NYC Council set to approve de Blasio’s ‘racial justice’ zoning


Santanista is coming to town — again.

The City Council is set to overwhelmingly approve Mayor de Blasio’s push to use zoning as a “racial justice” tool in two of the Big Apple’s poshest neighborhoods — SoHo and NoHo.

The move would allow de Blasio to sign the measure into law before he and most of the Council members who will approve it leave office at the end of the month, allowing a slew of housing developments in a district that just voted in a new representative who is opposed to the plan.

Final approval is expected during the very last meeting of this City Council next week, as most of its members are set to depart under the city’s term-limits law.

It would mark the latest in a string of efforts by de Blasio to pack the city with controversial measures before he leaves office, for which The Post labeled him “Santanista Claus” on its front page Tuesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Council is set to approve Mayor de Blasio’s push to use zoning as a “racial justice” tool in SoHo and NoHo.
James Keivom

Those efforts include a vaccine mandate for all private employers, legalized drug dens and getting rid of the city’s Gifted and Talented school program.

Outgoing Councilwoman Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan) represents the bulk of SoHo and NoHo covered by the upzoning and is broadly supportive of efforts to bring more housing to the area.

Her replacement, Chris Marte, is an outspoken opponent.

“This is what de Blasio has done time after time,” said Marte, the councilman-elect. “He doesn’t care about what the population of the district cares about.

Councilmember-elect Christopher Marte
Councilmember-elect Christopher Marte is opposed to de Blasio’s rezoning plan.
Facebook/Christopher Marte

“We won every single election district overwhelmingly on [this] rezoning,” he added. “People actually know about this and care about this.”

The details of the hotly debated plan remain in flux even with the vote just a week away, as political savvy community activists have made inroads with a last-ditch campaign to cut back on the number of new apartments allowed in NoHo, documents show.

Instead, the changes outlined in a letter sent this week by the NoHo-Bowery Stakeholders — a group led by prominent anti-development activist Zella Jones — would dramatically boost the amount of new office space allowed. Much of that new development would be focused along Bowery on NoHo’s eastern edge.

In turn, housing activists have mounted their own counter-offensive, pressing Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), who also leaves Dec. 31, to keep or boost the current proposed housing levels.

Graphic showing some general outlines of the proposed SoHo rezoning, from a City Planning meeting this week about Mayor de Blasio's controversial plan to add thousands of new apartments to Manhattan's posh SoHo and NoHo neighborhoods coming into his term-limited last year in office.
The rezoning will allow for new development in the district.

“It would be a damn shame if one of the last acts of Corey Johnson’s speakership is cutting housing and affordable housing in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods, in the wealthiest country on planet earth,” said Aaron Carr, the executive director of the Housing Rights Initiative.

“If he goes through with this, he can take his claims of progressivism and flush them right down the toilet.”

Jones declined to comment.

De Blasio’s plan, as originally proposed, called for changes in zoning that would allow for potentially 3,200 new apartments in the pair of neighborhoods — including as many as 800 units set aside for middle and lower-income families.

City Hall’s planners argue the proposal would dramatically diversify the wealthy and white neighborhoods, where no new rent-stabilized housing has been built in decades.

There is a limited amount of space where new development is possible in SoHo/NoHo because much of the area is covered by the city’s historic preservation laws.

That means much of the future construction would likely take place on parking lots, including two owned a company once led by a now-dead top donor to de Blasio, a connection opponents frequently point out.

SoHo/NoHo Rezoning hearing
Neighborhood activists say the plan will actually endanger the limited affordable housing that currently exists in SoHo and NoHo.
William C. Lopez/NYPOST

Neighborhood activists — like Marte — have also offered a slew of other arguments against the upzoning, including claiming it would produce insufficient amounts of housing and, conversely, that it endangers the little affordable housing that still exists in SoHo/NoHo.

De Blasio made the plan a priority after the death of George Floyd when his deputy mayor for housing, Vicki Been, publicly pitched the proposal as one way to reduce segregation.

“The pandemic and the movement for racial justice make clear that all neighborhoods must pull their weight to provide safe, affordable housing options,” Been said.

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