Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/zoning 2017-10-21T15:42:18+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Push for Healthy Student Eating Extends Beyond School Meals 2016-11-29T05:00:00+00:00 2016-11-29T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6637:push-for-healthy-student-eating-extends-beyond-school-meals Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/28928475673_08afaba89d_z.jpg" alt="students teacher brooklyn school yard" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>The first day of school (photo:&nbsp;Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In New York City, nearly half of elementary school children are overweight. The city’s Department of Education is in charge of the largest school food service program in the country, serving over 177 million meals per year. But despite the city’s efforts, such as providing free breakfast for students and placing restrictions on snacks sold in school vending machines, childhood obesity continues to pose a major challenge. In recent decades there have been significant improvements in the quality of school food, but the need for more progress is evident -- both for the general physical health of young people and the effects it has on learning.</p> <p>Studies show that food quality has an impact on children’s learning and mental growth. According to the <a href="http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx">American Psychological Association</a>, “A hungry child between the age of 6 and 12 is more likely to receive special education services, repeat a grade in school or receive mental health counseling, than a child who is not hungry.”</p> <p>There have been efforts in New York City to see implementation of universal free school lunch to help ensure every student eats during the day, to improve the healthfulness of the food that is offered in schools, to make sure that students have access to healthy snacks, and to allow students to eat “breakfast after the bell” inside their classrooms, not just the cafeteria before school begins. These initiatives have been implemented to varying degrees.</p> <p>Still, school meals are not the only contributor to children’s eating habits — many schools are surrounded by fast food restaurants and small corner markets, which children are likely to frequent before or after school hours, and sometimes during lunch breaks. Various solutions have been suggested to decrease the density of fast food outlets near schools, including zoning and conditional licensing. Some establishments selling fast food also receive subsidies from the city, which some believe should be directed at healthy food retailers instead.</p> <p>In New York City, the availability of healthy food options is often related to income. In low-income neighborhoods such as East Harlem, grocery stores are scarce compared to bodegas and fast food retailers. The same inequality goes for schools, where children coming from food-insecure families rely heavily on the school meals. But, despite being eligible for a reduced-priced or free school meal, the fear of stigma for being poor leads some students to skip meals. This has been part of the argument behind universal free school lunch, a program that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has not agreed to, though a middle-school pilot program is underway.</p> <p>“The three-tier system stigmatizes students who eat free or reduced-priced meals. The system creates conditions in which some students can look down on others,” said Janet Poppendieck, the author of “Free for All: Fixing School Food in America” and senior faculty fellow at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, at a food policy event at CUNY School for Public Health.</p> <p>Poppendieck also said that despite the changes that some schools have made to protect the identity of those who receive school lunch assistance, the stigma around those students still persists. Some students wind up skipping what might be their only potential proper meal of their day.</p> <p>Poppendieck is also part of an advocacy campaign called Lunch4Learning (L4L) that is behind the push to make free school lunch universal. L4L and other advocacy groups recently rallied at City Hall to demand Mayor de Blasio keep his campaign promise of ending the relationship between school lunch and family income. Public Advocate Letitia James has been supportive of the recommendation, as have several City Council members. Three prominent union leaders, including the teachers union president, wrote <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/free-lunch-kids-deserve-article-1.2885578" target="_blank">a joint op-ed</a> on Monday in The Daily News pushing Mayor de Blasio to include universal free lunch in his upcoming budget.</p> <p>"We live in one of the richest cities in the world, but we still are having trouble convincing some local lawmakers that it is not OK for children to spend the majority of their time in school hungry,” said Pamela Stewart Martinez, Co-President of the Citywide Council on Special Education. “In a city where 40 percent of the homeless population is school age children, why should universal free lunch even be an unfulfilled campaign promise?”</p> <p>Usually discussed around city budget season, universal free lunch would have an additional cost, but L4L says it would require a little over a dollar per child per school day for the city to be able to provide free lunch for all. There are more than one million public school students in the city. The de Blasio administration has said it is unsure if moving to universal free school lunch would cost the city in related federal funds. According to Poppendieck, “the higher the participation rate, the lower the unit cost of producing each meal. So basically, by moving to this we would free up more of the federal reimbursement for food.”</p> <p>Advocates say that in other cities where school districts have implemented universal free lunch, there have been positive results and more investment into fresh and local food. “So that’s why I think even for people whose primary concern is the food quality and healthfulness, nutrition, rather than the experience of the kids or the participation rate, it’s still a pathway to better school food,” Poppendieck said.</p> <p>Nutrition value of school meals has been a concern for a long time. A<a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-016-1270-5?utm_source=NYC+Food+Policy+Watch+(9/14/16)+&amp;utm_campaign=(9/14/16)+&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank"> recent study</a> conducted on Finnish 6-8-year-old elementary school students suggested that there is a positive correlation between a healthy nutritious diet and reading skills. Since a school meal might be a student’s only full meal of the day, advocates and health experts want to make sure that meals provide as much nutritional value as possible.</p> <p>The New York City Department of Education’s website states its “nutrition standards always meet, and many times exceed,<a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/legislation/nutritionstandards.htm" target="_blank"> USDA Nutrition Standards for School Meals</a>.” These standards allow schools to serve meals headlined by pizza, cheeseburgers, chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks. The “Eat Your Colors” part of the meal is usually a healthy vegetable, like broccoli, but sometimes also french fries or another starch. Salad bar with fresh vegetables is available everyday to students across the city.</p> <p>“If you want paying kids to buy the food, the feeling has been that you have to offer foods that they are familiar with and recognize, and that’s...your tacos, burritos, burgers and pizzas and what have you,” said Poppendieck. “If you move to universal, you could gradually shift to include more soups and stews, which, among other things, make it possible to use leftovers."&nbsp;</p> <p>“School food professionals have an opportunity to leverage their collective buying power for a better food system,” said Toni Liquori, founder and executive director of SchoolFood Focus, a Manhattan-based organization aiming to improve the quality of school food by working with school districts, food producers, and advocates, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “Through working with school districts and food suppliers, we’ve helped reformulate and create new nutritious products for school purchase — from poultry raised with responsible antibiotic use to a more wholesome bean burrito. All of which are available nationwide for purchase.”</p> <p>Beyond formal meals, there are often school vending machines for student use, and they regularly offer so-called “copycat products”, which are usually lower fat and lower sodium versions of popular junk food snacks such as Doritos.&nbsp;</p> <p>A <a href="http://uconnruddcenter.org/files/Pdfs/chi%2E2016%2E0080.pdf" target="_blank">UConn Rudd Center study</a> showed that the similar packaging of these products was confusing to children and parents alike, and that many struggled to differentiate the original product from the healthier one. The study reasons that selling these products contradicts the schools’ nutrition and health education and may fuel the misconceptions many of the participants had about the healthiness of the products.</p> <p>Of note are a couple other positive developments in the healthfulness of school food: food additives such as artificial colors or flavors are no longer used in city school meals and in fiscal year 2015 DOE spent 6% more of its budget on local products than the year before. Locally sourced and produced food is offered on the menu every Thursday.</p> <p>There is still much more to do, both in and near schools, though, to improve healthfulness for young people in New York. Some want to see the city take new steps to use legislative tools.</p> <p><strong>Licensing and Creating Healthy Food Zones</strong><br />Food insecurity and food access are major problems in many neighborhoods. According to the 2015 Food Metrics Report nearly one in five children in New York City live in food insecure households. Grocery stores are often scarce in the city, especially in lower-income neighborhoods, which makes access to fresh and healthy food challenging. Fast food outlets, however, are abundant in almost every neighborhood.</p> <p>Ending public subsidies for fast food establishments has been presented as one potential way to improve healthy food access in low-income neighborhoods. Businesses can be eligible to receive financial support such as tax benefits from the city and fast food restaurants are included. According to a <a href="https://www.stopcorporateabuse.org/sites/default/files/resources/slowing_down_fast_food_corporateaccountabilityinternational.pdf" target="_blank">food policy guide</a> by CUNY and Corporate Accountability International from 2012, the city “provided support to 13 fast food establishments, including six McDonald’s and two Burger King chains. Most of the supported establishments were located in East and Central Harlem, communities with among the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in New York and the nation.”</p> <p>According to a plan from The National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN), <a href="http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-a-livable-future/_pdf/projects/FPN/Ordinances_Model_Policies/Model%20Healthy%20Food%20Zone%20Ordinance%20Creating%20a%20Healthy%20Food%20Zone%20Around%20Schools%20by%20Regulating%20the%20Location%20of%20Fast%20Food%20Restaurants%20and%20Mobile%20Food%20Vendors.pdf" target="_blank">Model Healthy Food Zone Ordinance</a>, a study showed that students with fast food restaurants within a half-mile of their school are more likely to be overweight.</p> <p>Another way to prevent students from eating unhealthy food during or after school hours might lie in the use of zoning. By creating so-called “healthy food zones,” fast food and chain restaurants can be prohibited from establishing new outlets within a certain distance from a school.</p> <p>The zoning approach is preventative, but in New York City it is nearly impossible to find neighborhoods without existing fast food outlets. Zoning may help limit new unhealthy or less healthy options from moving in, though. This practice is not currently in use.</p> <p>Conditional licensing can be used to restrict the operation of already existing establishments, and might therefore be a better option than restrictive zoning for urban centers like New York City. “Licensing is more flexible because you can apply it to businesses that already exist,” said Jennifer Pomeranz, Clinical Assistant Professor at College of Global Public Health. “You could use this authority to license restaurants and also stores that are near schools to say ‘you have a license to operate as long as you agree to our conditions,’ for example not selling sugary beverages,” Pomeranz said. This method would allow existing establishments to continue their operations with a healthier agenda, whereas zoning would be used to prohibit these establishments from operating in a certain area.</p> <p>Arguments against limiting fast food restaurants include fears of possible job losses and other economic damages. Advocates, however, point to the fact that healthier food retailers would have an opportunity to open in their place and hence improve healthy food access in underserved neighborhoods. Some also worry about interference with the free market and individual choice -- there has often been pushback against the “nanny state.”</p> <p>To help retailers improve healthy food access, the city launched a program called Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/html/2009/fresh.shtml" target="_blank">FRESH</a>) in 2009 to provide “zoning and financial incentives to promote the establishment and retention of neighborhood grocery stores in underserved communities throughout the five boroughs.” For eligible operators, FRESH offers additional development rights, reduction in required parking, and permission for larger stores to operate in light manufacturing districts. The financial incentives include real estate tax reductions, sales tax exemption, and mortgage recording tax deferral. These make it easier for new retailers to open a new grocery store in underserved areas and for existing businesses to stay in operation.</p> <p>The city has also moved forward with the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/green-carts.page" target="_blank">green carts initiative</a>, providing more options for healthy food in underserved neighborhoods without the major capital and overhead costs of a traditional store or restaurant.</p> <p>A move to replace fast food outlets with healthier retailers would meet strong resistance. The fast food industry’s lobbying powers have regularly made sure that efforts to limit its operations are defeated. For example, in 2014 the city lost its battle to limit the sizes of sugary beverages that could be sold in certain circumstances -- an effort started by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has backed regulation of sugary beverages around the country. In New York, there was strong pushback from both the public and the restaurant industry.</p> <p>Changes in food options for students rely on viable alternatives to unhealthy options now being offered, and where the city has the most control is indeed in schools themselves.</p> <p>On Tuesday, the New York City Council announced $595,000 in funding for 16 new school food pantries across the city. The pantries, which will be placed in high-needs schools in partnership with Food Bank for New York City, are largely aimed at “combating food insecurity,” according to a press release from the Council. They will offer food that can be taken home as well as personal hygiene products like toothpaste and tampons.</p> <p>“Thousands of students across New York City rely on schools to provide their nutritional needs for the day,” New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement accompanying the school food pantry announcement. “Lacking access to these supplies can leave our children and young adults stressed and unable to focus on their education.”</p> <p>

***
by Milka Nissinen, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/28928475673_08afaba89d_z.jpg" alt="students teacher brooklyn school yard" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>The first day of school (photo:&nbsp;Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In New York City, nearly half of elementary school children are overweight. The city’s Department of Education is in charge of the largest school food service program in the country, serving over 177 million meals per year. But despite the city’s efforts, such as providing free breakfast for students and placing restrictions on snacks sold in school vending machines, childhood obesity continues to pose a major challenge. In recent decades there have been significant improvements in the quality of school food, but the need for more progress is evident -- both for the general physical health of young people and the effects it has on learning.</p> <p>Studies show that food quality has an impact on children’s learning and mental growth. According to the <a href="http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx">American Psychological Association</a>, “A hungry child between the age of 6 and 12 is more likely to receive special education services, repeat a grade in school or receive mental health counseling, than a child who is not hungry.”</p> <p>There have been efforts in New York City to see implementation of universal free school lunch to help ensure every student eats during the day, to improve the healthfulness of the food that is offered in schools, to make sure that students have access to healthy snacks, and to allow students to eat “breakfast after the bell” inside their classrooms, not just the cafeteria before school begins. These initiatives have been implemented to varying degrees.</p> <p>Still, school meals are not the only contributor to children’s eating habits — many schools are surrounded by fast food restaurants and small corner markets, which children are likely to frequent before or after school hours, and sometimes during lunch breaks. Various solutions have been suggested to decrease the density of fast food outlets near schools, including zoning and conditional licensing. Some establishments selling fast food also receive subsidies from the city, which some believe should be directed at healthy food retailers instead.</p> <p>In New York City, the availability of healthy food options is often related to income. In low-income neighborhoods such as East Harlem, grocery stores are scarce compared to bodegas and fast food retailers. The same inequality goes for schools, where children coming from food-insecure families rely heavily on the school meals. But, despite being eligible for a reduced-priced or free school meal, the fear of stigma for being poor leads some students to skip meals. This has been part of the argument behind universal free school lunch, a program that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has not agreed to, though a middle-school pilot program is underway.</p> <p>“The three-tier system stigmatizes students who eat free or reduced-priced meals. The system creates conditions in which some students can look down on others,” said Janet Poppendieck, the author of “Free for All: Fixing School Food in America” and senior faculty fellow at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, at a food policy event at CUNY School for Public Health.</p> <p>Poppendieck also said that despite the changes that some schools have made to protect the identity of those who receive school lunch assistance, the stigma around those students still persists. Some students wind up skipping what might be their only potential proper meal of their day.</p> <p>Poppendieck is also part of an advocacy campaign called Lunch4Learning (L4L) that is behind the push to make free school lunch universal. L4L and other advocacy groups recently rallied at City Hall to demand Mayor de Blasio keep his campaign promise of ending the relationship between school lunch and family income. Public Advocate Letitia James has been supportive of the recommendation, as have several City Council members. Three prominent union leaders, including the teachers union president, wrote <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/free-lunch-kids-deserve-article-1.2885578" target="_blank">a joint op-ed</a> on Monday in The Daily News pushing Mayor de Blasio to include universal free lunch in his upcoming budget.</p> <p>"We live in one of the richest cities in the world, but we still are having trouble convincing some local lawmakers that it is not OK for children to spend the majority of their time in school hungry,” said Pamela Stewart Martinez, Co-President of the Citywide Council on Special Education. “In a city where 40 percent of the homeless population is school age children, why should universal free lunch even be an unfulfilled campaign promise?”</p> <p>Usually discussed around city budget season, universal free lunch would have an additional cost, but L4L says it would require a little over a dollar per child per school day for the city to be able to provide free lunch for all. There are more than one million public school students in the city. The de Blasio administration has said it is unsure if moving to universal free school lunch would cost the city in related federal funds. According to Poppendieck, “the higher the participation rate, the lower the unit cost of producing each meal. So basically, by moving to this we would free up more of the federal reimbursement for food.”</p> <p>Advocates say that in other cities where school districts have implemented universal free lunch, there have been positive results and more investment into fresh and local food. “So that’s why I think even for people whose primary concern is the food quality and healthfulness, nutrition, rather than the experience of the kids or the participation rate, it’s still a pathway to better school food,” Poppendieck said.</p> <p>Nutrition value of school meals has been a concern for a long time. A<a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-016-1270-5?utm_source=NYC+Food+Policy+Watch+(9/14/16)+&amp;utm_campaign=(9/14/16)+&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank"> recent study</a> conducted on Finnish 6-8-year-old elementary school students suggested that there is a positive correlation between a healthy nutritious diet and reading skills. Since a school meal might be a student’s only full meal of the day, advocates and health experts want to make sure that meals provide as much nutritional value as possible.</p> <p>The New York City Department of Education’s website states its “nutrition standards always meet, and many times exceed,<a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/legislation/nutritionstandards.htm" target="_blank"> USDA Nutrition Standards for School Meals</a>.” These standards allow schools to serve meals headlined by pizza, cheeseburgers, chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks. The “Eat Your Colors” part of the meal is usually a healthy vegetable, like broccoli, but sometimes also french fries or another starch. Salad bar with fresh vegetables is available everyday to students across the city.</p> <p>“If you want paying kids to buy the food, the feeling has been that you have to offer foods that they are familiar with and recognize, and that’s...your tacos, burritos, burgers and pizzas and what have you,” said Poppendieck. “If you move to universal, you could gradually shift to include more soups and stews, which, among other things, make it possible to use leftovers."&nbsp;</p> <p>“School food professionals have an opportunity to leverage their collective buying power for a better food system,” said Toni Liquori, founder and executive director of SchoolFood Focus, a Manhattan-based organization aiming to improve the quality of school food by working with school districts, food producers, and advocates, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “Through working with school districts and food suppliers, we’ve helped reformulate and create new nutritious products for school purchase — from poultry raised with responsible antibiotic use to a more wholesome bean burrito. All of which are available nationwide for purchase.”</p> <p>Beyond formal meals, there are often school vending machines for student use, and they regularly offer so-called “copycat products”, which are usually lower fat and lower sodium versions of popular junk food snacks such as Doritos.&nbsp;</p> <p>A <a href="http://uconnruddcenter.org/files/Pdfs/chi%2E2016%2E0080.pdf" target="_blank">UConn Rudd Center study</a> showed that the similar packaging of these products was confusing to children and parents alike, and that many struggled to differentiate the original product from the healthier one. The study reasons that selling these products contradicts the schools’ nutrition and health education and may fuel the misconceptions many of the participants had about the healthiness of the products.</p> <p>Of note are a couple other positive developments in the healthfulness of school food: food additives such as artificial colors or flavors are no longer used in city school meals and in fiscal year 2015 DOE spent 6% more of its budget on local products than the year before. Locally sourced and produced food is offered on the menu every Thursday.</p> <p>There is still much more to do, both in and near schools, though, to improve healthfulness for young people in New York. Some want to see the city take new steps to use legislative tools.</p> <p><strong>Licensing and Creating Healthy Food Zones</strong><br />Food insecurity and food access are major problems in many neighborhoods. According to the 2015 Food Metrics Report nearly one in five children in New York City live in food insecure households. Grocery stores are often scarce in the city, especially in lower-income neighborhoods, which makes access to fresh and healthy food challenging. Fast food outlets, however, are abundant in almost every neighborhood.</p> <p>Ending public subsidies for fast food establishments has been presented as one potential way to improve healthy food access in low-income neighborhoods. Businesses can be eligible to receive financial support such as tax benefits from the city and fast food restaurants are included. According to a <a href="https://www.stopcorporateabuse.org/sites/default/files/resources/slowing_down_fast_food_corporateaccountabilityinternational.pdf" target="_blank">food policy guide</a> by CUNY and Corporate Accountability International from 2012, the city “provided support to 13 fast food establishments, including six McDonald’s and two Burger King chains. Most of the supported establishments were located in East and Central Harlem, communities with among the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in New York and the nation.”</p> <p>According to a plan from The National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN), <a href="http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-a-livable-future/_pdf/projects/FPN/Ordinances_Model_Policies/Model%20Healthy%20Food%20Zone%20Ordinance%20Creating%20a%20Healthy%20Food%20Zone%20Around%20Schools%20by%20Regulating%20the%20Location%20of%20Fast%20Food%20Restaurants%20and%20Mobile%20Food%20Vendors.pdf" target="_blank">Model Healthy Food Zone Ordinance</a>, a study showed that students with fast food restaurants within a half-mile of their school are more likely to be overweight.