Sunday, September 09, 2007

Open letter to Community Board 3

Esteemed members of Community Board 3,

Time is running out to save the oldest avenue in New York, the Bowery. Once the City's LES rezoning prohibits out-of-scale hotels east of the Bowery, developers will dig up the Bowery, edging development and displacement toward Chinatown.

The CB3 197 Zoning Task Force plans to propose a new zoning plan for the east side of the Bowery (the side in CD3), pending the funding and execution of a study of the area, a lengthy process. By the time the City implements such a plan two years or more from now, the Bowery will likely have been overrun with hotels. Such a new zoning plan will face a fait accompli of development.

There is, however, a means for CB3 to save its side of the Bowery from becoming the next target of hotel development:

LESRRD, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors and the Coalition to Save the East Village all asked the City to include the Bowery in the City's current LES rezoning. These Scoping Hearing public record requests give the CB leverage now. A public letter to the Borough President and City Planning indicating that without a rezoning now, the City is handing over the Bowery to developers, will place the burden of responsibility on the City for not including the Bowery in the rezoning plan. The City will be compelled either to take action or accept responsibility for hotel development.

The Community Board must ask City Planning publicly what it intends for the Bowery.

The question must be put publicly , not privately. The goal is not to gather information but to put the case openly that if no rezoning=huge hotels then the City must take responsibility for abandoning the Bowery to hotels or act now. If the City doesn't respond to the public question, then the City is admitting its intention to open the Bowery to luxury hotels.

The City's position on the Bowery should be a matter of public record, and CB3 should not allow the City to get away with hiding its intentions any longer.

In lieu of a clear, public position from the City, the CB Task Force has been speculating that it's useless to fight to get the Bowery in the rezoning because:

1) the City doesn't want to rezone the Bowery. (If that's the reason then why has the CB3 Task Force begun to work on a separate, new rezoning plan for the Bowery now?)

2) the west side of the Bowery is in a different district and DCP doesn't zone one side of a street. (But DCP zones single sides of streets all the time; DCP Deputy Director for Manhattan has plainly told me that one-side-of-the-street- zoning is and was never a problem for them.)

3) DCP does whatever it wants. (If that's so, why has the CB3 Task Force been working for a full year on a rezoning of 3rd & 4th Avenues, an area the City has publicly and insistently refused to rezone?)

The CB has no reason not to ask publicly, now:

What does the City want for the Bowery?
City delay = huge luxury hotels.

A separate zoning plan will be completed too late.
Please ask DCP publicly now!

Respectfully yours,
Rob Hollander
LESRRD (LES Residents for Responsible Development)