Local officials oppose Hochul’s accessory apartments plan

A proposal from Gov. Kathy Hochul that would require municipalities to allow more accessory apartments is being opposed by a group of several Long Island elected officials. 

Led by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, the officials held a press conference outside a single-family home in East Meadow Thursday to denounce the governor’s plan, which appeared in Hochul’s proposed 2023 executive budget. 

Blakeman, who was joined at the press event by Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jen DeSena, and dozens of others, said the proposed legislation to require municipalities to allow more accessory apartments would “destroy Long Island suburbs” by effectively eliminating single-family zoning. 

“My parents, both of whom were World War II veterans, taught me a lot about standing up to those who attempt to force their will upon others,” Blakeman said. “Long Island families work hard to achieve the American dream of homeownership and enjoy a suburban way of life. We cannot let the governor destroy suburbia nor turn Nassau County into the sixth borough of New York City.” 

The officials called Hochul’s proposal an “urbanization plan” that would negatively impact the environment, traffic, parking, emergency services, police protection, gas and electric supply, sanitary sewers and water supply, and local school systems. 

“Governor Hochul has declared war on the suburbs, the environment, local infrastructure, our schools, accessible parking and manageable traffic, among all of the other benefits that go along with the suburban quality of life that we enjoy on Long Island,” Clavin said. “People have moved to Long Island to enjoy a residential quality of life, and the governor has launched a full-scale assault on our family-friendly communities…we will not stand for it.”  

The governor is proposing legislation to require municipalities to allow a minimum of one accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on owner-occupied residentially zoned lots. The aim of increasing ADUs, which could include backyard cottages, attics, garages and basements, is to “provide an affordable multi-generational housing option that helps families live closer together.” 

The legislation would allow municipalities to set minimum and maximum size requirements that both meet safety standards, but will not prevent reasonable new construction. 

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D, Glen Cove), who is running to unseat Hochul, is also opposing the governor’s accessory apartment plan, calling it a “direct attack on home rule.” Suozzi called Hochul’s plan a “radical proposal would take away zoning control from municipal governments, erode local government authority, and end single-family housing across New York.”

In response to those opposing the ADU plan, Hochul’s Press Secretary Hazel Crampton-Hays issued this statement: “Governor Hochul’s $25 billion, five-year housing plan will create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes and make affordable housing more accessible, equitable, and stable for New Yorkers. As part of the governor’s affordable housing plan, the proposed bill would further the rights of individual homeowners to determine how best to use their property, provide homeowners on fixed incomes the opportunity to create additional rental income, helping them stay in their homes, or multi-generational housing to care for elderly relatives, and allow municipalities to require necessary health and safety measures for new units.”    

The creation of accessory apartments in single-family neighborhoods has been encouraged by local housing advocates for years, touted as a solution to the high cost of housing and a way to keep young people, seniors and others from being forced to leave Long Island. 

Hunter Gross, president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, called the opposition to Hochul’s plan sad.  

“For so long, we’ve had a housing crisis on Long Island. Recent college graduates who want to come back to Long Island and grow the local economy here are being priced out,” Gross said. “It’s really important that we have this option, especially considering that this isn’t going to create thousands of apartments here. It’s a way for homeowners to mitigate their costs and it’s a way for young people, seniors and workers on Long Island to have a reasonable way to afford to stay here.” 

Huntington is among a small handful of Long Island municipalities that already allows accessory apartments in single-family homes under certain conditions. But Hochul said current land use restrictions prevent homeowners in many communities from creating ADUs, which is what her proposal would provide for. 

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