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Legal loophole helps developers in East Flatbush eliminate parking requirement

BY VICTOR PORCELLI

Not only are nine different developments being built along one street in East Flatbush, but many of them will not be providing the parking normally required by the city by using a unique loophole — assigning two addresses to a single building.

According to the city’s Zoning Resolution, developments constructed on small lots — under 10,000 square feet — are required to provide parking for at least half the units in the building. If that amounts to five or fewer parking spaces, however, the parking requirement can be waived, meaning developers of those sites don’t have to provide any parking at all, according to an official at the Department of City Planning.

Along New York Avenue in East Flatbush, many of the newly-built developments have 16 or more units, based on the mailboxes outside, which would require them to provide a minimum of eight parking spaces, too many for the requirement to be waived. However, because addresses along the stretch had been separated by four instead of two numbers, developers have a way out of it — splitting each building in half, then giving different addresses to each half, thereby eliminating the parking requirement.

For example, on New York Avenue, addresses used to jump from 1515 to 1519 to 1523. But, a new apartment building at the lot previously known as 1519 New York Ave. has also adopted the previously unused 1517 address, splitting its 16 units into two groups of eight. With only eight units each at 1517 and 1519, each address is only required to provide four parking spots (even though they are within the same physical structure), just under the five-space minimum for requiring parking.

Rosalyn Singh, who lives on New York Avenue, said that the ongoing development has already made it more difficult to find somewhere to park on the two-way street.

“Parking is crazy on this block; there is no parking on this block now,” Singh told Brooklyn Reporter.

Richard Strauss also lives on the block and pointed to how — no matter the number of addresses — it is clear that there is only one building on the site.

“They’re dividing the lots into two addresses. They are obviously the same building,” Strauss told Brooklyn Reporter. “They’re trying to make some kind of loophole to get around [providing parking].”

Although the area is less than a 10-minute walk from the Flatbush Avenue station, which provides access to the 2 and 5 trains, 59 percent of residents in the immediate ZIP code own cars as compared to 45 percent of New York City residents, according to the American Community Survey.

Citywide, there has been a larger push for more lenient parking requirements, often by those who say housing should be prioritized over parking. In 2016, car storage requirements for senior and subsidized housing were abolished in large chunks of central Queens, the east Bronx and southern Brooklyn, as reported by Streetsblog New York. On Thursday, the New York Post reported that City Councilmember and 2020 mayoral candidate Corey Johnson said that there was too much parking in the city on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”

“We need to break the car culture. It is choking our streets. It is literally killing people,” Johnson said. “And that means we need to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists and mass transit over private automobile use.”

This is not the only part of the neighborhood that is currently experiencing this level of development. Due to the area’s zoning, apartment buildings as tall as 70 feet can and have been built there, many on lots that were once occupied by single-family dwellings, bringing a lot more people and a lot more competition for parking to the majority car-owner community.

This has longtime residents frustrated at the exploitation by developers of a loophole whose use is going to impact their quality of life.

It may not be illegal, but, said Singh, “It’s what you call crookedness.”

Efforts to reach developers of buildings along the stretch of New York Avenue referenced in this article were unsuccessful.

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