</p> <p>Another way to prevent students from eating unhealthy food during or after school hours might lie in the use of zoning. By creating so-called “healthy food zones,” fast food and chain restaurants can be prohibited from establishing new outlets within a certain distance from a school.</p> <p>The zoning approach is preventative, but in New York City it is nearly impossible to find neighborhoods without existing fast food outlets. Zoning may help limit new unhealthy or less healthy options from moving in, though. This practice is not currently in use.</p> <p>Conditional licensing can be used to restrict the operation of already existing establishments, and might therefore be a better option than restrictive zoning for urban centers like New York City. “Licensing is more flexible because you can apply it to businesses that already exist,” said Jennifer Pomeranz, Clinical Assistant Professor at College of Global Public Health. “You could use this authority to license restaurants and also stores that are near schools to say ‘you have a license to operate as long as you agree to our conditions,’ for example not selling sugary beverages,” Pomeranz said. This method would allow existing establishments to continue their operations with a healthier agenda, whereas zoning would be used to prohibit these establishments from operating in a certain area.</p> <p>Arguments against limiting fast food restaurants include fears of possible job losses and other economic damages. Advocates, however, point to the fact that healthier food retailers would have an opportunity to open in their place and hence improve healthy food access in underserved neighborhoods. Some also worry about interference with the free market and individual choice -- there has often been pushback against the “nanny state.”</p> <p>To help retailers improve healthy food access, the city launched a program called Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (<a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/html/2009/fresh.shtml" target="_blank">FRESH</a>) in 2009 to provide “zoning and financial incentives to promote the establishment and retention of neighborhood grocery stores in underserved communities throughout the five boroughs.” For eligible operators, FRESH offers additional development rights, reduction in required parking, and permission for larger stores to operate in light manufacturing districts. The financial incentives include real estate tax reductions, sales tax exemption, and mortgage recording tax deferral. These make it easier for new retailers to open a new grocery store in underserved areas and for existing businesses to stay in operation.</p> <p>The city has also moved forward with the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/green-carts.page" target="_blank">green carts initiative</a>, providing more options for healthy food in underserved neighborhoods without the major capital and overhead costs of a traditional store or restaurant.</p> <p>A move to replace fast food outlets with healthier retailers would meet strong resistance. The fast food industry’s lobbying powers have regularly made sure that efforts to limit its operations are defeated. For example, in 2014 the city lost its battle to limit the sizes of sugary beverages that could be sold in certain circumstances -- an effort started by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has backed regulation of sugary beverages around the country. In New York, there was strong pushback from both the public and the restaurant industry.</p> <p>Changes in food options for students rely on viable alternatives to unhealthy options now being offered, and where the city has the most control is indeed in schools themselves.</p> <p>On Tuesday, the New York City Council announced $595,000 in funding for 16 new school food pantries across the city. The pantries, which will be placed in high-needs schools in partnership with Food Bank for New York City, are largely aimed at “combating food insecurity,” according to a press release from the Council. They will offer food that can be taken home as well as personal hygiene products like toothpaste and tampons.</p> <p>“Thousands of students across New York City rely on schools to provide their nutritional needs for the day,” New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement accompanying the school food pantry announcement. “Lacking access to these supplies can leave our children and young adults stressed and unable to focus on their education.”</p> <p>

***
by Milka Nissinen, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
AARP Emerges as Key De Blasio Ally 2016-03-22T01:13:02+00:00 2016-03-22T01:13:02+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6233:aarp-emerges-as-key-de-blasio-ally Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/aarp_ny.jpg" alt="aarp ny" height="338" width="600" /></p> <p>AARP members pack City Council chambers (photo via @aarpny)</p> <hr /> <p>There are about 800,000 AARP members in New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio has been arm-in-arm with them of late. The organization has come out in strong support of key pieces of de Blasio's affordable housing agenda and his plan to create a city-run retirement savings program for private sector workers.</p> <p>De Blasio has sought and embraced the support, frequently engaging with AARP members and regularly citing AARP's endorsement as validation for his housing plan, specifically controversial changes to the city's zoning rules that he is negotiating through the City Council. On Tuesday, the Council will pass changes to the zoning code that AARP supports as essential to creating more affordable housing for seniors.</p> <p>Not only is AARP helpful in the near-term as de Blasio builds support for his policies, but older voters are also an important bloc as de Blasio heads toward a 2017 re-election bid. There are more than 2 million registered voters in New York City over the age of 50, which is the threshold for AARP membership, and 72 percent, or 1.5 million, are Democrats, according to Steve Romalewski, Director of <a href="http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Page-Elements/Academics-Research-Centers-Initiatives/Centers-and-Institutes/Center-for-Urban-Research/CUNY-Mapping-Service" target="_blank">CUNY Mapping Service</a> at the Center for Urban Research/The Graduate Center.</p> <p>Older people are known to vote in higher percentages than other age groups, and that is the case in New York City. According to Romalewski, in the 2013 mayoral election, which saw very low overall turnout as de Blasio cruised to a landslide, about 38% of the one million-plus registered voters 65 and older voted, compared to 12% of the one million-plus registered voters 35 or younger.</p> <p>While AARP has become a key ally for the mayor, the group does not officially endorse candidates. Still, de Blasio's attention to issues of concern for older people and their regular exposure to him as a champion of their causes certainly appear to have created a mutually beneficial dynamic. AARP support for de Blasio's zoning changes became loud during a tough time for the mayor as community boards and others around the city criticized the plan.</p> <p>On Monday evening, de Blasio held his fourth tele-town hall with AARP-NY in the last nine months, during which he has discussed affordable housing and other issues with thousands of older constituents. According to AARP, 12,800 people participated over the course of an hour-long tele-town hall in February.</p> <p>During Monday's call, de Blasio struck a celebratory tone on the eve of the City Council voting through the zoning changes. Saying that Tuesday is "going to be a great day for New York City," de Blasio thanked AARP members for "the decisive support you have provided for our affordable housing plan." The "historic" day, de Blasio said, will usher in new policies "to open up a lot of different places where we can create the affordable housing seniors need." De Blasio told call participants that there will be a celebratory rally in Foley Square at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.</p> <p>Over the past two months, AARP also figured significantly in two de Blasio-led rallies at City Hall - one on his housing policies, one on his new retirement savings plan - and helped coordinate an in-person town hall meeting de Blasio held on senior housing in Manhattan.</p> <p>"AARP is an extraordinary force for good," de Blasio said during one of the tele-town halls, "looking out for the needs of our seniors, making sure their rights are respected, and building a more fair society."</p> <p>In response to de Blasio's affordable housing plans outlined in his 2015 State of the City speech, AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said in a statement, "Mayor de Blasio outlined a bold initiative to help make New York City more affordable...AARP looks forward to working with Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to address a primary concern of so many New Yorkers - the cost of living here - and continuing to make New York a great place to live, work and play for all age groups."</p> <p>AARP has followed up on that pledge, especially as the debate over de Blasio's key senior housing-related proposal, known as Zoning for Quality and Affordability, recently came toward a vote in the City Council. AARP has <a href="https://action.aarp.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&amp;page=UserAction&amp;id=5626" target="_blank">encouraged its members</a> to call their City Council representatives and conducted a targeted social media campaign to lobby Council members. It also purchased radio ads in support of the mayor's plan and sent mailings. (Another advocacy group for older New Yorkers, LiveOn NY, has also been a vocal supporter of ZQA.)</p> <p>In a Friday interview with WNYC, de Blasio said that as he and his administration engaged more people on his zoning proposals and larger housing plan, more came to support it. "[A]s this legislation moved forward," de Blasio <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/de-blasio-talks-affordable-housing-and-legacy/" target="_blank">told WNYC's Brigid Bergin</a>, "crucial organizations like AARP got involved and they spoke powerfully to seniors about why this would help create more senior housing. And that brought in a lot of support." He also referenced the support of a variety of labor unions.</p> <p>A nonpartisan advocacy group, AARP does not endorse candidates or make campaign contributions. It does, however, support policies, and it has put significant resources behind de Blasio's zoning changes. AARP has also committed to full-throated support for the retirement savings program, which the group's representatives say is a major national priority.</p> <p>Still, AARP representatives are firm that the organization does not endorse, donate to campaigns, or promote candidates through independent expenditures. In response to a tweet from Gotham Gazette in which this reporter speculated that AARP could be a formidable source of election support for de Blasio, AARP Associate State Director for New York City Chris Widelo <a href="https://twitter.com/C2R5W/status/711949665999196161" target="_blank">tweeted back</a>, "we are strictly non-partisan and do not endorse...but our members do vote!"</p> <p>During a phone interview Monday afternoon, Widelo explained more about AARP's approach to issue advocacy versus candidate campaigns. "If it were an election, I think our tone would be different," Widelo said. He added that AARP has been behind the mayor's housing plan with such energy because it is a key priority, but he stressed that the organization will not be supporting de Blasio's reelection campaign. "Next year, you'll probably notice AARP, we have a hard deadline when candidates file paperwork and become a candidate in our eyes, even if they are a sitting elected official, and we adjust how we may coordinate." Widelo said that the deadline is in the summer, but that AARP will judge the political landscape.</p> <p>AARP has also done tele-town halls with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Public Advocate Letitia James, Widelo noted. "It just so happens that our priorities have lined up with the mayor's and others here in the city," Widelo said. "We're happy to have the mayor of the largest city in the country on our tele-town hall, for sure," he added, "but for us, it's more important to tell [members] the story about what this policy is...it's educational."</p> <p>While AARP is appreciative of the mayor's attention to issues older New Yorkers care about, de Blasio is certainly happy to have the group's support.</p> <p>At a March 9 rally outside City Hall to support his housing agenda, de Blasio was surrounded by representatives from AARP and several labor unions, each of which he thanked. "I have to say, there are so many great organizations," de Blasio yelled through a megaphone, "but one that has done absolutely awesome work has been AARP."</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/aarp_ny.jpg" alt="aarp ny" height="338" width="600" /></p> <p>AARP members pack City Council chambers (photo via @aarpny)</p> <hr /> <p>There are about 800,000 AARP members in New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio has been arm-in-arm with them of late. The organization has come out in strong support of key pieces of de Blasio's affordable housing agenda and his plan to create a city-run retirement savings program for private sector workers.</p> <p>De Blasio has sought and embraced the support, frequently engaging with AARP members and regularly citing AARP's endorsement as validation for his housing plan, specifically controversial changes to the city's zoning rules that he is negotiating through the City Council. On Tuesday, the Council will pass changes to the zoning code that AARP supports as essential to creating more affordable housing for seniors.</p> <p>Not only is AARP helpful in the near-term as de Blasio builds support for his policies, but older voters are also an important bloc as de Blasio heads toward a 2017 re-election bid. There are more than 2 million registered voters in New York City over the age of 50, which is the threshold for AARP membership, and 72 percent, or 1.5 million, are Democrats, according to Steve Romalewski, Director of <a href="http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Page-Elements/Academics-Research-Centers-Initiatives/Centers-and-Institutes/Center-for-Urban-Research/CUNY-Mapping-Service" target="_blank">CUNY Mapping Service</a> at the Center for Urban Research/The Graduate Center.</p> <p>Older people are known to vote in higher percentages than other age groups, and that is the case in New York City. According to Romalewski, in the 2013 mayoral election, which saw very low overall turnout as de Blasio cruised to a landslide, about 38% of the one million-plus registered voters 65 and older voted, compared to 12% of the one million-plus registered voters 35 or younger.</p> <p>While AARP has become a key ally for the mayor, the group does not officially endorse candidates. Still, de Blasio's attention to issues of concern for older people and their regular exposure to him as a champion of their causes certainly appear to have created a mutually beneficial dynamic. AARP support for de Blasio's zoning changes became loud during a tough time for the mayor as community boards and others around the city criticized the plan.</p> <p>On Monday evening, de Blasio held his fourth tele-town hall with AARP-NY in the last nine months, during which he has discussed affordable housing and other issues with thousands of older constituents. According to AARP, 12,800 people participated over the course of an hour-long tele-town hall in February.</p> <p>During Monday's call, de Blasio struck a celebratory tone on the eve of the City Council voting through the zoning changes. Saying that Tuesday is "going to be a great day for New York City," de Blasio thanked AARP members for "the decisive support you have provided for our affordable housing plan." The "historic" day, de Blasio said, will usher in new policies "to open up a lot of different places where we can create the affordable housing seniors need." De Blasio told call participants that there will be a celebratory rally in Foley Square at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.</p> <p>Over the past two months, AARP also figured significantly in two de Blasio-led rallies at City Hall - one on his housing policies, one on his new retirement savings plan - and helped coordinate an in-person town hall meeting de Blasio held on senior housing in Manhattan.</p> <p>"AARP is an extraordinary force for good," de Blasio said during one of the tele-town halls, "looking out for the needs of our seniors, making sure their rights are respected, and building a more fair society."</p> <p>In response to de Blasio's affordable housing plans outlined in his 2015 State of the City speech, AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel said in a statement, "Mayor de Blasio outlined a bold initiative to help make New York City more affordable...AARP looks forward to working with Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to address a primary concern of so many New Yorkers - the cost of living here - and continuing to make New York a great place to live, work and play for all age groups."</p> <p>AARP has followed up on that pledge, especially as the debate over de Blasio's key senior housing-related proposal, known as Zoning for Quality and Affordability, recently came toward a vote in the City Council. AARP has <a href="https://action.aarp.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&amp;page=UserAction&amp;id=5626" target="_blank">encouraged its members</a> to call their City Council representatives and conducted a targeted social media campaign to lobby Council members. It also purchased radio ads in support of the mayor's plan and sent mailings. (Another advocacy group for older New Yorkers, LiveOn NY, has also been a vocal supporter of ZQA.)</p> <p>In a Friday interview with WNYC, de Blasio said that as he and his administration engaged more people on his zoning proposals and larger housing plan, more came to support it. "[A]s this legislation moved forward," de Blasio <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/de-blasio-talks-affordable-housing-and-legacy/" target="_blank">told WNYC's Brigid Bergin</a>, "crucial organizations like AARP got involved and they spoke powerfully to seniors about why this would help create more senior housing. And that brought in a lot of support." He also referenced the support of a variety of labor unions.</p> <p>A nonpartisan advocacy group, AARP does not endorse candidates or make campaign contributions. It does, however, support policies, and it has put significant resources behind de Blasio's zoning changes. AARP has also committed to full-throated support for the retirement savings program, which the group's representatives say is a major national priority.</p> <p>Still, AARP representatives are firm that the organization does not endorse, donate to campaigns, or promote candidates through independent expenditures. In response to a tweet from Gotham Gazette in which this reporter speculated that AARP could be a formidable source of election support for de Blasio, AARP Associate State Director for New York City Chris Widelo <a href="https://twitter.com/C2R5W/status/711949665999196161" target="_blank">tweeted back</a>, "we are strictly non-partisan and do not endorse...but our members do vote!"</p> <p>During a phone interview Monday afternoon, Widelo explained more about AARP's approach to issue advocacy versus candidate campaigns. "If it were an election, I think our tone would be different," Widelo said. He added that AARP has been behind the mayor's housing plan with such energy because it is a key priority, but he stressed that the organization will not be supporting de Blasio's reelection campaign. "Next year, you'll probably notice AARP, we have a hard deadline when candidates file paperwork and become a candidate in our eyes, even if they are a sitting elected official, and we adjust how we may coordinate." Widelo said that the deadline is in the summer, but that AARP will judge the political landscape.</p> <p>AARP has also done tele-town halls with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Public Advocate Letitia James, Widelo noted. "It just so happens that our priorities have lined up with the mayor's and others here in the city," Widelo said. "We're happy to have the mayor of the largest city in the country on our tele-town hall, for sure," he added, "but for us, it's more important to tell [members] the story about what this policy is...it's educational."</p> <p>While AARP is appreciative of the mayor's attention to issues older New Yorkers care about, de Blasio is certainly happy to have the group's support.</p> <p>At a March 9 rally outside City Hall to support his housing agenda, de Blasio was surrounded by representatives from AARP and several labor unions, each of which he thanked. "I have to say, there are so many great organizations," de Blasio yelled through a megaphone, "but one that has done absolutely awesome work has been AARP."</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 21 2016-03-19T14:22:16+00:00 2016-03-19T14:22:16+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6231:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-march-21 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>This week will be another busy one when it comes to budgets: the City Council continues its preliminary budget hearings and state budget negotiations enter their final ten days - a state budget is due by April 1 and some say a deal could be announced before the end of this week. Don't count on it, though, state budgets usually come in just before (or, as was the case last year, just after) the March 31 midnight deadline. This practice under Governor Andrew Cuomo is actually a serious improvement given that the state used to regularly wind up with late budgets extending weeks past the start of the new fiscal year, which begins April 1.</p> <p>There are a variety of issues to be worked out, with <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6226-new-york-city-interests-given-varied-priority-in-three-albany-budget-plans" target="_blank">several of importance to New York City.</a> As always, there are a number of high-profile items, like an increase of the minimum wage or government ethics reform, that could be pushed beyond the budget and into the legislative session to follow. That session runs until mid-June. The budget, after all, only must include necessary state expenses. Expect at least a couple of closed-door meetings among Cuomo and the two legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican. On Monday,&nbsp;City Council "Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Members will travel to Albany to advocate for the City Council's 2016 State Budget and Legislative Agenda," according to Mark-Viverito's public schedule.</p> <p>Also worth watching in Albany this week, the Assembly will consider internal reforms <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews" target="_blank">announced by Heastie and his conference at the end of this past week</a>. The 40-plus reform proposals received <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews" target="_blank">a mixed reaction</a> from elected officials and good government advocates, but still indicate a number of changes that many have been advocating for years. And, keep an eye out for a related conference in Albany on Friday, which will look at ethics reform through the lens of a state constitutional convention - details below.</p> <p>While it is another busy week of budget hearings at the City Council, the Council will also hold a full-body Stated Meeting on Tuesday, at which new bills will be introduced and the Council will vote on the two high-profile zoning changes - Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) - that have been the source of months of discussion, negotiation, and controversy, and that are key to Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing plans.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Mayor de Blasio is doing a series of six media appearances to discuss his affordable housing agenda on Monday. He'll be on NPR, 880AM and 710AM radio, and on NY1, NY1 Noticias, and Univision TV.</p> <p>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. in Albany, following the full <a href="https://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2016/2016-03/meeting-board-regents" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the NYS Board of Regents, the board’s newly-elected Chancellor and Vice Chancellor will hold a press conference with the State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon Monday, a coalition of over 90 HIV/AIDS advocates will launch a statewide Week of Action on the steps of City Hall, calling upon Governor Cuomo to invest $70 million in a plan to end AIDS in the 2016 New York State budget.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m., the Committee on Health will hold a hearing on a bill to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products at sports arenas and recreational areas that require tickets.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Health will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At noon, the Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Youth Services will discuss a bill requiring the establishment of a training coordinator to teach certain agency staff throughout departments such as Parks and Recreation, Homeless Services, and Human Resources Administration/Social Services how to identify runaway, homeless or sexually exploited youth and how to connect them with appropriate services. The committee will also discuss several technical changes relating to an annual report produced by the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Youth and Community Development on the number of sexually exploited youth each agency has come into contact with over the course of the calendar year.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the Committee on Higher Education will meet to discuss a resolution to increase State funding to CUNY, and to reach a fair labor agreement with the University’s faculty and staff in the 2016-17 NYS Executive Budget.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 3 p.m., the Committee on Civil Rights will examine a bill to broaden or incorporate a right to truthful information for a variety of activities covered by the New York City Human Rights Law, including lending, employment, and access to public accommodations and others.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m. Monday,&nbsp;"First Lady McCray will deliver opening remarks at a panel at Fountain House, an organization dedicated to supporting those living with serious mental illness."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, the LGBT Task Force of Manhattan Community Boards 9, 10, 11, and 12 will host an <a href="https://twitter.com/galeabrewer/status/709089409115631617" target="_blank">LGBT Resource Fair</a> featuring New York City Agencies. The event is sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:10 p.m. Monday evening,&nbsp;"Mayor Bill de Blasio will discuss affordable housing with an anticipated 10,000+ AARP members from New York City on an interactive call that allows participants to ask questions," according to AARP-NY.