Sunset Park rezoning approved

Community groups expressed concern that 128-block rezoning would displace low-income residents. On September 30, 2009, the City Council approved the Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone 128 blocks of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park in order to address recent out-of-scale development inconsistent with the area’s predominantly residential character. The plan replaces the neighborhood’s R6 zoning with contextual zoning districts — R4A, R4-1, R6B, R6A, and R7A — that match the area’s context and also establish maximum height limits. The plan includes applying R6B zoning to portions of 121 residential side streets and rezoning 101 partial commercial blocks along Fourth and Seventh Avenues to R7A. To promote the construction of affordable housing, the City’s Inclusionary Housing Program will apply to the R7A district.

At the City Planning Commission’s July 1 hearing, representatives of the Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors (SPAN) testified in opposition. They claimed that Planning did not properly consider the potential displacement of current residents. Residents argued that height limits along the avenues were too high and would block views of downtown Brooklyn. The Commission approved the plan without modifications, noting that it had been refined through a thorough public review. 6 CityLand 122 (Sept. 15, 2009).

Opposition remained when the proposal reached the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing. Community groups reiterated concerns that new construction resulting from the rezoning would displace low-income residents and that tenants required more protections. A representative from SPAN testified that the rezoning process lacked transparency and that Brooklyn Community Board 2 had ignored the concerns of low-income and minority residents opposed to the plan.

Council Member Robert Jackson asked Purnima Kapur, Director of Planning’s Brooklyn office, about requests from residents and community groups that Planning include anti-harassment provisions to protect tenants from displacement. Kapur stated that Planning did not believe the rezoning would lead to harassment and that existing laws would sufficiently protect tenants. She said that Planning will work with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Council Member Sara M. Gonzalez, whose district includes Sunset Park, to increase the community’s awareness about tenant rights against landlord harassment. The hearing was closed without a vote.

The Subcommittee approved the plan when it reconvened on September 24, with only Chair Tony Avella voting no. The Land Use Committee then approved the proposal, with Council Member Charles Barron joining Avella in opposition. Barron explained his vote, stating that he wanted to provide “a voice” to the residents of Sunset Park that have major disagreements with the rezoning.

The full Council approved the proposal, with Avella and Barron as the only no votes.

Review Process
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: BK 7,App’d, 34-0-1
Boro.Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 13-0-0
Council: App’d, 46-2-3

Council: Sunset Park Rezoning (C 090387 ZMK – rezoning); (N 090386 ZRK – text amend.) (Sept. 30, 2009).

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