December 8, 2022
Video available at: https://youtu.be/n5-1ubFwJqg
“Build Faster” With 100+ Concrete Reforms to Accelerate New Construction Approval Process by Half
“Build Everywhere” With Vision for 6,000 New Homes in Bronx, Ambitious Plan to Add Housing in All Five Boroughs
“Build Together” With State and Federal Policy Agenda Focused on Creating Affordable Housing
New York – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today unveiled “Get Stuff Built,” a comprehensive, three-pronged effort to address New York City’s affordable housing crisis and underlying housing shortage by rapidly accelerating the pace of housing production, with a “moonshot” goal of meeting the need for 500,000 new homes over the next decade. Led by a new report titled “Get Stuff Built,” Mayor Adams’ plan focuses on building housing faster, everywhere, and together in partnership with New York State, the New York City Council, and New Yorkers in all five boroughs.
“If New York is to remain the city we love, we must have places for the people we love. We need more housing, and we need it as fast as we can build it,” said Mayor Adams. “The system has been broken for so long that we have come to view it as our reality. Our city declared a housing emergency five decades ago, yet, we have failed to address it with the same urgency we would any other crisis. That ends now. We can, and we must, do better. We need to add hundreds of thousands of units to address the problem, and that is exactly what we are going to do. Today we are saying yes to more housing and yes to getting stuff built. We are going to build faster, we are going to build everywhere, and we are going to build together.”
“Making our city stronger and bringing opportunity within reach of every New Yorker isn’t something that’s going to happen accidentally,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “We need bold action to address our chronic and acute housing crisis and we cannot leave any stone unturned – from reforming our own processes to building housing near new transit stations and to allowing a wider range of unit types in neighborhoods across the city. I’m looking forward to working with our partners to ‘Get Stuff Built’ and to build everywhere, faster, and together.”
“New York City can and should be a leader in ensuring everyone has access to housing. Today’s announcement is a proud moment that shows we are committed to making government work for our neighbors,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “This means cleaning up our processes, updating the rules, and removing the unnecessary administrative burdens that are holding us back. ‘Housing Our Neighbors’ laid out a blueprint for tackling the city’s homelessness crisis, and today you are seeing the results of that work. We have a long way to go, but we will ‘Get Stuff Built’ together and ensure all New Yorkers have a safe, stable, and affordable home.”
“The future prosperity of our city is dependent upon our collective ability to reform broken practices and replace the status quo with impactful and sustainable policies that reduce burdens and respond to the demand for a more efficient, effective, and equitable delivery of government services,” said Chief Efficiency Officer Melanie E. La Rocca. “These recommendations are a real step forward.”
Cover of the “Get Stuff Built” report. Credit: New York City Mayor’s Office
Conceptual rendering of a potential Morris Park Plaza, connecting the existing community to the Metro-North train station. Credit: New York City Department of City Planning
“Get Stuff Built,” a report produced by the Building and Land Use Approval Streamlining Task Force (BLAST) convened in June, includes 111 concrete actions the city will take to create more housing more quickly by cutting red tape, streamlining processes, and removing bureaucratic obstacles that are slowing housing production and economic recovery. These actions will increase the speed and lower the cost of development by accelerating project timelines by 50 percent, ensure environmental protection and meaningful public participation, and stimulate the creation of affordable housing across New York City.
Additionally, Mayor Adams formally kicked off the environmental review process to rezone the areas around two of the four new Metro-North train stations coming to the Bronx, with proposals to create thousands of new homes and family-sustaining jobs. Finally, Mayor Adams announced a series of policy priorities focused on stimulating housing creation, which his administration will pursue alongside partners in New York City, Albany, and Washington, D.C.
All of these initiatives fulfill commitments made in “Housing Our Neighbors,” the Adams administration’s blueprint for housing and homelessness; “Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery,” the administration’s blueprint for a strong, equitable comeback; and the mayor’s “City of Yes” plan, which includes proposed zoning changes that would allow for the creation of a significant amount of additional housing.
“From day one of this administration, Mayor Adams was clear that our city’s recovery and future depended on our ability to cut red tape and make government work for our partners and all New Yorkers,” said First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo. “I am tremendously proud of the team’s work in this area, and I know that this ambitious plan will deliver real results and put our city on the right path for generations to come.”
“We can’t ‘Get Stuff Done’ when existing unnecessary and complex regulatory hurdles stop even the simplest of projects from getting off the ground. With today’s announcement, we remedy this wrong,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Today’s report will result in streamlined processes and clarity for New York City builders of every size, from single-family homeowners to large developers.”
