Bushwick rezoning plan at impasse after city snubs local reps’ requests
The Bushwick Community Plan has been in the works since 2014 — but the city is refusing to consider it.
After years of community input and back and forth between neighborhood representatives, the Department of City Planning and the Mayor’s Office, the plan to rezone 300 blocks of Bushwick has reached an impasse.
The city rejected a request from neighborhood representatives to study the Bushwick Community Plan, the community’s rezoning vision for the neighborhood. Without that concession, Bushwick City Council members and community board leaders say the rezoning will stall.
“From our office’s perspective, there is no path forward, but the ultimate decision will be made in conjunction with all involved stakeholders,” said Kristina Naplatarski, a spokesperson for Councilmember Antonio Reynoso.
In a letter to the Mayor’s Office sent last month, Bushwick Councilmembers Reynoso and Rafael Espinal and representatives from Community Board 4 asked the city to study the community’s plan during the environmental review process that precedes a neighborhood rezoning.
In a letter sent Friday, the Mayor’s Office declined to study the community plan, citing the BCP’s limits on the total number of new units and requirements for “deep affordability,” two sticking points the Mayor’s Office said would “run counter to the city’s goals … to encourage new mixed-income housing.”
Councilmembers Reynoso and Espinal answered the city’s letter with a heated joint statement.
“When we began the process of developing a community-based plan for Bushwick, we could have never imagined that Bushwick would receive a level of apathy from our local government reminiscent of the policies that left Bushwick to burn in the 1970s,” the statement read, in part.
Community Board 4 members began working with Bushwick residents and representatives in 2014 to draft the BCP, the community’s vision for new zoning laws that would curtail large scale, out-of-context development while creating affordable housing, preserving manufacturing lots, expanding Bushwick’s scarce open space and limiting the number of new, market-rate residential units in the neighborhood.
Bushwick’s current zoning has been in place since 1961 and doesn’t include requirements for affordable housing in new developments.
The city was met with opposition from residents last spring when it unveiled its plan for rezoning the neighborhood. Stakeholders criticized the city’s plan over the total number of new residential units — roughly 5,600, while the BCP called for no more than 2,000 — and over the number of units that would be made affordable. The community’s plan called for 100 percent of the new units to be made affordable, while the city’s plan would create only 30 percent, or 1,680 out of 5,600, units of affordable housing, the minimum number required by the city’s the mandatory inclusionary zoning laws.
Crains reported last week that an anonymous source at DCP called the community’s plan “too restrictive” on the number of new units and affordable housing requirements.
Without cooperation from Reynoso and Espinal, the city’s rezoning plan for Bushwick is almost certainly tabled, since, on land use proposals, the City Council traditionally defers to the votes of members whose districts are affected. The city’s rejection of the BCP comes three days after the mayor released a draft plan meant to expand “fair housing” in the city, in part through community planning.
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