Heard Around Town

Bronx rezoning gets the go-ahead from local council member

Is member deference over? Marjorie Velázquez didn’t want to find out.

Council Member Marjorie Velázquez Holds Inauguration on March 12, 2022.

Council Member Marjorie Velázquez Holds Inauguration on March 12, 2022. William Alatriste/NYC Council Media Unit

“Member deference is not dead,” New York City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez rightfully declared Thursday morning, announcing she’d now be supporting the Bruckner rezoning in her East Bronx district, paving the way for smooth passage next week before the full council. But member deference – the unofficial tradition of the City Council voting along with local members on land use issues in their district may not be healthy and thriving, either. Velázquez had, up until the morning of the vote, opposed the rezoning to allow the project that would create 348 housing units, with up to 166 of them subsidized as affordable. She cited some vocal opposition in the community, potential stresses on resources in the low-density neighborhood, and the developer’s failure to commit to union labor with the New York City District Council of Carpenters, among other things. But Velázquez came around to supporting it, under intense pressure from labor unions like 32BJ SEIU and Mayor Eric Adams’ office, and maybe more than anything, Speaker Adrienne Adams’ office, which waved the threat of another Blood Center situation and overruling Velázquez in her own district. The council member was stubborn, but it paid off, and she’s now getting a better deal than the original proposal – in no small part because member deference is not ironclad anymore.