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 6:30 p.m., schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will&nbsp;attend a town hall meeting of District 16's Community Education Council at MS 267 in Brooklyn.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Crain’s New York Business will host an <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160218" target="_blank">event</a> on how startup businesses take off in New York City, featuring: Gregg Bishop, Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services; Howard Lerman, Co-Founder &amp; CEO, Yext; Rachel Shechtman,, Founder and CEO, STORY; Adam Shwartz, Director, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech; and moderated by Matthew Flamm, Senior Reporter, Crain's New York Business.<br /><br />At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the YWCA of New York City will host “its third breakfast <a href="https://www.ywcanyc.org/events/new-york-city-women-leaders-the-power-of-influence-and-purpose/" target="_blank">panel</a> for Women’s History Month “New York City Women Leaders: The Power of Influence and Purpose.” The panel will include Maya Wiley, counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio; City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley; and Carmelyn Malalis, commissioner of the city’s Human Rights Commission; among others.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Commission on Public Information and Communication will meet to <a href="http://pubadvocate.nyc.gov/news/events/copic-meeting-1" target="_blank">discuss</a> the implementation of the webcasting law and the establishment of a central portal for webcasts.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9 a.m., the Committee on State and Federal Legislation will meet to press for authorization that Christopher Park in Manhattan is discontinued as city parkland.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to approve new designations for certain organizations to receive funding in the expense budget; to communicate the transfer of City funds between various agencies in FY ‘16 in the expense budget; and to communicate the appropriation of new revenues of $982 million in FY ‘16.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body Stated Meeting. The highlight of the hearing will be the Council’s votes on the MIH and ZQA zoning text amendments.</li> <li dir="ltr">Before the Stated, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will host a pre-Stated press conference at 12:30.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Also prior to the Stated Meeting, at noon, City Council Members Costa Constantinides and Ydanis Rodriguez will host a press conference on the steps of City Hall to rally before introducing a bill to create a pilot program for electric vehicle charging stations on street parking. The program hopes to encourage the use of electric cars and reduce carbon emissions citywide.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Subcommittee on Libraries will meet jointly with the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations for a preliminary budget hearing on libraries.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Contracts will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Courts and Legal Services will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Wednesday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCD8/status/709758093421387777" target="_blank">will host</a> a Women’s History Month celebration at Mott Haven Library.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 8 a.m. Thursday, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce will <a href="http://www.manhattancc.org/MCC_Events/MCC_Chairmans_Breakfast_Series.aspx" target="_blank">host</a> a breakfast event focused on combating the rising tide of cybercrime and featuring Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>At 1:30 p.m. Friday in Albany, a <a href="http://www.rockinst.org/forumsandevents/upcoming/default.aspx#Constitutional_Convention_Strengthen_Ethics" target="_blank">forum</a>, “Can a NYS Constitutional Convention Strengthen Government Ethics?” The event, hosted by The Rockefeller Institute, will feature discussion about whether issues of integrity in government can be fixed statutorily, or if would be better resolved through constitutional change. Speaking will be former NYS Comptroller H. Carl McCall; and Columbia Law School Professor Richard Briffault, who is also a former assistant counsel to Governor Hugh Carey; as well as a panel of experts.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Saturday, March 26, Participatory Budget voting <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pb/home.shtml" target="_blank">begins</a> in New York City Council districts running the program. In Participatory Budgeting, Council Members ask New York City residents “to decide how to invest public funds in their neighborhoods.” Voting will take place throughout the nearly 30 participating districts through April 3.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" alt="New York City Hall" height="450" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>This week will be another busy one when it comes to budgets: the City Council continues its preliminary budget hearings and state budget negotiations enter their final ten days - a state budget is due by April 1 and some say a deal could be announced before the end of this week. Don't count on it, though, state budgets usually come in just before (or, as was the case last year, just after) the March 31 midnight deadline. This practice under Governor Andrew Cuomo is actually a serious improvement given that the state used to regularly wind up with late budgets extending weeks past the start of the new fiscal year, which begins April 1.</p> <p>There are a variety of issues to be worked out, with <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6226-new-york-city-interests-given-varied-priority-in-three-albany-budget-plans" target="_blank">several of importance to New York City.</a> As always, there are a number of high-profile items, like an increase of the minimum wage or government ethics reform, that could be pushed beyond the budget and into the legislative session to follow. That session runs until mid-June. The budget, after all, only must include necessary state expenses. Expect at least a couple of closed-door meetings among Cuomo and the two legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican. On Monday,&nbsp;City Council "Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Members will travel to Albany to advocate for the City Council's 2016 State Budget and Legislative Agenda," according to Mark-Viverito's public schedule.</p> <p>Also worth watching in Albany this week, the Assembly will consider internal reforms <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews" target="_blank">announced by Heastie and his conference at the end of this past week</a>. The 40-plus reform proposals received <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6229-assembly-announces-internal-reform-plan-to-mixed-reviews" target="_blank">a mixed reaction</a> from elected officials and good government advocates, but still indicate a number of changes that many have been advocating for years. And, keep an eye out for a related conference in Albany on Friday, which will look at ethics reform through the lens of a state constitutional convention - details below.</p> <p>While it is another busy week of budget hearings at the City Council, the Council will also hold a full-body Stated Meeting on Tuesday, at which new bills will be introduced and the Council will vote on the two high-profile zoning changes - Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) - that have been the source of months of discussion, negotiation, and controversy, and that are key to Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing plans.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>Mayor de Blasio is doing a series of six media appearances to discuss his affordable housing agenda on Monday. He'll be on NPR, 880AM and 710AM radio, and on NY1, NY1 Noticias, and Univision TV.</p> <p>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Monday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. in Albany, following the full <a href="https://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2016/2016-03/meeting-board-regents" target="_blank">meeting</a> of the NYS Board of Regents, the board’s newly-elected Chancellor and Vice Chancellor will hold a press conference with the State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.</p> <p dir="ltr">At noon Monday, a coalition of over 90 HIV/AIDS advocates will launch a statewide Week of Action on the steps of City Hall, calling upon Governor Cuomo to invest $70 million in a plan to end AIDS in the 2016 New York State budget.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Monday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9:30 a.m., the Committee on Health will hold a hearing on a bill to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products at sports arenas and recreational areas that require tickets.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Health will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At noon, the Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Youth Services will discuss a bill requiring the establishment of a training coordinator to teach certain agency staff throughout departments such as Parks and Recreation, Homeless Services, and Human Resources Administration/Social Services how to identify runaway, homeless or sexually exploited youth and how to connect them with appropriate services. The committee will also discuss several technical changes relating to an annual report produced by the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Youth and Community Development on the number of sexually exploited youth each agency has come into contact with over the course of the calendar year.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Public Safety will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the Committee on Higher Education will meet to discuss a resolution to increase State funding to CUNY, and to reach a fair labor agreement with the University’s faculty and staff in the 2016-17 NYS Executive Budget.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 3 p.m., the Committee on Civil Rights will examine a bill to broaden or incorporate a right to truthful information for a variety of activities covered by the New York City Human Rights Law, including lending, employment, and access to public accommodations and others.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 2 p.m. Monday,&nbsp;"First Lady McCray will deliver opening remarks at a panel at Fountain House, an organization dedicated to supporting those living with serious mental illness."</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6 p.m. Monday, the LGBT Task Force of Manhattan Community Boards 9, 10, 11, and 12 will host an <a href="https://twitter.com/galeabrewer/status/709089409115631617" target="_blank">LGBT Resource Fair</a> featuring New York City Agencies. The event is sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 6:10 p.m. Monday evening,&nbsp;"Mayor Bill de Blasio will discuss affordable housing with an anticipated 10,000+ AARP members from New York City on an interactive call that allows participants to ask questions," according to AARP-NY.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday at 6:30 p.m., schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will&nbsp;attend a town hall meeting of District 16's Community Education Council at MS 267 in Brooklyn.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Crain’s New York Business will host an <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=cnyb-events&amp;utm_campaign=cnyb-events-20160218" target="_blank">event</a> on how startup businesses take off in New York City, featuring: Gregg Bishop, Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services; Howard Lerman, Co-Founder &amp; CEO, Yext; Rachel Shechtman,, Founder and CEO, STORY; Adam Shwartz, Director, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech; and moderated by Matthew Flamm, Senior Reporter, Crain's New York Business.<br /><br />At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the YWCA of New York City will host “its third breakfast <a href="https://www.ywcanyc.org/events/new-york-city-women-leaders-the-power-of-influence-and-purpose/" target="_blank">panel</a> for Women’s History Month “New York City Women Leaders: The Power of Influence and Purpose.” The panel will include Maya Wiley, counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio; City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley; and Carmelyn Malalis, commissioner of the city’s Human Rights Commission; among others.</p> <p dir="ltr">At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Commission on Public Information and Communication will meet to <a href="http://pubadvocate.nyc.gov/news/events/copic-meeting-1" target="_blank">discuss</a> the implementation of the webcasting law and the establishment of a central portal for webcasts.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Tuesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 9 a.m., the Committee on State and Federal Legislation will meet to press for authorization that Christopher Park in Manhattan is discontinued as city parkland.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Committee on Finance will meet to approve new designations for certain organizations to receive funding in the expense budget; to communicate the transfer of City funds between various agencies in FY ‘16 in the expense budget; and to communicate the appropriation of new revenues of $982 million in FY ‘16.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a full-body Stated Meeting. The highlight of the hearing will be the Council’s votes on the MIH and ZQA zoning text amendments.</li> <li dir="ltr">Before the Stated, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will host a pre-Stated press conference at 12:30.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Also prior to the Stated Meeting, at noon, City Council Members Costa Constantinides and Ydanis Rodriguez will host a press conference on the steps of City Hall to rally before introducing a bill to create a pilot program for electric vehicle charging stations on street parking. The program hopes to encourage the use of electric cars and reduce carbon emissions citywide.</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong>Both houses of the New York State Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the City Council on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">At 10 a.m., the Subcommittee on Libraries will meet jointly with the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations for a preliminary budget hearing on libraries.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 11 a.m., the Committee on Contracts will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> <li dir="ltr">At 1 p.m., the Committee on Courts and Legal Services will meet for a preliminary budget hearing.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">At 5 p.m. Wednesday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCD8/status/709758093421387777" target="_blank">will host</a> a Women’s History Month celebration at Mott Haven Library.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong>At 8 a.m. Thursday, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce will <a href="http://www.manhattancc.org/MCC_Events/MCC_Chairmans_Breakfast_Series.aspx" target="_blank">host</a> a breakfast event focused on combating the rising tide of cybercrime and featuring Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>At 1:30 p.m. Friday in Albany, a <a href="http://www.rockinst.org/forumsandevents/upcoming/default.aspx#Constitutional_Convention_Strengthen_Ethics" target="_blank">forum</a>, “Can a NYS Constitutional Convention Strengthen Government Ethics?” The event, hosted by The Rockefeller Institute, will feature discussion about whether issues of integrity in government can be fixed statutorily, or if would be better resolved through constitutional change. Speaking will be former NYS Comptroller H. Carl McCall; and Columbia Law School Professor Richard Briffault, who is also a former assistant counsel to Governor Hugh Carey; as well as a panel of experts.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Saturday, March 26, Participatory Budget voting <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pb/home.shtml" target="_blank">begins</a> in New York City Council districts running the program. In Participatory Budgeting, Council Members ask New York City residents “to decide how to invest public funds in their neighborhoods.” Voting will take place throughout the nearly 30 participating districts through April 3.</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Kelly Fan and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Sides Near Deal on Major Zoning Changes Aimed at Creating Affordable Housing 2016-03-14T14:41:40+00:00 2016-03-14T14:41:40+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6222:sides-near-a-deal-on-major-zoning-changes-aimed-at-creating-affordable-housing Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/de_blasio_rally.jpg" alt="de blasio rally" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">De Blasio rallies for his housing plans (photo: Demetrius Freeman, Mayor's Office)</span></p> <hr /> <p>After months of public discussion and weeks of private negotiation, the City Council is on the verge of passing, with tweaks, two sweeping changes to the city's land use rules that are key to Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan.</p> <p>Sources familiar with negotiations say that some details are still being worked through, but that the major tenets of the controversial changes to city zoning text are all but set. A deal may be announced as early as Monday afternoon.</p> <p>With several alterations to the original proposals by the de Blasio administration, the Council is likely to vote Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) through committee this week. Then, the City Planning Commission will be asked to sign off on the changes to the plans that it passed earlier this year, stamping them as "within scope" and sending them back to the Council for a full vote on March 22.</p> <p>Council votes in the zoning subcommittee and land use committee are likely to take place on Wednesday, though they could be moved if deemed necessary. But, indications are that discussions between de Blasio administration and City Council representatives are close to finalized. In news that signaled the end of what has at times been a contentious process, the de Blasio administration announced on Sunday that the coalition making the most noise in opposition to the structure of the plans had come around in support given new developments.</p> <p>Most importantly, de Blasio will see his Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program enacted; the plan requires that real estate developers who receive an upzoning on a plot of land in order to build more housing than otherwise allowed will have to include a set percentage of units under specific rent thresholds. Negotiating parties are making slight but important changes to the structure of affordability levels within MIH, including set-asides for lower income earners than the plan had previously included.</p> <p>With a series of recent endorsements and now the backing of Real Affordability for All (RAFA), a collection of community groups and construction unions, along with prior support from a variety of advocacy groups and other unions, de Blasio is set for a big-tent win. The City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Council members will also tout the new land use policies as major progress for the city, especially those in danger of being priced out of an increasingly expensive New York. Council negotiations with the de Blasio administration have <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6178-richards-puts-communities-of-color-at-forefront-of-housing-debate" target="_blank">centered on affordability levels</a>, with the Council apparently able to move the needle in slight, but significant ways.</p> <p>The two zoning changes are part of the administration's larger housing plan, which aims to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over ten years. Forty-thousand were secured during de Blasio's first two years in office.</p> <p>"We're on the verge of implementing the strongest, most progressive requirement for affordable housing of any city in the country," said de Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell in a Sunday statement announcing the backing of RAFA. "We welcome this support, and look forward to working with communities across the city to identify even more tools to reach New Yorkers with quality jobs and affordable housing."</p> <p>The backing from RAFA, which is spearheaded by New York Communities for Change, an organization at one point led by a longtime friend of de Blasio, Jon Kest, who passed away in 2012, comes after concessions by the administration. Not only has RAFA seen encouraging movement on affordability levels within MIH, but the administration also promised to conduct a study of tools it can use to deepen affordability and ensure "job standards in new housing." The coalition, especially its labor component, has been calling for both local hiring and construction safety precautions to be included in the plans.</p> <p>The affordability levels within MIH have been the source of perhaps the most debate as the zoning amendments have gone through the public review process. Along with Mark-Viverito and Council staff, Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the Council's zoning subcommittee, has been key in the negotiations. Council Member Jumaane Williams, chair of the housing committee, has been said to be the loudest voice pushing for deeper levels of affordability. It appears that in the final MIH structure, shifts will have been made to ensure some apartments for lower income earners and broader economic diversity within new developments.</p> <p>Income levels are based on Area Median Income, currently $77,688 for a family of three. AMI is a federal measure that for New York City also includes data from surrounding suburban counties. Average incomes in the city are significantly lower, especially in neighborhoods the de Blasio administration is targeting for added housing density and community improvements. "Affordable" means that a family would not be spending more than 30 percent of its income on rent.</p> <p>Throughout the public review process, fears of gentrification have been at the forefront. De Blasio, his representatives, and his allies argue that without a new program from the city, gentrification will continue largely unabated as it has in many communities over the past two decades. Some advocates and politicians have been calling for a mandatory inclusionary housing program for many years. As de Blasio moved forward with his plan, the big question became the exact numbers.</p> <p>As proposed, the administration included three options for builders creating new housing on land rezoned under MIH:<br />&gt; 25 percent of new units affordable to tenants making an average of 60 percent AMI<br />&gt; 30 percent of units affordable to tenants making an average of 80 percent AMI<br />&gt; 30 percent of units affordable to tenants making an average of 120 percent AMI - this third option would not come with added city subsidies; would not be available in most of Manhattan in an effort to create more economic diversity; and is often known as "the workforce" option, meaning that it is targeted more at middle-class households.</p> <p>Negotiations appear to be yielding a couple of changes to that structure. One change is that instead of simply requiring rents for the affordable units to average 60 or 80 or 120 percent of AMI, there would be clear set-asides for some percentage of units to be affordable for those earning down to 30 percent of AMI. Another change would add a fourth option that gets at deeper affordability, possibly accompanied by a smaller percentage of affordable units, again in an effort to make some new apartments available to tenants with lower incomes. Two sources close to negotiations confirmed the outline of these changes to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>City Council members indicated they were looking for these types of tweaks during a February hearing on MIH, as did Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the zoning subcommittee and one of the Council's lead negotiators on the subject, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6178-richards-puts-communities-of-color-at-forefront-of-housing-debate" target="_blank">in an interview with Gotham Gazette</a>. Details of the changes as part of negotiations were <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/03/8592488/city-hall-steps-efforts-win-council-support-housing-plan" target="_blank">first reported by Politico New York</a> earlier this month.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito, the Council speaker, has, like many of her members, been a supporter of the plans from the start, but also interested in making changes, especially to affordability thresholds. Council Member Williams said he knows Mark-Viverito and Council Member Richards have been negotiating those numbers.</p> <p>"The speaker and Donovan Richards are in there trying to push what many of us are asking for," Williams said in an interview on Friday. "All of New York has to see itself in this plan. If it doesn't, we haven't achieved what we need to achieve."</p> <p>Williams referenced the push for a fourth option under MIH and the carving out of a certain percentage of units for those making the most modest incomes. "We want to make sure that there aren't parts of this city that are built with no deeply affordable units," he said. "There shouldn't be a project where some of the units aren't of the deepest affordability - 30 percent or below of AMI must be considered."</p> <p>Meanwhile, it is still unclear if there will be modifications around other key points of contention, such as the building of affordable units "off site," as in at a different location than new market-rate units. Council members have expressed interest in disincentivizing the practice within the MIH language, perhaps by including language requiring more affordable units if they are built away from the market-rate units.</p> <p>As for ZQA, which deals with a wide variety of more specific zoning rules, the parties appear to be coming to compromises around modifications to parking requirements that come with senior affordable housing and the distances in so-called transit zones. Details of the ZQA deal are said to be among those still being discussed as City Council members often have neighborhood-level concerns, especially around building heights, parking, senior housing, and retail space.