Friday, August 29, 2008

More bars!

The Community Board 3 committee that reviews liquor licenses will hold its first meeting of the season on September 15, 6:30pm at 200 E 5th St., corner of Bowery.

Among the 40 applications, there are no fewer than 10 new applications for full liquor licenses (called "op" for "on premises" -- scroll down to item 21).

They're everywhere: one on Grand; another just around the corner from it on Eldridge Street; Chrystie is getting hit; around the corner on Rivington too; Allen off Stanton (right next to Epstein's Bar); 2 on 10th Street. Some are restaurants, some are bars; all add to the "nightlife destination" mania, the rising commercial rents, the selling off of the LES to Generation Bloomberg.

Mitchell-Banchik (114-6 3rd Avenue) is back on the agenda because your community board thinks bars are preferable to chain stores.

Take a look at the agenda to see if there's a license near you. You could be a lucky winner!
NB: rw=restaurant wine; tw=tavern wine.

SLA & DCA Licensing Committee

Monday, September 15 - 6:30pm -- JASA/Green Residence - 200 East 5th Street at Bowery

Renewal with Complaint History

1. The Box, 189 Chrystie St (op)

2. Mercadito, 179 Ave B (op)

3. Pour House, 64 3rd Ave (op)

4. Carthage Palace, 46 Ave B (op)

Applications within Resolution Areas

5. Pan Asian Bistro, 172 Orchard St (rw)

6. Caffe Pepe Rosso, 127 Ave C (up/op)

7. Mary O'Halloran, 220 Ave B (op)

8. I Foods Restaurant, 171 Ave A (op)

9. 102 Ave C Restaurant, 102 Ave C (rw)

10. European Union, 235 E 4th St (alt/extend license)


11. Drom, 85 Ave A (trans/op)

12. Falai Panetterie, 79 Clinton St (up/op)

13. Mo Pitkins, 34 Ave A (trans/op)

14. Kampuchea Noodle Bar, 78-84 Rivington St (alt/expansion/op)

15. Kush Lounge, 191 Chrystie St (trans/op)

16. Maradona, 188 Allen St (up/op)

17. Isabella's Oven, 365 Grand St (up/op)

18. Seymour Burton, 511 E 5th St (alt)

19a. Thompson Lower East Side Hotel, 190 Allen St (alt/remove restaurant from hotel license)

19b. Orchard St Restaurant, 190 Allen St (new separate op for restaurant in hotel)

New Liquor License Applications

20. Philly's Cheese Steak, 191 E Houston St (rw)

21. Mitchell Banchik, 114-116 3rd Ave (op)

22. 8 Rivington Restaurant, 8 Rivington St (op)

23. Sinead Duell, 90 E 10th St (op)

24. Café Partners, 520 2nd Ave (op)

25. Chikalicious Puddin, 204 E 10th St (op)

26. Old Lao San Snack, 2-6 E B'way (rw)

27. New Waloy Snacks, 67B E B'way (eb)

28. Rice Village, 81 Chrystie St (rw)

29. Neway KTV, 90 Eldridge St (op)

30. 417 East 9th St LLC, 417 E 9th St (rw)

31. Paul O'Sullivan, 200 Allen St (op)

32. Mercury Dime, 246 E 5th St (tw)

33. Sarita's Macaroni & Cheese, 345 E 12th St (rw)

34. Famous Sichuan, 10 Pell St (rw)

35. E 10th St LLC, 441 E 12th St (rw)

36. Emperor Japanese Tapas, 96 Bowery (op)

37. Suimon, 412-414 E 9th St (rw)

38. Cookout Grill, 214 1st Ave (rw)

39. Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie St (op)

40. Gesundheit, 290 Grand St (op)

41. Persimmon LLC, 277 E 10th St (rw)

Monday, August 25, 2008

More bad news for Chinatown

Actually, the worst news I've heard this year: Chic money -- Apothéke cocktail bar -- has found Doyers Street. The end of Chinatown, for real: it'll be the next Ludlow&Stanton upscale nightlife destination.

Why must the upscale uproot community and poison authentic New York? Because they can? Why can't they just leave us alone?

Answer: community provides their escapades the quaint backdrop of authenticity lacking in their glass venues, at least for the brief moment before they destroy every unpretentious, human corner of community in sight and seek out another last refuge of New Yorkers to erase forever.

Hip nightlife thrives on a diet of living communities. Guess what the dim communivore leaves behind. A vast desert of the pale fruit of its bowels. Dressed to kill.

End of bitter rant.

