U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), a candidate for governor, on Thursday joined a broad coalition of mayors, town supervisors, and civic leaders from Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens to oppose Gov. Kathy Hochul’s stated plans to eliminate single-family zoning laws in New York and dramatically alter the housing landscape across the state.
“Governor Hochul’s radical proposal would take away zoning control from municipal governments, erode local government authority, and end single-family housing across New York,” said Suozzi. “Hochul’s plan to eliminate home rule is not what we need. I support affordable housing, building up around downtown train stations, and helping the homeless. I oppose eliminating home rule and ending single-family housing.”
Suozzi was directly responding to Hochul’s recent State of the State Address, where the governor vowed to fix what she called outdated land-use laws that hold back housing supply.
This includes changing zoning laws for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) such as backyard cottages, attics, garages, and basements, which can provide an affordable multi-generational housing option that helps families live closer together. But current land use restrictions prevent homeowners in some communities from building ADUs.
To permit these vital options and help reduce housing costs, Hochul will propose legislation to require municipalities to allow a minimum of one ADU on owner-occupied residentially zoned lots.
In New York City, this legislation would require creation of an amnesty program to legalize existing ADUs, with an expectation that they are brought into compliance with key building code requirements to ensure resident safety, but also provide some flexibility for the City to exempt some units from specific Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL) provisions without further New York State legislation.
Among the items Suozzi and the local electeds see as questionable in the legislation is that it would eliminate home rule. Under Hochul’s proposal, Towns would no longer have control of their local land-use regulations. The proposal would decimate local zoning control, which is the bedrock of New York’s local governments, Suozzi and the local electeds argued.
In Congress, Suozzi has supported massive funding for affordable housing and called for investing more into transit-oriented development in suburban downtowns. He also stated the need to increase density in downtowns near the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North stations.
While single-family neighborhoods are part of the fabric of the suburbs, Suozzi reiterated the need to make downtowns denser, and that more housing in Nassau County should be built within a 10-minute walk of LIRR stations.
North Castle Town Supervisor Mike Schiliro called Hochul’s proposal one of the worst pieces of legislation he has seen because it completely runs right over home rule and that one size does not fit all.
“To put a piece of legislation like this in place without even an opt-out like they did with cannabis or things like that, it’s government overreach, and we don’t like it as a community. We are responsible for our communities, but it should be a local municipalities’ decision because we know what the impacts are and to strip that away from us doesn’t make any sense at all,” Schiliro said.
This story first appeared on PoliticsNY.com.