Sustainability Advisory Committee and Residential Development
When I began to hear and read about planned residential developments in Albany and the concerns of residents about density, incompatibility with existing neighborhoods and potential overloading of antiquated water/sewer systems, streets and aesthetics, I immediately thought about sustainability, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. I have only lived in the city for 3 years but moved from a city where I was involved in sustainability issues. The developments in question purportedly meet the 2017 Unified Sustainable Development Ordinance (City Code Chapter 375) (USDO) contains incentives for builders of affordable housing units but these incentives compete with other "sustainability" incentives such as designated green energy (LEED) and storm-water control (green and blue roofs). My question is why are the sustainability requirements are allowed to compete with one another.
Three council members have introduced a proposal to require a full SEQRA Environmental Impact Study for large, new developments. This proposal was tabled at the Council Planning Committee on July 26 and the next committee meeting is on August 28th.
The recent passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act
https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/s6599 establishes stricter greenhouse gas emission goals. This will require new building codes and other local laws to accomplish those goals. Shouldn’t the city change the Code before rushing to permit major new construction? Shouldn’t we require net zero buildings with heat pumps, geothermal and other technologies that would reduce emissions and be more economical for tenants over time? Some cities, including Berkeley , CA are prohibiting the use of fossil fuels in all new construction.
I encourage the Sustainability Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the Council and to the Mayor regarding the need for sustainability to be given a larger role in real estate development and to emphasize sustainability in the city’s Unified Sustainable Development Ordinance.
TO: Albany City Council Persons and Officials and Albany Sustainability Advisory Committee
FROM: Mary Beilby, 9 Davis Ct. Albany, NY 12208
RE: Questions Relating to Development and Sustainability of Albany
Given citizen concerns and new climate legislation relating to the effect of real estate developments being planned under the 2015-17 Zoning Code, I suggest the following course of action:
Problems with the revised Zoning/Building Code
(iii) AFFORDABLE HOUSING New residential or mixed-use development or redevelopment of a site in which at least 20 percent of all new dwelling units are rent or deed restricted so that they are affordable to households earning no more than 80 percent of the area median household income for the City of Albany shall receive the following benefits: A. The minimum number of off-street parking required by Section 375-4(E) shall be reduced by 20 percent. B. The project may increase the maximum height of any primary building (or part of a primary building) located more than 100 feet from a Residential zoning district other than the R-M district, by one story.
(b) AFFORDABLE HOUSING REQUIREMENTS After December 1, 2017, each new residential or mixed-use development or redevelopment containing 50 or more new dwelling units shall sell or rent at least five percent of its new dwelling units at sales or prices affordable to persons earning no more than 100 percent of the area median household income for the City of Albany, as Section 375-4: Development Standards Section 375-4(A): Dimensional Standards Section 375-4(A)(5): Encroachments and Exceptions City of Albany, New York Unified Sustainable Development Ordinance April 2017 129 determined by affordability methods used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
At the COP23 Climate negotiations in Bonn, C40 and McKinsey, published a new report, ‘Focused Acceleration’, which will enable mayors to assess the ambition of their own climate plans against the modelled analysis produced by McKinsey and Arup. The analysis showed that if resources were concentrated on a small number of key policies and actions across the majority of cities, then C40 members can demonstrate that it is possible to cut emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement targets.
Cities can reduce their carbon footprints and meet other liveability goals by emphasizing certain development themes:
Ithaca NY documents relating to sustainable development