BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Whoa! Hold your horses.
That’s Jerry Nadler’s verdict — for a couple of reasons — on the city’s rezoning plan for Soho, Noho and part of Chinatown.
The congressmember joined Christopher Marte, the Council District 1 Democratic nominee, housing advocates and local residents at a press conference in front of 120 Broadway Thursday morning before the City Planning Commission’s mandated public hearing on the sweeping rezoning.
Basically, the congressmember said the rezoning needs an overhaul, plus the process is being rushed since Mayor de Blasio is now in his final four months in office.
“Soho and Noho deserve better than this rushed, ill-conceived plan,” Nadler said. “There are better ways to create housing and improve the commercial and retail landscape, and the administration should not be trying to push through a plan that threatens longtime residents and tenants on its way out the door.”
Two other local politicians, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, made strong statements against the rezoning at Borough President Gale Brewer’s hearing on the plan on Aug. 23.
Meanwhile, Marte bashed the rezoning scheme as being part of what he called the de Blasio administration’s “systemic and institutional racism” toward the Chinatown area.
“After seven years of upzoning communities of color,” Marte said, “the Department of City Planning is once again up to its old tricks and trying to upzone the northern part of Chinatown without doing a study of displacement or adequate outreach and engagement.
“This upzoning comes two years after they approved the world’s largest jail two blocks south of the rezoned area,” he added. “If this isn’t systemic and institutional racism, then I don’t know what it is. D.C.P. has been intent on ignoring the voices of residents and neighbors of Soho, Noho and Chinatown.
“No part of this community engagement process has been genuine or in good faith, and instead of approving this developer-driven rezoning, the city should take the responsible step and start the process again.”
Estaban Giron from Tenants PAC stated, “Tenants see this rezoning for what it is: an elaborate scam fabricated by real estate interests, negotiated without local input, selling out vulnerable, rent-regulated tenants under the disingenuous guise of racial and economic equality.
“They have appropriated the language of a multiracial working class to justify their brazen theft of truly affordable housing, and want to do so without getting called out,” Giron charged. “This plan happily sacrifices vulnerable New Yorkers at the altar of real estate profit, and every cog in the rezoning machine who approves it, from the City Planning Commission to the mayor to each individual councilmember, will share in its shameful legacy.
“The C.P.C. can stop this nonsense immediately, but if they won’t, we stand ready to fight — in the courts and in the streets — for every single tenant, and every single unit,” Giron said. “If big real estate didn’t get the message after the passage of the 2019 rent laws, we stand ready to remind them now that when tenants fight, tenants win.”
Three days earlier, at a City Planning pre-hearing on the rezoning, Anita Laremont, the department’s executive director, had accused the plan’s opponents of using “abusive, disrespectful, racist words” and extreme “vitriolic language.” She did not detail any specific incidents.
But Juan Rivero, special projects director for Village Preservation, called the accusation “hypocrisy and projection.”
“It’s really the height of hypocrisy and projection,” he said, “for the Department of City Planning to accuse anyone of racism, given their miserable record on such issues, up to and including this atrocious rezoning proposal, bought and paid for by the mayor’s developer donor friends. As we’ve shown in multiple analyses submitted to the city, the rezoning would disproportionately impact and displace lower-income Chinatown residents, whom D.C.P. has consistently neglected to inform about this proposal or engage throughout the process.
“Before the mayor’s henchmen and -women at the Department of City Planning start throwing around utterly baseless accusations of racism, perhaps they should take a good hard look in the mirror.”
Zishun Ning, co-chairperson of the Chinatown Working Group slammed what he called the mayor’s “racist displacement agenda.”
“The C.P.C. commissioners should look at their own record and see what they have done to communities of color, like Chinatown and the Lower East Side,” he said, “which is nothing but carrying out Mayor de Blasio’s racist displacement agenda, like the illegal passage of the four megatowers in Two Bridges and the refusal to pass the community-led Chinatown Working Group Rezoning Plan.
“Now they even have the audacity to displace Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Soho and Noho, in the name of ‘racial justice’ and ‘diversity,'” Ning said. “If C.P.C. has any shame, it should immediately stop its racism and displacement by voting no on the Soho/Noho/Chinatown rezoning and protect Lower Manhattan from further destruction that only profits bad landlords and big developers.”
Pete Davies, a leading member of Broadway Residents Coalition, said the rezoning would “incentivize speculative development.”
“Broadway Residents Coalition is alarmed by the mayor’s reckless rezoning proposal for Chinatown, Soho and Noho, a plan that does not guarantee a single unit of much-needed affordable housing,” he said. “Instead, D.C.P.’s rushed scheme incentivizes speculative development and threatens the displacement of existing rent-regulated and loft tenants throughout the rezoning area.
“Many of those made vulnerable by the city’s careless actions are senior citizens, aging in place, the very people who helped build up these neighborhoods,” Davies added. “At every turn the mayor’s proposal favors commercial interests over those who live in Soho, Noho and Chinatown. The plan should be rejected.”