Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Voice Of Gowanus: Let's Require a Racial Impact Study BEFORE the Proposed Gowanus Rezoning

Despite a pandemic, despite the fact that the economic reality for New York City looks grim, and despite the fact that residential and retail vacancy rates were increasing BEFORE the Covid-19 outbreak, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council members Stephen Levin and Brad Lander seem intent on pushing through the proposed rezoning of  the Gowanus neighborhood.  

Let's be clear: by doing so, they are fulfilling a promise made to developers and their donors more than a decade ago. It is definitely more about greed and  less about  improving the lives of current residents who will have to live with the consequences of the largest  up-zoning undertaken by the City under de Blasio, with 8,000 new apartment units and an estimated 20,000 new residents. All these people will be living near an EPA Superfund site, in a FEMA flood zone A.

It seems likely that the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) needed for the rezoning will start soon.  And if it does, there is not much the community can do to try to influence its outcome or to moderate its impact on the neighborhood. As other rezonings have shown, it is already a done deal.

One way WE CAN ALL GET INVOLVED is by joining Voice Of Gowanus in asking for a RACIAL IMPACT STUDY NOW ahead of the rezoning to make sure that ALL current residents are protected from this massive land grab.

Please join Voice Of Gowanus by signing on to the statement below.

Ensuring Diversity and Preventing Displacement in Gowanus: 
Let's Require a Racial Impact Study Before the Proposed Gowanus Rezoning

The events of the first half of 2020 have made it clear that racial justice must be a prominent factor in all decisions that affect the future of New York City. From the horrific effects of the pandemic on low income and BIPOC communities to the Black Lives Matter protests, it is clear that inclusion, justice, and diversity are fundamental concerns to all New Yorkers.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams' legislation 1572-2019 is a visionary resolution that calls for a mandated racial impact study to be undertaken for any land-use actions that require an Environmental Impact Study (EIS). We, the undersigned, are concerned about the impacts of the proposed Gowanus rezoning and support this legislation. We call for the study envisioned in this legislation to be applied prior to any decision being made on the Gowanus rezoning.

Introduced in May 2019, PA Williams' legislation would require that “all draft and final environmental impact statements prepared in connection with applications subject to review by the City Planning Commission, shall include an analysis of potential direct and indirect racial and ethnic residential impacts of the proposed action and whether the proposed action would affirmatively further fair housing within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act.”

While it has not yet passed, this legislation is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, whose own districts will be the most significantly impacted by the planned Gowanus rezone. We agree with their assessment of the necessity of this legislation, and call on them to have an independent body perform a Racial Impact Study to understand the effect of this enormous rezoning plan on the neighborhood’s current and future diversity.

The Gowanus rezoning, which will be the largest rezoning undertaken under the de Blasio administration, is the perfect opportunity to show the value and importance of such a study to ensure that social justice—racial, environmental, and economic—is at the center of NYC’s development.

Let us envision greater Gowanus as a truly diverse New York City neighborhood where generations to come can thrive.

We ask Public Advocate Williams and Councilmembers Lander and Levin to ensure that the Department of City Planning conducts a racial impact study prior to the certification of the proposed Gowanus rezoning.


Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH)
Gowanus For Life
Save Gowanus
Voice of Gowanus
Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus
Carroll Gardens Neighbors
Open Source Gallery
Justice for All Coalition
Extinction Rebellion
The Coalition to Stop Sunnyside Yards
Tom Angotti, Professor Emeritus at Hunter College’s Urban Policy and Planning Center
Artist Studio Affordability Project
Housing Justice NYC
Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development
Western Queens Community Land Trust 
Victoria Cambranes for NYC Council 33 
RETI  (Resilience, Education, Training and Innovation) Center

Please add your own voice to this very important ask for our community. Follow the link below and send a letter to our elected officials.

I promise it will only take a minute. 


Anonymous said...

So a bunch of wealthy white landowners are now trying to use public housing residents as a shield against other people moving into the neighborhood and possibly negatively impacting their home prices.

This is too perfect.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness someone is pointing out the weird hypocrisy by public officials here - they co-sponsor a bill that would require a racial impact study before a rezoning...and then don't insist on one for the major rezoning in their own council districts.

I hope Jumaane Williams sees this and asks them what's up.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Lander will now proceed to trot out his little GNCJ crew to find some tortured reason why this study shouldn't be done before the rezoning. They'll probably imply that anyone who questions the rezoning is elitist, racist, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. Even though this list of signatories is actually kinda diverse and interesting.

Anonymous said...

Brad has certainly glommed onto Jumaane Williams as seen by his BLM protest tweet missives and pictures. I hope Jumaane sees through this.

Anonymous said...


Agnes said...

The hypocrisy is stunning, indeed. Brad Lander, you are shameless.

Anonymous said...

