Members of the New York Senate work on legislative bills...

Members of the New York Senate work on legislative bills in the Senate Chamber before Gov. Kathy Hochul presents her executive state budget at the state Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

Daily Point

A housing compromise on the Housing Compact? 

As lawmakers head into the waning days of March, the Regional Plan Association is leading the charge to make sure Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Housing Compact — or something close to it — is part of the final budget agreement.

But it seems there may be room for some compromise.

The association, along with other members of the New York Neighbors Coalition that’s backing Hochul’s effort, sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins that argues against the lawmakers’ budgets, which focus only on incentives to spur housing development.

“We urge you to enact a proposal that requires all municipalities throughout the state to do their part to address our housing crisis,” the letter said. “Our coalition opposes an incentives-only program, which will allow municipalities to do nothing and uphold the status quo.” The letter added that the coalition supports an “incentives-and-enforcement approach.”

The coalition — which includes local groups such as the Community Development Corp. of Long Island, Long Island Housing Services, Long Island Community Foundation, East End YIMBY, Erase Racism, Housing Help and Minority Millennials — said it supports Hochul’s mandates and growth targets and argued that incentives by themselves work only in neighborhoods that either already have committed to building housing or that need state financial support.

“This results in wealthy, exclusionary communities doing nothing to create the homes we need in our state, a scenario we cannot accept,” the letter added, instead advocating for an “incentives-plus-enforcement” approach.

Beyond the letter, the RPA specifically targeted Long Island, posting two videos that focused on local families in Coram and Merrick, emphasizing the need for senior housing and for allowing families to add accessory dwelling units for family members. The families featured in the video discuss the challenges of finding housing — but don’t come out in direct support of Hochul’s approach.

While the coalition seems to be sticking behind Hochul’s initial proposal, the question really is whether there’s a middle ground. RPA New York Director Maulin Mehta told The Point he saw the potential for changes, particularly within the proposal to override local zoning on transit-oriented development. There’s the potential, for instance, to include TOD within the menu of so-called “preferred actions” a community could take to meet the proposed housing growth target, rather than instituting separate per-acre housing creation mandates.

“There’s room for, I think, negotiation there,” Mehta said. “We’re open to thinking about the nuances around that and the approach around that.”
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

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Talking Point

And the chief judge nominees are …

As if the tumultuous budget season which is likely to stretch beyond the April 1 deadline isn’t enough of a hairball for Albany, the Commission on Judicial Nomination released Friday its new recommendations for chief judge.

There is no Long Islander on the list and no one of Hispanic heritage, unlike Hector LaSalle of Brentwood, the presiding judge of the Second Department who was rejected by the State Senate in an unprecedented bitter fight over ideology. That anger is still palpable, as seen in a statement from a broad coalition called Latinos for LaSalle that was released in response to the new list: “As it was made clear with the travesty committed against Judge Hector LaSalle's nomination — no Latinos need apply when it comes to the top position in the state’s judiciary. Mission accomplished.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul is required to send her nomination to the Senate no later than April 23 and the Senate has 30 days to act once it receives her choice. That could start intraparty war at the height of the legislative session.

The seven recommendations include Acting Chief Judge Anthony Cannataro, who was on the earlier list, as well as two associate judges, Shirley Troutman and Rowan Wilson. Also on the list are the heads of the Third and Fourth Appellate Divisions, Elizabeth Garry and Gerald Whalen, respectively. LaSalle, head of the Second Department, chose not to be considered again and the most recent head of the First Department, Rolando Acosta, stepped down last month to join a private firm despite reported entreaties to apply.

The list is rounded out by Caitlin J. Halligan, a prominent appellate practice attorney who served for six years as solicitor general for New York, and Corey L. Stoughton, a top lawyer with the Legal Aid Society who has been supported by the progressive left for a few years. Troutman, from Buffalo, was Hochul’s first appointment to the court in 2021. Hochul bypassed Stoughton then and again in 2022 when she picked LaSalle.

Both Cannataro, who was chosen by the six remaining Court of Appeals judges to be acting chief judge after Janet DiFiore resigned in August, and Troutman enraged progressive by joining the 4-3 majority ruling that found the legislature’s House redistricting maps violated the state Constitution. Troutman, however, did vote to send them back to the redistricting commission for another try instead of allowing a special master to take over the task. Wilson dissented completely in the redistricting case as well as from a recent decision that refused to release, on a claim of habeas corpus, an elephant in the Bronx Zoo named Happy. 

— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli


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