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Long Islanders question Hochul's plan to bolster housing stock

Governor Kathy Hochul delivers her 2023 State of the State address in the Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol.
Mike Groll
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Governor Kathy Hochul delivers her 2023 State of the State address in the Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol.

Nassau County towns and cities are questioning Governor Kathy Hochul’s plan to bolster the state’s housing stock, especially downstate in New York City and its suburbs.

During her State of the State address last week, Hochul proposed the New York Housing Compact, which would oversee the building of 800,000 new housing units statewide over the next 10 years.

On Long Island, the proposal would set a goal for Nassau and Suffolk county to meet a 3% growth of new housing creation every three years. Upstate would be required to grow by 1%.

“This proposal by Governor Hochul is a classic example of how big government overstepped its authority in attempting to implement a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Tom Garvey, a Manhasset resident.

Garvey joined Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joe Saladino, Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer Desena and other local officials to voice concern about the impact of 300,000 potential new multifamily housing near transportation hubs and accessory apartment units in residential areas.

“We have to save our suburbs from turning into urban centers,” Saladino said. “And this problematic plan would create overcrowded classrooms, greatly increased traffic and parked cars on our streets. It would strain emergency services, strain all of our services from plowing snow to picking up garbage…”

“And quite frankly, and perhaps most importantly, it's an enormous threat to our environment,” he continued.

The plan includes rezoning to ease the dividing of single-family lots into two, and changing some commercial areas into residential. It also would require municipalities with MTA stations to rezone for higher-density residential development.

“New York faces a housing crisis that requires bold actions and an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Hochul said in her address on Jan. 10.

Under the plan, if a locality fails to step up, the state would expedite the approval process for developers around local zoning codes, and even offer shortcuts to environmental permits. Housing projects that are denied by municipalities could be appealed in a “state housing approval board.”

Clavin, of Hempstead, said the proposal, in reality, would turn their “suburban dream into an urban nightmare.”

“What Governor Hochul is attempting to do is take over all of your local zoning throughout this region,” he said. “That's what it comes down to.”

Another measure Hochul pitched last year was shouted down for proposed changes to allow for more accessory apartments.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.