MBP Brewer Says “No” To East Harlem Rezoning

This morning, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer released her formal recommendation rejecting the de Blasio administration’s East Harlem neighborhood rezoning proposal.

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Brewer cited the lack of significant progress on Community Board 11’s areas of greatest concern and the plan’s failure to satisfy the principles of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan as major factors in her decision. The East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, a roadmap for rezoning and community planning in the neighborhood, was developed through an 18-month process of stakeholder engagement. The process involved input from local organizations and neighborhood residents, and included a steering committee led by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and co-chaired by Borough President Brewer, with the participation of Community Voices Heard and Community Board 11.

Statement from Borough President Gale A. Brewer:

“Under the current zoning, gentrification is taking a yearly toll on East Harlem residents. The neighborhood has already lost approximately 3,444 units of affordable housing since 2007 and is expected to lose another 3,666 affordable units from expiring affordability programs between now and 2029 if nothing is done. This is unacceptable when more than a quarter of East Harlem’s 46,000 households are coping with severe housing needs like rent burdens exceeding half of household income, overcrowding, and homelessness.

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“A rezoning done the right way offers the opportunity to create many new affordable units, including units affordable to low-income East Harlem residents, while actually reducing the effects of gentrification and reinvigorating neighborhood small businesses and retail.

“What the administration has put in front of us, however, is rezoning done the wrong way.

“This proposal concentrates new development in too small an area with too much density, likely worsening the effects of gentrification. 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. This proposal was driven in a 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.

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“For these reasons, I must say no to this proposal. East Harlem needs a plan that better preserves neighborhood context, makes real up-front commitments to affordable housing preservation, spreads new development across a wider area, and addresses the many other needs that were identified by this community in the process that produced the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan.”

Borough President Brewer’s formal recommendation on this proposal can be downloaded here.

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