</p> <p>Much of the discussion around ZQA has related to the ways in which it will help create more affordable housing for seniors. AARP and other advocacy groups have backed the plan, with AARP-NY dedicating significant resources in support, rallying with the mayor, and lobbying Council members.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Council Member Richards told Gotham Gazette that negotiations have yielded a deal on the minimum size of new affordable housing units for seniors, one point of contention in early negotiations. The de Blasio plan had put the minimum at 275 square feet, which Richards and others called too small, pushing for 400. The sides have agreed on 325 square feet.</p> <p>The sides are said to be negotiating specific numbers around the number of parking spots that must accompany new senior housing and which areas of the city would still require special permits to build nursing homes, among other finer points. Politico New York <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/03/8593193/changes-sliver-law-nixed-zoning-negotiations-sources-say" target="_blank">has reported</a> on already-decided changes to ZQA.</p> <p>When a deal on MIH and ZQA is finalized, de Blasio and City Council members are likely to celebrate, these types of changes to city zoning rules do not happen often, and the mandate for affordable housing in any upzoned development is indeed a major win.</p> <p>How prior critics of the plans, including many local community boards who voted against their initial construction, will react is unclear. While some have seen and will continue to see merit in the plans, fears of new real estate development, added density, and rising rents are very real and unlikely to abate. The de Blasio administration is also moving forward with a series of neighborhood rezonings, starting with East New York, Brooklyn, but soon moving to communities in each borough.</p> <p>De Blasio is staking his legacy largely on his attempts to make the city more affordable and his housing policies will be a key piece of his 2017 reelection bid.</p> <p>In endorsing the mayor's plans, the New York Times editorial board recently captured the moment, <a href="http://nyti.ms/1UmIPFp" target="_blank">writing</a>, "This grand plan is a hugely important gamble that the city can build its way to greater housing equality, that it can ignite growth, improve neighborhoods, tame gentrification and protect tenants, all at once. That New York can still be a mixed-income city."<br /><br />Passing MIH and ZQA doesn't provide the result to that gamble, it pushes more chips on the table.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/de_blasio_rally.jpg" alt="de blasio rally" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">De Blasio rallies for his housing plans (photo: Demetrius Freeman, Mayor's Office)</span></p> <hr /> <p>After months of public discussion and weeks of private negotiation, the City Council is on the verge of passing, with tweaks, two sweeping changes to the city's land use rules that are key to Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan.</p> <p>Sources familiar with negotiations say that some details are still being worked through, but that the major tenets of the controversial changes to city zoning text are all but set. A deal may be announced as early as Monday afternoon.</p> <p>With several alterations to the original proposals by the de Blasio administration, the Council is likely to vote Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) through committee this week. Then, the City Planning Commission will be asked to sign off on the changes to the plans that it passed earlier this year, stamping them as "within scope" and sending them back to the Council for a full vote on March 22.</p> <p>Council votes in the zoning subcommittee and land use committee are likely to take place on Wednesday, though they could be moved if deemed necessary. But, indications are that discussions between de Blasio administration and City Council representatives are close to finalized. In news that signaled the end of what has at times been a contentious process, the de Blasio administration announced on Sunday that the coalition making the most noise in opposition to the structure of the plans had come around in support given new developments.</p> <p>Most importantly, de Blasio will see his Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program enacted; the plan requires that real estate developers who receive an upzoning on a plot of land in order to build more housing than otherwise allowed will have to include a set percentage of units under specific rent thresholds. Negotiating parties are making slight but important changes to the structure of affordability levels within MIH, including set-asides for lower income earners than the plan had previously included.</p> <p>With a series of recent endorsements and now the backing of Real Affordability for All (RAFA), a collection of community groups and construction unions, along with prior support from a variety of advocacy groups and other unions, de Blasio is set for a big-tent win. The City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Council members will also tout the new land use policies as major progress for the city, especially those in danger of being priced out of an increasingly expensive New York. Council negotiations with the de Blasio administration have <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6178-richards-puts-communities-of-color-at-forefront-of-housing-debate" target="_blank">centered on affordability levels</a>, with the Council apparently able to move the needle in slight, but significant ways.</p> <p>The two zoning changes are part of the administration's larger housing plan, which aims to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over ten years. Forty-thousand were secured during de Blasio's first two years in office.</p> <p>"We're on the verge of implementing the strongest, most progressive requirement for affordable housing of any city in the country," said de Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell in a Sunday statement announcing the backing of RAFA. "We welcome this support, and look forward to working with communities across the city to identify even more tools to reach New Yorkers with quality jobs and affordable housing."</p> <p>The backing from RAFA, which is spearheaded by New York Communities for Change, an organization at one point led by a longtime friend of de Blasio, Jon Kest, who passed away in 2012, comes after concessions by the administration. Not only has RAFA seen encouraging movement on affordability levels within MIH, but the administration also promised to conduct a study of tools it can use to deepen affordability and ensure "job standards in new housing." The coalition, especially its labor component, has been calling for both local hiring and construction safety precautions to be included in the plans.</p> <p>The affordability levels within MIH have been the source of perhaps the most debate as the zoning amendments have gone through the public review process. Along with Mark-Viverito and Council staff, Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the Council's zoning subcommittee, has been key in the negotiations. Council Member Jumaane Williams, chair of the housing committee, has been said to be the loudest voice pushing for deeper levels of affordability. It appears that in the final MIH structure, shifts will have been made to ensure some apartments for lower income earners and broader economic diversity within new developments.</p> <p>Income levels are based on Area Median Income, currently $77,688 for a family of three. AMI is a federal measure that for New York City also includes data from surrounding suburban counties. Average incomes in the city are significantly lower, especially in neighborhoods the de Blasio administration is targeting for added housing density and community improvements. "Affordable" means that a family would not be spending more than 30 percent of its income on rent.</p> <p>Throughout the public review process, fears of gentrification have been at the forefront. De Blasio, his representatives, and his allies argue that without a new program from the city, gentrification will continue largely unabated as it has in many communities over the past two decades. Some advocates and politicians have been calling for a mandatory inclusionary housing program for many years. As de Blasio moved forward with his plan, the big question became the exact numbers.</p> <p>As proposed, the administration included three options for builders creating new housing on land rezoned under MIH:<br />&gt; 25 percent of new units affordable to tenants making an average of 60 percent AMI<br />&gt; 30 percent of units affordable to tenants making an average of 80 percent AMI<br />&gt; 30 percent of units affordable to tenants making an average of 120 percent AMI - this third option would not come with added city subsidies; would not be available in most of Manhattan in an effort to create more economic diversity; and is often known as "the workforce" option, meaning that it is targeted more at middle-class households.</p> <p>Negotiations appear to be yielding a couple of changes to that structure. One change is that instead of simply requiring rents for the affordable units to average 60 or 80 or 120 percent of AMI, there would be clear set-asides for some percentage of units to be affordable for those earning down to 30 percent of AMI. Another change would add a fourth option that gets at deeper affordability, possibly accompanied by a smaller percentage of affordable units, again in an effort to make some new apartments available to tenants with lower incomes. Two sources close to negotiations confirmed the outline of these changes to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>City Council members indicated they were looking for these types of tweaks during a February hearing on MIH, as did Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the zoning subcommittee and one of the Council's lead negotiators on the subject, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6178-richards-puts-communities-of-color-at-forefront-of-housing-debate" target="_blank">in an interview with Gotham Gazette</a>. Details of the changes as part of negotiations were <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/03/8592488/city-hall-steps-efforts-win-council-support-housing-plan" target="_blank">first reported by Politico New York</a> earlier this month.</p> <p>Mark-Viverito, the Council speaker, has, like many of her members, been a supporter of the plans from the start, but also interested in making changes, especially to affordability thresholds. Council Member Williams said he knows Mark-Viverito and Council Member Richards have been negotiating those numbers.</p> <p>"The speaker and Donovan Richards are in there trying to push what many of us are asking for," Williams said in an interview on Friday. "All of New York has to see itself in this plan. If it doesn't, we haven't achieved what we need to achieve."</p> <p>Williams referenced the push for a fourth option under MIH and the carving out of a certain percentage of units for those making the most modest incomes. "We want to make sure that there aren't parts of this city that are built with no deeply affordable units," he said. "There shouldn't be a project where some of the units aren't of the deepest affordability - 30 percent or below of AMI must be considered."</p> <p>Meanwhile, it is still unclear if there will be modifications around other key points of contention, such as the building of affordable units "off site," as in at a different location than new market-rate units. Council members have expressed interest in disincentivizing the practice within the MIH language, perhaps by including language requiring more affordable units if they are built away from the market-rate units.</p> <p>As for ZQA, which deals with a wide variety of more specific zoning rules, the parties appear to be coming to compromises around modifications to parking requirements that come with senior affordable housing and the distances in so-called transit zones. Details of the ZQA deal are said to be among those still being discussed as City Council members often have neighborhood-level concerns, especially around building heights, parking, senior housing, and retail space.</p> <p>Much of the discussion around ZQA has related to the ways in which it will help create more affordable housing for seniors. AARP and other advocacy groups have backed the plan, with AARP-NY dedicating significant resources in support, rallying with the mayor, and lobbying Council members.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Council Member Richards told Gotham Gazette that negotiations have yielded a deal on the minimum size of new affordable housing units for seniors, one point of contention in early negotiations. The de Blasio plan had put the minimum at 275 square feet, which Richards and others called too small, pushing for 400. The sides have agreed on 325 square feet.</p> <p>The sides are said to be negotiating specific numbers around the number of parking spots that must accompany new senior housing and which areas of the city would still require special permits to build nursing homes, among other finer points. Politico New York <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/03/8593193/changes-sliver-law-nixed-zoning-negotiations-sources-say" target="_blank">has reported</a> on already-decided changes to ZQA.</p> <p>When a deal on MIH and ZQA is finalized, de Blasio and City Council members are likely to celebrate, these types of changes to city zoning rules do not happen often, and the mandate for affordable housing in any upzoned development is indeed a major win.</p> <p>How prior critics of the plans, including many local community boards who voted against their initial construction, will react is unclear. While some have seen and will continue to see merit in the plans, fears of new real estate development, added density, and rising rents are very real and unlikely to abate. The de Blasio administration is also moving forward with a series of neighborhood rezonings, starting with East New York, Brooklyn, but soon moving to communities in each borough.</p> <p>De Blasio is staking his legacy largely on his attempts to make the city more affordable and his housing policies will be a key piece of his 2017 reelection bid.</p> <p>In endorsing the mayor's plans, the New York Times editorial board recently captured the moment, <a href="http://nyti.ms/1UmIPFp" target="_blank">writing</a>, "This grand plan is a hugely important gamble that the city can build its way to greater housing equality, that it can ignite growth, improve neighborhoods, tame gentrification and protect tenants, all at once. That New York can still be a mixed-income city."<br /><br />Passing MIH and ZQA doesn't provide the result to that gamble, it pushes more chips on the table.</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Planning Commission Vote Will Send Zoning Proposals to City Council 2016-02-02T22:53:35+00:00 2016-02-02T22:53:35+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6137:city-planning-vote-will-send-zoning-proposals-to-city-council Carmen Russo <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/greenfield_city_hall.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="greenfield city hall" /></p> <p>Council Member Greenfield leads a press conference (photo: William Alatriste)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>The next ten days are an especially critical period for Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan. While negotiations around a new state-level program to incentivize affordable housing production continue and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to soon flesh out general affordable housing plans he announced during his recent State of the State speech, city-level changes being sought by de Blasio are on the move.</p> <p><a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/about/commission-meetings.page" target="_blank">On Wednesday morning</a>, the City Planning Commission is expected to vote through two major changes to the city's zoning codes being proposed by de Blasio. These adjustments to city rules for how land can be used are meant to set the stage for what the administration says will be more responsible development than the city has seen in the past, increasing density in neighborhoods across the city through the creation of tens of thousands of units of housing - including market-rate and "affordable" units - and adding community benefits.</p> <p>Once passed by the Planning Commission, the proposals go to the City Council, which will hold two hearings on them next week.</p> <p>Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), as <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/plans/city-wide.page" target="_blank">the two proposals</a> are known, have been highly scrutinized and received a mixed reaction, including a large dose of negative feedback from many local community boards and praise from some city planners and advocacy groups.</p> <p>Critics worry about gentrification, landmark preservation, over-development, loss of parking, and whether "affordable" units will be truly so for current residents of neighborhoods that will see major change. Supporters say the administration is taking a measured approach to development, insisting on affordable apartments from developers who benefit from rezonings, protecting tenants from predatory eviction, creating more affordable housing for seniors, and being mindful of community improvement as more housing is created.</p> <p>The de Blasio administration is quick to stress that the two zoning changes set a new baseline for development in the city, but that city government has several other tools that it will use to create affordable housing and improve communities through neighborhood-specific rezoning plans.</p> <p>While the City Planning Commission, which is chaired by de Blasio appointee Carl Weisbrod, is set to make some adjustments to the original proposals, they will move to the City Council largely as the de Blasio administration designed them. The Commission is looking at fairly minor changes such as lowering some of the new allowable building heights and the process by which a developer may become exempt from certain requirements.</p> <p>On Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, the Council is set to hold <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">its hearings</a> on MIH and ZQA. Council members have expressed concerns about the two plans, as have the Comptroller, Scott Stringer, and the Public Advocate, Letitia James. MIH appears to have significantly more overall support than ZQA - MIH is simpler, as it basically requires set amounts of affordable housing along with any development allowed through a rezoning. ZQA, on the other hand, is a complicated hodgepodge of changes to land use rules.</p> <p>The Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and other Council members are generally supportive of the proposals, especially MIH. The extent to which the Council seeks changes to MIH or ZQA is yet to be seen, but by the city's process for zoning amendments, the City Council cannot make major adjustments to the proposals sent through by City Planning, only more minor ones that fit "within scope," as judged by the Planning Commission.</p> <p>City Council Member David Greenfield is chair of the Council land use committee, a subcommittee of which will hold the hearings next week. "I think the hearings are going be very rigorous," Greenfield told Gotham Gazette during an interview last week after he had appeared on a panel discussion hosted by <a href="http://cityandstateny.com/" target="_blank">City &amp; State NY</a>.</p> <p>During the panel, Greenfield explained some of the issues with the administration's proposals: "[T]he city has rolled them both out at the same time and so things got a little bit confusing," he said. "They're really two independent plans. The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program is very much focused on creating and actually mandating affordable housing in new development. And the Zoning for Quality and Affordability runs several hundred pages long and really varies on anything from building heights to reductions in parking to issues such as waivers for the development of senior centers. That's where it gets a little bit more controversial."</p> <p>"[W]e've heard the overwhelming number of community boards and borough boards and borough presidents who have concerns," Greenfield said. "Although, when you separate those concerns, you realize that much of those concerns were really about Zoning for Quality and Affordability."</p> <p>Echoing what Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Donovan Richards, who chairs the zoning subcommittee, and other Council members have said, Greenfield said he doesn't expect to pass the zoning amendments "as is."</p> <p>"We expect that there will be significant changes at the very least and hopefully we come to a place where the Council can be supportive," Greenfield said. Richards recently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6028-in-zoning-amendment-one-size-does-not-fit-all" target="_blank">wrote an op-ed column</a> explaining problems he sees with ZQA.</p> <p>Asked by Gotham Gazette whether the Council could move ahead on MIH and not ZQA, Greenfield said, "We have taken the feedback very seriously and our goal is to try to come to a place where folks are happy. If that's not possible, then we're going to look at plan B." He did not elaborate on what that could look like.</p> <p>One of the major questions around MIH is the levels of affordability it calls for - in essence, how many affordable units will be set aside at what rents. De Blasio's plan would set a precedent, infusing the "mandatory" aspect of affordable units into developments given rezonings and insisting on 25-30 percent of units at certain rent thresholds. But, some say that the plan does not include enough units at low enough rents. "In terms of housing, the big question is 'affordable to whom?,' City Council Member Jumaane Williams said at the City &amp; State panel. Williams said the plan is "not reaching the lowest of the income spectrum."</p> <p>The de Blasio administration doesn't disagree - representatives note that while MIH may not create units for those living in deep poverty, the city has other housing plans to create affordable housing for those New Yorkers. This is where proponents remind people that MIH and ZQA are not the totality of the administration's "Housing New York" plan, which includes a variety of programs and a ten-year goal of 200,000 units of affordable housing at a combination of affordability levels. Officials are quick to point to major affordable housing subsidies from the city's Housing and Preservation Department (HPD).</p> <p>As the zoning amendment conversation does indeed occur in a larger housing policy context, the movement on de Blasio's proposals comes with the backdrop of uncertainty in terms of a state-level program to incentivize affordable housing development in New York City.</p> <p>A long-standing program, called 421-a, recently expired. It offered major property tax breaks to real estate developers in exchange for the creation of affordable housing units. The program was riddled with flaws, though, and in negotiations to finalize a new version, an impasse was reached, leading to its expiration.</p> <p>The prolonged absence of 421-a, or something like it, could be <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">a big blow to de Blasio's affordable housing plans</a>. There are also some who say that Mandatory Inclusionary Housing should not move forward without a 421-a-like program. Including the New York City Bar Association, these analysts say that the tax abatement program is essential to the kind of rental housing development the city is counting on to leverage MIH into more units. De Blasio has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">called on Albany lawmakers</a> to get back to work on a new 421-a program.</p> <p>Council Member Greenfield brought up the issue of 421-a in yet another way when discussing MIH moving forward. "[O]ne of the concerns that we have, especially now with the collapse of 421-a, is the off-site housing, which is that essentially MIH allows you to build affordable housing off-site," he said, referring to developers having flexibility to create market-rate units and affordable units at different locations.</p> <p>"So, as long as you had 421-a, those people who were utilizing 421-a, which we expected to be the majority of the folks, would be required under 421-a to do it on-site and now it's actually going to be a possibility where they can build affordable housing off-site," Greenfield said. "We don't want to create pockets of poverty."</p> <p>As have many of his colleagues, Greenfield also pointed to the income levels that affordable units will be reserved at. While there are some who say the affordability doesn't go deep enough, others say that there are not enough units dedicated to middle-income New Yorkers. "There's folks who want more flexibility on the bottom end," Greenfield said, "and there's folks who want more flexibility on the higher end."</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/greenfield_city_hall.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="greenfield city hall" /></p> <p>Council Member Greenfield leads a press conference (photo: William Alatriste)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>The next ten days are an especially critical period for Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan. While negotiations around a new state-level program to incentivize affordable housing production continue and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to soon flesh out general affordable housing plans he announced during his recent State of the State speech, city-level changes being sought by de Blasio are on the move.</p> <p><a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/about/commission-meetings.page" target="_blank">On Wednesday morning</a>, the City Planning Commission is expected to vote through two major changes to the city's zoning codes being proposed by de Blasio. These adjustments to city rules for how land can be used are meant to set the stage for what the administration says will be more responsible development than the city has seen in the past, increasing density in neighborhoods across the city through the creation of tens of thousands of units of housing - including market-rate and "affordable" units - and adding community benefits.</p> <p>Once passed by the Planning Commission, the proposals go to the City Council, which will hold two hearings on them next week.</p> <p>Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), as <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/plans/city-wide.page" target="_blank">the two proposals</a> are known, have been highly scrutinized and received a mixed reaction, including a large dose of negative feedback from many local community boards and praise from some city planners and advocacy groups.