Affordable Housing and the City of Yes At The Center of Community Board 1 Meeting

City Council Member Tiffany Caban addresses Community Board One. Credit: Jean Brannum

By Jean Brannum |

Members of Community Board One in Astoria heard another proposal for the City of Yes campaign and a short speech from City Council Member Tiffany Caban on May 21 on Astoria Blvd. 

Colin Ryan, from the Department of City Planning, gave a presentation outlining the mayor’s proposed ‘City of Yes’ amendments that will loosen zoning restrictions to allow the building of more housing in the city. 

According to the department’s statistics, Queens has a vacancy rate of just 0.88 percent, meaning there is significantly less housing inventory for people in the city. With a tighter housing market, the rent prices rise. Fifty-three percent of Queens residents are rent-burdened. While the community district has had more housing development, other districts have significantly fewer new apartments.

Community board member Richard Khuzani commented that the district has “shouldered the burden” of new developments. The presentation showed that the Astoria and Long Island City area had over 12,000 new units built between 2010 and 2023. 

The amendments would allow the building of more shared apartments, meaning more units where multiple people would have private bedrooms, but share one kitchen or bathroom. The proposal also strips the requirement for parking spaces to allow for more units and allows some buildings to expand their square footage by up to 20 percent. The new amendment would also allow housing to be built on top of businesses in low-density neighborhoods. 

Ryan asked the board to consider voting on the zoning changes in June. 

Meanwhile, two zoning change proposals for new housing developments were approved, including one new apartment building near Astoria Park. Astoria Park Warehouse LLC owns the lots and proposed to rezone tax lots to build the complex. Astoria natives 

The board was concerned about the true affordability of the units but ultimately voted to approve the project. Board member Doreen Mohammed disclosed that as a city government employee, she would not be able to afford the proposed complex. Northwest Queens is also a historically low-income housing area. 

“Who is this affordable for?” Mohammed said. 

Jaclyn Scarinci, the land use and zoning lawyer for the project, acknowledged Mohammed’s concern and said that while it may not be affordable for everyone, the project would serve a need for affordable housing in the city. 

The Borough President’s office will be next to review the proposed zoning changes. The development is on 24th Avenue and 21st Street and is two buildings. 

City Council Member Tiffany Caban visited the board for the first fifteen minutes and gave an update on the affairs of the City Council. The Council is reintroducing the Secure Jobs Bill which would protect workers from being fired for nonlegitimate reasons. The same protection exists in other countries, according to Caban. 

The bill was introduced in the previous legislative session but failed to pass due to the two-year terms some city council members served when elected in 2021. 


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