And so, with two "new development" posts in the last two days, the Q hopes to have painted a fairly full picture of the enormous change happening all around us, not tomorrow, but right now. If my hunch is right, it's about half what is actually being planned but not announced. I just noted, on a walk near my house, the enormous number of projects on Clarkson to my east. No 23-story towers; just high-end market rate building after building. It doesn't take a genius to see where the neighborhood is heading. I never would have dreamed it'd go down like this, and that so many people would be pushed out so quickly. A building owner need only do the math, and then a mere matter of will and tactics to white-fy a building. Okay, upscale. But if you happen to be black, you can be pardoned for the conflation of the two.
And so, I'm once again led to the question: what on earth could be gained by stopping a zoning study? Curbing the march of gentrification? That's a joke, right? That would be like stopping moving bus with paper bag.
No, the only two blocks that seem to REALLY be affected by any of this MTOPP crap are on Empire, between Prospect Park and Rogers. This is a fact - pretty much everywhere else that's not landmarked or protected by super-low zoning will (I said WILL) receive an enormous increase in density. The zoning allows it. It allows it now. Or as Richard Bearak, zoning czar at the BP's office likes remind me, there's a great deal of "potential units" cooked into the current zoning.
And now we're told that hotels may be coming to Empire. They could be built "as of right." Fine. If MTOPP doesn't want residential built on Empire, let's give them hotels. In fact, that would provide for a lot more jobs than Self-Storage facilities. Where, I'm told, a couple employees is all you need to run the whole damn operation. At least a hotel hires dozens of folks. And the tourists buy stuff locally. All in all, isn't that what MTOPP should be supporting? Economic activity for local residents? It is the Movement To Protect the People after all. I'm assuming then that it is not the movement to protect any single resident's right to rent out space (hmm, kinda like a hotel) to foreigners (hmm, like tourists) and refinance his/her house every time gentrification once again spikes his/her home value through the roof and into his/her lovely garden and then have the gall to accuse others of taking money at the expense of the little people. Hey, if you own a home right now you'd be tempted to pull out some of that sweet equity yourself, wouldn't you? I recall one commie acquaintance calling it "blood equity." Stuck with me for years. Didn't stop me from refinancing though...I mean, c'mon, wouldn't you? At least I have the respect for your intelligence to admit it.
The MTOPP fight, as currently defined, is not really about low-income people of color or saving a neighborhood from gentrification. It's about preserving the quality of life for people right next to those couple blocks of Empire. That's NIMBYism at its very worst. Scaring the pants off of people, tarring and feathering decent people with calls of corruption and racism, all in the name of what exactly? Keeping Empire Boulevard as it is? Or more likely, keeping those two blocks of Empire commercial and therefore uninhabitable? To think of the tiny piece of real estate that has now taken up so many people's headspace. It's like they're living rent-free in my brain. Which, by the way, is zoned R2-E, which stands for Ready To Explode.
Now they say they want to rewrite the CB9 resolution. Which I include again below, asking that you please show me the "smoking gun" that would prevent us from moving forward with City Planning. Those of us who've actually discussed this process rationally with the powers that be know that nothing in the resolution is fact or binding. Everything is open to interpretation, conversation, changes. Just as it would be if you rewrote it. Except now we've wasted weeks, and it will probably drag on for months, or at least until Planning gives up on us and moves on to, I dunno, Bensonhurst.
So why, some have asked, is CB9 not willing to rewrite it? Well, if they'd get off their ass and call some ULURP committee meetings, maybe they would. Or maybe they wouldn't. Majority rules, you know? And no one I've spoken to wants Alicia Boyd in the room, dictating terms and making threats. That's probably why Dwayne's been reluctant to engage at all. Heck next week's CB9 meeting doesn't even have the issue on the agenda. Probably wants to get a reasonable and event-free meeting under his belt, new chairman and all, and after last month's disaster who can blame him? The new ULURP chairman is Ben Edwards. Ben is the president of the Lefferts Manor Association. Good guy, though hardly known for aggressive leadership. Is he right for the gig? I guess time will tell. At this point, I hardly care. Sorry, Ben, not to be more supportive. By the way, when are you going to call a meeting? See you soon...
Frankly if the whole process implodes, once again, we'll get what we deserve. Nothing. And the neighborhood will be redefined and reimagined by others - those "greedy" developers we hear so much about. Developers who, by their very nature and role in society, are in one business - maximizing profits through building. And they WILL maximize profits. And we WILL live with whatever results that brings. Greed? You could call it that. I would call it "the system in which we live." Hardly specific to Lefferts, or Brooklyn, or New York, or everywhere else in the world but the Park Slope Food Coop. And even THEY'VE been making some pretty suspect upgrades to the shopping scanners and the furniture on which they rest. Greedy hippies...
Will we have opportunities to say what we want where and how high and with how many affordable units? Will we develop relationships with City officials that show we're mature enough, and civil enough, to put some of our most Backyard Wishes aside to share in the City's growth, housing AND quality of life goals? Are we willing to sit down to discuss schools, transportation, sanitation, roads, parking, traffic, public safety, public spaces and all the rest, in the spirit of cooperation?
Oh, and one last thing. You know those lovely houses and apartment buildings that are the very fabric of this place called Lefferts? Know how they got built? Know who financed the building of them? Know who came in, not terribly long after Brooklyn merged into NYC, and took advantage of people's desire to live near the Park and near the Museum and Garden, and the nearby public transportation? Those very precious homes on precious tree-lined blocks, some of them built to specs exactly like their next door neighbors house or apartment, rowhouses don't you know, just dripping with period details?
Yep. Greedy developers. Doing what they do. Remaking the landscape, whether in 1914 or 2014.
The offensive resolution, for your perusing pleasure. Be forewarned though...it's pretty terrifying stuff, not for the weak of heart. You might want to read it with the lights on and with a friend - a friend you TRUST.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.