Fighting for SoHo and NoHo
In May 2021, the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) certified the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan, which began a months long public process–a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP)–exploring a potential up-zoning in SoHo and NoHo. Since that time, I have repeatedly raised concerns with City Council Members and urged the DCP to address the lack of a clear mechanism for Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists (JLWQA) among other issues that put residents and small businesses at risk. In November 2021, I testified before the New York City Council Land Use Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises regarding the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan. This ULURP has been discussed over the past few years and is currently before the City Council; it is likely to be voted on before the end of 2021. I testified against the passage of this ULURP and am urging our City Council representatives to recognize the harm that could come because of these zoning changes to SoHo and NoHo. I am deeply concerned that the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan will result in little to no affordable housing construction because of the inability to guarantee that any housing will be constructed, and that increases in Floor Area Ratio (FAR) will encourage demolitions that will drive out existing rent-regulated tenants. It seems apparent that there is a great possibility of a net-negative number of affordable units created because of the attrition seen in the existing rent-regulated housing stock. Additionally, I am concerned that the increases in retail commercial square footage will usher in big box stores and other intrusive destination retail elements that have already been so harmful to this community. Similarly, there is no bar to dormitory use under this plan, which is a clear threat from incursions by large institutions to simply build housing which will not serve the needs of local residents. Finally, I feel that the Arts Fund and lack of protections for Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists will further harm the neighborhood by making tenants vulnerable to eviction and incentivizing landlords to harass tenants out of their homes as long as they make a contribution to the vague arts fund. I am strongly opposed to the ULURP and unless some changes can be made to this proposal I fear that negative outcomes experienced by the community will go unmitigated.