It’s (Past) Time for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing in NYC

Back in 2003 — well before I was elected to the City Council, before I directed the Pratt Center, when I led the Fifth Avenue Committee — the Bloomberg Administration proposed to upzone Fourth Avenue in Park Slope. We had a simple idea: mandate that developers include some affordable units for low- and moderate-income families (you can read our policy report here; it was derided as socialism at the time, but we called for much less than the de Blasio Administration is now proposing).

We lost that fight. Fourth Avenue was upzoned, and many hundreds of market-rate units now line the avenue — but not one single affordable unit. It was a tremendous lost opportunity for a more inclusive Park Slope. Our efforts did help to win the “voluntary inclusionary zoning” program that produced some low-income housing in Greenpoint-Williamsburg, and on Manhattan’s West Side. But as a 2013 study by my office showed, many developers did not “volunteer” — so only 13% of the units in voluntary IZ areas were affordable (and only 6% in voluntary IZ areas outside of those two neighborhoods).

That wasn’t actually the first fight for mandatory inclusionary housing in NYC. Read more »

Community Meeting on Proposed Development at 5th Avenue Key Food

You may have seen the news that a developer is planning a new residential development on the site of the Key Food supermarket on 5th Avenue (at Baltic Street) in Park Slope.  Like many of you, I am very concerned about the potential loss of yet another of the area’s large, more-affordable grocery stores. Together with local advocates, we’re doing everything we can to keep a neighborhood supermarket at this location. Read more »

Winter 2016 Newsletter

Curious what my office has been up to over the last few months? Check out my Winter 2016 Newsletter below:

Click here to view in Full Screen: Read more »

Hey, did you hear it might snow?

You might have heard somewhere these past few days, but we’re expecting a bit of snow this weekend. We’ve seen what happens when we under-prepare, as well as what happens when we over-prepare. But the bottom line is we just don’t know how much snow we’re going to get – so it’s best to be ready.

Side note: For those of you who want to learn more about the surprisingly fascinating world of weather forecasting, Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise has a great chapter on the topic that I recommend while you’re sipping your hot cocoa this weekend.

Since the Snowpocalypse of 2010 the City Sanitation Department and the City Council have done a lot to make sure NYC is ready for whatever winter weather comes our way.  New York City has set up a great Severe Weather Update website which is the best source for up to the minute information on city operations (and you can even track the progress of City snow plows). Read more »

Don’t drive into the Gowanus. Help us improve the parks instead!

First things first: don’t drive your car into the Gowanus Canal – as an out-of-state, hit-and-run driver did over the weekend, after he hit a parked car and slightly injured a woman and her infant daughter (all three of them are going to be fine, and he was taken into custody).

A better way to get involved in Gowanus: work with us to improve the parks and open space in the neighborhood.  

As one part of my office’s “Bridging Gowanus” initiative, we’re working to create, upgrade, and connect public open space throughout the neighborhood. The long-term goal is a “Gowanus Greenscape” that would connect a series of parks, plazas, canal-front open space, safe places to walk and bike, public art, and a clean, publicly-accessible canal.

We’ve got a long way to go toward that vision, but – thanks to the work of some great partners, especially the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the Gowanus Alliance, and Gowanus by Design – we’re off to a great start. Read more »

Statement in Support of the Disposition of 163 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY (CEQR #15HPD085K)

Permitting the sale of one long-vacant lot (by the Carroll Gardens Association) will permanently preserve 28 units of low-income housing, and two much-loved community gardens.

Statement to Brooklyn Community Board 6’s Economic/Waterfront/Community Development & Housing Committee

Monday January 11, 2016 

This evening representatives for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Carroll Gardens Association, Inc. (CGA) will present a proposal to amend a project previously approved by Brooklyn Community Board 6, including an amended Land Disposition Agreement and Urban Development Action Area Plan (UDAAP). The proposal is subject to approval by the New York City Council and the Mayor.

The proposal would allow the Carroll Gardens Association to sell the long-vacant, 1,991 square foot vacant lot located at 163 Columbia Street (between Kane and Degraw Streets) to Avery Hall Investments, for redevelopment as a four-unit, market-rate residential building, pursuant to the existing zoning.

Allowing this sale will enable the CGA to permanently preserves 28 units of affordable housing for low-income families, and explore the preservation and creation of additional affordable housing. It also helps us to achieve the permanent preservation of two much-loved community gardens on Columbia Street. Read more »

Ennis Playground – What’s your vision?

You might have seen that that last year, my office—together with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams—allocated $1.85 million in public funding to renovate Ennis Playground -- located between 11th & 12th Streets and 2nd & 3rd Avenues in Gowanus. We’re working together with the NYC Parks Department to upgrade the entire park over the next few years, including the children’s play area, basketball courts, and seating area. Read more »

Statement of NYC Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres on the First NYC “School Diversity Accountability Act” Annual Report

New York City Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres, co-sponsors of the “School Diversity Accountability Act” (Local Law 59 of 2015 and City Council Resolution 453 of 2015), issued the following statement after the release of the first annual report by the NYC Department of Education:

Confronting segregation and advancing diversity in NYC’s public schools is an urgent moral, practical, and policy imperative. It will not be achieved quickly, but that cannot be an excuse for inaction.

Our goal in legislating the ‘School Diversity Accountability Act’ was to create an annual report to measure how we are doing, see what steps we are taking, and begin to measure progress — or lack thereof — each year. Read more »

Statement by City Council Member Brad Lander on Allegations of NYPD Crime Statistics Downgrading by Ray Kelly

"Ongoing oversight of NYPD crime statistics reporting is a valuable function for the NYPD Inspector General, regardless of who is mayor or commissioner, and part of why we worked to establish the office -- but Ray Kelly has zero credibility on the topic, since he actively prevented meaningful oversight and harshly attacked accusers of nearly-identical charges multiple times during this tenure.  Read more »

Looking back, looking forward – our 2015 year-in-review

In many ways, the closing months of 2015 have been unsettling ones.

Attacks in Paris and San Bernadino renewed our fear of terrorism, and overall the U.S. saw almost as many mass shootings as days of the year. The backlash (fueled by vitriol from the Republican primary campaign trail) has posed threats to the core values of freedom and tolerance symbolized by the Statue of Liberty. Meanwhile, the abnormally warm weather (December was the most “abnormally warm” month in recorded history) has us rightly worried about climate change. Just this week, the absence of any consequences for the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland again exposes the gaping flaws in our justice system. And rising street homelessness has called our attention to the ongoing problems on inequality and poverty in our own city.

But in each case, we’ve stood together and sought to make a difference. Read more »

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