“Our plan to build housing faster, everywhere, together with our communities will help ensure more New Yorkers can find affordable places to live or stay in the neighborhoods they love,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright. “It also addresses one of the most pressing crises facing our city. Our NYC Speaks community survey asked 50,000 New Yorkers their number one priority for creating safe neighborhoods, and housing was the number one response across every income level. This plan is a step in the answer to their call and demonstrates that their voices have been heard loud and clear by this administration.”
The “Get Stuff Built” report includes 111 specific actions that will improve efficiency and effectiveness of three governmental processes that have slowed housing production: City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR), land use approvals, and the city’s building permitting process. These improvements will shorten the time needed for these processes by 50 percent, accelerating the creation of new housing and reducing costs. City actions will include:
- Speed up the pre-certification process and make it more transparent: Historically, land use review applications can get stuck in review and revision loops at several points. The pre-certification process – which must be completed before the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) can begin – has no mandated timeline and can take two years or longer. Through a series of actions and measures, the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) will remove and eliminate certain requirements and actions that will allow applicants to complete the pre-certification process much more quickly. ULURP application materials will also become available to community boards and the public earlier in the pre-certification stage.
- Exempt small housing projects from Environmental Assessment Statement: Most housing projects subject to land use approvals or public financing must conduct an environmental review that takes six to eight months to complete and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet, nearly all of these smaller projects are found to have no significant impacts on the environment. Exempting small housing projects from environmental review will decrease overall cost and help open new homes to New Yorkers more quickly.
- Improve traffic analysis: Proposals to build housing beyond current zoning limits must generally go through the CEQR process. Revising the methodology for traffic analysis could significantly improve the environmental review process and shorten the overall time required on a project. The city will update the current guidelines in the CEQR Technical Manual to replace the existing methodology of predicting possible vehicle delays at every nearby intersection and, instead, use simple modern data tools and reach conclusions based on typical neighborhood congestion patterns and the size and type of the proposed project.
- Streamline construction inspections of fire protection systems: Currently, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) performs examinations, permitting, and inspections for construction-related activities of buildings, and the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) monitors operation, maintenance, and compliance for fire safety of buildings after completion of construction. The city will make near-term systems improvements to coordinate plan review between DOB and FDNY, and, in the long-term, will consider transferring FDNY’s construction-specific permit responsibilities to DOB – while maintaining FDNY’s authority in operation and maintenance of buildings for fire safety compliance – to remove the redundancy of separate inspections during the construction process without compromising the safety of building occupants.
- Expand DOB NOW to create a centralized city “one-stop shop” construction portal: This portal will process construction-related transactions across all city agencies involved in construction approval, permitting, and sign-off. This new system will break down silos between city agencies, create a single point of contact for an applicant, and allow applicants to track their approvals in real-time.
City agencies have already completed implementation of several improvements outlined in “Build Faster,” with approximately half of the identified improvements to be implemented over next 12 months. Most of the remaining recommendations will generally be implemented over the following 12-24 months. Several actions – namely those requiring ULURP review or major technology upgrades – may take up to 36 months to fully implement.
Taking the next steps in the “City of Yes” plan, and delivering on a core commitment in “Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent,” to invest in business districts and emerging job hubs across all five boroughs, the Adams administration is advancing two major neighborhood planning efforts.
The first is aimed at leveraging four brand-new Metro-North train stations set to open in the East Bronx in 2027, for which scoping documents are now available. The City of Yes Bronx Metro-North Plan would bring a projected 10,000 jobs; major new public and private investments, including by large health care institutions already in Morris Park; and as many as 6,000 new homes – at least 1,500 of which will be permanently affordable. To support the environmental review process for this project, public information meetings are set for December 13 and 15, 2022, and a public scoping meeting will be held on January 9, 2023. The project is set to be certified and begin ULURP in summer 2023.
The second major planning effort is a neighborhood development initiative in Central Brooklyn known as the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan. It promises to bring thousands of new homes, and permanently income-restricted homes, commercial and industrial jobs, infrastructure, and other improvements to Atlantic Avenue and its neighboring blocks in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. A steering committee formed to help shape the plan held its first meeting on December 1, 2022. Six months of public engagement is expected to begin in January and run through June 2023, followed by the release of a report. Certification is expected in 2024.
