‘You Will Create Chaos’ – Republican Reps Slam Kathy Hochul’s Plan for Suburban Housing

GOP members of Congress say they have had enough of New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s “radical state takeover” of local government after her controversial proposal to build 800,000 new housing units, despite vocal objections by local planning boards. 

Criticism comes in a letter signed by the entire Republican state delegation, minus Representative George Santos of Nassau, who was intentionally left off due to his own scandal. 

The letter reads: “While we all understand the need for increasing the availability of housing, especially affordable housing, we cannot support a one-size fits all approach to local zoning.”

“By forcing unit quotes onto municipalities and by providing little to no investment for critical infrastructure upgrades, you will create chaos,” it continued.  

The letter highlights Hochul’s difficulty in disrupting suburban housing rules almost a year after abandoning efforts to overrule local zoning laws by loosening up restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units and granny flats. 

Hochul’s new proposal mandates cities meet targets to increase housing stock by numerous percentage points annually while demanding changes to building rules adjacent to public transit.

“Simply put, a mandatory rezoning of neighborhoods within half a mile of MTA, Metro North, or Long Island Railroad stations, would be a radical state takeover of a local government function,” said the reps in the letter, which was organized by Republican freshman congressman Mike Lawler of Pearl River.

Others signing the letter included Reps. Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island, Andrew Garbarino of South Shore, Brandon Williams of Central New York, Mark Molinaro of Hudson Valley, Elise Stefanik of North Country, Anthony D-Esposito of Suffolk, Nick Langworthy of Western New York, Nick LaLota of Nassau, and Claudia Tenney of Central New York.

Reps: Local governments drowning under mandates

“Our local governments are already drowning under unfunded mandates and dictates from the state — the absolute last thing we should be doing is adding to their burden with this wrongheaded and unconstitutional plan,” said Langworthy.

The Republican representatives say the approach would ultimately “eliminate home rule altogether” while providing a “recipe for disaster” by straining sewage, schools, local roads, water, transit, and emergency services unprepared to accommodate significant population increases.

“I’m startled by this attempt at a sweeping state mandate that would eliminate centuries of legal precedent and render towns, villages, and cities incapable of deciding for themselves how they want their neighborhoods to look,” said Lawler.

Justin Henry, spokesman for Gov. Hochul, pushed back against the GOP’s suggestion that the governor was trying to bully local communities by forcing them to promote the construction of additional housing amid rising prices and ongoing shortages.

“To address the severe housing crisis plaguing New York State, Governor Hochul proposed a bold plan to create 800,000 new homes in the next decade by working collaboratively and flexibly with cities and towns that need more housing,” said Henry.

Henry continued, “Gov. Hochul is eager to work on solving the housing crisis and making New York more affordable with any elected leader who wants to be part of the solution.”