By Mara Gay | The New York Times
Why is it so hard to build housing in New York?
In search of an answer to this question, I spoke with Marjorie Velázquez, the City Council member whose one-woman opposition is being allowed to hold up the construction of a roughly 350-unit housing development in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx, a project that includes apartments for older people and veterans.
Ms. Velázquez’s stated reasons for opposing the project are wide-ranging. She has concerns about crowding in schools. She wants to know “what kind” of veterans will live in the development (“I see a lot of groups come in and say, ‘Oh we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that!’ and appear to be heroes and they leave our veterans behind,” she told me). She says the city should be focusing on infrastructure needs in the area. “We’re a transit desert,” she said.
Then, she talks about the sinkholes that plague Throgs Neck, a community she says has been ignored. “Do you see what I’m saying?” she asked, adding that she wanted to “make sure that it’s for us, by us.”
The City Council may vote for a zoning change that would clear the way for the Throgs Neck project anyway. Approving the change over Ms. Velázquez’s objection would be a major break in tradition for the council, setting an important precedent in a city where people are struggling to afford to stay in their homes and communities.
“If New York City drops its long held voting pattern, of the city council deferring to the member of the district where the land use action is located in order to approve more high density housing, that would be a monumental shift. It’s challenging for any city council to balance nearby neighbors’ objections and focus on the needs of the city as a whole. If New York takes this position, it will be fascinating to see what effect it might have in other cities across the country and certainly in the state of Arizona.”Jordan Rose, Rose Law Group founder and president