</p> <p>Critics worry about gentrification, landmark preservation, over-development, loss of parking, and whether "affordable" units will be truly so for current residents of neighborhoods that will see major change. Supporters say the administration is taking a measured approach to development, insisting on affordable apartments from developers who benefit from rezonings, protecting tenants from predatory eviction, creating more affordable housing for seniors, and being mindful of community improvement as more housing is created.</p> <p>The de Blasio administration is quick to stress that the two zoning changes set a new baseline for development in the city, but that city government has several other tools that it will use to create affordable housing and improve communities through neighborhood-specific rezoning plans.</p> <p>While the City Planning Commission, which is chaired by de Blasio appointee Carl Weisbrod, is set to make some adjustments to the original proposals, they will move to the City Council largely as the de Blasio administration designed them. The Commission is looking at fairly minor changes such as lowering some of the new allowable building heights and the process by which a developer may become exempt from certain requirements.</p> <p>On Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, the Council is set to hold <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">its hearings</a> on MIH and ZQA. Council members have expressed concerns about the two plans, as have the Comptroller, Scott Stringer, and the Public Advocate, Letitia James. MIH appears to have significantly more overall support than ZQA - MIH is simpler, as it basically requires set amounts of affordable housing along with any development allowed through a rezoning. ZQA, on the other hand, is a complicated hodgepodge of changes to land use rules.</p> <p>The Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and other Council members are generally supportive of the proposals, especially MIH. The extent to which the Council seeks changes to MIH or ZQA is yet to be seen, but by the city's process for zoning amendments, the City Council cannot make major adjustments to the proposals sent through by City Planning, only more minor ones that fit "within scope," as judged by the Planning Commission.</p> <p>City Council Member David Greenfield is chair of the Council land use committee, a subcommittee of which will hold the hearings next week. "I think the hearings are going be very rigorous," Greenfield told Gotham Gazette during an interview last week after he had appeared on a panel discussion hosted by <a href="http://cityandstateny.com/" target="_blank">City &amp; State NY</a>.</p> <p>During the panel, Greenfield explained some of the issues with the administration's proposals: "[T]he city has rolled them both out at the same time and so things got a little bit confusing," he said. "They're really two independent plans. The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program is very much focused on creating and actually mandating affordable housing in new development. And the Zoning for Quality and Affordability runs several hundred pages long and really varies on anything from building heights to reductions in parking to issues such as waivers for the development of senior centers. That's where it gets a little bit more controversial."</p> <p>"[W]e've heard the overwhelming number of community boards and borough boards and borough presidents who have concerns," Greenfield said. "Although, when you separate those concerns, you realize that much of those concerns were really about Zoning for Quality and Affordability."</p> <p>Echoing what Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Donovan Richards, who chairs the zoning subcommittee, and other Council members have said, Greenfield said he doesn't expect to pass the zoning amendments "as is."</p> <p>"We expect that there will be significant changes at the very least and hopefully we come to a place where the Council can be supportive," Greenfield said. Richards recently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6028-in-zoning-amendment-one-size-does-not-fit-all" target="_blank">wrote an op-ed column</a> explaining problems he sees with ZQA.</p> <p>Asked by Gotham Gazette whether the Council could move ahead on MIH and not ZQA, Greenfield said, "We have taken the feedback very seriously and our goal is to try to come to a place where folks are happy. If that's not possible, then we're going to look at plan B." He did not elaborate on what that could look like.</p> <p>One of the major questions around MIH is the levels of affordability it calls for - in essence, how many affordable units will be set aside at what rents. De Blasio's plan would set a precedent, infusing the "mandatory" aspect of affordable units into developments given rezonings and insisting on 25-30 percent of units at certain rent thresholds. But, some say that the plan does not include enough units at low enough rents. "In terms of housing, the big question is 'affordable to whom?,' City Council Member Jumaane Williams said at the City &amp; State panel. Williams said the plan is "not reaching the lowest of the income spectrum."</p> <p>The de Blasio administration doesn't disagree - representatives note that while MIH may not create units for those living in deep poverty, the city has other housing plans to create affordable housing for those New Yorkers. This is where proponents remind people that MIH and ZQA are not the totality of the administration's "Housing New York" plan, which includes a variety of programs and a ten-year goal of 200,000 units of affordable housing at a combination of affordability levels. Officials are quick to point to major affordable housing subsidies from the city's Housing and Preservation Department (HPD).</p> <p>As the zoning amendment conversation does indeed occur in a larger housing policy context, the movement on de Blasio's proposals comes with the backdrop of uncertainty in terms of a state-level program to incentivize affordable housing development in New York City.</p> <p>A long-standing program, called 421-a, recently expired. It offered major property tax breaks to real estate developers in exchange for the creation of affordable housing units. The program was riddled with flaws, though, and in negotiations to finalize a new version, an impasse was reached, leading to its expiration.</p> <p>The prolonged absence of 421-a, or something like it, could be <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">a big blow to de Blasio's affordable housing plans</a>. There are also some who say that Mandatory Inclusionary Housing should not move forward without a 421-a-like program. Including the New York City Bar Association, these analysts say that the tax abatement program is essential to the kind of rental housing development the city is counting on to leverage MIH into more units. De Blasio has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">called on Albany lawmakers</a> to get back to work on a new 421-a program.</p> <p>Council Member Greenfield brought up the issue of 421-a in yet another way when discussing MIH moving forward. "[O]ne of the concerns that we have, especially now with the collapse of 421-a, is the off-site housing, which is that essentially MIH allows you to build affordable housing off-site," he said, referring to developers having flexibility to create market-rate units and affordable units at different locations.</p> <p>"So, as long as you had 421-a, those people who were utilizing 421-a, which we expected to be the majority of the folks, would be required under 421-a to do it on-site and now it's actually going to be a possibility where they can build affordable housing off-site," Greenfield said. "We don't want to create pockets of poverty."</p> <p>As have many of his colleagues, Greenfield also pointed to the income levels that affordable units will be reserved at. While there are some who say the affordability doesn't go deep enough, others say that there are not enough units dedicated to middle-income New Yorkers. "There's folks who want more flexibility on the bottom end," Greenfield said, "and there's folks who want more flexibility on the higher end."</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
The City's Next Steps to Ensure Vibrant, Creative Communities 2016-02-03T00:18:43+00:00 2016-02-03T00:18:43+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6139:the-citys-next-steps-to-ensure-vibrant-creative-communities Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/nyc_culture.jpg" alt="nyc culture" width="600" height="600" /></p> <p>photo via <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCulture/status/677536770293108736" target="_blank">@NYCulture</a></p> <hr /> <p>Earlier this month, the city's Department of Cultural Affairs announced a promising new program aimed at strengthening cultural organizations in targeted neighborhoods. The initiative, known as <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/funding/cadp.shtml" target="_blank">Building Community Capacity</a>, was introduced in conjunction with Mayor de Blasio's rezoning proposal in East New York, where the program will be launched.</p> <p>The new initiative is consistent with several of the recommendations from <a href="https://nycfuture.org/research/publications/creative-new-york-2015" target="_blank">Creative New York</a>, the Center for an Urban Future's recent report on the city's arts economy. The report found that a number of small and mid-size arts organizations in low- and middle-income neighborhoods are financially strained. To address this issue, it encouraged the de Blasio administration to integrate the arts into its rezoning proposals, ensuring that existing artists and arts organizations are supported, preserved, and fortified.</p> <p>In recent years, government support for New York City cultural organizations has declined significantly. Adjusted for inflation, programmatic and operating grants from the National Endowment for the Arts fell by 15 percent, from the New York State Council on the Arts by 37 percent, and from the city's Department of Cultural Affairs by 16 percent. As a result, cultural organizations have become increasingly dependent on private philanthropy. Many mid-size and small organizations have struggled with this adjustment. In 2012, for instance, we identified 14 "mid-sized" performing arts venues whose revenue did not cover expenses.</p> <p>Small organizations are also under pressure, particularly those located outside of Manhattan and those serving communities of color. Among New York organizations that explicitly listed their constituents as non-white, earned revenue—primarily attendance fees—covered 32 percent of their expenses, compared to 55 percent for those with a general audience. Likewise, individual and board donations covered only 11 percent of expenses for these organizations, but a much higher 21 percent for those serving a general audience.</p> <p>Given the extensive challenges facing small and midsized art organizations—particularly those in communities outside of Manhattan—it's encouraging to see the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) focus on fortifying these groups.</p> <p>While the specifics of the DCLA program will be developed in partnership with local community members and organizations, Building Community Capacity has several worthwhile objectives. They include: helping organizations with board development and fundraising capacity, equipping arts leaders with essential management skills, activating underused spaces for cultural activities, and streamlining the permitting process.</p> <p>To address these challenges and achieve these goals, DCLA and community-based cultural organizations should look to nonprofits and other city agencies for inspiration. To assist with board development and fundraising capacity, for instance, DCLA could replicate the Robin Hood Foundation's Board Placement Program. Robin Hood helps connect talented, committed and wealthy individuals with social service nonprofits throughout the city. The DCLA could provide a similar matchmaker role for small cultural nonprofits.</p> <p>Likewise, to help arts administrators develop their management skills, DCLA should look to the New York City Economic Development Corporation's Fashion Fellows, a yearlong training and networking program for rising stars in fashion management. The DCLA could introduce a similar platform for administrators at cultural nonprofits in low-income neighborhoods.</p> <p>As East New York artists and arts organizations search for affordable and underutilized performance and rehearsal facilities, they should partner with the Department of Education. Schools in East New York (District 19) contain 46 "primary" and "non-primary" dance rooms, 64 music rooms, 50 theater classrooms, and 61 auditoriums. After school hours, most are left unoccupied. Opening these facilities in the evenings and on weekends could provide stable, affordable space to hundreds of local artists, helping them remain in the neighborhoods where they live and work.</p> <p>Finally, to streamline the permitting process and enliven vacant retail spaces in the target neighborhoods, DCLA should look to the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre &amp; Broadcasting (MOFTB) or the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) for assistance. The current permitting process is extremely cumbersome and expensive, requiring individual approval from several agencies, including the police and fire departments.</p> <p>For film and street fairs, on the other hand, the MOFTB and SAPO have established a one-stop-shop, helping to simplify this bureaucratic tangle. Given their resources and expertise, the MOFTB or SAPO could assume permitting duties for all East New York performances and exhibitions, on a pilot-basis. If it runs smoothly, the city should consider delegating all performing and visual arts related permitting to one of these two agencies.</p> <p>With the Building Community Capacity program, the de Blasio administration is redoubling its efforts to strengthen local organizations and improve access to the arts in all of the city's neighborhoods. From permitting to management training, board development to activating underused spaces, the Mayor's initiative can help build more vibrant, resilient and creative neighborhoods.</p> <p>***<br />Adam Forman&nbsp;is a Senior Researcher at <a href="https://nycfuture.org/" target="_blank">the Center for an Urban Future</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/nyc_culture.jpg" alt="nyc culture" width="600" height="600" /></p> <p>photo via <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCulture/status/677536770293108736" target="_blank">@NYCulture</a></p> <hr /> <p>Earlier this month, the city's Department of Cultural Affairs announced a promising new program aimed at strengthening cultural organizations in targeted neighborhoods. The initiative, known as <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/funding/cadp.shtml" target="_blank">Building Community Capacity</a>, was introduced in conjunction with Mayor de Blasio's rezoning proposal in East New York, where the program will be launched.</p> <p>The new initiative is consistent with several of the recommendations from <a href="https://nycfuture.org/research/publications/creative-new-york-2015" target="_blank">Creative New York</a>, the Center for an Urban Future's recent report on the city's arts economy. The report found that a number of small and mid-size arts organizations in low- and middle-income neighborhoods are financially strained. To address this issue, it encouraged the de Blasio administration to integrate the arts into its rezoning proposals, ensuring that existing artists and arts organizations are supported, preserved, and fortified.</p> <p>In recent years, government support for New York City cultural organizations has declined significantly. Adjusted for inflation, programmatic and operating grants from the National Endowment for the Arts fell by 15 percent, from the New York State Council on the Arts by 37 percent, and from the city's Department of Cultural Affairs by 16 percent. As a result, cultural organizations have become increasingly dependent on private philanthropy. Many mid-size and small organizations have struggled with this adjustment. In 2012, for instance, we identified 14 "mid-sized" performing arts venues whose revenue did not cover expenses.</p> <p>Small organizations are also under pressure, particularly those located outside of Manhattan and those serving communities of color. Among New York organizations that explicitly listed their constituents as non-white, earned revenue—primarily attendance fees—covered 32 percent of their expenses, compared to 55 percent for those with a general audience. Likewise, individual and board donations covered only 11 percent of expenses for these organizations, but a much higher 21 percent for those serving a general audience.</p> <p>Given the extensive challenges facing small and midsized art organizations—particularly those in communities outside of Manhattan—it's encouraging to see the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) focus on fortifying these groups.</p> <p>While the specifics of the DCLA program will be developed in partnership with local community members and organizations, Building Community Capacity has several worthwhile objectives. They include: helping organizations with board development and fundraising capacity, equipping arts leaders with essential management skills, activating underused spaces for cultural activities, and streamlining the permitting process.</p> <p>To address these challenges and achieve these goals, DCLA and community-based cultural organizations should look to nonprofits and other city agencies for inspiration. To assist with board development and fundraising capacity, for instance, DCLA could replicate the Robin Hood Foundation's Board Placement Program. Robin Hood helps connect talented, committed and wealthy individuals with social service nonprofits throughout the city. The DCLA could provide a similar matchmaker role for small cultural nonprofits.</p> <p>Likewise, to help arts administrators develop their management skills, DCLA should look to the New York City Economic Development Corporation's Fashion Fellows, a yearlong training and networking program for rising stars in fashion management. The DCLA could introduce a similar platform for administrators at cultural nonprofits in low-income neighborhoods.</p> <p>As East New York artists and arts organizations search for affordable and underutilized performance and rehearsal facilities, they should partner with the Department of Education. Schools in East New York (District 19) contain 46 "primary" and "non-primary" dance rooms, 64 music rooms, 50 theater classrooms, and 61 auditoriums. After school hours, most are left unoccupied. Opening these facilities in the evenings and on weekends could provide stable, affordable space to hundreds of local artists, helping them remain in the neighborhoods where they live and work.</p> <p>Finally, to streamline the permitting process and enliven vacant retail spaces in the target neighborhoods, DCLA should look to the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre &amp; Broadcasting (MOFTB) or the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) for assistance. The current permitting process is extremely cumbersome and expensive, requiring individual approval from several agencies, including the police and fire departments.</p> <p>For film and street fairs, on the other hand, the MOFTB and SAPO have established a one-stop-shop, helping to simplify this bureaucratic tangle. Given their resources and expertise, the MOFTB or SAPO could assume permitting duties for all East New York performances and exhibitions, on a pilot-basis. If it runs smoothly, the city should consider delegating all performing and visual arts related permitting to one of these two agencies.</p> <p>With the Building Community Capacity program, the de Blasio administration is redoubling its efforts to strengthen local organizations and improve access to the arts in all of the city's neighborhoods. From permitting to management training, board development to activating underused spaces, the Mayor's initiative can help build more vibrant, resilient and creative neighborhoods.</p> <p>***<br />Adam Forman&nbsp;is a Senior Researcher at <a href="https://nycfuture.org/" target="_blank">the Center for an Urban Future</a>.</p> <p>

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Hope Knight to Join City Planning Commission at 'Exciting Time' 2015-12-15T23:40:35+00:00 2015-12-15T23:40:35+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6040:hope-knight-to-join-city-planning-commission-at-exciting-time Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Hope-Knight-via-Rory-Lancman-on-Twitter1.jpg" alt="hope knight city planning" height="527" width="600" /></p> <p>Hope Knight (photo via @rorylancman)</p> <hr /> <p>"It's an exciting time to be joining the City Planning Commission," City Council Member Brad Lander said Tuesday to Hope Knight, a mayoral nominee to the commission at the nexus of controversial housing-related policy being pursued by the de Blasio administration.</p> <p>"It's a tough time to be joining," Knight said during her appearance in front of Lander's committee, which is tasked with vetting potential appointees to several commissions. Knight, who is all but sure to be approved Wednesday by the Rules, Elections, and Privileges Committee, then the full City Council, will fill a vacant seat on the 13-member City Planning Commission, which plays a key role in city land use decisions.</p> <p>The commission is about to hold a major public hearing on de Blasio's zoning plans, then make recommendations for changes before the plans go to the City Council for hearings and, likely, further tweaks before a vote. The plans, which are aimed at spurring more affordable housing development and improving neighborhoods, have received major pushback from local community boards, advocacy groups, and borough presidents. They have also received some support from labor unions, advocacy groups, and others.</p> <p>Acknowledging the intense circumstances, Knight said of land use planning, "the issue is so important to this city, it's critical to the future. There is this affordability crisis that we've got here. Our local land-use tools are available to us to help address this. And so, I hope that I am able to bring [my] community planning and economic development background and perspective to this position and this process, and be able to consider these issues in a very thoughtful way."</p> <p>Knight is currently the CEO and President of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a position she will retain while creating the necessary "firewall" so that she does not deal with issues before the city, she said Tuesday. Knight explained that she has received guidance from the city Conflicts of Interest Board and will follow it. Previously, Knight was Chief Operating Officer of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone for about 12 years after several positions in finance.</p> <p>In her pre-hearing questionnaire, Knight wrote to the City Council that the City Planning Commission "must be sensitive to the needs of communities and establish many channels of communication."</p> <p>Knight also wrote that "The strategy of zoning changes to allow residential buildings with additional density, provided that affordable housing is included, is one of the few land use tools that the City has access to in order to greater leverage the development of more affordable housing units."</p> <p>While <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/about/plancom.shtml" target="_blank">the City Planning Commission</a> does much more than zoning amendments, that is the focus of the work right now.</p> <p>With Knight there to observe, the City Planning Commission will hold a much-anticipated <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/luproc/calbeg.shtml" target="_blank">public hearing Wednesday</a> on two proposals by Mayor Bill de Blasio that are essential pieces of his affordable housing plan. Both proposals are changes to the city's land use rules by way of zoning language and have been the source of a great deal of recent debate.</p> <p>Many community boards and all five borough boards have voted against de Blasio's Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning and Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposals. These votes are only advisory, though, and the future of the plans, known as MIH and ZQA, will come down to a City Council vote in early-to-mid 2016. Reasons for opposition and desired tweaks to the plans vary by borough and neighborhood, but some include thresholds for affordability, changes in parking requirements, and increased density or allowable building heights.</p> <p>Between the advice of the community and borough boards and the City Council getting its shot at tweaking the plans, the City Planning Commission will issue its recommended changes. These recommendations will be based, in part, on Wednesday's hearing, which is expected to be long and contentious.</p> <p>On Tuesday, Knight appeared to grasp what she is signing up for, discussing her long career in community planning and advocacy, as well as her outlook on land use decision-making. Lander and his fellow committee members were impressed by Knight's candidacy and appear ready to vote her through to the full Council for approval.</p> <p>Knight will join six other mayoral appointees on the City Planning Commission, as well as one appointee from each borough president, and one appointee by the public advocate. The commission is under the leadership of Chair Carl Weisbrod, who is also the commissioner of the city's Department of City Planning and serves at the discretion of the mayor. Other commission members serve alternating five-year terms. Knight will fill the seat vacated by Bomee Jung, who took a position within the de Blasio administration earlier this year, and will serve the rest of Jung's term, until June 30, 2018. She can be reappointed after that.</p> <p>According to the City Council, the City Charter says that members of the City Planning Commission "are to be chosen for their independence, integrity, and civic commitment."</p> <p>On Tuesday, Council members including Lander, Dan Garodnick, and Margaret Chin, praised Knight for her dedication to community planning and neighborhood advocacy. Council members also wanted to make sure that Knight would hear community feedback around land use policy. Council Member Steven Matteo asked Knight how much weight she puts on community concerns. "I would put tremendous weight on what the community has to say," Knight responded of her approach if she is indeed approved, adding that she has been "at the table" representing communities in land use negotiatons in the past.</p> <p>Repeatedly citing the city's "affordability crisis," Knight also explained that she understands fear of gentrification and that the city must be cognizant of an "aging population."</p> <p>Knight was not questioned about her independence from de Blasio, who nominated her to the commission after his appointments office identified her as a strong candidate.</p> <p>"[I]n order to create more affordable units," Knight said, "we have to look at various land-use tools to implement the possibility of creating units. So, I think that MIH, ZQA, they're all components of the mayor's...housing plan and will have to be more greatly considered to support the growth of new housing."