‘You will create chaos’ – GOP reps blast Kathy Hochul plan for suburban housing

January 25, 2023

New York Post

By Zach Williams and Carl Campanile

Republican members of Congress say they have had it with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s “radical state takeover” of local government following her controversial proposal to build 800,000 new housing units — even over the objections of local planning boards.

The criticism comes in a letter, exclusively obtained by The Post, that reads: “While we all understand the need for increasing the availability of housing, especially affordable housing, we cannot support a one-size fits all approach to local zoning.

“By forcing unit quotes onto municipalities and by providing little to no investment for critical infrastructure upgrades, you will create chaos.”

The letter – signed by the entire GOP state delegation except for lying Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau), who was intentionally left off the missive – highlights the difficulty Hochul will have in shaking up suburban housing rules nearly one year after abandoning an effort to overrule local zoning laws by loosening restrictions on granny flats and other Accessory Dwelling Units.

Her new proposal mandates that cities meet targets to increase their housing stock by several percentage points annually while requiring changes to building rules close to public transit.

“Simply put, a mandatory rezoning of neighborhoods within half a mile of MTA, Metro North or Long Island Rail Road stations, would be a radical state takeover of a local government function,” the reps said in the letter organized by freshman congressman Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River).

Also signing the letter were Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-North Country), Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island), Nick LaLota (R-Nassau), Andrew Garbarino (R-South Shore), Anthony D’Esposito (R-Suffolk), Marc Molinaro (R-Hudson Valley), Claudia Tenney (R-Central NY), Brandon Williams (R-Central NY) and Nick Langworthy (R-Western NY).

“Our local governments are already drowning under unfunded mandates and dictates from the state — the absolute last thing we should be doing is adding to their burden with this wrongheaded and unconstitutional plan,” Langworthy said.

The GOP reps say that approach would effectively “eliminate home rule altogether” while providing a “recipe for disaster” by straining local roads, water, sewage, transit, schools and emergency services unprepared to accommodate big population increases.

“I’m startled by this attempt at a sweeping state mandate that would eliminate centuries of legal precedent and render towns, villages, and cities incapable of deciding for themselves how they want their neighborhoods to look,” Lawler said.

Hochul spokesman Justin Henry pushed back at GOP suggestions that the governor was trying to strong-arm local communities by pushing them to promote the construction of more housing amid ongoing shortages and rising prices.

“To address the severe housing crisis plaguing New York State, Governor Hochul proposed a bold plan to create 800,000 new homes in the next decade by working collaboratively and flexibly with cities and towns that need more housing,” Henry said.

“Gov. Hochul is eager to work on solving the housing crisis and making New York more affordable with any elected leader who wants to be part of the solution,” he added.