The eviction predator spreads its wings

"A state housing official from Brooklyn was busted for selling lists of rent-regulated tenants to builders so they could target properties for redevelopment," NY Post

Hearing on eminent domain in Columbia University's expansion

From the Empire State Development Corporation:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a public hearing, open to all persons, will be held at the
Aaron Davis Hall of the City University of New York,
West 135"' Street at Convent Avenue,
Tuesday, September 2,
from 1-4pm
and from 5:30-9pm
and continued
Thursday, September 4,
from 1-4pm
and from 5:30-9:00pm

by the New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development Corporation ("ESDC") Pursuant to Sections 6 and 16 of the New York State Urban Development Corporation Act (Chapter 174, Section 1, Laws of 1968, as amended; the "UDC Act") and Article 2 of the New York State Eminent Domain Procedure Law ("EDPL") to consider: (a) the General Project Plan (the "General Project Plan") for the proposed Columbia University Educational Mixed-Use Development Land Use Improvement and Civic Project (the "Project"); (b) the proposed acquisition by ESDC, by condemnation or voluntary transfer, of certain property located within the Project Site (described below) in furtherance of the Project; and (c) the essential terms of proposed conveyances of property so acquired by ESDC to Columbia University in furtherance of the Project.

For those who wish to speak at the hearing, speaker registration will commence 15 minutes before each session on each hearing date at the Aaron Davis Hall.

Talking points on eminent domain (from Cooper Square Committee):


At every forum of the West Harlem Local Development Corporation and at every public hearing in the ULURP process, the community has been united in opposing the use of Eminent Domain as a first principle and most community members have demanded that the University take it off the table as a precondition for any negotiations with Columbia. The community seeks an integrated community, where private owners who have provided good-paying jobs to community workers can stay in their historic locations. Condemnation would create a "company town" solely for Columbia University's use and enjoyment. Columbia's "all of nothing" demand is unnecessary to their expansion, but not to their "fire-sale" land grab, and destructive of the neighborhood.

This proposed project would transfer private property to another private entity, which will use the property in public/private biotech business projects akin to Stanford University's research park (a development Columbia has sought to emulate since the 1960s). This is not an "educational" or "-"civic" use, despite the title of this hearing, but an income-producing use by a not-for profit entity which will not even pay real–estate taxes.

If it is true, as Columbia has repeatedly claimed, that the University owns 70-80% of the property in Manhattanville (a claim put into question by the list of properties which it seeks to have the ESDC condemn), any ill-maintained and unoccupied property has been the result of the University's own deliberate actions. It should not benefit from those actions. Availabl e industrial real estate is at a severe shortage in the City. Any vacant properties could have been rented immediately if maintained and truly offered for occupancy. The University has used the threat of condemnation, based on its own creation of blight, to threaten and intimidate landowners into selling their properties, saying "sell to use now or deal with the State later." Columbia has also emptied the area of commercial tenants like Reality House and the mechanics at 3150 Broadway and is in the process of removing long-time residential tenants and potential owners.

The University has paid at least $300,000 to the ESDC to move the condemnation process forward (a payment unacknowledged by the University until an FOIL request uncovered it) while denying its role in the Eminent Domain process. There is an irresolvable conflict of interest in the condem nation process because the consultant AKRF was hired by the University to perform its Environmental Impact Statement for the ULURP process and at the same time created the "blight study" being relied upon by the ESDC as a basis for Eminent Domain. That conflict has not been resolved by the newly minted "blight study" by another consultant which uniformly mimics the AKRF study. Moreover, AKRF also drafted responses for the City Planning Commission in response to points brought up by Community Board 9 critiquing the "Draft Scope of Work" during the ULURP process. Thus it is seeks to serve three masters: the University, the City, and the State. That is not possible.

Columbia has never demonstrated its need for the entire proposed expansion area. We don't have even one set of completed plans for a building. The safety and economic-feasibility of its proposed "bathtub" basement has never been demonstrated and has served primarily as a rationale for the attempted acquisition of the entire footprint. Columbia has made no commitment to building the bathtub or developing the proposed expansion area within any designated time period. The footprint may sit fallow for years as the University struggles to raise funds in a depressed economy. Present businesses are already operating, paying wages to workers and taxes to the City.

Property to be acquired by private developers like Columbia University should be bought through the market at market prices. Owners uninterested in selling should not be compelled to sell by the State.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


GOLES, a tenant protection and advocacy group, is not engaged in the management of affordable housing, so they won't be beneficiaries of the rezoning's affordable housing bonuses. GOLES may, however, receive funding from the legal support fund that the Task Force has asked that the zoning package include.