</p> <p>During a Tuesday <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/housing-and-city-planning-officials-talk-mayors-rezoning-plan/" target="_blank">appearance</a> on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show, de Blasio's planning chief, Weisbrod, said of Wednesday's City Planning Commission hearing and the zoning plans, "We expect to hear a lot of comments on all sides of this issue." The controversy around MIH and ZQA, he said, "Won't get fully resolved until the City Council decides this early next year."</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Hope-Knight-via-Rory-Lancman-on-Twitter1.jpg" alt="hope knight city planning" height="527" width="600" /></p> <p>Hope Knight (photo via @rorylancman)</p> <hr /> <p>"It's an exciting time to be joining the City Planning Commission," City Council Member Brad Lander said Tuesday to Hope Knight, a mayoral nominee to the commission at the nexus of controversial housing-related policy being pursued by the de Blasio administration.</p> <p>"It's a tough time to be joining," Knight said during her appearance in front of Lander's committee, which is tasked with vetting potential appointees to several commissions. Knight, who is all but sure to be approved Wednesday by the Rules, Elections, and Privileges Committee, then the full City Council, will fill a vacant seat on the 13-member City Planning Commission, which plays a key role in city land use decisions.</p> <p>The commission is about to hold a major public hearing on de Blasio's zoning plans, then make recommendations for changes before the plans go to the City Council for hearings and, likely, further tweaks before a vote. The plans, which are aimed at spurring more affordable housing development and improving neighborhoods, have received major pushback from local community boards, advocacy groups, and borough presidents. They have also received some support from labor unions, advocacy groups, and others.</p> <p>Acknowledging the intense circumstances, Knight said of land use planning, "the issue is so important to this city, it's critical to the future. There is this affordability crisis that we've got here. Our local land-use tools are available to us to help address this. And so, I hope that I am able to bring [my] community planning and economic development background and perspective to this position and this process, and be able to consider these issues in a very thoughtful way."</p> <p>Knight is currently the CEO and President of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a position she will retain while creating the necessary "firewall" so that she does not deal with issues before the city, she said Tuesday. Knight explained that she has received guidance from the city Conflicts of Interest Board and will follow it. Previously, Knight was Chief Operating Officer of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone for about 12 years after several positions in finance.</p> <p>In her pre-hearing questionnaire, Knight wrote to the City Council that the City Planning Commission "must be sensitive to the needs of communities and establish many channels of communication."</p> <p>Knight also wrote that "The strategy of zoning changes to allow residential buildings with additional density, provided that affordable housing is included, is one of the few land use tools that the City has access to in order to greater leverage the development of more affordable housing units."</p> <p>While <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/about/plancom.shtml" target="_blank">the City Planning Commission</a> does much more than zoning amendments, that is the focus of the work right now.</p> <p>With Knight there to observe, the City Planning Commission will hold a much-anticipated <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/luproc/calbeg.shtml" target="_blank">public hearing Wednesday</a> on two proposals by Mayor Bill de Blasio that are essential pieces of his affordable housing plan. Both proposals are changes to the city's land use rules by way of zoning language and have been the source of a great deal of recent debate.</p> <p>Many community boards and all five borough boards have voted against de Blasio's Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning and Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposals. These votes are only advisory, though, and the future of the plans, known as MIH and ZQA, will come down to a City Council vote in early-to-mid 2016. Reasons for opposition and desired tweaks to the plans vary by borough and neighborhood, but some include thresholds for affordability, changes in parking requirements, and increased density or allowable building heights.</p> <p>Between the advice of the community and borough boards and the City Council getting its shot at tweaking the plans, the City Planning Commission will issue its recommended changes. These recommendations will be based, in part, on Wednesday's hearing, which is expected to be long and contentious.</p> <p>On Tuesday, Knight appeared to grasp what she is signing up for, discussing her long career in community planning and advocacy, as well as her outlook on land use decision-making. Lander and his fellow committee members were impressed by Knight's candidacy and appear ready to vote her through to the full Council for approval.</p> <p>Knight will join six other mayoral appointees on the City Planning Commission, as well as one appointee from each borough president, and one appointee by the public advocate. The commission is under the leadership of Chair Carl Weisbrod, who is also the commissioner of the city's Department of City Planning and serves at the discretion of the mayor. Other commission members serve alternating five-year terms. Knight will fill the seat vacated by Bomee Jung, who took a position within the de Blasio administration earlier this year, and will serve the rest of Jung's term, until June 30, 2018. She can be reappointed after that.</p> <p>According to the City Council, the City Charter says that members of the City Planning Commission "are to be chosen for their independence, integrity, and civic commitment."</p> <p>On Tuesday, Council members including Lander, Dan Garodnick, and Margaret Chin, praised Knight for her dedication to community planning and neighborhood advocacy. Council members also wanted to make sure that Knight would hear community feedback around land use policy. Council Member Steven Matteo asked Knight how much weight she puts on community concerns. "I would put tremendous weight on what the community has to say," Knight responded of her approach if she is indeed approved, adding that she has been "at the table" representing communities in land use negotiatons in the past.</p> <p>Repeatedly citing the city's "affordability crisis," Knight also explained that she understands fear of gentrification and that the city must be cognizant of an "aging population."</p> <p>Knight was not questioned about her independence from de Blasio, who nominated her to the commission after his appointments office identified her as a strong candidate.</p> <p>"[I]n order to create more affordable units," Knight said, "we have to look at various land-use tools to implement the possibility of creating units. So, I think that MIH, ZQA, they're all components of the mayor's...housing plan and will have to be more greatly considered to support the growth of new housing."</p> <p>During a Tuesday <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/housing-and-city-planning-officials-talk-mayors-rezoning-plan/" target="_blank">appearance</a> on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show, de Blasio's planning chief, Weisbrod, said of Wednesday's City Planning Commission hearing and the zoning plans, "We expect to hear a lot of comments on all sides of this issue." The controversy around MIH and ZQA, he said, "Won't get fully resolved until the City Council decides this early next year."</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> The Week That Was in New York Politics, Dec 7-11 2015-12-11T18:25:28+00:00 2015-12-11T18:25:28+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6031:the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-dec-7-11 Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" alt="week in review bus readers" width="600" height="409" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>Mayor de Blasio signs legislation creating the city's new Department of Veterans' Services, <a href="https://twitter.com/NYMetroVets/status/675034850584354817" target="_blank">via Joe Bello, @NYMetroVets</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/BdB_vets_joe_bellow.jpg" alt="BdB vets joe bello" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="400" height="533" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Skelos Guilty: </strong>Former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam Skelos were <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/dean-skelos-son-guilty-corruption-case-article-1.2463065?utm_content=bufferd658c&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_source=twitter.com&amp;utm_campaign=NYDailyNewsTw" target="_blank">found guilty on eight counts Friday</a>. They will be sentenced in March. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6029-tenant-activists-trace-road-to-corruption-trials-eye-elusive-reform" target="_blank">Tenant Activists Trace Road to Corruption Trials, Eye Elusive Reform</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Security Guards for Private Schools:</strong> On <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/12/8584893/amid-opposition-council-approves-security-guards-private-schools" target="_blank">Monday</a>, the City Council passed a controversial bill to provide public funding to private and religious schools to pay for security guards. $19.8 million will be <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/city-council-approve-security-guards-private-schools/" target="_blank">spent</a> to place at least one security guard at every private school in New York City with at least 300 students that wants one. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Cuomo’s Common Core Overhaul:</strong> A task force created by Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/nyregion/cuomo-task-force-signals-further-retreat-from-common-core-school-standards.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&amp;rref=nyregion&amp;module=Ribbon&amp;version=origin&amp;region=Header&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=New%20York&amp;pgtype=article" target="_blank">report</a> Thursday which found that the state made a number of <a href="http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/state-task-force-finds-common-core-needing-reforms-20151210" target="_blank">mistakes</a> in its implementation of Common Core learning standards and recommended reducing the tendency to “teach to a test,” giving shorter tests, and not linking test results to teacher evaluations until the 2018-2019 school year.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Housing Developments:</strong> The Staten Island Borough Board became the fifth to vote against Mayor de Blasio’s zoning amendment proposals on <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/12/8585339/de-blasio-defends-his-housing-plan-staten-island-votes-it-down?top-featured-1" target="_blank">Thursday</a>, adding to the significant <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/12/8584435/de-blasio-official-defends-zoning-proposals-against-citywide-criti" target="_blank">criticism</a> the plan has received from community and borough boards. Creating more affordable housing is a signature issue for the mayor determined to make New York City more equal, and de Blasio's administration is now prepared to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-seeks-to-rebuild-momentum-for-affordable-housing-plan.html" target="_blank">devise a new strategy </a>to regain momentum and secure support for a plan they believe has been poorly understood. On Thursday, AARP <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-seeks-to-rebuild-momentum-for-affordable-housing-plan.html" target="_blank">endorsed</a> the mayor’s plans (it has 750,000 members in New York City), adding to two significant union endorsements the plans have recently received. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6007-mayor-and-speaker-rezoning-plans-will-change-before-council-vote" target="_blank">Mayor &amp; Speaker: Rezoning Plans Will Change Before Council Vote</a> &amp; <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6027-next-steps-for-the-mayors-controversial-zoning-proposals" target="_blank">Next Steps for the Mayor’s Controversial Zoning Proposals</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Public Housing Problem:</strong> A New York City Department of Investigation <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doi/downloads/pdf/2015/Dec15/pr41nycha_nypd_mou_120815.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> found that the NYPD’s “systematic failure” to communicate required information to the city’s public housing authority, NYCHA, is partially responsible for the disproportionately high crime rates that have plagued public housing projects. In response to the report, the NYPD will <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151208/midtown/nypd-failed-share-violent-crime-info-with-public-housing-officials-doi" target="_blank">create</a> an interactive database to improve information sharing about criminal activity in public housing with NYCHA officials.</p> <p><strong>THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>4,000-plus</strong>&nbsp;inmates are currently in solitary confinement in New York, despite vows by officials to limit its use, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/state-inmates-solitary-confinement-surpass-4-000-article-1.2456485" target="_blank">Daily News</a>&nbsp;reports.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>4,747</strong> stop-and-frisks were recorded in New York City in July, August, and September - the lowest quarter since the numbers were first released in 2002, according to <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/exclusive-nypd-stop-and-frisk-drops-record-article-1.2459465" target="_blank">NYPD statistics</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>93%</strong> decrease in the number of stop-and-frisks between 2011 and 2014, according to a <a href="http://www.nyclu.org/news/stop-and-frisk-down-safety-nyclu-data-analysis" target="_blank">report</a> released by the New York Civil Liberties Union.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>797</strong> fatal drug overdoses were recorded by the city Health Department in 2014, the most since 2006, the <a href="http://nypost.com/2015/12/07/drug-overdoses-killed-nearly-800-people-last-year/" target="_blank">New York Post</a> reports.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>20%</strong> increase in annual state spending for nonprofits is needed in order to fund a $15 per hour wage floor for nonprofit human services workers, according to a <a href="http://fiscalpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/15andFunding-Report-Dec2015.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Fiscal Policy Institute and the Human Services Council.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>75%</strong> of incidents the FDNY responded to in 2014 were medical-related calls, and only 5% were fire-related, though a vast majority of the FDNY's resources are devoted to staffing fire units, according to a <a href="http://www.cbcny.org/sites/default/files/REPORT_FDNY_12092015.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> from the Citizens Budget Commission.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$12 million</strong> will be added to the city’s budget to increase job training programs for homeless individuals in the shelter system in 31 shelters across the 5 boroughs, the <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-nyc-boosting-job-homeless-article-1.2460622" target="_blank">Daily News</a> reports.</li> <li><strong>6,217,621</strong> people rode the subways on October 29, 2015, according to the <a href="http://polhudson.lohudblogs.com/2015/12/10/straphanger-alert-subway-ridership-hit-record-high/" target="_blank">Metropolitan Transportation Authority</a> - about 50,000 more than the previous record reached last year.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a good week for</strong> supporters of raising the minimum wage, as a state appeals board <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/06e14feee9d749d0ad1345a8f973a293/ny-board-upholds-15-minimum-wage-fast-food-workers" target="_blank">upheld</a> Governor Cuomo’s planned increase to a $15 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers, disputing arguments that certain factors weren’t adequately analyzed before making the decision to raise the wage.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week for</strong> Anthony Mangone, a former attorney whose cooperation aided in the conviction of three New York state senators, who was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/08/nyregion/prison-term-for-lawyer-who-cooperated-in-graft-cases.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">sentenced to 18 months</a> behind bars this week after a judge said the “dirty lawyer” had committed crimes too serious to escape incarceration.</p> <p><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 40 years ago</strong>, on December 9, 1975, President Gerald Ford <a href="http://www.ford.utexas.edu/library/document/factbook/chronolo.htm" target="_blank">signed</a> a $2.3 billion seasonal loan authorization to prevent New York City from having to default.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 74 years ago</strong>, on December 7, 1941, in the panic that ensued after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Japanese nationals living in New York were <a href="http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2012/volume_4/number_3/imprisoned_at_ellis_island.php" target="_blank">rounded up by FBI agents</a> and held on Ellis Island. They were later transferred to internment camps for the remainder of the war.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 22 years ago</strong>, on December 7, 1993, Colin Ferguson opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road train, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Island_Rail_Road_massacre" target="_blank">killing six passengers</a> and wounding 19 others. Days later, a New York Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/10/opinion/mass-murder-on-the-5-33.html" target="_blank">editorial</a> called for stronger gun control laws in response to the murders, pointing to the ease with which Ferguson obtained a handgun in California, which had one of the country's stricter gun laws at the time.</p> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6024-resignation-highlights-city-council-gender-imbalance">Resignation Highlights City Council Gender Imbalance</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://citizensunion.us3.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=ca0fb41d668202ba6cc542ca8&amp;id=9a1853ad0f&amp;e=e35a0ce952">Cuomo Urged to Sign Executive Transparency Bills Before Looming Deadline</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6027-next-steps-for-the-mayors-controversial-zoning-proposals">Next Steps for The Mayor's Controversial Zoning Proposals</a>, Christian Zhang</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6029-tenant-activists-trace-road-to-corruption-trials-eye-elusive-reform">Tenant Activists Trace Road to Corruption Trials, Eye Elusive Reform</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6025-little-known-commission-expands-access-to-city-government">Little-Known Commission Expands Access to City Government</a>, by Meg O’Connor</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://citizensunion.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ca0fb41d668202ba6cc542ca8&amp;id=5906c8d289&amp;e=e35a0ce952">Hearing to Examine ‘Efficacy’ of City Response to ‘Homelessness Crisis’</a>, by Ryan Brady</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6028-in-zoning-amendment-one-size-does-not-fit-all">In Zoning Amendment, One Size Does Not Fit All</a>, by Council Member Donovan Richards (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6023-harmful-legal-reform-is-not-an-ethics-solution">Harmful Legal Reform Is Not an Ethics Solution</a>, by Joanne Doroshow (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6026-give-police-tools-to-reduce-arrest-and-improve-community-health">Give Police Tools to Reduce Arrest and Improve Community Health</a>, by Chelsea Davis (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6030-public-money-is-for-public-schools">Public Money Is For Public Schools</a>, by Ayishah Irvin (opinion)</p> <p><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio spoke with Errol Louis on NY1's Inside City Hall on Wednesday to <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2015/12/9/ny1-online--tonight-on-inside-city-hall-an-exclusive-interview-with-mayor-de-blasio.html" target="_blank">discuss</a> his first two years in office, and spoke about the city’s homelessness crisis, his affordable housing plan, and more.</p> <p dir="ltr">An in-depth report by ProPublica’s Marcelo Rochabrun and Cezary Podkul <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/tenants-take-hit-as-ny-fails-to-police-huge-housing-tax-break" target="_blank">reveals</a> that city and state regulators stood by as developer Two Trees Management disregarded laws requiring rent stabilization in exchange for the large property tax break it received.</p> <p dir="ltr">Politico New York’s Bill Hammond <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/12/8584822/cuomo-answers-silver-verdict-excuses-not-action" target="_blank">writes</a> that Cuomo is making excuses about not doing anything to stop Albany’s ongoing culture of corruption, and argues that there are many glaring weaknesses left in New York’s anti-corruption laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" alt="week in review bus readers" width="600" height="409" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>Mayor de Blasio signs legislation creating the city's new Department of Veterans' Services, <a href="https://twitter.com/NYMetroVets/status/675034850584354817" target="_blank">via Joe Bello, @NYMetroVets</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/BdB_vets_joe_bellow.jpg" alt="BdB vets joe bello" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="400" height="533" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Skelos Guilty: </strong>Former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam Skelos were <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/dean-skelos-son-guilty-corruption-case-article-1.2463065?utm_content=bufferd658c&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_source=twitter.com&amp;utm_campaign=NYDailyNewsTw" target="_blank">found guilty on eight counts Friday</a>. They will be sentenced in March. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6029-tenant-activists-trace-road-to-corruption-trials-eye-elusive-reform" target="_blank">Tenant Activists Trace Road to Corruption Trials, Eye Elusive Reform</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Security Guards for Private Schools:</strong> On <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/12/8584893/amid-opposition-council-approves-security-guards-private-schools" target="_blank">Monday</a>, the City Council passed a controversial bill to provide public funding to private and religious schools to pay for security guards. $19.8 million will be <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/city-council-approve-security-guards-private-schools/" target="_blank">spent</a> to place at least one security guard at every private school in New York City with at least 300 students that wants one. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Cuomo’s Common Core Overhaul:</strong> A task force created by Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/nyregion/cuomo-task-force-signals-further-retreat-from-common-core-school-standards.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&amp;rref=nyregion&amp;module=Ribbon&amp;version=origin&amp;region=Header&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=New%20York&amp;pgtype=article" target="_blank">report</a> Thursday which found that the state made a number of <a href="http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/state-task-force-finds-common-core-needing-reforms-20151210" target="_blank">mistakes</a> in its implementation of Common Core learning standards and recommended reducing the tendency to “teach to a test,” giving shorter tests, and not linking test results to teacher evaluations until the 2018-2019 school year.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Housing Developments:</strong> The Staten Island Borough Board became the fifth to vote against Mayor de Blasio’s zoning amendment proposals on <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/12/8585339/de-blasio-defends-his-housing-plan-staten-island-votes-it-down?top-featured-1" target="_blank">Thursday</a>, adding to the significant <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/12/8584435/de-blasio-official-defends-zoning-proposals-against-citywide-criti" target="_blank">criticism</a> the plan has received from community and borough boards. Creating more affordable housing is a signature issue for the mayor determined to make New York City more equal, and de Blasio's administration is now prepared to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-seeks-to-rebuild-momentum-for-affordable-housing-plan.html" target="_blank">devise a new strategy </a>to regain momentum and secure support for a plan they believe has been poorly understood. On Thursday, AARP <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-seeks-to-rebuild-momentum-for-affordable-housing-plan.html" target="_blank">endorsed</a> the mayor’s plans (it has 750,000 members in New York City), adding to two significant union endorsements the plans have recently received. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6007-mayor-and-speaker-rezoning-plans-will-change-before-council-vote" target="_blank">Mayor &amp; Speaker: Rezoning Plans Will Change Before Council Vote</a> &amp; <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6027-next-steps-for-the-mayors-controversial-zoning-proposals" target="_blank">Next Steps for the Mayor’s Controversial Zoning Proposals</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Public Housing Problem:</strong> A New York City Department of Investigation <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doi/downloads/pdf/2015/Dec15/pr41nycha_nypd_mou_120815.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> found that the NYPD’s “systematic failure” to communicate required information to the city’s public housing authority, NYCHA, is partially responsible for the disproportionately high crime rates that have plagued public housing projects. In response to the report, the NYPD will <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151208/midtown/nypd-failed-share-violent-crime-info-with-public-housing-officials-doi" target="_blank">create</a> an interactive database to improve information sharing about criminal activity in public housing with NYCHA officials.