Sustainable Saratoga Proposes Strategy To Use Zoning Bonuses To Build More Affordable Housing

[The following is a press release from Sustainable Saratoga proposing a change in zoning that would provide incentives to developers to allow them to build more housing than allowed by existing zoning based on providing affordable units.]



Saratoga Springs, NY – August 11, 2016 – The non-profit Sustainable Saratoga is requesting that the City of Saratoga Spring adopt an amendment to the zoning ordinance that would guarantee more diverse housing opportunities – especially for middle-income households.

The proposal is called the SPA Housing Ordinance, which stands for the Saratoga Places for All (SPA).

Harry Moran, Chair of Sustainable Saratoga, said that the ordinance would require developers of housing developments of 10 or more units to set aside up to 20% of the units as affordable for sale or rental to households of modest income. Developers would be given up to a 20% density bonus, or the right to build additional units on the same site, in order to offset the cost of providing the affordable units.

“In recent years there has been a lot of talk about affordable housing but little action.” said Moran. He added, “Almost all the new housing created in the last decade has not been very affordable to our residents or those who work in our community.”

Sustainable Saratoga estimates that between 20 and 30 new affordable housing units would be created each year under this ordinance. This program seeks to takes advantage of market forces and development capacity to produce affordable units that are integrated into housing throughout the community. There are no State or Federal subsidies in this program. There are however, modest administrative costs to the City for set up, administration and monitoring.

The proposed zoning amendment is based on the draft ordinance developed in 2006 by the City’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance Development (IZOD) Committee. This Committee held 30 meetings over 14 months to develop that ordinance. Building on ordinances from similar sized communities, the Committee uniquely tailored that ordinance to Saratoga Springs.  However, in 2007, that ordinance did not make it to the Council table for a vote. There are now over 500 communities across the country that have enacted similar ordinances.

Moran said “We believe now is the time to bring the 2006 ordinance back for consideration.  Our land costs, vibrant economy and good quality of life have intensified the need for affordable housing. We believe the community will be very supportive of this positive step.”

The process of considering this amendment is expected to take about 3 months.  At the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 16th the Council will be asked to vote to accept this amendment for study and forward it to the City and County Planning Boards for their required advisory opinions.  It is expected that the City Council would hold a number of public hearings in late September and early October and vote on the matter by November.

An important element of any sustainability plan is to have a diverse community, including a broad spectrum of economically diverse households with housing types aligned with their needs.

More information about the proposal can be found on Sustainable Saratoga’s website at

About Sustainable Saratoga: 

Sustainable Saratoga is a not-for-profit organization that promotes sustainable practices and the protection of natural resources, through education, advocacy, and action, for the benefit of current and future generations in the Saratoga Springs area.  Learn more at


Harry Moran, Board Chair

Sustainable Saratoga


Attachments area



9 thoughts on “Sustainable Saratoga Proposes Strategy To Use Zoning Bonuses To Build More Affordable Housing”

  1. Many know that I am a part of group that has been working on affordable housing here for a few years now (link is below for our Facebook page). I will go on record here as being AGAINST this proposal as it is currently written for various reasons. While at first glance it seems as this would be helpful, the reality is it will do more harm than good. The best way I can describe this proposal easily is to say that this ‘solution’ is akin to putting a cast on your left leg when your right arm is broken. It doesn’t touch the core issues of the problems, and just targets the developers who are NOT the cause of the problem, as much as many may think that they are.

    I hope to get a statement up soon concerning this, and will be meeting again with Sustainable Saratoga to clarify this further with them.

    Dave Morris
    Saratogians for Affordable Housing


  2. Just another diversion to take the heat off of Yepsen’s failed administration,I like’in it to a two headed woodpecker or it’s like having the television on during a Honeymoon……Unnecessary!


    1. Merlin,
      Actually, this has been in the works for a long time. It was originally proposed back in ’06, and now a revised version is being brought forth. I met with them back in March concerning this in fact.


  3. This seems like an odd proposal given all the recent battles between neighbors trying to preserve their modest neighborhoods and developers pushing for more density and more variances. Seems like just another way for developers to build more and more and dodge current zoning requirements that are there for a purpose. How many more big projects do we have room for? And actually why should developers even bother with putting in affordable units to get bonuses and variances when we have land use boards who will give them all that anyway without requiring them to give anything back to the community.


    1. Actually, this HAMPERS the developers, not helps them. It will make good projects so-so, and more often than night being a nightmare tracking what is given and taken away, can it fit into the next project, ect. It’s just the wrong way to go about this.

      I also want to say this again publicly: the developers are NOT the problem when it comes to affordable housing!!! Land costs, zoning and NIMBY’s are the biggest reasons (and banking, but that’s deeper than I want to get into on here).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: