Senior fellow Eric Kober comments on Mayor Adams' "Get Stuff Built" announcement: "Mayor Adams’ announcement today of the 'Get Stuff Built' report, outlining 111 proposals to reform development processes, indicates a laudable desire to streamline the city’s often interminable, costly, and maddening (to applicants) review of proposed development projects. Saving time and labor for applicants translates to lower project costs and, on the margins, makes developers more likely to invest in the city, creating construction jobs and city tax revenue.
"It’s disappointing that some of the flagship components of the plan aren’t quite ready to go. The proposal to use the city’s regulatory authority to exempt proposed housing developments up to a certain size from environmental review still requires more study before entering the rulemaking process. It’s not clear how long that study will take, or whether, in the end, the size threshold will be set as high as 200 units, as the city has preliminarily suggested. A new, less costly methodology for modeling traffic impacts in environmental reviews is also promised, but doesn’t seem to have been drafted. So 'the City will continue to use current traffic modeling methods until a new methodology is established and included in the [City Environmental Quality Review] Technical Manual.' The transfer of Fire Department construction-permit review responsibilities to the Department of Buildings is a 'long term' objective, 'removing redundancies and increasing efficiency,' but it doesn't seem that the necessary legislation is drafted or that City Council support has been lined up.
"In announcing these process reforms, Adams also committed to a 'moonshot' goal of producing 500,000 apartments in a decade, more than double the current rate. Sadly, none of the proposals he has advanced is remotely capable of reaching that goal. In particular, Adams needs to address the economic infeasibility of the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program, which requires a sizable percentage of units in developments benefitting from zoning changes to be affordable to low-income households. It’s a sizable entry tax on new housing, treating it as a nuisance rather than a desperately needed priority. Adams, instead, has doubled down on affordability mandates, buying City Council approval of proposed rezonings by promising that ever-larger shares of new units will have below-market rents. With the vast pipeline of approved MIH projects waiting in line for limited city subsidy dollars, it’s unlikely that the well-intended process changes – as well as the 'Zoning for Housing Opportunity' proposals yet to be announced in detail – can offer meaningful relief for the city’s housing supply shortage."
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