GOLES provides an indispensable community service to desperate, frightened renters in danger of losing their homes. They represent one perspective on zoning:

zoning is a tool to create affordable housing.

Other grassroots organizations like Movement for Justice in El Barrio, Harlem Tenants Council and Coalition to Save the East Village hold a different perspective on zoning:

upzoning invites development, gentrification and community displacement.

The City has divided these two groups of activists with an ultimatum:

no affordable housing without an upzoning.

That's the bone of contention: which is worse, no new affordable housing or market-rate development that undermines the affordable housing that exists?

The Task Force has asked for mitigating measures against the added market-rate speculation that an upzoning brings, like anti-harassment and anti-demolition regulations, but these are not particularly effective at preserving affordable housing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How DCP works

Since some people still claim the EV is being downzoned, here's a telling story about DCP:

DCP's original plan allowed 120 feet on Houston, Delancey, D. Some of us in the neighborhood objected that too much upscale money would spill into the neighborhood from so much market-rate development running through it.

So the CB asked the 120 feet be reduced to 100 feet (it's in CB3's "11 points" proposal to DCP). In return, CB3 offered 150 feet on Chrystie.


DCP promptly added the 150 feet on Chrystie (145 ft to fit their designations) but rejected the reduction on Houston, Delancey and D.

I asked DCP why. "We liked the Chrystie Street idea."
What about the reduction? "We don't like to do that at DCP."

They fleeced the CB, who should probably have known better than offer negotiating chips to the house.

This is characteristic of the entire rezoning. DCP turns community will to its own intentions. The only downzonings in this plan are the three blocks south of Tompkins Square, which Michael Rosen asked for, and the C6-1 area south of Houston. Everything else is upzoned.

Of course, we are losing the community facility bonus which allowed huge towers in the residential East Village. That's a downzoning, no?

Not quite. If there were money in community facilities, don't you think you'd be seeing them sprouting up all over the EV the way hotels are sprouting up all over the C6-1 zones on 3rd Avenue, the Bowery and around Orchard and Lodlow? If there were big bucks in a colossally huge 6.5 FAR community facility don't you think some Ratner or Scarano or Extell would have made an irresistible offer to the Archdiocese and the nuns at Mary Help of Christians, a huge lot with immense development potential, as time runs out on current zoning? I wouldn't be surprised if the Archdiocese is waiting for the rezoning to sell Mary Help of Christians. They'll be able to offer a full 4 FAR without having to include doctors' offices.

All the threatened dormitories in the EV have been intended for rental or condo conversion. Don't forget that Singer wanted to convert his phony dorm into condos or rentals. Same with the NY Law dorm. The only genuine community facility threat in the neighborhood, astutely pointed out by Aaron Sosnick, was at St. Brigid's. That was the Archdiocese intending church-type work more economically viable than sustaining a small parish; it was not the big cash-in on residential speculation that Mary Help of Christians will probably be.

The community facility bonus is bad, no question about it, but it is obviously not as dangerous as has been advertised. You can tell that by just looking. But everyone is so wrapped in their political biases or their personal reputations that they don't look or they can't see.

The EV is twice as large as the hotel area where 10 hotels have risen in the last five years. In the EV, twice the size, yet only one real community facility threat and one phony threat.

Current zoning is far, far from perfect -- there are real threats to the neighborhood here -- but the rezoning is 53.9% worse.

What part of "53.9% more development" is unclear?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

DHCR hearings on demolition eviction

August is a busy time for government hearings. It's that small window of opportunity for government to escape notice while everyone is on vacation. (That hearings are even allowed during August is a disgrace in a democracy.)

Tuesday's DHCR hearing was something of a diversion.

DHCR currently allows landlords to demolish buildings solely for the purpose of evicting rent stabilized tenants and rebuilding minus rent stabilized tenants. It's just another way to skirt rent protections, along with owner-occupancy according to which a landlord can evict you from your home for his personal use of it (reminiscent of feudal driot de seigneur, which also included taking your wife and daughters -- if they were worth money, that would be next on the agenda) and luxury decontrol. By allowing landlords to compensate evicted tenants for a limited number of years, rather than requiring landlords to return the tenants to the rebuilt building with their previous rents, DHCR is encouraging landlords to evict and demolish and eliminate affordable housing.

Demolitions should be allowed only if the tenants are endangered by a structurally unsound building, not to endanger tenants merely for the landlord's profit.

