CITY HALL, NY — Council Member Francisco Moya on Thursday introduced legislation that would require the city to study the effect of neighborhood-wide rezonings on secondary displacement.
“With every neighborhood-wide rezoning, the future for thousands and thousands of New Yorkers are thrown into uncertainty,” Council Member Francisco Moya said. “The long-term residents in East Harlem and Inwood or along Jerome Avenue — the very curators of their community’s character — are being forced out of their homes as their neighborhoods become primed for new development. More communities are next in line for these massive rezonings. Unfortunately for their residents, we can’t tell them exactly how a neighborhood rezoning will affect gentrification or secondary displacement because we have absolutely no quantitative data to offer them. This bill will remedy that conspicuous information gap. It will require the city to study the effects of neighborhood-wide rezonings on secondary displacement so that we no longer leap before we look. Good data inspires good policy and if we’re going to overcome this city’s housing crisis, we’ll need both.”
“This is one of the first bills my office began working on when I arrived at the City Council and it would not have been possible without the invaluable wisdom from housing advocates, activists and specifically the Legal Aid Society and Make the Road New York,” Council Member Moya said.
“Through our representation of tenants across the City, we see firsthand the racial and ethnic impacts of neighborhood-wide rezonings,” said Kat Meyers, Staff Attorney with the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “This bill will give City Council a fuller picture of how rezonings affect residential displacement, and will inform policy decisions around land use moving forward. We are excited to see a focus on the experiences of existing communities, and look forward to continuing to work with Council Member Moya on this important step toward eliminating the secondary displacement.”
“Neighborhood-wide rezonings are sold as efforts to increase our stock of affordable housing, but, if we look at where these massive rezonings are being applied, all too often we see lower-income New Yorkers of color being displaced from their communities,” said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road NY. “These are the very New Yorkers we should seek to protect, not dismiss as collateral damage in the name of progress. We deserve to know how these neighborhood rezonings have affected residents, specifically the type of residents these rezonings purport to benefit, as they continue to reshape our city.”
If enacted, Intro. 1482 would amend the New York City charter to require that the city conduct a study on the relationship between neighborhood-wide rezonings and secondary displacement. Each study would be specific for individual neighborhood rezonings certified after Jan. 1, 2015 and be conducted five-years after the rezoning received final approval by the City Council.
The results for each study would then be reported to the City Council five-years-and-six-months after the neighborhood rezoning received final approval.
The study would use the same definition for secondary displacement used in the 2010 City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) technical manual. The manual defines secondary displacement as “the involuntary displacement of residents, businesses, or employees that results from a change in socioeconomic conditions created by the proposed project.”
While such displacement is measured as part of the CEQR analysis that’s conducted before all neighborhood rezonings, it is by definition merely an estimation of the rezoning’s effects. This bill will provide real data to compare with the estimate five-years after the rezoning. At that point, the initial property developments will have been completed, some of the preliminary speculations will have ended and the early effects of rezoning an entire neighborhood will be measurable.
If the study reveals five percent more residential secondary displacement than the original CEQR estimate, the report will include recommendations for amending the CEQR manual to more accurately account for the potential for residential secondary displacement as a result of neighborhood rezonings.
As the chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, Council Member Moya is eager to hear from members of the public on this bill during the public comment period ahead.