I'd respectfully suggest that people actually read GNCJ statements before supposing what the organization will say or, more to the point, has said. In the most recent public statement (can be found on the GNCJ website and was recently published in City Limits notes
● "The city must invest in the health and social resilience of Gowanus neighbors. Closed Community Centers—critical lifelines for resources for residents—represent structural racism. GNCJ has long pushed for sustainable funding and programming at the Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens Community Centers. A closer analysis of social resilience, health outcomes, and needs for Gowanus must be conducted. To address local health disparities and disaster risks, the lessons of the pandemic must inform a Racial Equity Assessment and Community Health Needs Assessment."

Katia said...

Nice that you seem to have no concern yourself for those residents (and businesses) that will be displaced because of Brad Lander’s great Gowanus land rush. And we are not even talking about all those who already have been displaced during his three terms as Council member, as developers have snatched up properties in anticipation of the rezoning.
Shame on you.

Katia said...

Perhaps GNCJ would like to sign onto Voice of Gowanus’ much stronger Racial Impact Study ask? I am sure Voice of Gowanus would gladly add you to the organizations that already have.

Gowanee said...

The Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice says their mission is Working towards a Just Rezoning. Then I look at who all is part of their coalition, and I see The Fifth Avenue Committee - who stands to reap BIG TIME financially from the usurping (UNJUST) of Public Place site land currently on the books for recreational use for the community. The Fifth Avenue Committee wants to build dense residential development on toxic brownfields that will NEVER be fully remediated - for "affordable housing." But that land is not suitable for housing - the toxic tar plume underneath that land can never be fully cleaned, and that land will need to be monitored forever. Who knows what health issues will arise for its potential future residents? Is this Just? As a recreational site, there would not be the same health endangerment. It would be more open. People would not be trapped inside potentially lethal apartments.

Margaret Maugenest said...

9:23 Let's unpack your comment a bit, which, frankly, I find messy reasoning and racist name-calling and stereotyping You state: "So a bunch of wealthy white landowners are now trying to use public housing residents as a shield against other people moving into the neighborhood and possibly negatively impacting their home prices."
1. Are you saying that's what a racial impact study does? Then why are community organizations and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams advocating for racial impact studies to be done within the city’s environmental review process in order to address inequity and displacement in communities that face major land use actions? This is supported by our very own Brad Lander, EXCEPT when it comes to Gowanus? (And why is this, Brad Lander?!?)
2. A racial impact study would address and try to correct segregation.
3. How would a racial impact study(and "using public housing residents" no less) be a tool for wealthy landowners - who, I presume from what you're trying to argue, the stereotyping you promote, would want segregation to keep their home prices high.
4. By your statement, the "white landowners" (how racist can you get?) would NOT be calling for a racial impact study.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we need a Racial Impact Study before proposed Gowanus rezoning. Consider: "While the Brooklyn population actually shrank 2% over the past year, one thing is certain: Black and Latino residents are being disproportionately displaced. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition looked at census data from 1990–2010 and found that New York lost an estimated 15,000 Blacks (an 18% decline, while the white population increased by 7%)." Laura Bliss, "Brooklyn Is Booming. So Why Is It Shrinking?," CityLab, March 23, 2018.

Anonymous said...

The travesty is that our courts sided with the City and without legislation, such a racial impact study is not required as part of the environmental review. As for GNCJ's "demands", they are easily met and included as "proposed mitigation" so they are demanding nothing! Other mitigation includes a new school & waterfront park at Public Place but that doesn't seem to be important to CNCJ. Good people are being used by the GNCJ front.

Anonymous said...

The optics for Brad Lander here are not good. To be for something, the Racial Impact Study, but not in HIS back yard - Gowanus -- so that he can deliver to his developers who have been pushing for this land and sky grab for a long long time DOES NOT LOOK GOOD. And this legacy will not serve Brad Lander well as he continues to seek public office.

Agnes said...

When I first moved to Gowanus in 1980's, there was such a diversity - I loved it. Italians, LatinX, African Americans. When 4th Ave got upzoned, I saw small businesses leave - bodegas, drug stores, Kentucky Fried Chicken, discount stores, and I saw more gentrification - less diversity. Think of Whole Foods - the people who shop there,who can afford to shop there. Where did all those people come from? They weren't in Gowanus when I first came here. The housing has become more expensive. Now Gowanus has become an "it" neighborhood for gentrification. It is crucial that there be a Racial Impact Study before rezoning. What I love about NYC is the diversity. That's what gives NYC its life and vibrancy. This diverse population should not have to disappear in order for the developers to make their big bucks. This will turn NYC into a boring, sterile environment.

Anonymous said...

5th Ave used to be diverse in the 80s until Fifth Ave.Committee gentrified with small boutiques replacing bodegas, cuchifritos, local drug stores, Kentucky Fried Chicken, discount stores & displacing many ethnics. The only indication of diverse is Iman House, a little storefront for fending leftover tenants and providing writer's workshops for women of color. Fifth Ave. is renamed Park Slope and now extends to 4th Ave with 20 story luxury apts. However, once crossing the avenue, the area is Gowanus. Presently, the developers are buying up this area & waiting for rezoning so that the area will be an extension of Park Slope with more luxury buildings & until it reaches the Canal with more displacements. Do not believe politicians who are deaf, blind & double talking to their constituents. Nothing is fair anymore. When will it ever end?