Friday, December 11, 2020

Be On The Side Of Gowanus: Donate To The Gowanus Legal Defense Fund


From Voice of Gowanus:

Time for Gowanus to Lawyer Up - Help Us Fight De Blasio's Rezone Madness!
Today we're proud to announce the launching of the Gowanus Legal Defense Fund to defend our neighborhood from a dubious proposed rezoning, that is not sustainable, healthy, nor a path to address equity issues in our city. We invite you to help in this defense. Your financial support, at any level, is what will make that happen. Donate to the fund here today.
When the powers-that-be continue to ram a terribly planned, out-of-scale, environmentally unsustainable, luxury rental-centric, anti-community, pro-displacement rezoning down our throats, what else is a community left to do? Especially during a pandemic when it's difficult to organize to express community concerns in person—and it's almost impossible to do so in virtual "public meetings" that are heavily controlled by city officials because they find all the community sentiment "distracting." Distracting? Government-run zoom-sessions have already proven to be a form of muzzling the community on many fronts. Legitimate concerns about putting residential towers on forever-toxic sites should not be "distractions," as city officials declare—these disqualifying concerns cannot go ignored by the city.

We are not going to take this lying down. We are raising funds via our new Gowanus Legal Defense Fund to retain attorneys to attack the ill-advised proposed Gowanus rezoning on multiple fronts. We can do better. A better plan—one that actually makes for a healthier environment, and that is led by the community rather than by developers and politicians—is possible. But it's clear we'll never get that healthy and sustainable plan with the current politicians in place unless we defeat the greed-fueled juggernaut careening toward our neighborhood.

Here is what is currently at stake in Gowanus

Though the discussion regarding the rezoning of 80 city-blocks in Gowanus has been ongoing for quite a while now, the Brooklyn Office of the NYC Department Of City Planning just sent out an email announcing that the agency will certify the rezoning on January 19th, 2021.

The certification is the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review (ULURP) process which ends eight or nine months later with the City Council voting and, depending on the outcome, writing the rezoning into law.
Once the ULURP starts, it takes on a life of its own, as many who have participated in the process before can attest.

This rezone is huge. It will span over 80 blocks in Gowanus, allowing 22 and 30 story buildings along the canal and adding 20,000 to 22,000 new residents to a FEMA Flood Zone A, near an EPA Superfund site that the City still uses as an open sewer when it rains.

Therefore, we must all participate in this ULURP,  as this is the most important and impactful issue ever discussed in Community Board 6, one that will affect the future of residents not only in Gowanus, but Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook and even Sunset Park.

The community will be given a chance to testify at several stages, starting at the Community Board 6 Land Use Committee level. However, DCP will be holding these meetings as webinars, which makes it impossible to guarantee a fair process. In previous DCP meetings on the rezone, hosted by CB6, there was no list of attendees,  the comment function was disabled at times and it was unclear how questions from the public were chosen. CB6's manager Michael Racioppo even commented on the fact that people were impersonating other people in the chatroom and how vile the comments have been. (video at 1:12.16)
This is certainly an intimidating atmosphere for anyone who would like to participate in ULURP in a meaningful way.

You may wonder where Councilmember Brad Lander stands on this? As he finishes his third term as our representative, he sees this as his parting 'gift' to his constituents.  Many local residents on the other hand, see the rezoning as a huge giveaway to developers, many of whom will not contribute any real estate taxes for 25 years for their Gowanus projects.
To Lander, the massive up-zone seems worth it for the 'affordable' units that may be gained.  Even if that means placing 950 units of that affordable housing on Public Place, the most polluted parcel of land in the neighborhood.  Perhaps he should be listening to the EPA, which has warned him that it would be dangerous to do so.

Councilmember Brad Lander

Councilmember Lander needs to realize that this is a legacy moment for him. Perhaps, if we all point out that putting people next to a Superfund site, on poisoned land (Public Place), will be what he will be remembered for here in Gowanus long after he is gone. 

This rezoning should not move forward during a pandemic when we can't engage in person, It should not be beholden to Lander's timeline and to promises he may have made to developers.

We need to ask for a moratorium, so that we can make sure that Gowanus' many environmental issues are fully addressed and remediated before we expose more people to toxins. And we need a legal fund so that we can ensure that we will get a fair ULURP process.

How can you help?
Demand a Moratorium on the Gowanus Rezone
and Contribute to the Gowanus Legal Defense Fund

Further reading:

***The 3D model above of what the Gowanus Corridor could look like in just a few years if the rezoning goes through was developed by New York Institute of Technology (NYIT).


Anonymous said...

What??? That rezone is MASSIVE! Like plopping a City into a village. The heights, the scale and scope of it all. Why hasn't the community been shown this clearly? And who do deBlasio and Lander think they are to try to RAM this through? Is THIS what the community asked for in those Briding Gowanus sessions? NOT!!!

Anonymous said...

I genuinely don't understand objection to this development. My wife, son and I can barely afford to live in NYC. There aren't enough apartments, so the apartments that are available are really expensive.

If we build more apartments then there's more space for people, rent comes down, and we can put our money towards neighborhood restaurants, bars, shops, etc.

The alternative is...what? Just don't build any new housing? Our population is we have to build more housing.

Katia said...

If you are ok with moving onto a toxic site, next to an EPA Superfund, that just happens to be in a flood zone, be our guest.
We are asking for a moratorium to TRULY address all the issues here, before placing more people in harms way.
The existing Gowanus community knows what we are talking about. We have lived on, or near toxic coal tar plums way too long.

Katia said...

Yes, it is massive. Please get involved, spread the word and contribute to the fund, even if it is $1. Every little bit helps.

Anonymous said...

1:38 Have you heard about the massive vacancy rates in NYC right now? Why is this pre-Covid plan still relavant?

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain why this is bad? More houses makes housing more affordable for everyone.

Katia said...

Again, as explained above, housing on toxic land in a flood zone is bad planning.
Please read up on this.

Anonymous said...

Where's the canal? The renderings show the neighborhood but waterway is filled in or missing?

Katia said...

Perhaps they wished everyone’s favorite Superfund away.

Anonymous said...

To Anon @December 11, 2020 1:38 PM

The reason your family can "barely afford to live in NYC" is a direct result of the decades of up-zonings steadily transferring all aspects of financial equity and quality of life to those holding title to the large parcels that benefit from the huge increase in land values the city gives away.

This Gowanus up-rezone, as proposed, like the others before, puts these corporate land-owners in charge of what will be the next hike in average rental costs in Brooklyn. If it passes, your son may want to start thinking about living in a place that allows him to establish his own bit of equity rather than supporting the life style of billionaire CEOs who will never live anywhere in or around Gowanus, because Gowanus Developers are asking 30% of your salary, and get 30% of any pay increase, for life.

Anonymous said...

Just donated. Thanks for sharing this news. I don't think many people have any idea this rezoning is coming. Much less what the scale of this thing is!

Katia said...

Thank you very much!