Compiled by Linda Collins
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz recommends that more bicycle parking, more affordable housing and more housing for active seniors be tied into a zoning amendment designed to reduce the underutilized parking garages in new Downtown Brooklyn residential buildings.
The zoning amendment, proposed by the Department of City Planning (DCP) and currently going through the Uniform Land Use Review (ULURP) process, called for a reduction from 40 percent to 20 percent of the required number of parking spaces in new market-rate developments and a reduction from 20 percent to zero for new affordable housing developments.
It was one of the stated goals of the DCP amendment to acknowledge that most of those moving to the new Downtown Brooklyn residential towers now are coming without vehicles, leaving a high number of unoccupied parking spaces.
In his recommendations to the Planning Commission and City Council, issued on Tuesday, Markowitz said he believes there is some merit in reducing parking requirements for new buildings in the district but there are ways to make the amendment better.
He also said that he agrees with the Community Board 2 (CB 2) recommendations that the reduction should be linked to the generation of affordable housing units and the proposal be made retroactive to include existing high-rise buildings constructed since the formation of the Special Downtown Brooklyn District (SDBD) in 2001.
“As Downtown Brooklyn and its demographics change, so do its parking needs,” he said. “My recommendations take into account the diverse concerns of stakeholders in Downtown Brooklyn, from developers and residents to cyclists and car owners. And despite erroneous claims from critics that my office doesn’t advocate enough for the bicycle community, here is a case where I used my ULURP authority to call for more parking for bikes.
“But these recommendations go even further by encouraging the development of more affordable housing, by suggesting changes to make it easier for developers to incorporate public parking in their developments, and by calling for incentives that entice developers to build housing for maturer Brooklynites.”
Some of his specific recommendations are:
• Change the market rate parking requirement for high density buildings from 40 percent to 30 percent — when bicycle parking has been increased by 50 percent.
• Broaden off-site parking opportunities through the expansion of joint facilities in the district, except for the Atlantic Avenue sub-district.
• Simplify regulations for developers who want to provide public parking (in garages having between 51 and 200 spaces) and avoid penalizing them if there are unused spaces.
• When a development includes at least 20 percent affordable housing, allow further reduction to 20 percent, as well as a reduction to 30 percent for middle-density developments when bicycle parking standards have been increased by 50 percent.
• Extend the city’s inclusionary housing program to achieve 20 percent affordable housing in all of the highest density zoning districts.
• Undertake a study to establish a zoning bonus consistent with the affordable housing bonus — but without regard for affordability — to entice developers to construct buildings for those age 55 and over.
“Developers have been slow to embrace this market,” Markowitz said.