Beyond these two neighborhood planning efforts, the administration has proposed Zoning for Housing Opportunity, a citywide zoning text amendment as part of Mayor Adams’ “City of Yes” plan. Scoping for this proposal will begin at the end of 2023 and will stimulate the creation of tens of thousands of new homes in neighborhoods across the entire city. The text amendment would:
- Expand opportunities for affordable and supportive homes for New Yorkers by increasing the floor area ratio for all types of affordable housing, similar to the allowance already afforded to affordable housing for seniors;
- Broaden the acceptable variety of housing types and sizes, including studios, to accommodate a wider range of families and households where appropriate;
- Ease conversions of underutilized commercial buildings into homes; and
- Reduce or eliminate unnecessary parking requirements that add cost and reduce the number of homes being built.
Recognizing that New York City can only meet the scale of the housing crisis in partnership with allies at the federal, state, city, and community level, Mayor Adams committed to working in partnership with Governor Kathy Hochul, legislative leaders and members of the State Legislature in Albany, the City Council, borough presidents, federal partners, and community leaders – including the faith-based community – to advance a shared regional agenda.
Priorities for the administration include:
- Prohibiting exclusionary zoning practices and encouraging appropriate density near jobs and public transit;
- Legalizing existing basement apartment units and allowing homeowners to create other accessory dwelling units;
- Providing New York City the ability to allow additional residential density in high-density neighborhoods;
- Allowing the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to finance and preserve more affordable housing, secure longer affordability, encourage affordable homeownership, and enable affordable housing to include critical resources like child care and senior centers;
- Facilitating the conversion of obsolete office buildings into housing;
- Creating a tax benefit that enables multifamily rental development while requiring affordable housing;
- Establishing an incentive to preserve housing quality and ensure healthy, safe living conditions for tenants; and
- Streamlining approval processes and environmental review as outlined in the “Get Stuff Built” plan.
Mayor Adams will also continue to work with federal partners to secure financial support and regulatory changes. This includes working towards an increase in the value of tax credits and tax-exempt bonds and reducing the “50-Percent Test” to stretch federal housing dollars further.
“Cutting red tape and reducing unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles will not only get needed housing and projects built faster but will also spur significant economic growth across the five boroughs,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “Mayor Adams is truly the ‘Get Stuff Done’ mayor, and the ‘Get Stuff Built’ report outlines a critical path forward to address needed reforms in our development and construction process. Thank you to the report’s co-chairs – Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz, and Chief Efficiency Officer Melanie La Rocca – for leading the way, and a big thank you to the entire BLAST task force, especially executive director Rob Holbrook, for their dedication and help to bring this report to life.”
“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” said DCP Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick. “By cutting down on red tape, speeding up housing approvals, and advancing significant citywide and neighborhood plans, we will enable a quantum leap in the creation of new homes throughout the city. This has to be our highest priority.”
“New York City has been in a housing emergency for decades. The time has come to act boldly, build more housing, and alleviate the pressure and stress all New Yorkers feel,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Adams, we are rethinking old processes that obstruct our efforts to build the housing this city so desperately needs. Our agency is committed to continuing to streamline services to deliver on behalf of New Yorkers.”
“This interagency approach to streamlining the construction process in our city is an important step towards tackling the housing crisis,” said Acting DOB Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik, P.E. “I would like to commend the entire BLAST task force on their willingness to discuss breaking down bureaucratic barriers between agencies and implementing new and more efficient workflows in the name of good government.”
“Housing and safety are what every New Yorkers deserves, and they are essential to the prosperity of our city,” said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “The department is proud to work with our fellow agencies to develop more efficient processes for the creation of housing and greater economic growth, while not compromising safety.”
“The 111 reforms recommended by the task force will cut red tape, speed environmental reviews, and simplify building permitting all while preserving the health and safety of New York City’s environment and residents,” said Chief Climate Officer and New York City Department of Environmental Protection Rohit Aggarwala. “From digitizing and streamlining sewer applications and inspections, to updating air and noise environmental analyses based on advances in data and technology, to expediting the purchase of land to create nature-based ways to mitigate flooding, these new initiatives will help us be more efficient environmental stewards.”
“These concrete actions will chart an easier path to energy efficiency in buildings, ensure that traffic impact is a key factor in project design, and help us create much-needed housing – an essential component of responding to climate change,” said Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Executive Director Kizzy Charles-Guzman. “I am proud that the Adams administration has taken these steps toward reducing emissions and creating a cleaner and more efficient New York.”
