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 (www.elbarriounite.org) 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.”

http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/08/03/in-nonbinding-determination-manhattan-borough-president-rejects-mayors-east-harlem-rezoning-plan-113767