Yet the hearing didn't address the question of whether demolitions should be allowed in structurally sound, inhabited buildings. Instead, the hearing concerned whether the whole building must be razed completely to the ground or only partly to the ground to allow for such evictions and how much or how little the evicted should be compensated for their loss of home. Sort of like asking whether murderers should be required to clean up their victims' bloody corpses or may they leave them lying around the house or in the street. Surely these are the wrong questions. They assume too much. This is a world stood upside down.

The best testimonies -- perhaps the best given by Monte Shapiro -- emphasized that demolition should only be allowed if the building is structurally unsound, that tenants should be relocated in comparable space in the neighborhood at comparable rents and, after the structure is rebuilt, offered comparable space at comparable rent in the rebuilt structure. That would deter landlords from demolishing solely for the purpose of building a new structure, as several people put it, "in no significant way different from the original structure except without the rent stabilized tenants."

The demonstration prior to the hearing was attended by a crowd unusually large for the steps of City Hall. Our Councilmember Rosie Mendez spoke first and coordinated the speakers who included Martin Connor, Gale Brewer and Dick Gottfried, a few others; Deborah Glick's office helped organize the demonstration. Councilmember Tony Avella appeared but had to leave early for a Council hearing. Paul Newell, who is challenging Sheldon Silver in the democratic primary, attended as well. Silver didn't show.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Zoning Hearing

The hearing yesterday showed a community deeply divided. All the influential political and institutional players in Community District 3 lined up in favor of the rezoning. Opposed to the rezoning were the grassroots, especially from areas in immediate danger of luxury hotel development that the plan leaves unprotected, like the Bowery and Chinatown.

Humor was provided by those electeds, including the Borough President, who clearly didn't know the details of the rezoning but spoke in support anyway. The coordination of power was evident throughout.

More cynical was Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), which packed the hall with a large group in orange T-shirts to shout their support -- for reasons that were unclear since the plan does not protect Chinatown.

Word has it that AAFE is in on recent meetings to plot a rezoning of Chinatown, a feeding frenzy for the developers, their fronts and shills and all the poverty pimps. No doubt AAFE will get their piece of the pie. They know where their bread is buttered.

The only disruption at the hearing occurred when an AAFE supporter in orange T-shirt stood up from the audience and tried to shout down testimony opposing the plan. In later testimony AAFE accused the plan's opponents of being disruptive. The delicate audience was not so impolite as to point out that AAFE's glass house has a broken window.

Perhaps the most significant testimony of the day came from a Judson Memorial chaplain who denounced City Planning's zoning study for failing to address adequately or at all the impact of the rezoning on the communities of the Lower East Side. That zoning study (the Draft Environmental Impact Statement) is the legal basis of the rezoning action. It presents the statistics but ignores or downplays the impacts. Both the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and Hunter College presented preliminary studies that give a much deeper and clearer picture of the impact of the rezoning.

In the street outside the hall, a large crowd from the Coalition to Protect Chinatown/Lower East Side protested City Planning's refusal to provide any zoning protection to the low-income neighborhoods surrounding the zoning area. Downtown councilmember Gerson addressed them saying he opposes the plan. But his testimony indoors was identical to most of the supporters of the plan: he will support it if the percent of affordable housing is increased. He also asked for protection for Chinatown and the Bowery, but he didn't condition his support for the current plan on it, so it was a feckless, toothless demand, no more teeth than a toad.

The plan provides height caps on new buildings throughout the zoning area but brings a projected 53.9% increase in development (height caps don't limit the quantity of development, they merely redistribute it among more buildings). Only 10% of the total development will be affordable housing.

The plan also ends the community facility bonus which was used to build above current FAR. If there were big money in dormitories and hospitals, the EV would be sprouting huge facilities everywhere, just as the Bowery and south of Houston are growing huge hotels. But there's no money in such facilities, which is why at most we see an occasional doctor's office used to boost FAR a couple of stories. The last dorm built in the residential EV was built with the intent to convert to residential apartments. That's where the big money has been.

Here are the numbers from DCP's study:

Projected development in square feet

NEW PLAN - - - - - - CURRENT
in 10 years (sq ft) - - - - - - in 10 years (sq ft)

commercial sites
396,863 - - - - - - - - 450,928

25,374 - - - - - - - - - 25,374

total commercial
422,237 - - - - - - - - 475,302

residential sites
3,891,399 - - - - - - 2,289,681

216,853 - - - - - - - - 178,529

total residential
4,108,252 - - - - - - 2,468,210

Total projected development
4,530,462 - - - - - 2,943,512

53.9% more development under the rezoning than would occur under current zoning.

total affordable units under the new plan:
456 (comes to less than 456,000 sf)
or around 10% of the total development

Testimony on EV/LES rezoning

There are at least four legal, as well as many substantive, problems with the EV/LES rezoning proposal currently before the City Planning Commission.

