NYC CPC ULURP No. 170359 (A) ZRM Proposal Testimony Against the East Harlem Rezoning Plan

Submitted to the City Planning Commission by Roger Hernandez, Jr. on August 23, 2017Poster-Nitza-No-Says-No-Full-Rendering.jpg (2448×3264)

The East Harlem community never invited this MIH QZM Amendment Proposal, and does not support it.

This proposal is a horrifying displacement plan of East Harlem’s poor masked as a Trojan Horse being pushed by the NYC Administration of Mayor William de Blasio.

In fact, the CB11 voted against this plan (with 2 abstentions) in November of 2015, and again in 2017. Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer does not support this plan, and now it is NYC CPC’s prerogative to kill this gentrification plan.

East Harlem’s 181,236 majority of residents live mostly with incomes of less than $50,000.00 (see Exhibit Figure 3-3 of the East Harlem Rezoning DEIS Report), with a Median Household Income of $36,064.00 (Table 3-4) that makes this area decidedly poor and vulnerable.

That is quite remarkable for a special vibrant community viewed as The Working Man’s Manhattan by Columbia U. School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, 2011. Kindly put this plan to rest with your rationale considerations.

Under the worst case scenario, The Mayor’s Rezoning action will escalate the burden against East Harlem’s low-income population by establishing 70% of the total available housing for households earning more than $78,300.00 (Table 3-8, pg. 3-22 of the DEIS Report)  Ironically this plan is being waxed as a “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Plan” for East Harlem while it actually does not present any level of “affordability” for its own residents, nor is it “mandatory”, as it is actually “exclusionary”- discounting a majority of East Harlem’s families, friends and neighbors because of their own low income status.

This aggressive targeting of East Harlem’s current residents is viewed as a racist ploy to displace Latino and African Americans out of Manhattan, and out of New York City.  How could it be viewed otherwise?

NYC Governmental policy after WWII created the legislative conditions that allowed landlords diminishing profits to cut back on the necessary maintenance and operations to preserve affordable housing, creating NYC’s slums during the 1950’s leading to the total deterioration of its vital affordable housing stock.

That was deplorable. It was our nation’s inner city Community Based Organizations (CBOs) of the 1960’s that forced governmental action to rehabilitate our communities’ with vital financial assistance that was sucked out by fleeing landlords and more so by progressive legislation and proactive agency personnel committed to NYC’s future supporting its neighborhoods, it’s communities, and moreover its residents.  That was a hard lesson that we will not soon forget.

Mayor Edward I. Koch created an ambitious 10 year $5.1 Billion plan in 1985 converting derelict properties to build and rehabilitate 252,000 low and moderate-income housing units, now viewed as NYC’s affordable housing stock of today was successful because of its private/ public partnership with local community nonprofit housing organizations who advocated, built and now manage this affordable housing resource.


NYC’s public funds were used effectively by its community based nonprofit entities.  Economically depressed slums soon became home to hard-working families who rebuilt NYC’s communities of color with a diversity of ethnic flavors catering to its vibrant pulse, becoming great again.

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Now, Mayor de Blasio is proposing a $48 Billion Plan geared to Private For Profit Developers to build 250,000 apartments that will rent for more than 75% of household median incomes within communities too poor to be able to afford to participate in his big plans. Not for profit housing groups are not invited to participate based on the high degree of public land being gifted to few developers connected to the Mayor’s administration.

This is a rip off of precious public funds now being offered to the profitable NYC private real estate industry to savor the vibrant healthy communities created by our not for profit CBOs.  The premise of all this proposed exorbitant NYC public money and relaxed zoning to create structures three times larger than now, has exacerbated a speculative market that is now way out of control.  Proposed government policy has created this awkward economic/ legislative condition – again.  What have we learned since WWII?  How can we support legislation that is not geared for us and is designed to fail us?


Manhattan borough president rejects mayor’s East Harlem Rezoning Plan

El Barrio Unite continued fight for affordable housing in East Harlem has captured Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s attention with her no vote on the mayor’s housing plan. Our efforts combined with East Harlem Preservation and others is now at a critical point before our city council member whom will soon cast the deciding vote on this contentious housing plan.

Kindly visit our website ( to review our work over the past three years to defeat this trojan horse.

In non-binding determination, Manhattan borough president rejects mayor’s East Harlem rezoning plan 

08/03/2017 08:58 AM EDT (POLITICO)

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer formally announced her opposition to the city’s proposal to rezone East Harlem to make way for more residential development.

In her rejection Thursday morning, Brewer said the current plan would allow too much density in parts of the neighborhood — Third and Park avenues — while failing to secure adequate affordable housing for current residents who often struggle to pay their rent.

More than one-quarter of the area’s 46,000 households “have severe housing needs that include those who spend more than half their income on rent, those entering homeless shelters, and those living in extreme overcrowding,” Brewer wrote in her 27-page analysis.

She also criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration for failing to take into account concerns raised by the community board.

Her determination is non-binding, but reflective of the tenor of residents’ complaints presented at a public meeting she recently hosted. The plan is likely to be altered substantially before a final vote in the City Council.

“This proposal concentrates new development in too small an area with too much density, likely worsening the effect of gentrification,” she wrote. “This proposal lacks a meaningful preservation plan and sufficient up-front commitments to save existing affordable housing units. It is uncertain whether 20 percent of the newly-developed units generated under this proposal would be affordable to the average East Harlem resident.”

She derided the “top-down process that largely set aside the 18-plus months of work and engagement with residents, local organizations and experts that went into the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan.”

“And finally, this proposal has not undergone any significant changes to address the very real problems identified by Community Board 11,” she added.

Her responses are required as part of the city’s land use review process, which culminates in a Council vote following a ruling by the City Planning Commission.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents East Harlem, is anxious to pass a rezoning in the neighborhood before she leaves office at the end of the year. She released recommendations based on community input last year, but has not embraced this current plan. She is likely to negotiate changes before voting.

The administration rezoned East New York, Brooklyn, last year and is proposing similar projects throughout the city. Allowing more residential development would trigger a new requirement for more low- and middle-income housing, the mayor and his team argue. And without city intervention, gentrification of more affordable neighborhoods will push out residents, they say.

During the East New York process, the administration spent $267 million, in addition to housing subsidies, to improve the area and win over support.

The current plan for a 96-block stretch of East Harlem would invite about 3,500 new apartments into the area by lifting zoning restrictions, according to city documents.

The mayor often points to Bushwick as an example of an historically affordable area that has been transformed into a trendy neighborhood commanding higher rents than long-time residents can afford.

But the city’s plans are often viewed by advocates, community boards and local politicians as drivers of the same fate because they allow much more market-rate development and assign levels of affordability that are out of reach for many currents tenants.

Brewer said the proposed allowance of larger buildings on Third and Park avenues “only further feed the community’s fears that the proposal is tipping the balance too far in favor of market-rate development. It is the opposite of how we should be adjusting this proposal.”

Mark-Viverito’s office said she plans to closely review and incorporate the issues raised by community members before signing off on a plan.

“We share many of the concerns raised by El Barrio residents, Community Board 11 and the Borough President about the East Harlem rezoning as it currently stands,” Mark-Viverito spokeswoman Robin Levine said in a statement. “Any application considered by the Council must incorporate the recommendations outlined in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, including zoning priorities and neighborhood investments.”