At an April 6 media briefing, New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) officials emphasized that the time has just begun for public input on proposed zoning changes intended to help increase the citys affordable housing stock, which have also sparked controversy.

The suggested changes would apply to contextual zoning districts which regulate the height, bulk, setback from street, and frontage width in new buildings in order to maintain the architectural character of neighborhoods. Current regulations of these districts are outdated and needlessly impede the construction of housing for all ages and income levels, DCP officials told local media on April 6. But local residents and vocal opponents from Community Board 4 (CB4) are concerned that rezoning could undermine their own efforts to control development.

The idea is to allow enough additional height so that theres flexibility to fit all of the floor area thats allowed today within the zoning. To be clear: this is not more floor area [but rather intended] to give it more room to fit in a better configuration, said Howard Slatkin, DCP deputy executive director for strategic planning.

Slatkin added that a 2014 study by Citizens Housing and Planning Council showed that out of 17 case studies only one building was able to fully accommodate its maximum permitted floor area. But none of those projects were in Manhattan below 99th St. The DPC is studying seven neighborhoods across the city to better understand how zoning, parking and other regulations reflect overall development potential. All of these areas are in Upper Manhattan or the outer boroughs.

Read more in amNY.