Four legal problems:
1) CB3 Task Force members who voted on the proposal represented conflicts of interest as they or the organizations they direct stand to gain directly from the rezoning,
2) FIOA-obtained documents show that Chinatown residents were systematically excluded from the discussions of a rezoning that will impact their neighborhood as much or more than the rezoning area itself,
3) the Bowery alternative was not included in the DEIS and
4) the availability of air rights is not clearly rendered or studied in the DEIS.

Re (1), CB3 Task Force members included the Director of LES People's Mutual Housing and the Director of Cooper Square Mutual Housing, both of which will directly gain from the Inclusionary Housing bonuses included in the plan, the Executive Director of GOLES and the Executive Director of Cooper Square Committee, both of which are involved in affordable housing management and will expand their operations and funding base through IZ-created housing in the plan, a partner in the Red Square development, which will receive additional residential market-rate FAR under the rezoning. All voted on the proposal.

Re (2), the Chinatown community was systematically excluded from the Community Board 3 rezoning discussions and process. No less than $50,000 was spent by CB3 on outreach to Chinatown during the rezoning discussions, yet the rezoning was not mentioned or even hinted at in all that outreach. (I have, through the FOIA, all the documents related to the $50,000 grant and how it was spent.)

Re (3), at the June, 2007 Scoping Hearing for the EV/LES rezoning, Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development along with the Coalition to Save the East Village and Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, all requested that inclusion of the Bowery in the rezoning be considered as an alternative in the EIS. DCP failed to respect this community request, although their guidelines require the consideration of alternatives.

Re (4), the availability of air rights is the single most significant determinant in this rezoning. If air rights have been consumed in the development rush south of Houston Street east of Bowery, then this rezoning is too late and will provide little or no benefit to that area.

Substantive problems: As proposed, the rezoning will disperse the communities of CD3 and will result in a net loss of affordable housing. Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development recommends that the East Village not be rezoned until some protection is in place for Chinatown and the Bowery. Reasons are given below.

1. The rezoning will bring 53.9% more development. With the Inclusionary Zoning "A" application amendments, the EV/LES rezoning will add 53.9% more projected development over what would be developed under current zoning (vide: Notice of Completion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, pp. S-7,S-8, table S-1 and pp. S-39, S-40, table S-6; adding commercial and residential square footage together).

It is hard to believe that this rezoning is being advertised and sold to the Lower East Side community as a downzoning.

2. Only 10% affordable housing. Worse, only about 10% of the projected new square footage under the amended rezoning will be affordable housing. Subtracting projected commercial square footage, still only 11.6% of new housing units under this rezoning plan will be affordable housing, very little of which will be available to low-income households.

In plain terms, 90% of the development planned under this rezoning will be market-rate intrusion into the neighborhood under the best-case scenario. This rezoning is a give-away of the East Village/Lower East Side to market-rate development that will bury forever the communities of this place and its unique historical character.

3. Wrong area is being rezoned. Current R7-2 zoning appears to be working well to protect the East Village. Nothing out-of-scale has been built in the East Village in the last five years. Development continues at a rapid pace, but it is all contextual. The East Village obviously does not need immediate zoning protection. But current C6-1 zoning is allowing the Bowery and Chinatown to be decimated. The Bowery and Chinatown are in immediate danger of out-of-scale overdevelopment and community displacement. Yet the Bowery and Chinatown are excluded from the rezoning while the EV is being rezoned.

DCP's figures show that the rezoning's "contextual" height caps will not limit development; they will merely redistribute development. Our current low FAR caps have successfully limited development in the residential East Village. 53.9% more development in the next ten years is not protection. We will see warehousing of apartments, phony demolitions and accompanying wholesale evictions and rooftop additions scarring the skyline on avenues that have maintained their context and character since the Civil War.

Why the EV/LES plan should not be implemented as proposed:
The Department of City Planning's DEIS failed to investigate the single most important determinant in evaluating the proposed EV/LES rezoning: the availability of air rights throughout the rezoning area. If air rights are not available in the rezoning area under current FAR, then the rezoning will do little or no good to Community District 3 but will do great and irreversible harm.

Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development asks that the availability of air rights be investigated before any determination be made on this rezoning. In any case, the rezoning should be delayed for the following reasons:

A. The EV is not in current danger of overdevelopment -- nothing out-of-scale has been built there in the last five years, probably for lack of air rights (current FAR is below the local average bulk and upscale speculation is not directed towards community facilities) -- so the contextual rezoning offers little or no protective benefit for the EV.

