March 25, 2015
Department of City Planning Scoping Meeting -Draft Environmental Impact Statement Testimony by Tara Kelly
Re: Zoning for Quality and Affordability Text Amendment (CEQR no. 15DCP104Y)
Dear Chair and Honorable Commissioners:
As any good preservationist would, I will start with a bit of history. In 1985, our founding president, Halina Rosenthal, wrote to our members:
With the passage of the new R8-B zoning… [there] is a guarantee of the survival for the low-rise and small scale of the precious mid blocks which were constantly being endangered by the growing encroachment upon them of tall buildings out of context with their neighbors, dwarfing them and casting longer shadows on the streets where we live.
For FRIENDS, this zoning change is the culmination of nearly three years of active and often ’round-the-clock work which began on January 28, 1982, when we asked the City Planning Commission (CPC) for a zoning change which would replace the 1961 zoning regulations that gave the license, as-of-right, to consume and destroy our mid blocks and to line them with towers. We asked the CPC to give us instead a good and reasonable alternative. This quest resulted in the R8-B zoning just passed…
Once again, over 30 years later, we are calling upon City Planning to give us a good and reasonable alternative.
We need an alternative to the proposed undoing of contextual districts which make up 64% of the Upper East Side.
We need an alternative to the dismantling of the Sliver Law, another hard-fought protection of our neighborhood’s low-rise character.
We need an alternative to the elimination of existing affordable housing. In our contextual zones on the Upper East Side, 36% of parcels include rent regulated units. Can City Planning explain how it has come to the conclusion that demolition of buildings containing affordable units will not be incentivized by this proposal? Has City Planning analyzed the requirement of affordable units to be built on site in these new, taller buildings?
We need an alternative that anticipates future construction methods, and not just the current “standard.” Has City Planning analyzed building types that may perhaps be preferable to what is on offer today? How does modular housing age?
We need an in-depth, citywide survey of historic and cultural resources, along with careful study of each and every neighborhood’s individual character and sense of place. How does City Planning intend to accomplish such a large scale undertaking?
We need thoughtful consideration of each neighborhood’s unique qualities. A block in Yorkville is different from one on the Upper West Side which in turn is distinct from one in Flatbush. Has City Planning looked at the effects this zoning could have on different neighborhoods?
We need worst case scenario evaluations of not just one building prototype on one block, but all the prototypes on all the blocks throughout all of the city. Indeed, the cumulative effect is the worst case scenario. Has City Planning analyzed the consequences, if, for example, an entire block is rebuilt?
This proposal touts the desirability of historic buildings, and seeks to emulate some of their best qualities like variation, design, and “streetscape-improving conditions.” And yet this plan could result in the destruction of those model buildings on a massive scale, effectively eviscerating our neighborhoods.
We need City Planning to give us a good and reasonable alternative to this plan.
Thank you for your time; we will be submitting additional questions.
What can YOU do?
Read more about this issue:
Public comments will be reviewed until April 6th. Write letters in opposition of this plan to:
Hon. Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor New York, NY 10007 (212) 669-4305 email@example.com
Hon. Daniel Garodnick, City Council District 4 211 East 43rd Street New York, NY 10017 (212) 818-0580 Click here to send a message.
Community Board 8 505 Park Avenue, Suite 620 New York, NY 10022 (212)758-4340 Click here to send a message.
Your actions can make a difference!
FRIENDS was pleased to hold our 32nd Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony at the beautiful Cosmopolitan Club on March 17, 2015. It was a wonderful evening for all, and be sure to check out our photos of the event!