</p> <p><strong>THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:</strong></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr"><strong>4,000-plus</strong>&nbsp;inmates are currently in solitary confinement in New York, despite vows by officials to limit its use, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/state-inmates-solitary-confinement-surpass-4-000-article-1.2456485" target="_blank">Daily News</a>&nbsp;reports.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>4,747</strong> stop-and-frisks were recorded in New York City in July, August, and September - the lowest quarter since the numbers were first released in 2002, according to <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/exclusive-nypd-stop-and-frisk-drops-record-article-1.2459465" target="_blank">NYPD statistics</a>.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>93%</strong> decrease in the number of stop-and-frisks between 2011 and 2014, according to a <a href="http://www.nyclu.org/news/stop-and-frisk-down-safety-nyclu-data-analysis" target="_blank">report</a> released by the New York Civil Liberties Union.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>797</strong> fatal drug overdoses were recorded by the city Health Department in 2014, the most since 2006, the <a href="http://nypost.com/2015/12/07/drug-overdoses-killed-nearly-800-people-last-year/" target="_blank">New York Post</a> reports.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>20%</strong> increase in annual state spending for nonprofits is needed in order to fund a $15 per hour wage floor for nonprofit human services workers, according to a <a href="http://fiscalpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/15andFunding-Report-Dec2015.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Fiscal Policy Institute and the Human Services Council.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>75%</strong> of incidents the FDNY responded to in 2014 were medical-related calls, and only 5% were fire-related, though a vast majority of the FDNY's resources are devoted to staffing fire units, according to a <a href="http://www.cbcny.org/sites/default/files/REPORT_FDNY_12092015.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> from the Citizens Budget Commission.</li> <li dir="ltr"><strong>$12 million</strong> will be added to the city’s budget to increase job training programs for homeless individuals in the shelter system in 31 shelters across the 5 boroughs, the <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-nyc-boosting-job-homeless-article-1.2460622" target="_blank">Daily News</a> reports.</li> <li><strong>6,217,621</strong> people rode the subways on October 29, 2015, according to the <a href="http://polhudson.lohudblogs.com/2015/12/10/straphanger-alert-subway-ridership-hit-record-high/" target="_blank">Metropolitan Transportation Authority</a> - about 50,000 more than the previous record reached last year.</li> </ul> <p><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a good week for</strong> supporters of raising the minimum wage, as a state appeals board <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/06e14feee9d749d0ad1345a8f973a293/ny-board-upholds-15-minimum-wage-fast-food-workers" target="_blank">upheld</a> Governor Cuomo’s planned increase to a $15 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers, disputing arguments that certain factors weren’t adequately analyzed before making the decision to raise the wage.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week for</strong> Anthony Mangone, a former attorney whose cooperation aided in the conviction of three New York state senators, who was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/08/nyregion/prison-term-for-lawyer-who-cooperated-in-graft-cases.html?ref=nyregion&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">sentenced to 18 months</a> behind bars this week after a judge said the “dirty lawyer” had committed crimes too serious to escape incarceration.</p> <p><strong>THE FLASH:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 40 years ago</strong>, on December 9, 1975, President Gerald Ford <a href="http://www.ford.utexas.edu/library/document/factbook/chronolo.htm" target="_blank">signed</a> a $2.3 billion seasonal loan authorization to prevent New York City from having to default.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 74 years ago</strong>, on December 7, 1941, in the panic that ensued after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Japanese nationals living in New York were <a href="http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2012/volume_4/number_3/imprisoned_at_ellis_island.php" target="_blank">rounded up by FBI agents</a> and held on Ellis Island. They were later transferred to internment camps for the remainder of the war.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 22 years ago</strong>, on December 7, 1993, Colin Ferguson opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road train, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Island_Rail_Road_massacre" target="_blank">killing six passengers</a> and wounding 19 others. Days later, a New York Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/10/opinion/mass-murder-on-the-5-33.html" target="_blank">editorial</a> called for stronger gun control laws in response to the murders, pointing to the ease with which Ferguson obtained a handgun in California, which had one of the country's stricter gun laws at the time.</p> <p><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6024-resignation-highlights-city-council-gender-imbalance">Resignation Highlights City Council Gender Imbalance</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://citizensunion.us3.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=ca0fb41d668202ba6cc542ca8&amp;id=9a1853ad0f&amp;e=e35a0ce952">Cuomo Urged to Sign Executive Transparency Bills Before Looming Deadline</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6027-next-steps-for-the-mayors-controversial-zoning-proposals">Next Steps for The Mayor's Controversial Zoning Proposals</a>, Christian Zhang</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6029-tenant-activists-trace-road-to-corruption-trials-eye-elusive-reform">Tenant Activists Trace Road to Corruption Trials, Eye Elusive Reform</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6025-little-known-commission-expands-access-to-city-government">Little-Known Commission Expands Access to City Government</a>, by Meg O’Connor</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://citizensunion.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ca0fb41d668202ba6cc542ca8&amp;id=5906c8d289&amp;e=e35a0ce952">Hearing to Examine ‘Efficacy’ of City Response to ‘Homelessness Crisis’</a>, by Ryan Brady</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6028-in-zoning-amendment-one-size-does-not-fit-all">In Zoning Amendment, One Size Does Not Fit All</a>, by Council Member Donovan Richards (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6023-harmful-legal-reform-is-not-an-ethics-solution">Harmful Legal Reform Is Not an Ethics Solution</a>, by Joanne Doroshow (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6026-give-police-tools-to-reduce-arrest-and-improve-community-health">Give Police Tools to Reduce Arrest and Improve Community Health</a>, by Chelsea Davis (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6030-public-money-is-for-public-schools">Public Money Is For Public Schools</a>, by Ayishah Irvin (opinion)</p> <p><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio spoke with Errol Louis on NY1's Inside City Hall on Wednesday to <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2015/12/9/ny1-online--tonight-on-inside-city-hall-an-exclusive-interview-with-mayor-de-blasio.html" target="_blank">discuss</a> his first two years in office, and spoke about the city’s homelessness crisis, his affordable housing plan, and more.</p> <p dir="ltr">An in-depth report by ProPublica’s Marcelo Rochabrun and Cezary Podkul <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/tenants-take-hit-as-ny-fails-to-police-huge-housing-tax-break" target="_blank">reveals</a> that city and state regulators stood by as developer Two Trees Management disregarded laws requiring rent stabilization in exchange for the large property tax break it received.</p> <p dir="ltr">Politico New York’s Bill Hammond <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/12/8584822/cuomo-answers-silver-verdict-excuses-not-action" target="_blank">writes</a> that Cuomo is making excuses about not doing anything to stop Albany’s ongoing culture of corruption, and argues that there are many glaring weaknesses left in New York’s anti-corruption laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p> The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 30 2015-11-29T23:11:53+00:00 2015-11-29T23:11:53+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6013:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-30 Super User <p><img alt="New York City Hall" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>After a quiet Thanksgiving weekend, New York politics springs back into action Monday. As the week gets going we're watching as discussions continue around the mayor's rezoning policies, which have been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6007-mayor-and-speaker-rezoning-plans-will-change-before-council-vote" target="_blank">seeing some significant pushback</a> from community and borough boards. The mayor has acknowledged that pushback, saying it has not been unexpected and that <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6007-mayor-and-speaker-rezoning-plans-will-change-before-council-vote" target="_blank">tweaks will be made</a> to the plans before they head to the City Council early in 2016. The Manhattan Borough Board votes Monday, the Brooklyn Borough Board, Tuesday (Queens and the Bronx have both voted against the plans, Staten Island has not scheduled a vote yet). Community and borough board votes are advisory.</p> <p>We're also watching for the latest fallout in the de Blasio-Cuomo feud, which has continued to escalate recently. It's just over a month until Governor Cuomo delivers his January 6 State of the State speech, which will outline his priorities and policy plans for 2016. After de Blasio said he couldn't wait for the state any longer and announced his own supportive housing plan, Cuomo and his team have criticized the mayor's management of the city's homelessness crisis and indicated Cuomo will include related plans in his State of the State. For his part, de Blasio has pointed to the state and the city, then under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, cutting rental subsidy programs in 2011 as integral to the increase in homelessness seen since.</p> <p>We're awaiting word from the trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, which is in jury deliberations, and the trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, which continues to see the prosecution present its case against Skelos and his son, Adam. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6010-top-ten-corruption-quotes-from-silver-skelos-trials" target="_blank">our new look at the top moments from the two trials thus far</a>]</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Monday, Mayor de Blasio will host a bill-signing ceremony at City Hall (details below). At 12:30 p.m., "the Mayor will deliver remarks at the Department of Transportation Recognition Ceremony for FDR re-paving crews, who are completing the first full resurfacing of the FDR since it was first built." On Tuesday, de Blasio will participate in a tele-town hall around climate change, which coincides with the Paris climate conference, at which de Blasio's recovery and resiliency director, Daniel Zarrilli, is participating.</p> <p>Also, Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the grand jury decision not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. Black Lives Matter activists plan a series of events, "Actions will take place in Manhattan &amp; Staten Island," <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1628756384053211/" target="_blank">according to a Facebook event page</a>.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>On Monday at 9 a.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer <a href="http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/html/issues/zqa-mih.shtml" target="_blank">will host</a> a Manhattan Borough Board vote on the de Blasio administration's proposed zoning changes: Zoning for Quality &amp; Affordability and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.</p> <p><em>Read about those zoning changes and the controversy around them through our coverage:</em><br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6007-mayor-and-speaker-rezoning-plans-will-change-before-council-vote" target="_blank">Mayor &amp; Speaker: Rezoning Plans Will Change Before Council Vote<br /></a><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5972-east-harlem-tenants-group-rejects-de-blasio-housing-plan-offer-its-own" target="_blank">East Harlem Tenants Group Rejects De Blasio Housing Plan, Offers Its Own</a><br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5988-de-blasio-housing-chief-looks-to-allay-fears-build-support-for-rezonings" target="_blank">De Blasio Housing Chief Looks to Allay Fears, Build Support for Rezonings</a><br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6003-rezoning-discussion-shifts-to-food-access-at-least-for-one-breakfast" target="_blank">Rezoning Discussion Shifts to Food Access</a></p> <p>At 11 a.m. at City Hall, "Mayor de Blasio will hold public hearings for and sign Intros 898-A, 890-A, 900-A, 914-A, and 915-A, which strengthen and modify existing requirements related to open government data; Intro. 743-A, creating an Office of Labor Standards; Intro. 783-A, related to interest rates on emergency repair bills for residential buildings; Intro. 956-A, extending the Biotechnology Tax Credit; and Intro. 982-A, extending the current rate of hotel room taxes. The Mayor will also hold a public hearing for Intro. 314-A, related to establishing the Department of Veterans Services." Then, at 12:30 p.m., the Mayor will speak at the aforementioned FDR repaving ceremony.</p> <p>At 10 a.m. Monday, city Comptroller Scott Stringer,&nbsp;the Reverend Al Sharpton, Congressional Reps. Jeffries and Rangel, and Assembly Member Wright will hold a press conference announcing anti-gun violence initiatives.</p> <p>Monday at 10:30 a.m. at Applebee's in Times Square, city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett will make a "sodium warning label announcement."</p> <p>On Monday <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">at the City Council</a>:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m., the Committee on Youth Services will hold a hearing on Introduction 554-2014, in relation to training for certain employees of the city of New York on runaway and homeless youth and sexually exploited children, and Introduction 993-2015, in relation to changing the date of an annual report related to sexually exploited children.</li> <li>At 10 a.m. at Johnson Community Center in Manhattan, "The Committee on Public Housing will hold an oversight hearing examining the Mayor's plan to address violent crime in public housing." City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito is set to participate.</li> <li>At 10 a.m., "The Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations and the Subcommittee on Libraries will hold a joint oversight hearing on six day service at public libraries." [Read our preview of the hearing with a lot of key info: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6008-assessing-city-library-expansion-after-budget-boost" target="_blank">Assessing City Library Expansion After Budget Boost</a>]</li> <li>At 1 p.m., "The Committee on Recovery and Resiliency will hold an oversight hearing on the resiliency of New York City's electricity transmission and distribution systems."</li> </ul> <p>At 12:45 p.m. Monday,&nbsp;Whoopi Goldberg, George Takei, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Corey Johnson, and the Council's LGBT Caucus will acknowledge this year's World AIDS Day by "flipping the switch" to light the Empire State Building in red in honor of World AIDS Day.</p> <p>At 6 p.m. Monday Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will host a workshop at the Queens Borough Parents Advisory Meeting about how to be more supportive of schools.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>On Tuesday the Brooklyn Borough Board, led by Borough President Eric Adams, will vote on the de Blasio administration's two rezoning proposals.</p> <p>On Tuesday at noon, Joe Domanick of John Jay College will speak about his new book <em>Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing, </em>which&nbsp;details NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's work transforming "the police department of America's second largest city—a period which saw Los Angeles's violent crime rate, including homicides, drop by double-digits" 2002-2009. <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/blue-lapd-and-battle-redeem-american-policing-7973.html?et=4cb8180883b7c9258d2fe6a4479bdfb8" target="_blank">The event</a> is hosted by the Manhattan Institute.</p> <p>At the City Council on Tuesday: at 1 p.m.&nbsp;the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet.</p> <p>At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the City Council will host a Diwali celebration - Diwali is the Indian festival of light.</p> <p>At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio, City Hall representatives, and activists on climate change will take part in <a href="http://action.workingfamilies.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=11780" target="_blank">a tele-town hall </a>on sustainability. Participants will include Nilda Mesa, Director, Mayor's Office of Sustainability; Bill Lipton, State Director, New York Working Families Party; and Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance.</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: "Bail Reform - Federal and State Courts Wrestle with Options for Change" <a href="https://services.nycbar.org/iMIS/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=CRI120115&amp;WebsiteKey=f71e12f3-524e-4f8c-a5f7-0d16ce7b3314" target="_blank">will be hosted</a> by the New York City Bar's Criminal Advocacy Committee. Panelists include: Karen Friedman Agnifilo, Chief Assistant District Attorney, New York County District Attorney's Office; Elizabeth Glazer, Director, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice; Scott Hechinger, Staff Attorney, Brooklyn Defender Services; Joan Loughnane, Chief Counsel to the United States Attorney, Southern District of New York; Jerold McElroy, Executive Director, New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc.; Marika Meis, Legal Director, Criminal Defense Practice, The Bronx Defenders.</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Riders Alliance <a href="http://salsa.ridersny.org/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=83721" target="_blank">will host</a> "Discount Fares for Low-Income NYers: A Conversation."</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on Economic Development will meet on "Community planning boards receive an annual report submitted to the mayor with regard to projected and actual jobs created and retained in connection with projects undertaken by a certain contracted entity."</li> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on Transportation will meet to discuss a number of bills regarding bicycle safety in the city, including founding a bicycle safety task force, seizure of abandoned vehicles, and a number of bills on walking away from and not reporting incidents and accidents.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will meet to discuss a bill that would exempt licensed plumbers from registering with the business integrity commission.</li> </ul> <p>At the State Legislature on Wednesday: an 11 a.m. meeting of the Assembly Standing Committee on Correction for "Oversight and Investigations of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision."</p> <p>On Wednesday at 8 a.m., City &amp; State NY&nbsp;<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/impact-of-changing-the-minimum-wage-tickets-19231610264" target="_blank">will host</a> an event on the impact of raising the minimum wage. Speakers will include state Senator Jack M. Martins, Chair of the Labor Committee; E.J. McMahon, President at the Empire Center for Public Policy; and Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ.</p> <p>On Wednesday at 6 p.m., Open Society Foundations and Vera Institute of Justice&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/events/policing-and-public-health-advancing-harm-reduction-strategies-law-enforcement-practices" target="_blank">will hold</a> "Policing and Public Health: Advancing Harm Reduction Strategies in Law Enforcement Practices," bringing together health specialists and law enforcement representatives for a discussion on how to "protect the rights and foster the health of the most vulnerable members of society."</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Cannabis and Hemp Association will host "Open for Business," a panel discussion on the subject of medical marijuana in New York City. State Senator Diane Savino and Dr. Julie Netherland, Deputy State Director for Drug Policy, are among those who will speak.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m., the Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet.</li> <li>At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services will meet for an oversight hearing on alcohol abuse in New York City.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Committee on Community Development will meet to discuss establishing an urban agriculture advisory board.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Committee on Parks and Recreation will meet: "Oversight - An Examination of the City's Parks Without Borders Initiative."</li> </ul> <p>At the State Legislature on Thursday: a 10 a.m. meeting of the Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation to discuss the Department of Transportation two year capital program.</p> <p>On Thursday the New York Justice League and Black Lives Matter <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1628756384053211/" target="_blank">will hold</a> "#ChokeHoldOnTheCity," remembering the one-year anniversary of the decision by a Staten Island grand jury not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner and continuing the push for policing reform and accountability. "Actions will take place in Manhattan &amp; Staten Island."</p> <p>At 4 p.m. Thursday the Center for Bronx Non-Profits and South Bronx Rising Together&nbsp;<a href="http://www.eventbrite.com/e/voter-engagement-in-the-south-bronx-tickets-19362028348" target="_blank">will host</a>&nbsp;"Voter Engagement in the South Bronx," a panel discussion on non-partisan attempts to increase civic participation, a discussion of tools and ways to involve the populace in shaping policies that they feel are important.</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer <a href="https://twitter.com/scottmstringer/status/666401643479568384" target="_blank">will host</a> a town hall event for New Yorkers to discuss concerns and learn about what the Comptroller's Office can do to help.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>At the City Council on Friday: the Committee on Courts and Legal Services will meet at 1 p.m. on "Client satisfaction surveys for city-funded indigent legal services."</p> <p>At the State Legislature on Friday: a 10:30 a.m. hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions jointly with the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy and the Assembly Subcommittee on Infrastructure to evaluate natural gas safety efforts by utilities.</p> <p>At noon Friday, Crain's New York Business <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/events-calendar/details/4/3260911&amp;Selected=6" target="_blank">will hold</a> its annual "Best Places to Work in New York City Awards" luncheon.</p> <p>At 9 a.m. Saturday, BetaNYC <a href="http://www.meetup.com/betanyc/events/226675572/" target="_blank">will hold</a> "Hack for Heat" in response to the fact that 230,000 heating complaints were filed by New Yorkers because their landlords would not turn on the heat.</p> <p>At 9 a.m. Saturday, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson is hosting another "Begin Again" event, allowing New Yorkers with outstanding summons warrants to resolve them without being arrested. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6005-incoming-das-plan-to-join-thompson-and-vance-warrant-clearing-efforts" target="_blank">our look at the efforts by DAs, led by Thompson, to hold such events, including pledges from two incoming DAs, elected in early November, to hold them and the declaration by Queens DA Richard Brown's office that he does not intend to join the movement</a>]</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Konstantine Beridze and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img alt="New York City Hall" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/640px-New_York_City_Hall.jpg" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">New York City Hall</span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What to watch for this week in New York politics:</strong></p> <p>After a quiet Thanksgiving weekend, New York politics springs back into action Monday. As the week gets going we're watching as discussions continue around the mayor's rezoning policies, which have been <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6007-mayor-and-speaker-rezoning-plans-will-change-before-council-vote" target="_blank">seeing some significant pushback</a> from community and borough boards. The mayor has acknowledged that pushback, saying it has not been unexpected and that <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6007-mayor-and-speaker-rezoning-plans-will-change-before-council-vote" target="_blank">tweaks will be made</a> to the plans before they head to the City Council early in 2016. The Manhattan Borough Board votes Monday, the Brooklyn Borough Board, Tuesday (Queens and the Bronx have both voted against the plans, Staten Island has not scheduled a vote yet). Community and borough board votes are advisory.</p> <p>We're also watching for the latest fallout in the de Blasio-Cuomo feud, which has continued to escalate recently. It's just over a month until Governor Cuomo delivers his January 6 State of the State speech, which will outline his priorities and policy plans for 2016. After de Blasio said he couldn't wait for the state any longer and announced his own supportive housing plan, Cuomo and his team have criticized the mayor's management of the city's homelessness crisis and indicated Cuomo will include related plans in his State of the State. For his part, de Blasio has pointed to the state and the city, then under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, cutting rental subsidy programs in 2011 as integral to the increase in homelessness seen since.</p> <p>We're awaiting word from the trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, which is in jury deliberations, and the trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, which continues to see the prosecution present its case against Skelos and his son, Adam. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6010-top-ten-corruption-quotes-from-silver-skelos-trials" target="_blank">our new look at the top moments from the two trials thus far</a>]</p> <p>At 11 a.m. Monday, Mayor de Blasio will host a bill-signing ceremony at City Hall (details below). At 12:30 p.m., "the Mayor will deliver remarks at the Department of Transportation Recognition Ceremony for FDR re-paving crews, who are completing the first full resurfacing of the FDR since it was first built." On Tuesday, de Blasio will participate in a tele-town hall around climate change, which coincides with the Paris climate conference, at which de Blasio's recovery and resiliency director, Daniel Zarrilli, is participating.</p> <p>Also, Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the grand jury decision not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. Black Lives Matter activists plan a series of events, "Actions will take place in Manhattan &amp; Staten Island," <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1628756384053211/" target="_blank">according to a Facebook event page</a>.</p> <p>As always, there's a great deal happening&nbsp;all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?</em><br /><em>E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>***</em></p> <p><strong>The run of the week in detail:</strong></p> <p><strong>Monday<br /></strong>On Monday at 9 a.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer <a href="http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/html/issues/zqa-mih.shtml" target="_blank">will host</a> a Manhattan Borough Board vote on the de Blasio administration's proposed zoning changes: Zoning for Quality &amp; Affordability and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.</p> <p><em>Read about those zoning changes and the controversy around them through our coverage:</em><br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6007-mayor-and-speaker-rezoning-plans-will-change-before-council-vote" target="_blank">Mayor &amp; Speaker: Rezoning Plans Will Change Before Council Vote<br /></a><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5972-east-harlem-tenants-group-rejects-de-blasio-housing-plan-offer-its-own" target="_blank">East Harlem Tenants Group Rejects De Blasio Housing Plan, Offers Its Own</a><br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5988-de-blasio-housing-chief-looks-to-allay-fears-build-support-for-rezonings" target="_blank">De Blasio Housing Chief Looks to Allay Fears, Build Support for Rezonings</a><br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6003-rezoning-discussion-shifts-to-food-access-at-least-for-one-breakfast" target="_blank">Rezoning Discussion Shifts to Food Access</a></p> <p>At 11 a.m. at City Hall, "Mayor de Blasio will hold public hearings for and sign Intros 898-A, 890-A, 900-A, 914-A, and 915-A, which strengthen and modify existing requirements related to open government data; Intro. 743-A, creating an Office of Labor Standards; Intro. 783-A, related to interest rates on emergency repair bills for residential buildings; Intro. 956-A, extending the Biotechnology Tax Credit; and Intro. 982-A, extending the current rate of hotel room taxes. The Mayor will also hold a public hearing for Intro. 314-A, related to establishing the Department of Veterans Services." Then, at 12:30 p.m., the Mayor will speak at the aforementioned FDR repaving ceremony.</p> <p>At 10 a.m. Monday, city Comptroller Scott Stringer,&nbsp;the Reverend Al Sharpton, Congressional Reps. Jeffries and Rangel, and Assembly Member Wright will hold a press conference announcing anti-gun violence initiatives.</p> <p>Monday at 10:30 a.m. at Applebee's in Times Square, city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett will make a "sodium warning label announcement."</p> <p>On Monday <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">at the City Council</a>:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m., the Committee on Youth Services will hold a hearing on Introduction 554-2014, in relation to training for certain employees of the city of New York on runaway and homeless youth and sexually exploited children, and Introduction 993-2015, in relation to changing the date of an annual report related to sexually exploited children.</li> <li>At 10 a.m. at Johnson Community Center in Manhattan, "The Committee on Public Housing will hold an oversight hearing examining the Mayor's plan to address violent crime in public housing." City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito is set to participate.</li> <li>At 10 a.m., "The Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations and the Subcommittee on Libraries will hold a joint oversight hearing on six day service at public libraries." [Read our preview of the hearing with a lot of key info: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6008-assessing-city-library-expansion-after-budget-boost" target="_blank">Assessing City Library Expansion After Budget Boost</a>]</li> <li>At 1 p.m., "The Committee on Recovery and Resiliency will hold an oversight hearing on the resiliency of New York City's electricity transmission and distribution systems."</li> </ul> <p>At 12:45 p.m. Monday,&nbsp;Whoopi Goldberg, George Takei, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Corey Johnson, and the Council's LGBT Caucus will acknowledge this year's World AIDS Day by "flipping the switch" to light the Empire State Building in red in honor of World AIDS Day.</p> <p>At 6 p.m. Monday Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will host a workshop at the Queens Borough Parents Advisory Meeting about how to be more supportive of schools.</p> <p><strong>Tuesday<br /></strong>On Tuesday the Brooklyn Borough Board, led by Borough President Eric Adams, will vote on the de Blasio administration's two rezoning proposals.</p> <p>On Tuesday at noon, Joe Domanick of John Jay College will speak about his new book <em>Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing, </em>which&nbsp;details NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's work transforming "the police department of America's second largest city—a period which saw Los Angeles's violent crime rate, including homicides, drop by double-digits" 2002-2009. <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/blue-lapd-and-battle-redeem-american-policing-7973.html?et=4cb8180883b7c9258d2fe6a4479bdfb8" target="_blank">The event</a> is hosted by the Manhattan Institute.</p> <p>At the City Council on Tuesday: at 1 p.m.&nbsp;the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will meet.</p> <p>At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the City Council will host a Diwali celebration - Diwali is the Indian festival of light.</p> <p>At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio, City Hall representatives, and activists on climate change will take part in <a href="http://action.workingfamilies.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=11780" target="_blank">a tele-town hall </a>on sustainability. Participants will include Nilda Mesa, Director, Mayor's Office of Sustainability; Bill Lipton, State Director, New York Working Families Party; and Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance.</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: "Bail Reform - Federal and State Courts Wrestle with Options for Change" <a href="https://services.nycbar.org/iMIS/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=CRI120115&amp;WebsiteKey=f71e12f3-524e-4f8c-a5f7-0d16ce7b3314" target="_blank">will be hosted</a> by the New York City Bar's Criminal Advocacy Committee. Panelists include: Karen Friedman Agnifilo, Chief Assistant District Attorney, New York County District Attorney's Office; Elizabeth Glazer, Director, Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice; Scott Hechinger, Staff Attorney, Brooklyn Defender Services; Joan Loughnane, Chief Counsel to the United States Attorney, Southern District of New York; Jerold McElroy, Executive Director, New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc.; Marika Meis, Legal Director, Criminal Defense Practice, The Bronx Defenders.</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Riders Alliance <a href="http://salsa.ridersny.org/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=83721" target="_blank">will host</a> "Discount Fares for Low-Income NYers: A Conversation."</p> <p><strong>Wednesday<br /></strong><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Wednesday:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on Economic Development will meet on "Community planning boards receive an annual report submitted to the mayor with regard to projected and actual jobs created and retained in connection with projects undertaken by a certain contracted entity."</li> <li>At 10 a.m. the Committee on Transportation will meet to discuss a number of bills regarding bicycle safety in the city, including founding a bicycle safety task force, seizure of abandoned vehicles, and a number of bills on walking away from and not reporting incidents and accidents.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will meet to discuss a bill that would exempt licensed plumbers from registering with the business integrity commission.</li> </ul> <p>At the State Legislature on Wednesday: an 11 a.m. meeting of the Assembly Standing Committee on Correction for "Oversight and Investigations of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision."</p> <p>On Wednesday at 8 a.m., City &amp; State NY&nbsp;<a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/impact-of-changing-the-minimum-wage-tickets-19231610264" target="_blank">will host</a> an event on the impact of raising the minimum wage. Speakers will include state Senator Jack M. Martins, Chair of the Labor Committee; E.J. McMahon, President at the Empire Center for Public Policy; and Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ.</p> <p>On Wednesday at 6 p.m., Open Society Foundations and Vera Institute of Justice&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/events/policing-and-public-health-advancing-harm-reduction-strategies-law-enforcement-practices" target="_blank">will hold</a> "Policing and Public Health: Advancing Harm Reduction Strategies in Law Enforcement Practices," bringing together health specialists and law enforcement representatives for a discussion on how to "protect the rights and foster the health of the most vulnerable members of society."</p> <p>At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Cannabis and Hemp Association will host "Open for Business," a panel discussion on the subject of medical marijuana in New York City. State Senator Diane Savino and Dr. Julie Netherland, Deputy State Director for Drug Policy, are among those who will speak.</p> <p><strong>Thursday<br /></strong><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx" target="_blank">At the City Council</a> on Thursday:</p> <ul> <li>At 10 a.m., the Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet.</li> <li>At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services will meet for an oversight hearing on alcohol abuse in New York City.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Committee on Community Development will meet to discuss establishing an urban agriculture advisory board.</li> <li>At 1 p.m. the Committee on Parks and Recreation will meet: "Oversight - An Examination of the City's Parks Without Borders Initiative."</li> </ul> <p>At the State Legislature on Thursday: a 10 a.m. meeting of the Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation to discuss the Department of Transportation two year capital program.</p> <p>On Thursday the New York Justice League and Black Lives Matter <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1628756384053211/" target="_blank">will hold</a> "#ChokeHoldOnTheCity," remembering the one-year anniversary of the decision by a Staten Island grand jury not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner and continuing the push for policing reform and accountability. "Actions will take place in Manhattan &amp; Staten Island."</p> <p>At 4 p.m. Thursday the Center for Bronx Non-Profits and South Bronx Rising Together&nbsp;<a href="http://www.eventbrite.com/e/voter-engagement-in-the-south-bronx-tickets-19362028348" target="_blank">will host</a>&nbsp;"Voter Engagement in the South Bronx," a panel discussion on non-partisan attempts to increase civic participation, a discussion of tools and ways to involve the populace in shaping policies that they feel are important.</p> <p>At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer <a href="https://twitter.com/scottmstringer/status/666401643479568384" target="_blank">will host</a> a town hall event for New Yorkers to discuss concerns and learn about what the Comptroller's Office can do to help.</p> <p><strong>Friday and the weekend<br /></strong>At the City Council on Friday: the Committee on Courts and Legal Services will meet at 1 p.m. on "Client satisfaction surveys for city-funded indigent legal services."</p> <p>At the State Legislature on Friday: a 10:30 a.m. hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions jointly with the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy and the Assembly Subcommittee on Infrastructure to evaluate natural gas safety efforts by utilities.</p> <p>At noon Friday, Crain's New York Business <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/events-calendar/details/4/3260911&amp;Selected=6" target="_blank">will hold</a> its annual "Best Places to Work in New York City Awards" luncheon.</p> <p>At 9 a.m. Saturday, BetaNYC <a href="http://www.meetup.com/betanyc/events/226675572/" target="_blank">will hold</a> "Hack for Heat" in response to the fact that 230,000 heating complaints were filed by New Yorkers because their landlords would not turn on the heat.</p> <p>At 9 a.m. Saturday, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson is hosting another "Begin Again" event, allowing New Yorkers with outstanding summons warrants to resolve them without being arrested. [Read <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6005-incoming-das-plan-to-join-thompson-and-vance-warrant-clearing-efforts" target="_blank">our look at the efforts by DAs, led by Thompson, to hold such events, including pledges from two incoming DAs, elected in early November, to hold them and the declaration by Queens DA Richard Brown's office that he does not intend to join the movement</a>]</p> <p>***<br />Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a>&nbsp;(please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).</p> <p>***<br />by Konstantine Beridze and Ben Max<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Mayor and Speaker: Rezoning Plans Will Change Before Council Vote 2015-11-25T01:46:08+00:00 2015-11-25T01:46:08+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6007:mayor-and-speaker-rezoning-plans-will-change-before-council-vote Super User <p><img alt="mmv bdb via city council twitter" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/mmv_bdb_via_city_council_twitter.jpg" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>The Speaker &amp; the Mayor (photo <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCouncil/status/661619565806399488" target="_blank">via the City Council</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>Speaking at separate events over a two-day span, both Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito acknowledged significant community pushback against the mayor's rezoning proposals and said that those plans will be tweaked before the Council votes on them.</p> <p>On Monday, de Blasio was asked about the largely negative reaction across the city to the zoning proposals at the center of his affordable housing plans. Many community boards are voting against the two rezoning proposals, which call for changes to how space is used, including allowing more retail and housing density as part of new development with market-rate and affordable apartments.</p> <p>Both the Bronx and Queens Borough Boards - made up of community board leaders, City Council members, and the borough president - have voted against them. The Brooklyn and Manhattan Borough Boards are expected to vote next week, while a Staten Island vote is not yet scheduled.</p> <p>De Blasio said Monday that he is "resolute," adding that he is not surprised community boards have objections. "Those objections should be heard and we should think about them," de Blasio said, "and where we see the need to make certain modifications we will."</p> <p>"But in the end," the mayor continued, "the community boards aren't the final decision makers. The mayor and the City Council make the decisions, in some cases, obviously, with the City Planning Commission. And that's where our process is set up, and that's how it's worked for years."</p> <p>What de Blasio will need, of course, is City Council buy-in. As the mayor, top administration officials, and his city planning department consider feedback from local leaders and make "modifications" to the rezoning plans, they'll need to convince Council members representing the districts set to undergo the most change that they should vote in favor of the plans. These include representatives from communities like East New York, East Harlem, Flushing, and areas of the Bronx, among others initially targeted for the zoning changes and more housing.</p> <p>The leader of the Council, Mark-Viverito, also happens to represent East Harlem and part of the Bronx. She abstained as the Bronx Borough Board voted against the mayor's plans and said she'll abstain when Manhattan votes on Monday, Nov. 30. While the community and borough board votes are non-binding advisory opinions, they are indicative of concerns throughout the city about de Blasio's plans. Those concerns include worries about rising prices and gentrification accompanying new development; that new housing won't be accompanied by new schools and transportation infrastructure; lack of parking; and more.</p> <p>On Tuesday Mark-Viverito said that she is sure the plans will need to be changed in order to pass through the Council. Saying that Council members are listening to their constituents and that the plans will "obviously go back to City Planning," Mark-Viverito said, "The plan that has been presented originally, I can assure you, will not be stagnant and...will not be the plan that comes before us at the Council."</p> <p>Some of the key changes that may be made based on community pushback include creating more flexibility within the proposals for how area median income (AMI) is determined - instead of using one set of figures for the whole city as the plans do now, AMIs would be set more by local geography so that apartments being labeled as "affordable" would truly be so for local residents, especially the lowest income earners. On the other hand, in some areas of the city, residents are looking for more units to be carved out for middle-income earners. There are also historical and neighborhood preservation concerns in some places.</p> <p>Other possible tweaks relate to ensuring that affordable housing for seniors is made permanently so; that parking is protected; and that affordable units are required to be built among market-rate units, not off-site or even on separate floors.</p> <p>"The land-use review process is extensive," Mark-Viverito said Tuesday. When it comes to the two rezoning proposals, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability, the speaker said, "We're at only the beginning stages of that debate and that conversation. So yes, community boards are taking a position, some borough boards have taken positions; but we're nowhere near engaging in that level of debate at the Council level."</p> <p>She promised continued constituent engagement and figuring out how to "make additional improvement" to the plans. Calling some of the community concerns "legitimate," Mark-Viverito said "some communities want greater AMIs, some communities want lower AMIs. It's going to be a very, very heated conversation."</p> <p>For his part, the mayor said "it's all part of a democratic process," and that the community boards "inform the process." He did remind, though, that community boards are indeed advisory and that the elected officials - who often disagree with community boards - make the final decisions.</p> <p>"I'm listening. My whole team is listening to them," the mayor said Monday. "We're looking at if we think any of the points raised a need to make any changes." De Blasio and his team will continue to defend the plans, even if they're open to tweaks. They argue that the city desperately needs more housing, especially affordable units, which can only be built in most cases if new market-rate housing is also allowed. They also sell the plans as community development, highlighting new retail space that will created, and with it, employment and shopping opportunities.</p> <p>"It does have an impact on our thinking," de Blasio said of community feedback. "It does help us figure out things we need to do better."</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@TweetBenMax</a><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img alt="mmv bdb via city council twitter" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/mmv_bdb_via_city_council_twitter.jpg" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>The Speaker &amp; the Mayor (photo <a href="https://twitter.com/NYCCouncil/status/661619565806399488" target="_blank">via the City Council</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>Speaking at separate events over a two-day span, both Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito acknowledged significant community pushback against the mayor's rezoning proposals and said that those plans will be tweaked before the Council votes on them.</p> <p>On Monday, de Blasio was asked about the largely negative reaction across the city to the zoning proposals at the center of his affordable housing plans. Many community boards are voting against the two rezoning proposals, which call for changes to how space is used, including allowing more retail and housing density as part of new development with market-rate and affordable apartments.</p> <p>Both the Bronx and Queens Borough Boards - made up of community board leaders, City Council members, and the borough president - have voted against them. The Brooklyn and Manhattan Borough Boards are expected to vote next week, while a Staten Island vote is not yet scheduled.</p> <p>De Blasio said Monday that he is "resolute," adding that he is not surprised community boards have objections. "Those objections should be heard and we should think about them," de Blasio said, "and where we see the need to make certain modifications we will."</p> <p>"But in the end," the mayor continued, "the community boards aren't the final decision makers. The mayor and the City Council make the decisions, in some cases, obviously, with the City Planning Commission. And that's where our process is set up, and that's how it's worked for years."</p> <p>What de Blasio will need, of course, is City Council buy-in. As the mayor, top administration officials, and his city planning department consider feedback from local leaders and make "modifications" to the rezoning plans, they'll need to convince Council members representing the districts set to undergo the most change that they should vote in favor of the plans. These include representatives from communities like East New York, East Harlem, Flushing, and areas of the Bronx, among others initially targeted for the zoning changes and more housing.</p> <p>The leader of the Council, Mark-Viverito, also happens to represent East Harlem and part of the Bronx. She abstained as the Bronx Borough Board voted against the mayor's plans and said she'll abstain when Manhattan votes on Monday, Nov. 30. While the community and borough board votes are non-binding advisory opinions, they are indicative of concerns throughout the city about de Blasio's plans. Those concerns include worries about rising prices and gentrification accompanying new development; that new housing won't be accompanied by new schools and transportation infrastructure; lack of parking; and more.</p> <p>On Tuesday Mark-Viverito said that she is sure the plans will need to be changed in order to pass through the Council. Saying that Council members are listening to their constituents and that the plans will "obviously go back to City Planning," Mark-Viverito said, "The plan that has been presented originally, I can assure you, will not be stagnant and...will not be the plan that comes before us at the Council."</p> <p>Some of the key changes that may be made based on community pushback include creating more flexibility within the proposals for how area median income (AMI) is determined - instead of using one set of figures for the whole city as the plans do now, AMIs would be set more by local geography so that apartments being labeled as "affordable" would truly be so for local residents, especially the lowest income earners. On the other hand, in some areas of the city, residents are looking for more units to be carved out for middle-income earners. There are also historical and neighborhood preservation concerns in some places.</p> <p>Other possible tweaks relate to ensuring that affordable housing for seniors is made permanently so; that parking is protected; and that affordable units are required to be built among market-rate units, not off-site or even on separate floors.</p> <p>"The land-use review process is extensive," Mark-Viverito said Tuesday. When it comes to the two rezoning proposals, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability, the speaker said, "We're at only the beginning stages of that debate and that conversation. So yes, community boards are taking a position, some borough boards have taken positions; but we're nowhere near engaging in that level of debate at the Council level."</p> <p>She promised continued constituent engagement and figuring out how to "make additional improvement" to the plans. Calling some of the community concerns "legitimate," Mark-Viverito said "some communities want greater AMIs, some communities want lower AMIs. It's going to be a very, very heated conversation."</p> <p>For his part, the mayor said "it's all part of a democratic process," and that the community boards "inform the process." He did remind, though, that community boards are indeed advisory and that the elected officials - who often disagree with community boards - make the final decisions.</p> <p>"I'm listening. My whole team is listening to them," the mayor said Monday. "We're looking at if we think any of the points raised a need to make any changes." De Blasio and his team will continue to defend the plans, even if they're open to tweaks. They argue that the city desperately needs more housing, especially affordable units, which can only be built in most cases if new market-rate housing is also allowed. They also sell the plans as community development, highlighting new retail space that will created, and with it, employment and shopping opportunities.</p> <p>"It does have an impact on our thinking," de Blasio said of community feedback. "It does help us figure out things we need to do better."</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@TweetBenMax</a><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p>