B. The rezoning will allow a greater as-of-right FAR, encouraging out-of-scale overdevelopment.
i. The entirety of Avenue D and parts of the residential section of Houston Street will be given as-of-right FAR increases, rekindling the kind of out-of-scale overdevelopment that ended five years ago in the residential EV. This overdevelopment will compound displacement pressures on a community already suffering under the onslaught of speculators, the loss of community-oriented businesses and residential displacement.

Even an already out-of-scale development like Red Square on Houston Street, which under current zoning cannot be expanded for residential use, will receive in the rezoning plan a boost of nearly twice its current residential FAR (this was confirmed by personal communication from DCP).

ii. The failure to reduce the FAR to contextual levels on Chrystie and Delancey Streets will encourage upscale developments there that will radically, pervasively and unrecognizably transform those low-income neighborhoods and the low-income neighborhoods surrounding those streets, uprooting unique, historic ethnic thriving low-income communities.

iii. The upzoning of Chrystie Street to 145 ft and 8.5 FAR will profoundly and adversely alter the Chinatown and Bowery communities, bringing rapid gentrification to a low-income but thriving neighborhood in no need of gentrification. Secondary displacement will spread throughout Chinatown and the Bowery uprooting the community and its many businesses.

iv. The end of air right sales entailed by the height caps will encourage owners of small properties to enlarge to the newly increased as-of-right FAR, since they will no longer be able to sell their FAR. We will see gut renovations accompanied by wholesale evictions, warehousing of apartments in anticipation of redevelopment to full FAR and rooftop additions scarring the skyline of avenues that have preserved their context since the Civil War.

C. This rezoning protects the EV at the expense of the Bowery and Chinatown, C6-1 zones vulnerable to upscale hotel development. Leaving Chinatown and the Bowery unprotected will encourage a rash of speculation and overdevelopment there. These historic neighborhoods will disappear before anything can be done to protect them.

D. The rezoning will cause a net loss of affordable housing. The affordable housing brought into the neighborhood by the Inclusionary Zoning provisions also brings with it 80% market-rate housing and as-of-right FAR increases in addition to the IZ bonuses. The rezoning also allows non IZ as-of-right FAR increases which reduce the percent of affordable housing relative to overall projected development to about 10%. The effect of gentrification and community upheaval, offsetting the 10% affordable housing introduced, will almost certainly cause a net loss of affordable housing. Furthermore, most of the newly created affordable housing will be unavailable to the majority of the residents in the Community District 3, whose incomes are below most required levels. Creating affordable housing is a laudable goal but creating it through upzonings and market-rate bonuses that destroy neighborhoods is a sham, the human cost of which is too great to support.

E. Approval of this rezoning will leave the Bowery and Chinatown out in the cold. The political will which created, pushed and realized this rezoning plan originated from the EV, from the dedication of Councilmember Margarita Lopez and the deep-pockets of the East Village Community Coalition located on Avenue B. There has been no evidence of political will, funding or dedication, beyond the will of the residents themselves, to protect the surrounding areas. Meetings concerning the future of Chinatown have specifically excluded Chinatown residents, while various funded development and business interests have been brought to the table.

F. Consequences for the Bowery and Chinatown. It must be abundantly clear to any canny, experienced observer of honesty and intelligence that if this rezoning is approved without a protective plan for the excluded areas, those excluded areas will be left without support, influence and funding for the protection they need. Current gestures to protect . Chinatown and the Bowery will leave them prey to development interests, development fronts, poverty pimps and agents of gentrification.

In other words, approval for this plan, which has money and influence behind it, must be immediately tied to protection for Chinatown and the Bowery or else Chinatown and the Bowery are lost. Protection for Chinatown and the Bowery cannot be left to a separate future plan that will be a feeding frenzy. Once this current plan is approved, and the EV movers and influencers achieve their ends, there will be no political will to offer meaningful protection against that frenzy.

If, however, approval for an EV rezoning is made contingent on a program to protect Chinatown and the Bowery, the EV political will which brought the current rezoning proposal thus far will be brought to bear on the protection of Chinatown and the Bowery. The entire district will benefit by the collective influence of each part of the district in mutual interest, both those in need of help and protection and those capable of helping and protecting.

