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City Hallways (Feb.28): What is inclusionary zoning anyway?

Many community activists are expected at a special meeting the Council is holding this evening on inclusionary zoning.

The real estate and development communities, which have concerns with the proposal, are expected too, but probably not in the same numbers as community supporters.

I'm hearing the opponents aren't all convinced tonight's hearing will provide them with the time and space they need to fully present their side of the story.

For those new to the game, inclusionary zoning is a policy that would require any new development with say 10 units or more, especially those getting public financing or tax breaks of any kind, to set aside a portion of the housing units as what's called "affordable housing" – which means rents below market rate.

Proponents say such a policy is needed because the revved up Buffalo housing market is raising rents and making if difficult for some people to remain in their neighborhoods.

Opponents argue Buffalo's real estate industry isn't as strong as some people believe.

Most real estate deals still require a government subsidy or tax  break to pencil out, they say.

If you start requiring developments set aside a portion as "affordable housing," the numbers won't work, and could stop development in its tracks, they say.

Those who say this, however, also said they support the idea of mixed income neighborhhoods, and would be interested in working with the city on developing plans toward that end.

But inclusionary zoning, they said, would only work with larger public subsidies.

A report by the Partnership for Public Good got the conversation rolling, but even some who signed on say it's more of a conversation starter than a resolution.

Both sides in the debate say they are looking forward to a study the city planning office is conducting on the issue.

Did someone say cannoli?

The city is considering a request from Rolling Cannoli by Panaro's for a food truck permit.

Today's calendar items

Council committee meetings, starting with Civil Service and Finance in the morning, followed by Community Development and Legislation in afternoon.

Inclusionary zoning meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.

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