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BP Reynoso's report points to "Equitable Brooklyn," including comprehensive plan (which requires citywide effort) for distributing growth fairly

A 4/25/22 press release from Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Report outlines administration’s priorities, goals, and proposed strategies to help guide and implement the Borough President’s vision for Brooklyn:
BROOKLYN, NY (April 25, 2022) Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso today released his administration’s Transition Report, which outlines priorities, goals, and proposed strategies that will help guide and implement his vision for Brooklyn. Led by a representative group of leaders from throughout the borough, the report is organized into seven themes – Green Brooklyn, Equitable Brooklyn, Working Brooklyn, Healthy Brooklyn, Creative and Cultural Brooklyn, Educated Brooklyn, and Civically Engaged Brooklyn. Collectively, the themes ladder up to challenges and opportunities present within the borough.

...Another focus of his administration includes reforming the borough’s 18 community boards, which perform a vital role in connecting residents to City government. Under the Borough President’s stewardship, community boards will be reformed to ensure a diverse membership that is informed, supported, resourced, and transparent, encouraging teens and young adults to participate.
This kind of report is in many ways aspirational, but it sets out goals and guidelines that can be used to assess future decisions.

Comprehensive plan coming?

I'll excerpt the report below, but first a few excerpts from a 5/2/22 Brooklyn Paper interview Brooklyn beep Antonio Reynoso on community boards, county politics, and emulating his predecessors.

Asked about his goal of increasing community input in planning while fighting NIMBYism, he said "a comprehensive plan does something different here. It allows for the community to take time and self-determine what the future of the community’s gonna look like."

But that requires a mayoral decision, which is unclear.

Reynoso said every community should be part of the solution for building new units.

Asked, "Isn’t that what community boards are supposed to do in the first place?", Reynoso responded that the boards "need to be, I guess, redirected or re-informed, they might not know exactly what their responsibilities are." Those boards will have input on the comprehensive plan.

How, he was asked, can he make make Brooklyn more affordable? The reality is that the BP has a limited capital budget, some of what can be put to affordable housing, and an advisory vote on land-use decisions, and former BP Eric Adams typically asked for more affordability.

Reynoso said the "comprehensive plan is part of that foundation" and, in perhaps a reference to the BP's role in the land-use process, said, "We need to have a conversation about the city working alongside developers to create more affordable housing."

He also cited the goal of building "100 percent affordable housing" on city-owned land.

But if the comprehensive plan is the solution, that might be tough.

From the report

The report's Equitable Brooklyn, which includes housing/planning, states:
BROOKLYN IS A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE, AND PEOPLE ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AND THE WORLD KNOW IT!
 The borough is now home to approximately 2.7 million people, an increase of more than 231,000 over the last 10 years. Yet the demand for new housing has not been met with new housing creation, leading to increased rents in neighborhoods with good access to jobs and historically lower housing costs. This has left some tenants in fear of displacement and struggling to pay rent. Meanwhile, the ability for homeowners to maintain their homes, or for tenants to become homeowners, is increasingly out of reach for the average Brooklynite. Public housing residents are also facing difficulties due to decades of disinvestment leading to extreme capital repair needs. 

Non-profit organizations also struggle to find and keep their spaces, which may impact their ability to deliver community services. The City does not have a robust financing infrastructure akin to its affordable housing programs for projects such as community centers, youth centers, and settlement houses. Because of this, the creation of new, standalone community facilities lags well behind the creation of new affordable housing. Additionally, much of the existing community facility stock in the borough is aging and in need of major capital investment. A large portion of this existing stock is located within NYCHA developments.

The fact that NYC’s approach to planning is broken only exacerbates these issues. Planning is currently conducted in a piecemeal and transactional fashion that often pits the needs of neighborhoods against each other and opens the door for special interests to influence the process. This has resulted in glaring racial segregation and an inequitable distribution of resources across the city, including affordable housing, economic development opportunities, parkland, and transportation infrastructure. It also excludes NYCHA from meaningful consideration, even when NYCHA developments represent the most significant housing and open space resources in many communities (especially communities of color). Further, local voices are often ignored, and community-driven plans often discarded in the proposals brought forth by the City. 

A more affordable borough means more development, and all our neighborhoods need to be part of the solution. We envision a more equitable Brooklyn, where rents are affordable, the most vulnerable populations are protected from displacement, home ownership is an option, and non-profit organizations are supported. We envision a new planning paradigm that centers local knowledge within a true boroughwide framework and addresses the city’s need for sustainable growth holistically. 
Among the policy proposals:
  • Require permanent affordability on all City-subsidized projects 
  • Where new housing is proposed on public land, require that it be 100% affordable in perpetuity
  • Support models of collective ownership and shared equity such as Community Land Trusts 
  • Require climate resiliency measures for new construction, especially in areas with high flood risk 
  • Support manufacturing retention 
  • Legalize Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and ensure they become/ remain affordable 
  • Abolish parking minimums; increase secure bike parking minimums 
  • Implement the Complete Streets model and expand Open Streets 
  • Secure workforce commitments to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the trades and for commercial tenants
  • Support legislation at City and State levels that protects low- to moderate-income homeowners (especially homeowners of color) and eliminates predatory speculation and house flipping 
  • Track ULURP applications and encourage developers to engage stakeholders 
  • Support the designation of all of Brooklyn as a Cease & Desist Zone, which would create a no-solicitation registry for homeowners, especially vulnerable seniors, to protect against speculation.
It also recommends creating "a capital fund"--among unspecified--"for small non-profits in communities of color to acquire and renovate offices and community spaces" and to use the BP's capital budget "to catalyze investment in innovative community facility projects."

Regarding allocation of capital grants, suggested criteria for evaluation/advocacy include:
  • Nonprofit ownership and control
  • Critical need for funding, i.e. the project’s feasibility relies on BP support 
  • Community input in planning and design (for new projects) 
  • Demonstrated impact within community (for existing projects) 
  • people served 
  • people employed 
  • programs facilitated 
  • grants leveraged 
  • hours open to community 
  • Meets an underserved need geographically
The report recommends:
Create a publicly accessible database of funded capital projects. The public has a right to know how their money is being spent and developing such a site would demonstrate a commitment to transparency. 
That would be a step toward transparency.

Toward planning

The report recommends, unsurprisingly:
Support mission-driven and faith-based partnerships to further affordable housing development.
And it recommends a Comprehensive Plan for Brooklyn that "should ensure that the benefits and burdens of growth are distributed fairly and that resource allocation is based on need, rather than traded with communities in exchange for rezoning approvals. The north star of this plan should be equity..."

Rezoning proposals would be complementary, it states, and by "centering public heath, the plan could begin to move the power dynamic away from real estate interests and towards communities." That presumably would depend on budget; one step is to hire a staff person dedicated to public housing.
 
Advocacy goals

The report states:
  • Demand real affordability in new residential projects. The need in our communities goes beyond what can currently be provided through Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and existing financing programs through the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
  • Advocate for full funding of NYCHA’s capital needs from government sources. 
  • Advocate for City investment in housing counseling and legal services. With the expiration of the pandemicrelated eviction moratorium, the need for tenant legal services is high. 
  • Call for updated rules regarding City and non-City capital budget allocations. Decisions about what projects are and are not funded are usually made behind closed doors with little accountability. Advocate for a public and understandable metric for capital funding that prioritizes need, as well as community input and impact. 
  • Advocate for more permanent housing with on-site supportive services for populations experiencing homelessness, including homeless youth, youth aging out of foster care, and people with disabilities, substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and chronic illness including HIV/AIDS.

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