Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Conflict of interest

Tonight the Community Board will approve a rezoning package regardless how broad or loud the opposition.

It concerns me that organizations and individuals on the Task Force will directly benefit from its provisions. Now, those organizations are wonderful, we are lucky to have them in our neighborhood, I support them and I think the community should support them, but I think they cannot be objective in their view of a rezoning package that benefits their institutional projects and directives, regardless how altruistic and beneficial those projects are.

After this process is complete, the Task Force chair plans to bring together a panel for Chinatown. The panel will most likely consist of bank-funded organizations that bring development under the guise of "affordable" housing programs that are 80% market-rate and 100% unaffordable to the average resident of Chinatown. They will devise a plan for Chinatown that suits their institutional interests, while the residents of Chinatown will have no voice. It will be catastrophic for Chinatown and Chinatown's residents.

At the last full board meeting, the question was raised several times why Chinatown residents didn't get involved with the rezoning earlier. Didn't they know about it? The CB Chair stated that he had spent a $100,000 grant on outreach to Chinatown. What he failed to mention was that none of that money was spent on information about the rezoning.

These are some of the reasons I am skeptical of current community board leadership.

But the real culprit in the neglect of Chinatown is Councilmember Alan Gerson. Where Margarita Lopez came up with seed money from the Council for a rezoning of her district, the East Village, Alan Gerson came up with nothing for his district, Chinatown. He didn't even raise the issue of rezoning Chinatown.

Community Board members are unelected and unpaid. But Gerson is elected and paid to represent his constituency. Chinatown's precarious situation is his fault and his responsibility. Where is he? Where? What will he get for Chinatown? And will he involve the Chinatown residents in the process?

1 comment:

cat said...

Hi Rob, I am with you on Gerson. What can be done, if anything? Are people willing to ... I don't know.. protest at his office? Call him on all this? It seems to me he just rides over everything and anyone and sells out again and again. Is there anyone who is tracking this in any systematic way? He sold out Washington Square Park. He's sold out the artist vendors in Soho. I'm sure there's more.

Cathryn.