East New York Community Board Moves to Slow Mayor’s Rezoning Plan


Community Board 5 has cancelled all presentations by developers and city agencies and requested an emergency meeting with the mayor’s office and local pols as part of an effort to slow down the mayor’s plan to rezone East New York, we were intrigued to read in DNAinfo.

“We still have a lot of questions that have gone unanswered. That’s why the board reached this decision,” CB5 Chair Andre Mitchell said. The biggest mystery is the percentage of affordable units vs. market rate. About a year ago, the de Blasio administration said the ratio would be different for each neighborhood. City Planning has issued its environmental impact documents but did not specify the mix, a surprising omission so late in the process. The publication of those documents kicked off the official uniform land review process, or ULURP. The first stage is review at the community board level.

We know from our own sources that the board opposes any aspect of the rezoning that would increase rents in the area and displace current residents or businesses, but welcomes revitalization, and would like to see a balanced mix of income levels in any new housing that is built.

DNAinfo portrayed the slowdown as coming from longtime East New York City Councilman Charles Barron, whose wife Inez Barron now holds that office, because both the chair of CB5 and the head of the land use committee are longtime Barron associates.

It’s our understanding of the ULURP process that each agency gets a set time of about two months to review, and if they don’t, the process moves on without them. But can the community — or anyone — legitimately review the plan without knowing the mix of affordable vs. market units? What do you think?

Charles Barron’s Associates Lead Push to Slow Down East New York Rezoning [DNA]
Map by City Planning

12 Comment

  • I think people have a right to know what’s going on in their own communities. East New York has been the synonym for urban poverty, blight, and all that is wrong with cities for decades. (And as usual, not a nuanced or entirely truthful representation, either.) Now all of a sudden, the neighborhood people drove through as fast as possible, and wouldn’t have anything to do with, is now ground zero for the growth of the “new Brooklyn.” I’d be as suspicious as possible, too. The people already there, who have never had it easy, should be partners and participants in growth and improvements, not sawdust to be easily swept away.

  • The author seems to be misunderstanding ULURP. The publication of the draft scope of work for the EIS did not kick off the ULURP process. ULURP has not yet begun and I believe the city intends to certify the application in the fall. It is certification of a ULURP application that begins the ULURP time clock. In the meantime, public review is underway with the scoping process. There will be a public meeting to take comments (from the general public, community boards, electeds, whoever) on the draft scope of work that was issued. This is not part of ULURP. I think there is more time and opportunity for comment than this Brownstoner post makes it sound like.
    For details on ULURP see http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/ap/step5_ulurp.shtml

  • East New York has been the synonym for urban poverty, blight, and all that is wrong with cities for decades. (And as usual, not a nuanced or entirely truthful representation, either.)
    Glad you added that second sentence.

  • “Low Income Housing” has become a political score board for many years now for too many politicians and not for profit community groups, developers etc that only seem to help themselves to a pay day, and yet still it does not seem to include the hard working people that one would assume that it should help; the truly hard working low income people that are represented in huge numbers in East New York, that are seeing first hand the new neighbors that have been displaced from the Downtown neighborhoods that somehow have NOT been able to be “qualified” for the low income housing being built in their old neighborhoods over the past few years.
    So yes there is already a bottle neck of people very dubious as to who exactly “low Income House” is for. Certainly not the people that are too busy working two & three jobs to look after them selves and their families and not enough time to “qualify” or that check every box.

    • Thanks for making these important points, res2. The issue of affordable housing in NYC is complex and conceals unfair details that our elected officials would like us to overlook. At least this plan for East New York involves ULURP — which famously was not the case for Atlantic Yards. I hope Barron and Barron can get some concessions from the city that will favor low income local residents. The current equation of using the AMI (area median income) to determine affordability levels is such a farce, including as it does the incomes of all NYC residents and those from some very wealthy parts of Westchester Co. Much of Charles Barron’s criticism of Atlantic Yards was based on his recognition that the affordable housing was and remains an empty promise when applied to ordinary working people on average BROOKLYN incomes.

  • I always wondered how the AMI could support some of the high rents I found while renting units in a New Hop II building, which was rent stabilized but (especially now, a few years later) very expensive.

    East NY is still the 6th cheapest (out of 51; prices soared last year but from very low numbers) neighborhood in Brooklyn, and I would much rather see new affordable housing spread out in middle/upper class areas, but I do like the idea of trying to reimagine an area with excellent transit options and relatively cheap existing housing.

  • What can the administration honestly do to prevent folks from being forced out in the majority of ENY that is made up of 2 and 3 family privately owned homes, either preserved or not included in the rezoning?

    Seems to me that rents & displacement will rise regardless of the rezoning (slower pace). We’ve been receiving many of those Crown Heights/Bed-Stuy/Bushwick residents displaced over the last few years and are poised for the second phase that is typical, which are those now priced out by newer higher income people. We are still years away from most of these hypothetical new buildings from being completed but in the mean time there’s nothing to protect people living in the rest of the neighborhood still susceptible to the private market. They can give priority to current residents or use realistic income requirements but the way things are looking many of those residents will have long been pushed out by the time those affordable apartments even materialize.