Late-Session Bill Would Add More NYC Neighborhoods to Basement Legalization Plan

“If it were up to me, all of New York City would be included,” said State Sen. Julia Salazar, who is looking to expand the state’s recently passed basement legalization pathway to more neighborhoods.

Adi Talwar

Homes in the Cypress Hills neighborhood of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is excluded from the state’s recently passed basement legalization plan, despite serving as the city’s testing grounds for an earlier conversion pilot program.

Although the recently passed state budget included a new basement legalization pilot, less than a quarter of the city’s community districts were selected to participate—but a last-minute bill could extend the program to additional neighborhoods prone to flooding.

Of the city’s 59 community districts, only 15 were chosen for the five-year legalization pilot authorized by the state. These encompass four in the Bronx (districts 9, 10, 11, and 12), four in Brooklyn (districts 4, 10, 11, and 17), and six in Manhattan (districts 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, and 12). However, only one district in Queens was included (district 2), and none from Staten Island.

The carve-outs in Queens, despite the area’s vulnerability to flooding and the basement drowning deaths of 11 people in the borough during Hurricane Ida in 2021, compounded with the omission of Brooklyn Community Board 5 (CB5)—the site of the city’s basement conversion pilot launched in 2019—came as a shock and disappointment to some community leaders.

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