Mayor Bill de Blasio is floating the idea of legalizing illegal basement apartments and other units as a way of dealing with the need for more affordable housing in our city.
These proposals should send up red flags across the city. Many civic organizations have fought against illegal conversions and overdevelopment for many years. Civics have lobbied for rezoning of our neighborhoods that would maintain the character of those communities.
Those rezonings have been accomplished with the help of elected officials and the City Planning Commission. We must not move backwards and negate those rezonings by allowing legalization of units that will overburden the infrastructure of existing communities.
Yes, we definitely need more units of affordable housing in our city. When you look at some of the huge projects already underway in certain parts of the city, perhaps more units should be set aside for affordable housing homes and less units for luxury and market priced units. Two examples that come to mind are the Flushing Commons and the Willetts Point projects.
We must also consider the safety of the people who would live in these newly legalized units.
These are all very complex issues requiring careful planning and thought to address everyone’s needs and desires.