Existing Plans & Examples
In deciding on community principles, it is helpful, wherever possible, to reference and incorporate existing community plans – elevating and prioritizing how community members have come together to craft their own solutions.
In many places these might not exist – and one of the goals of creating community principles can be to help fill that gap and lay the groundwork for more robust community planning.
In looking at existing plans and examples you can consider:
Has there been a community plan put forward in the last decade? These would generally include some kind of land use framework – where increasing density (with affordability mandates like MIH) might be appropriate, where potential density might be decreased to reduce displacement pressures, where commercial zoning should go, where Manufacturing Zones should be preserved and strengthened. Some recent examples include:
Have there been community plans put out in response to proposed City-led neighborhood rezonings? These may be less detailed than a full-fledged community plan but still offer important indicators of community needs and proposed solutions. Some examples include:
- East New York Neighborhood Rezoning Community Plan – in response to the City-led East New York Rezoning
- Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision Policy Platform – in response to the City-led Jerome Avenue rezoning
197a Plans are a mechanism for community planning enshrined in the City Charter – that allows communities to move forward plans to be approved by the City Planning Commission and City Council. However, these plans themselves are not binding and – due in part to this fact, and the way they have frequently been ignored by the Department City Planning in regards to future actions – their application has become increasingly rare. Still it is worth referencing if your community created a 197a plan in the last few decades.
The easiest way to access 197a Plans is through Community District Profiles by choosing your Community District and then clicking on the Projects tabs.
Council Member Land Use Principles
Several Council Members have recently put out Land Use Principles for their district, and interest in this approach continues to grow. In addition, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams released a planning toolkit to help guide all Council Members in taking a more proactive approach to land use decisions. All these documents provide a strong example of the types of benchmarks and approaches that can be included in any community principles.
- Speaker Adrienne Adams – Planning and Land Use Guidelines and Application Toolkit
- Council Member Julie Won – Council District 26 Land Use Principles
- Council Member Jennifer Gutierrez – Council District 34 Land Use Principles
Community Board Responsible Development Principles
Two Community Boards in Brooklyn have already established Responsible Development Principles to guide both as-of-right developments and any proposed rezonings. They provide a good example of the types of asks that can be included in any community principles.
Positive development examples
Are there examples of positive developments in the community that you can cite or look to as a precedent? These may include mission driven development that are 100% affordable at deep AMIs, supportive housing or senior housing. Have there been any recent private rezonings where the developer went significantly beyond what MIH requires?
If you aren’t aware of ready examples, you can use the information in Housing New York Data to help identify developments of this nature – looking at the percentage of affordable units compared to total units to get at breadth of affordability and looking at AMI levels to determine developments that have provided deeply affordable units.
Community group input & feedback
It’s important to make sure your principles align with local community groups who are working to advance racial and economic equity. They should be partners in helping to determine the principles and demands that would work best for the community. What are you hearing from these types of groups? What are the needs of their members? What types of development, investment, and land use actions are they advocating for?
Creating A Community Principles Document
Housing & Affordability
- Call for development projects that meet the needs of the community in terms of income levels that are served; some specific calls could include:
- Projects should be entirely affordable to the xx% of residents in the district making below a certain income level
- There must be a certain percentage of deeply affordable units, serving our lowest income residents
- A certain percentage of units must be provided for households experiencing homelessness
- Note: most HPD term sheets currently require a 15% set-aside for the formerly homeless, so this would be the bare minimum for developments taking City subsidy
- Call for going significantly beyond existing tools like MIH
- Currently the two deepest affordability AMI options for MIH provide either:
- MIH Option 1 – 25% of units at an average of 60% AMI
- MIH Deep Affordability Option – 20% of units at an average of 40% AMI
- How would proposals need to go beyond MIH to match your community principles as suggested above?
- Currently the two deepest affordability AMI options for MIH provide either:
- You could consider including various issue areas that involve community investment under the same section – including open space, transportation, schools, and healthcare
- You don’t have to specify what exact needs any given project has to meet but could instead provide a general matrix of investments that are needed in the neighborhood; for example
- Where in the neighborhood is there a need for more open space or overdue investments?
- Where in the neighborhood is there limited transit access? Where are transit improvements and investment needed?
- Where is there a need for improved street safety?
- Where is there a need for more school seats and investment?
- Where are more health facilities needed?
- Where is there City-owned land that could be better used or redeveloped to achieve community needs (where affordable housing might not be feasible or the best use)?
- Benchmarks can include that different needs are being addressed by any given development – based in part on location and size
- A matrix such as this has the additional benefit of serving as a kind of comprehensive tracker of needs in the community and how they are being addressed, both through City investments and through benefits provided by private development proposals commensurate with their scale
- What are the community’s needs for addressing climate change?
- Are there areas at risk of flooding – both from sea level rise and from heavy storms?
- Are there areas where the heat index is particularly high? Where is air quality particularly poor?
- How can all developments work to meet and exceed our City’s sustainability goals?
- What types of jobs are needed in the community?
- What does this mean in terms of the preservation and expansion of manufacturing space?
- What does this mean in terms of commercial rents and square footage?
- What does this mean in terms of contracting and local hire?
- Are there certain areas or corridors in the neighborhood where increased density might be appropriate, especially if that is the best way to create new affordable housing through MIH?
- Are there certain areas or corridors where commercial businesses are appropriate? What types of businesses do you want to see and incentivize?
- Are there areas where the zoning might be feeding displacement pressures by encouraging landlords to drive tenants out so they can demolish and build bigger? This might be of special concern in areas with numerous rent stabilized apartments
- Contextual zoning is one way to try to address this issue, removing the incentive to drive tenants out to demolish and build
- Again, this should only be considered as a mechanism to preserve affordable housing, not to keep the opportunity for new affordable housing out of the neighborhood
- Are there Industrial Business Zones or other active Manufacturing zones that you want to see preserved to protect good paying manufacturing jobs? Are there certain requirements that must be in place for consideration of any Manufacturing to Residential rezoning outside of those areas (eg. preserving active manufacturing space, requiring deeper affordability)?
- Are there special zoning tools – Special District, a new zoning text amendment – that you can call for to help achieve community goals?
Community Engagement & Input
- In suggesting community principles we are encouraging their use as a guiding document for planning decisions, helping to ensure that only proposals that match community principles – that stem from serving community need – will advance to ULURP
- That said, you may also want to include your own principles for how community engagement should be conducted, both during ULURP, and as general principles for what good, inclusive community engagement looks like, including consideration of:
- What needs and groups should be centered in community engagement?
- What are the best ways to ensure access and that these central voices are being engaged and heard?