“The Adams administration’s continued efforts to cut red tape and improve the way government delivers for New Yorkers will benefit this city for years to come,” said Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser. “I applaud Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer, Chief Efficiency Officer La Rocca, and Chief Housing Officer Katz for their leadership on the BLAST task force and for producing this thoughtful, action-oriented roadmap that will support growth across New York City.”
“Small businesses are the economic engines that power our city forward and need clear government guidance to start, operate, grow,” said New York City Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. “The work of the BLAST task force is yet another clear example that this administration is prioritizing the cutting of red tape to help create more housing, prosperous businesses, and opportunities for workers.”
“The BLAST task force report offers a much-needed view on how to streamline processes, while also increasing transparency and addressing housing disparities,” said New York City Housing Authority Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt. “We are excited to lend our voices to this vital interagency initiative and look forward to seeing how the recommendations that come out of this program can be implemented across our portfolio and serve to improve the quality of life for our residents.”
“We play a critical role in assessing open space and tree impacts from new developments. As such, we were happy to participate in the BLAST task force,” said New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “We welcome the opportunity to improve efficiencies, flow of information, and interagency cooperation, which all support economic development and enhance our park system and millions of trees under our jurisdiction.”
“I applaud Mayor Adams, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz, and Chief Efficiency Officer Melanie LaRocca for taking on this important initiative. LPC joined a dozen agencies to develop actionable steps it can take to cut red tape in the building process,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) Chair Sarah Carroll. “LPC’s initiatives include streamlining our rules to allow for more efficient permitting, eliminating some interagency handoffs, and creating of new digital tools that help applicants. These measures will ensure that our landmarks and historic districts continue to support the economy and vitality of the city.”
“The Public Design Commission has adopted a resolution regarding delegation of certain minor projects to the executive director. By shortening our review cycle from a month to two weeks, the delegation has saved our applicants’ time and helped move important building system projects forward faster,” said New York City Public Design Commission (PDC) Executive Director Sreoshy Banerjea. “This will result in additional time savings and expediting overall project schedules, including filing at DOB earlier, shortening lead times for purchasing, and reducing delays during construction. It’s paramount that we center design excellence while getting things done.”
“Though a wide variety of factors have contributed to our affordable housing crisis, it is clear that it takes far too long to build in the city, and the delay is driving up costs and contributing to the lack of units,” said Jolie Milstein, president and CEO, New York State Association for Affordable Housing. “What the mayor is proposing will allow us to build more and build faster, which will drive down costs for builders and renters alike.”
“We are in the grip of a housing crisis in New York that will not remedy itself. Our recent ‘Construction Outlook’ report shows we are hundreds of thousands of units behind where we should be,” said Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO, New York Building Congress. “We must build faster. We must build better, safer, bolder, stronger – and we must build together. We applaud Mayor Adams and his administration for their bold actions to speed up processes, cut red tape, and coordinate agencies. Our members stand ready to build across the city, in all boroughs, and there can be no such thing as ‘not on my block’ in a ‘City of Yes.’ Let’s get stuff done, together.”
“The mayor’s announcement includes an exciting package of policies that, if implemented, would be significant and necessary steps in the right direction toward addressing our housing crisis,” said Annemarie Gray, executive director, Open New York.
“We look forward to working with the mayor, the City Council, the governor, and the State Legislature on enacting many of these pro-housing reforms in 2023.”
“The BLAST task force undertook the first comprehensive review of the bureaucratic procedures that slow the pace and add to the cost of development in the city,” said Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO, Partnership for New York City. “It came up with recommendations that will enhance safety as well as make the approval process more efficient. Congratulations to the mayor on yet another initiative that will make it easier to ‘Get Stuff Done’ in our city.”
“This is an impressive and much-needed effort to tackle New York’s housing crisis,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director, Center for an Urban Future. “It will help make New York more affordable and reduce homelessness, but it is also key to keeping the city’s economy competitive in this age of remote work.”
“New York City’s dire housing crisis requires bold, creative action on all fronts,” said Sarah Watson, interim executive director, Citizens Housing & Planning Council. “We have to be a ‘City of Yes’ to make any headway on our housing shortage. We laud Mayor Adams for this multifaceted plan to accelerate the expansion of our housing options. We desperately need these reforms to our inefficient development processes to speed up housing production, and new neighborhood and citywide rezonings that allow our city to grow sustainably. We are very excited about the upcoming state legislative session that promises to prioritize housing, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the administration to provide analysis and recommendations to actualize our shared vision of a New York City that is accessible and stable for all.”