Governor Kathy Hochul’s Strategy to Override Local Zoning as Democrats Enter Election Season

Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat from New York, has affirmed that she is abandoning a proposal to enact legislation compelling the expansion of housing in specific communities within the Empire State. This decision comes as Democrats approach an election season that may be marked by contention.

“I’ll work with [the Legislature], but I also have so many priorities, I’m not going to head down the same path we did last year with the exact same plan, in a year that is an election year for members,” Hochul said Thursday at an unrelated event, according to City & State.

Hochul is gearing up to unveil her 2024 agenda, but legislation mandating housing construction won’t be included, according to sources cited by City & State. Housing was a focal point of Hochul’s agenda during her four-year term starting in 2022.

Earlier this year, Hochul sought legislative support for her “New York Housing Compact,” which aimed to construct 800,000 new homes and affordable housing over the next decade. The plan intended to grant the state authority to override zoning laws in towns resisting the expansion of housing options.

However, the plan faced legislative failure this spring, particularly as lawmakers, notably in New York City suburbs, opposed Albany’s involvement in local housing development and regulation.

Democratic strategist John Tomlin based in New York informed Fox News Digital that the decision undoubtedly involves political considerations, especially with the approaching 2024 election season.

“The suburbs of New York are battlegrounds. There are very different places in the Hudson Valley, as well as Long Island that could sway control of the House, as well as important races in those areas for the State Legislature, and those are the areas in particular, that opposed many elements of the governor’s Housing Compact,” Tomlin said.

“As a result of that, I think she has determined that… there is certainly not a political benefit to pushing for those policies,” he said.

In the upcoming election cycle, New York Democrats aim to reclaim six congressional seats, potentially influencing the balance of power in the U.S. House.

According to a spokesperson for the governor, housing remains a key priority for Hochul. In response to the legislation’s setback, she has concentrated on leveraging her executive authority to tackle affordable housing issues.

“Like 73% of New Yorkers, Governor Hochul believes housing affordability is a major problem,” Avi Small, a spokesperson for the governor, told City & State. “The housing crisis is pushing New Yorkers out-of-state to places like Connecticut and New Jersey that have built thousands more homes over the last decade than New York has.”

“That’s why Governor Hochul proposed the boldest plan in a generation to drive down housing costs by building more supply. After the Legislature flatly rejected it and failed to introduce a viable alternative, Governor Hochul refocused her efforts on sweeping Executive Action that took effect in July,” Small added.

Communities beyond New York City strongly opposed the proposal, with certain mayors emphasizing that addressing the high cost of housing in New York is crucial, but compelling small towns from Albany to boost their housing was not the right approach.

“An overwhelming majority of Mayors in Albany agreed that the State as a whole could use more housing and most importantly more affordable housing and are quite supportive of this laudable goal. The problem lies in its execution and the sledgehammer, punitive approach,” Bronxville, New York, Mayor Mary Marvin wrote in a column to the community in February.

Bronxville, a petite village in Westchester County spanning one square mile, houses just over 6,000 residents. The mayor clarified that, as per the proposal, Bronxville would have been compelled to construct 75 new housing units by 2027, risking the forfeiture of all control over local land-use laws otherwise.