pollution and noise of anything on the road, that and get the all electric and traffic signal prioritized BQX underway – it’s the best plan out there!

      • comment flagged

        I agree in your criticism about the lack of bicycle parking and bicycle-focused infrastructure in the city. Please join me in advocating for more so we can have fewer bikes chained to poles and fences and we can have separated dedicated bike lines that will help separate bicycles from motor vehicle traffic. Together we can make biking a joy for all residents of this fair borough, and less of a terror for anyone, mostly people riding a 30 lbs frame of tubular steel from being killed by multi-ton vehicles with innumerable blind spots.

        • Brooklyn

          You already have me as I’m in the process of consulting on designs for concrete barriers with planters and green surfaces. See I don’t feel NYC is acting responsibly letting anyone operate a bike in a public street without a safety barrier, always felt this way back when the movement began, and predicted almost daily deaths as we are having now. Too bad NYC didn’t have the same foresight and had to wait for the deaths of so many to justify the expense. It’s obvious they want the overpopulation 1st to create the increased tax revenues. We all must wake up to the fact the GOV isn’t here to serve us but rather to justify collecting from us. We make it, they take it.

  2. Brooklyn

    If this went through a rezoning, the community had the opportunity to oppose the development during the public review process, if they didn’t they have nothing to complain about.

    An application that get approved through the process is deemed acceptable.

    In reality, they are in fact two addresses, so how can you call this a loophole. Sounds like sour grapes after the fact.

  3. GoBlueInSF

    I’m confused. That photo is of a relatively attractive medium density building surrounded on either side by a pair of crappy low density houses. There doesn’t seem to be a problem.

  4. Ro from Park Slope

    It is unreal to think that there will be less cars on the streets. if we have less parking spaces–it will simply feed into those who charge high rents for parking. It is unjust to those who currently reside on the block to have their street parking “lost” by the addition of so many new apartments without car-consideration and the loop holes that allow for this. In fairness, let us ALSO add bicycle lock areas around the city, within view of NYPD video cameras in every borough, in every neighborhood, and within a walking distance of no more than “one avenue over.”