I. The DEIS does not address the disparate impacts to Asian, Hispanic, Black, and low-income residents.
The demographic analysis in the DEIS includes no mention of race
The minority and low-income populations in the area tend to be concentrated below East Houston Street and in the eastern and southern sections of the DEIS’s 1⁄4 mile study area and our 1⁄2 mile study area
In the proposed rezoning area whites make up nearly 70% of the population
II. The DEIS does not disclose the discriminatory impacts of the project, which disproportionately protects areas that are predominantly white and higher income, to the exclusion of areas that are most heavily populated with low-income residents and people of color.
While the proposed rezoning is described as a preservation plan, it actually increases the maximum FAR (bulk of buildings) by 16% throughout the majority of the rezoned blocks, 34% along all but one of the north-south avenues in the East Village, 109% along Delancey Street, East Houston Street, and Avenue D, and 147% along Chrystie Street.
It only preserves or decreases the existing density on a few select blocks in the East Village, which are 70-80% white.
In contrast, the major corridors with the highest upzoning are only 10-40% white.
The southern portion of the proposed rezoning area stands to experience the highest degree of new development and rent increases.
III. The DEIS lacks a detailed assessment of indirect residential displacement due to rising housing costs, both inside and outside of the proposed zoning area.
IV. The DEIS fails to disclose the full impacts of the rezoning on populations living outside of the rezoned area.
The disparate effects of the proposed actions will extend beyond the rezoned area.
This rezoning will increase the (already high) level of speculation and development to the south, in parts of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, where there are no protective contextual zoning requirements or incentives for affordable housing.
V. By limiting the secondary study area to 1⁄4 mile, the DEIS draws inaccurate conclusions about existing trends and development pressures throughout the area. Likewise, the study areas should not have been analyzed as a whole but rather by subarea, as was done (inadequately) in the neighborhood character chapter.
With the highest occupancy rates and highest rents inside the proposed rezoning area, and with most projected development to occur south of East Houston Street, existing businesses and residents will be forced to relocate beyond the 1⁄4 mile study area, creating a ripple effect throughout the LES and Chinatown.
VI. The DEIS minimizes the effects of business displacement on neighborhood conditions.
The DEIS avoids disclosing significant business displacement by assuming that that all but one of the 211 projected sites would be developed even without the proposed actions.
Under the projected development scenario, there would be 15% less commercial area and 62% more residential space than without the proposed actions.
Over 100 local businesses are projected to be displaced, many of which provide unique goods and services that would not easily be found elsewhere in the surrounding area, and many of which are minority-owned businesses.
VII. The DEIS minimizes the effects of the rezoning on the ability of existing businesses to successfully relocate.
The DEIS fails to disclose the relative difference in market rents and commercial availability between the Build and No Build scenarios.
This rezoning would create a shortage in commercial space that currently supports the neighborhood’s low‐income ethnically diverse populations and existing businesses would have a hard time finding alternative space in the neighborhood.
The DEIS’ analysis of business relocation only addresses 10 small businesses that are projected to be directly displaced under DCP’s development scenario.
VIII. The DEIS does not address the voluntary nature and unpredictable outcome of inclusionary zoning, and fails to disclose potential impacts throughout Community District 3.
The DEIS assumes that the proposed actions will result in an increment of 2,831 housing units to be built between 2005‐2017, of which 642 may be affordable to low‐ and moderate‐income people.
But the inlcusionary housing bonus is voluntary, not mandatory. Under the proposed rezoning, there is no guarantee that any affordable units will be built.
The DEIS fails to extend its analysis to the 1⁄2 mile area even though affordable units may be located there.
IX. The DEIS does not address whether the majority of residents currently living in the area earn enough money to qualify for the “affordable” units provided under the inclusionary housing benefit.
HUD income limits for affordable housing in NYC in 2008 range from $43,000 (for a 1- person household) to $61,450 (for a 4-person household).
Affordable housing laws require that tenants pay no more than 25‐30% of their income in rent. Given these restrictions, only about 25% of CD3 households fall within the income range to qualify for these units. Over 45% of CD3 households do not earn enough to qualify for these affordable units.
The average median income for CD3 households outside of the rezoned area is just over $25,600, far below the minimum income required even for an “affordable” studio apartment.
Affordable housing built outside of the rezoned area would therefore displace existing residents.
X. Public housing is not necessarily protected from impacts of the rezoning.
Public housing is undergoing a serious financial crisis and there is open discussion in policy circles of building private, market‐rate housing on public housing property. There is also widespread suspicion that NYCHA is warehousing apartments for an eventual conversion to market rate units.
The proposed zoning may create even greater pressures on NYCHA housing, rent‐stabilized units, and Mitchell Lama middle income housing. The DEIS fails entirely to consider such possibilities.
The large population of Hispanic and Black residents who live in NYCHA housing and the local businesses that serve them will be impacted by the shortage of commercial space described earlier.
XI. The DEIS incorrectly assumes that buildings with 6 or more residential units built before 1974 will be automatically be protected by rent stabilization regulations.
NYC is experiencing a continuing loss in rent‐stabilized units but the DEIS fails to disclose the number of rent stabilized buildings within the rezoning.
The most vulnerable of those buildings – those built to less than 80% of allowable FAR, even before the upzoning, are concentrated south of Houston.
Conclusion: By limiting the extent of the study area, the DEIS fails to capture the full geographic impacts of the third largest rezoning in New York City. By not examining the full range and distribution of income, race, housing characteristics, and other socioeconomic factors, the DEIS makes the study area appear to be far more homogenous than it really is, thereby minimizing the disparate impacts to low income residents and people of color. The underlying assumptions regarding projected development lead to a gross underestimation of business displacement and secondary residential displacement. The DEIS that was prepared for the EV/LES Proposed Rezoning falls short of the City Environmental Quality Review regulations and does not provide the level of detail appropriate for a rezoning of this scale. This proposal should be rejected until a more thorough environmental review has been conducted.