Eric Adams Eyes Rezoning Policy Change to Speed Housing

Politics, Eric Adams, Development, Rezoning,

Mayor Eric Adams (Getty)

Mayor Eric Adams is eyeing a major change to speed housing development. His aides working on the plan think he can make it without City Council approval.

Adams aims to exempt projects up to 200 units from environmental reviews, Politico reported. The reviews, which forecast the impact of a land-use change on the neighborhood, add time and money to project budgets and provide little apparent benefit.

Those working on the plan told the website that it would allow a “significant number” of projects to forgo reviews.

The Citizens Budget Commission has proposed relaxing environmental reviews, which must be completed before a rezoning application begins the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which itself takes up to seven months.

The watchdog group’s report, which looked at 171 private zoning applications between 2014 and 2017, found the median time for a land use application to be approved was two and a half years. Approximately 80 percent of that time went toward pre-certification and environmental review — the most expensive and time-consuming part of the process.

The mayor seems to have taken to heart the budget commission’s idea of limiting the type of projects subject to environmental reviews, which often duplicate the role of other agencies.

The process can increase costs by 16 percent — $63,000 per unit for a low-rise multifamily project and $76,000 per unit for a high-rise.

Past proposals have called for 100 percent affordable projects to be spared from environmental reviews, but the mayor’s plan would apply to mixed-income developments as well.

Adams has pushed to remove “unnecessary barriers to development,” forming a task force to suggest ways to make the permitting process more efficient. After the commission report, City Planning director Dan Garodnick, said his department planned to share reforms to “cut time and red tape out of the land use process.”

The mayor’s plan comes as he pushes the City Council to ease the affordable housing crunch, which may be exacerbated by the expiration in June of the 421a tax break for multifamily development.

The Real Estate Board of New York recently estimated the city requires 560,000 new homes by 2030 to keep pace with population growth. It’s on pace to build fewer than half that number.

Holden Walter-Warner

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