Bronx Boro Board and Prez Votes No on Changes to Zoning Text

Bronx Boro Board Meeting earlier this morning/Image via The Office of The Bronx Borough President
Bronx Boro Board Meeting earlier this morning/Image via The Office of The Bronx Borough President

Update: 11/19/2015 1:20PM EST to reflect comments from The Bronx Borough President on the vote.

Last week we reported that 9 of 12 Bronx Community Boards had voted down any changes to the zoning text for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Affordability and Quality—a cornerstone for Mayor de Blasio’s housing plan to preserve and create 200,000 units of “affordable” housing.

Now, this morning, The Bronx Borough Board and the BP has voted no on MIH and ZAQ which seems to align that with the wishes of the residents of The Bronx as well as with many similar increasing sentiments around New York City. And it’s not just The Bronx but Queens has voted no as well.

Let’s face it. As designed, MIH and ZAQ just doesn’t go far enough to offer real solutions to the affordability crisis we’re facing. It’s simply a band-aid on a broken water main and it is too little but not too late to correct the course of this ship. There needs to be real affordability built into these zoning changes. The area median income is still a huge problem and dictates the “affordability” of the housing built with or without these changes and either way it leaves out the majority of those living in the areas planned for rezonings. The required income is simply too high to be truly affordable. Now just because Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr voted no, don’t let your guard down just yet.

Sadly his speech was a clear indication that he was pandering and not truly siding with the community. After all, this was the same Bronx Borough President who attended the Macabre Suite gentrification party and has been attempting to rebrand our borough as The New Bronx.

His speech this morning sounded much like a campaign speech and it’s no secret that he has a strong desire for higher office considering the number of articles written about his ambitions and his office’s constant retweeting of said articles.

If The Bronx Borough President truly stood by the side of the people of our borough, he would have attended last week’s public hearing but instead chose to dodge the heavily attended and protested meeting.

Instead, he would oppose the construction of high end luxury in the poorest of neighborhoods that would eventually result in displacement of small businesses and residents as has happened in other neighborhoods.

He could have stood by the community’s side from the beginning when the housing advocates like CASA who were at the forefront of organizing residents and educating them on exactly what all these changes truly meant.

But no.

He stood patiently by the sidelines watching to see which way the wind blows to appear as a winner and siding with the community.

Let’s not forget the majority of the community is against the FreshDirect sweetheart deal with over 50 community based organizations representing thousands of people—a borough-wide coalition—so this is, sadly, not a man who sides with the community.

He wasn’t given much of a choice other than to vote no today. The pressure was on as community board after community board voted no and after we made it known publicly so that it was on the record that The Bronx was speaking.

Is it a victory for the people of The Bronx? Yes, but for the Bronx Borough President it was a Pyrrhic victory.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.