Photo: Many Queens Borough Board members on Monday said that the city’s proposal to eliminate or reduce parking requirements for affordable and senior housing is flawed. Forum Photo By Michael V. Cusenza.
Members of the Borough Board on Monday evening voiced their concerns about, and in some cases outright opposition to, a Department of City Planning proposal to eliminate or reduce parking requirements for affordable and senior housing.
In its “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” presentation, DCP highlighted the need to modernize zoning across the city, one of the main tenets of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-year Housing New York plan. Working with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, nonprofit housing groups, architects, developers, and other practitioners, city planners have identified a set of zoning barriers that constrain new housing creation and add unnecessary costs, and strategies to address them. The proposed amendments have four primary goals: remove barriers that constrain housing production and raise costs; encourage better quality buildings that contribute to the fabric of neighborhoods; promote senior housing to address the affordable housing needs of an aging population; and reduce unnecessary parking requirements for affordable housing.
“Many of the city’s zoning regulations are outdated and don’t reflect today’s housing needs or construction practices,” according to the presentation. “Zoning can unintentionally force tradeoffs between housing creation and the quality of retail and community facility spaces, or between the quality of housing and the ability to provide affordable housing. The rules encourage buildings that are flat or dull, and fail to enliven the pedestrian environment. Zoning can also force buildings to incorporate costly and unnecessary features, such as impractical layouts for corridors and apartments, or more parking than is needed. By removing obsolete provisions and modernizing others, zoning can foster diverse and livable neighborhoods with the development of new high-quality, mixed-income housing.”
Reducing or eliminating “unnecessary” parking requirements is based on the reasoning that there is a lower rate of car ownership among seniors and low-income families.
“We really do see large swaths of surface parking dedicated to seniors that’s just not being used,” said City Planner Stacy Passmore.
Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton disagreed with the proposal, citing the age-old parking-space problem in Queens.
“I can’t see anywhere in this borough where people would be supportive of downsizing parking requirements,” she said.
Citing “serious concerns” with the DCP proposal, Borough President Melinda Katz later added, “In a transit desert like the borough of Queens, the reality for many families is having to rely on cars to get to work. For our seniors, we want them to maintain an independent, active quality of living for as long as possible. Our current mass transit system—including subways, buses and Access-A-Ride—is simply insufficient in reliability, frequency and reach to warrant stripping parking requirements.”
By Michael V. Cusenza firstname.lastname@example.org