G. The discriminatory character of this rezoning. Below are figures from the 2000 census which show that the rezoning is geared towards a white population and excludes the overwhelming majority non-white population of the district. If freedom of speech does not include the freedom to speak truths, then that freedom has no purpose. Here is the truth:

According to 2000 census data, 70% of the white people in CD3 live in the area to be rezoned. In fact, in 2000 there were more white people in the rezoning area than Asians and Hispanics combined:
Whites in rezoning area: 32,672
Asians in rezoning area: 16,070
Latinos in rezoning area: 15,572
Blacks in rezoning area: 4,286

We all know that since 2000 upscale whites have flocked to the rezoning area. Now look at who lives outside the rezoning area in the district:
CD3 whites outside the rezoning area: 13,724
CD3 Asians outside the rezoning area: 41,801
CD3 Latinos outside the rezoning area: 28,623
CD3 blacks outside the rezoning area: 7,347

There are 5.6 times more non-whites than whites outside the rezoning area in CD3 (whites: 13,742; non-whites 77,771). Inside the rezoning area, rapid development, though contextual, has brought more whites into the neighborhood; they are no doubt the majority today. Outside the rezoning area non-whites remain the hugely overwhelming majority.

These truths speak for themselves.

Summary and compromise proposal: the rezoning plan will bring at least a 53% and possibly as much as a 124% increase in development than no rezoning, according to DCP's DEIS, only 5% or at best 9% of which will be affordable housing. The rezoning is, according to DCP's DEIS, an upzoning for market-rate development, any way you look at it.

Currently, the residential EV (R7-2) is in no urgent need of rezoning. Chinatown and the Bowery are -- they are C6-1 zones, prone to pervasive and devastating hotel development.

A possible compromise to consider: proceed with the C4-4A rezoning of the C6-1 zone south of Houston, from Forsyth to Pitt Street (included in the DEIS) without the IZ upzonings, and delay the rezoning of the East Village until some protection is in place for Chinatown and the Bowery.

I appeal to the integrity and strength of character of those behind this rezoning plan to support such a compromise.

Rob Hollander, Ph.D.,
Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development

Sunday, August 10, 2008

From the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors




September 27, 2008

6:30 - 9:30 p.m.


Bowery Poetry Club

308 Bowery

one block north of Houston st.

music, poetry and film

proceeds benefit the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN)

a grassroots organization working to preserve

the historic character of The Bowery

admission $10 per person

checks payable to:

Bowery Alliance of Neighbors

184 Bowery #4

NYC, NY 10012

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Three pressing issues all at once: rezoning, eviction policy, class-action suit against rent hikes.

1. Rezoning
Deadline tomorrow, August 7, to submit opinions to Borough President Stringer on the rezoning that will bring 53% more development than current zoning, less than 10% of which will be "affordable" housing, and leaves Chinatown and the Bowery unprotected.

City Planning's Hearing on the rezoning: August 13, 9-11am, Tishman Auditorium of Vanderbilt Hall, New York University School of Law, 40 Washington Square South.

2. Eviction policy
DHCR's hearing on their proposal to allow tenants to be evicted for gut renovations with little or no compensation. Tuesday, August 12, 10am-4pm Spector Hall, 22 Reade Street.

Demonstration prior to the hearing, organized with the help of State Assemblymember Deborah Glick, on the steps of City Hall, 10am, then march together to the hearing.

3. Class action on flat-rate rent hikes
Class action law suit against the flat-rate $45-$85 rent hikes for low-rent tenants. The Rent Guidelines Board allows landlords for the first time to impose a flat rate $45/one year, $85/two year lease increases on stabilized apartments. This flat rate discriminates against low-income renters. The Board is unmistakably trying to "cleanse" the city of low-income renters by increasing their rents even above the percentage increases applied to higher-paying renters. Legal aid needs to hear from tenants who wish to participate in the law suit. Call 212 577 3964.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The EV is being upzoned far more than anticipated

According to the Department of City Planning, the proposed EV/LES rezoning is expected to bring 53% more development in the next ten years than current zoning would bring over the same ten years.

That's only expected development. Add potential development and the rezoning will allow an incredible 124% more development than current zoning would allow over the next ten years.

It is hard to believe that this rezoning has been advertised and sold to our community as a "downzoning."

Current FAR in the EV is so low that few air rights are available to build with -- that's why nothing out-of-scale has been built in the EV in the last five years, while huge developments surround us in the commercial zones from 3rd Avenue down the Bowery and south of Houston. The low FAR is a cap on development. The much-touted height caps of the rezoning simply eliminate the transfer of air rights from one site to another. They don't limit development any better than the current FAR caps do. They simply redistribute the development.

