Monday, May 12, 2008

The urgency of the Bowery and Chinatown

In just the last three years we've seen seven (7) huge projects emerge on the Bowery:
Cooper Union's new engineering building
Cooper Square Hotel
Atlantic's 37 E 4th
Bowery Hotel
Scarano E 3rd
New Museum
hotel at Hester.

That's over two giants each year. That's urgent.

Compare the residential East Village from 2nd Avenue to Avenue D. In the last 40 years only two tall buildings, both 15 stories:
New Theater building, 240 E 10
NY Law Dorm, 81 E 3
and nothing tall at all in the last eight years.

Could it be that there is no urgency to rezoning the East Village? Why then won't our "leaders" use their leverage to get protection for the C6-1 zones (Bowery and Chinatown) that need it?


Anonymous said...

Hey Rob,

I bet that you were proud to be a part of that group at the CB3 meeting. I have never been more dissappointed by my community than when I saw how this group behaved.

1st they yelled racists remarks, came in to disrupt the meeting, did not let the plan be introduced, spoke to each other as the City was trying to explain the plan, did not pay attention.

One chinese guy who looked like some mob leader even yelled an acusation that the Chair threatened his life in the meeting , a blatant lie.

So after 30 minutes of bad behavoir, not one reason or argument to thier point. This ugly group got up and left the meeting.
Without proving their point or even trying to prove their point.

I came to the meeting to hear why the rezoning was not good for the neighborhood. I came to give them a chance and hear a well rationalized argument.

I did not hear any debate. Just racial slurs, bad behavoir, and ugly mob rule.

If this is the way that this community thinks that they will protect themselves and thier interests then they are totally screwed. With the behavoir they showed, they deserve what they get.

You should be so proud to be part of that ugly mob. Congrats.

rob said...

I'm not part of the group. I have advised them, but they don't appear to listen to me: I've told them that their tactics alienate the board and that they should always stay to observe the whole discussion.

On the other hand, please do not overlook that the community board has treated them poorly as well, leveling absurd accusations at them, saying that they purposely waited to get involved until until it was too late to get what they want, so that they could heap blame on the board for not giving them what they want -- as if these union organizers have nothing better to do than sit around plotting against the community board at the expense of the future of their own neighborhood and what they themselves want.

The board is also capable of ugliness and stupidity when it's afraid its own mistakes will be exposed.

And the board's decision to ask for added bulk on Chrystie street because, in their words, "the Chinese want development and don't mind density" gives you a picture of the problem between the board and the Chinese community.

The board is clearly out of touch with Chinese residents. It's hard for people to have their voice heard under such circumstances. When community people demonstrate, it's usually because they have no power in the policy-making that will affect their lives. It may be annoying to have to listen to demonstrators, but, hey, if Bush had listened to us annoying demonstrators before rushing into Iraq, the world would be a much, much better place today.

rob said...

Btw, thanks for your comments, anonymous. I had to leave before the meeting began, so it's interesting to me and useful to hear reports of what happened and how it was perceived.

Anonymous said...

Rob says "And the board's decision to ask for added bulk on Chrystie street because, in their words, "the Chinese want development and don't mind density"

If you actually stayed for the meeting you would know that the city recommended extra bulk on chrystie because it is the widest street in the zone. All height is calculated on the facings street width.

Also if you really cared so much about "saving the lower east side" i think that you could have spared an evening an acutally stayed for the meeting.

rob said...

I am not talking about DCP's added bulk, but the community board's alternative in their 11 point proposal. There the CB asks for even greater bulk than in DCP's plan. I was at the meeting when it was first proposed, and I heard their rationale. Those were their words.

You seem to have come to this recently. I've been working on it for three years.

rob said...

Look -- I think it's great that you went to the meeting and listened carefully to DCP's presentation. But please bear in mind that not only have I been working on this for three years and going to dozens and dozens of meetings, but I went with a few others to DCP and had a sit-down discussion with their Director of Strategic Planning (yes, Sandy Hornick himself) as well as the people you saw at the meeting for nearly three hours. Three hours alone in their offices.

Nevertheless I did arrange to have two people tape record the meeting for me. I haven't had a chance to listen to the recordings, but I will today.

rob said...

...and that meeting with the Director of Strategic Planning was just two weeks ago, less than a week before the DEIS (DCP's plan) was published in its current form. You seem to want to throw ad hominem accusations my way. Why?

Anonymous said...

Rob says "You seem to want to throw ad hominem accusations my way. Why?"

Because you consistently throw them at the Community Board members in an extremely unfair manner.

People in glass houses Rob.

rob said...

I've reported what they've said. Is that unfair to them? I think that is perfectly fair to them. And I have not mentioned names. So there is nothing ad hominem in my reports.

Show me something unfair I have said about the community board.

Are you a community board member yourself? You could e-mail me at

I am, after all, not anonymous here -- you address me by name. I think my profile still has my address on it. But I'm happy to continue here on the blog if you prefer.

Anonymous said...

Rob said "Show me something unfair I have said about the community board. "

Rob also said:
"The board is also capable of ugliness and stupidity when it's afraid its own mistakes will be exposed. "

I am not a Board Member but active in the community.

rob said...

If your comments are about the abuse the CB took at the meeting, why address them to me? Address them to the Coalition to Protect Chinatown/LES. Their choices are not mine. I support their goals, but they must choose their own tactics. I cannot meddle in their self-determination.

I am on record, btw, in the NY Observer stating that I do not believe the CB is racially motivated. You should stop relying on the rumors from your friends on the CB about me.

Obviously you know that I've been working on this for years -- this blog alone goes back to 2006 and you are reading this blog. So you have diminished yourself with the cheap comment about "5 minutes and a few posts."

If you want to learn about zoning, young man, why not go in the archives of this blog and fish out my Zoning for Dummies, which has been reposted in various places on the net because good, detailed, comprehensible explanations of zoning are hard to come by.

Took me a while to learn that stuff and put it together. Has anyone else done that for the community, DS?

You should never, never say "With the behavoir they showed, they deserve what they get." The public trust must never be a game of tit for tat or personal vendetta. Your public responsibility reaches beyond the petty movements of the public theater. You have a responsibility to do your best for the public, regardless how they treat you.

I hope I never hear "With the behavoir they showed, they deserve what they get" again from anyone in a position of public responsibility.

rob said...

So according to you only the Coalition is capable of ugliness and stupidity? I gave you an example of their ugliness and stupidity. Why don't you reproduce the example? It shows exactly what I describe.

rob said...

Having watched the community board throughout this process, I have come to feel that, while there are several wonderful people on it, there are also a few irresponsible, volatile people who are capable of great ugliness when under attack.

But, believe it or not, I have defended the community board in public and on blogs.

If you want to read what the general public thinks of the CB, read curbed from a few weeks ago. They are much more cruel than I am. I defended the CB there. So, saying that I am unfair to the CB is false. Go read my defenses of the CB and then ask whether I am biased.

rob said...

You wrote:"Because you consistently throw them at the Community Board members in an extremely unfair manner."

The only comment you come up with is one I just made in this very discussion with you -- not a post on the blog, but on a comment page. You started this thread falsely accusing me of being a part of "that group" and you continue it accusing me of being "consistently" unfair to the board, completely unaware that I have defended the board whenever I felt it deserved defense. Who is being unfair here?