Last Thursday, a dear friend of mine sent me an alarming Instagram post by the newly elected Nassau County Executive, Bruce Blakeman (R). The post was meant to be a dire warning for Long Island homeowners, regarding NYS Governor Hochul’s proposed budget.
“Save our Suburbs! Thousands of apartments will be flooding your neighborhood (and dozens on your street) if Gov. Hochul has her way. Her proposed Budget would eliminate single-family home zoning across NYS by requiring that towns, villages and cities allow apartments to be constructed within any single family house – and even a new free-standing apartment on the property – for anyone that wants one. We can’t let that happen to our suburbs! From overcrowding classrooms, endangering the safety of communities, straining public safety, sanitation, traffic, and utility resources to destroying the environment and increasing the carbon footprint, Gov. Hochul’s policy directly threatens LI’s quality of life and will turn our neighborhoods into the overcrowded urban centers that most residents fled from in order to live here. Furthermore, Long Island’s middle class families and seniors will bear the burden of this proposal and be forced to pay even higher taxes as a result.”
I was thunderstruck that such a plan could possibly be implemented. The ownership of a single family home is the American Dream, but that may become a dream that can become a nightmare under the new State budget proposal. Gov. Kathy Hochul included a plan in her budget that could eliminate single-family zoning laws and mandate that local municipalities allow a minimum of one accessory dwelling unit, (apartment) on owner-occupied lots in residential zones. To put it in clearer language, apartments would be encouraged while single family homes would be discouraged. To add insult to injury, local governments would not have the power to stop them.
The reason such a change is needed, as stated by Gov. Hochul; the shortage of affordable housing in NYS is creating a crisis. Although ensuring that all New Yorkers have a place to call home is a lofty goal, the solution proposed is misguided. Gov. Hochul’s proposal has faced serious bi-partisan opposition.
“U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, who is running for governor, held a virtual news conference on Jan. 27 at which he criticized Hochul’s plan…”
Representative Suozzi (D), stated that the elimination of single-family zoning laws isn’t necessary, and completely avoidable. He has touted his record as the former Nassau County Executive from 2002-2009 and as the current Representative of the 3rd District in NYS , stating that he consistently supported the efforts already in place in New York to create more affordable housing on the local level, without strong arm tactics from the State.
The opposition doesn’t just come from the representatives in government. The Nassau County Village Officials Association that represents 64 villages in Nassau County put a statement out that they couldn’t imagine any villages in Nassau who would go along with Gov. Hochul’s plan. In a statement made by President of the Association, Daniel Serota,
“This is a separate issue, and doesn’t belong in the budget, and it’s completely insane. It’s not one-size-fits-all. You need vetting and discussion.”
Another very vocal critic of Gov. Hochul’s plan comes from Land Use Advocate, Paul Graziano, of Queens.
“There is nothing affordable about ADUs,” Graziano said, referring to accessory dwelling units. “This is about increasing housing supply. It has more to do with unleashing chaos in communities that don’t have the infrastructure to deal with this, not to mention increasing land use value and housing prices.”
This new State proposal doesn’t just affect Long Island either. Mike Schilliro (D), the Town Supervisor of North Castle, in Westchester County expressed similar concerns. He stated that this proposed change would raise quality-of-life issues in his area. In North Castle, two-family units are already legal. In Gov. Hochul’s proposal, four-family units would be permitted, creating an overcrowding issue, and make problematic parking conditions worse.
Hochul’s plan would dramatically change the character of our suburbs. Doubling or even tripling the population will place extreme pressure on local government as well as the New York homeowner. An overpopulated neighborhood means more Police protection, more traffic, more solid waste disposal, and more pollution. The only “positive” windfall for the State from this policy is higher taxes on NYS residents who are feeling the bite of excessive taxation already.
Although many state, county, and town officials are passionately calling on Gov. Hochul to remove what they call a “sneaky provision tucked away in her state budget proposal”, Gov. Hochul is standing her ground. She is defending her plan by stating that ending single-family zoning will create the option of multi-generational housing, completely side stepping the issues of overcrowding, public safety and sanitation in our neighborhoods.
Do I think that every New Yorker…no…every American deserves to have a roof over their head? A home, (rented or owned), that offers comfort and warmth? Of course I do. I’m sure my sentiments are shared by the Reader as well. However, the solution sought by Gov. Hochul will inevitably create larger problems that will have a severe negative impact upon us all.