New York Nears Law to Require Racial Equity Studies for Rezonings


The city’s long rezoning process will now include a racial-impact study in an effort to help to curb the displacement of residents from rezoned neighborhoods.

The New York City Council approved the bill, spearheaded by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Councilman Rafael Salamanca, by 46 to 2 on Thursday. The legislation has the odd-bedfellows support of the de Blasio administration and the real estate industry. 

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“Often rezonings are presented as being great for the city, but it’s clear that only applies to certain areas and communities,” Williams said in a statement. “In others, in communities of more color, they have helped spur gentrification and displacement. Both developers and the city have been reluctant to recognize the role of rezonings in this racial and ethnic displacement, much less take adequate action to prevent it.”

Under the law, which would go into effect in June 2022, certain land-use projects and neighborhood rezonings would need to include a study that would analyze the area’s demographic conditions, quality of life, housing security and displacement risk index, according to the bill. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of City Planning would be required to publish an “equitable development data tool” to provide the data for the reports.

The reports would need to include a statement on how the project would help “further fair housing and promote equitable access to opportunity,” according to the legislation.

Politicians said the bill was passed as an effort to turn the tide on the gentrification and displacement they feel often comes with large new developments and sweeping neighborhood rezonings around the city.

“We’ve seen too many long-time New Yorkers priced out of our city because of gentrification,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement. “We need these ‘racial equity reports to better understand how rezoning [and] other land-use actions are impacting racial equity in our city.”

The bill will now head to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desk for approval. De Blasio’s office and the Real Estate Board of New York pushed backed against earlier versions of the bill, but both said they supported the version passed on Thursday.