The height caps of the rezoning will actually encourage owners of small buildings to build to the new maximum. Under the rezoning they can't sell their air rights, so the only way to add profit is by building to the max. The maximum, under this rezoning, has been increased from 3.44 to 4.0. Expect rooftop additions, demolitions and redevelopment, gut renovations with additions and the accompanying wholesale evictions.

The only downzoning for the EV in this plan is the elimination of the community facility bonus and the FAR reduction of a small area south of Tompkins Square Park.

DCP's numbers tell the true story: we're being upzoned for development. DCP looked at all the available buildable space under current zoning and under the rezoning and found:

53% more expected development and 124% more possible development under the rezoning than under current zoning.

And, btw, less than 10% of the expected total development will be affordable housing. Most of that won't be low-income.

DCP did not study the availability of current air rights. If air rights have mostly been consumed south of Houston, then there is little benefit to this rezoning. It seems to me that no decision can responsibly be made about the value of this rezoning until the availability of current air rights has been assessed.

Here are the actual figures from DCP's DEIS:

4,530,389 sq ft of commercial and residential development expected under the rezoning plan.
2,944,512 sq ft of commercial and residential development expected under current zoning.

Less than 450,000 sq ft of that development will be affordable housing, using DCP's sq ft/housing unit averages.

Source:Notice of Completion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, pp. S-7,S-8, table S-1 and pp. S-39, S-40, table S-6.
It is available in pdf here:

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Borough Prisident's review of the rezoning plan

August 7 is the deadline to submit comments to the Borough President on the EV/LES rezoning, before his draws up his recommendation to the City Planning Commission prior to their hearing on August 13. Send your comments to
or to EV/LES Rezoning, Manhattan Borough President's Office, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10007.

Please ask him to object to City Planning's decision to hold three hearings on the same day in the same room, limiting comments on the EV/LES rezoning to two hours (9-11am).

Last June, the scoping hearings for the EV/LES rezoning lasted all day, including an evening session. Two hours is not enough time for the final public hearing on the future of our community -- it's not even long enough for the elected officials to have their say at the hearing. Holding all three hearings on the same day ensures that the public will not be heard.

Ask the Borough President to demand that City Planning devote a full day to the EV/LES hearing, including an evening session for working residents.

I will post my own comments on the rezoning soon. Below is the BP's notice requesting public comment:

Public Comment on the East Village/Lower East Side Rezoning

Pursuant to the New York City Charter, the Borough President's Office reviews, evaluates and develops
recommendations on land use applications to the City Planning Commission as part of the Uniform Land
Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process. Public input is crucial to Borough President Stringer in
considering and evaluating land use applications.

The Borough President is currently reviewing the East Village/Lower East Side Rezoning, a proposal by
the Department of City Planning to rezone 111 blocks in the East Village and Lower East Side.

If you would like more information on the East Village/Lower East Side Rezoning currently in ULURP
review, please visit the Department of City Planning's website at:

If you would like to submit comments to the Manhattan Borough President's office regarding the East
Village/Lower East Side Rezoning, please send comments by August 7 to

or to EV/LES Rezoning, Manhattan Borough President's Office, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor, New York,
NY 10007.



如果您想就东村和下东城的重新规划向曼哈顿区长办公室提出建议,请在8月7日前,将您的建议发送到com。 您也可以送到EV/LES Rezoning, Manhattan Borough President's Office, 1 Centre
Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10007。

Solicitud de Comentario Público sobre la Rezonificación del East Village/Lower East Side
De conformidad con la Carta Magna de la Ciudad de Nueva York, la Oficina del Presidente de Manhattan
revisa, evalúa y desarrolla recomendaciones sobre aplicaciones de uso de tierras ante la Comisión de
Planeamiento de la Ciudad como parte del proceso de Procedimiento Uniforme de Revision de Uso de
Tierras (ULURP por sus siglas en Inglés). La participación pública es crucial para el Presidente de
Condado Stringer en su consideración y evaluación de aplicaciones de uso de tierras.
El Presidente de Condado está actualmente revisando la rezonificación del East Village/Lower East
Side, una propuesta del Departamento de Planeamiento de la Ciudad para rezonificar 111 cuadras en el
East Village y Lower East Side.
Si le gustaría obtener más información sobre la rezonificación del East Village/Lower East Side,
actualmente bajo revisión de ULURP, por favor visite la página web del Departamento de Planeamiento
de la Ciudad:

Si le gustaría presentar comentarios sobre la rezonificación del East Village/Lower East Side a la Oficina
del Presidente del Condado de Manhattan, por favor envíelos antes del final del día del 7 de Agosto, por
correo electrónico a o por correo regular a EV/LES Rezoning, Manhattan
Borough President's Office, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10007.