I wish I could say I'm done posting about the whole Lefferts rezoning thang. But I can't keep it to myself. The dung flinging just won't let up. And the lies are thicker than bugs on the bumper of an 18-wheeler driving through the Bayou.
First, the honest mistake. In his rush to get some good looking color maps of zoning in our district out to us, Ben the CB9 intern made a pretty big goof in labeling the areas of C8-2 as C2-8. Then just the other day a certain "zoning expert" brought in to talk to neighbors took a look and figured heck, that means a FAR of 10 and you could build hotels as high as the sky! Panic ensued in the "reply all" world, and the Q sent around a note to confirm that no, in fact, you cannot build a 60 story hotel on Empire Boulevard. What fool developer would try such a thing I have no idea. But then rationality has been in short supply lately, so who the eff knows.
It's C8-2, and absolutely a hotel could be built on Empire Blvd, though it would be a modest affair. Is that something MTOPP wants? Well, at the rate they're going, that's probably what they'll get, and I heard some pretty reliable whispers that exactly that is in the works. Does the Q care? Not much. It's a nice spot to visit, what with the Park and Garden and museum and all, and you'd probably get a decent restaurant out of it. Not a lot of hotels around here, considering how many people live in the area, so it could be a nice investment for someone. And technically, it wouldn't add to the density, would it? However, it WOULD probably impact some AirBnB hosts around here, so you might expect a protest or two in the hotel bar from time to time. All in a good night's sleep...
Here're the REAL zoning maps, even if they are dustier and less colorful than Ben's:
Oh, and then Suki Cheong, purportedly of PPEN but more and more sounding like Alicia, sends an "open letter" to the Community Board, using a list of emails she's grabbed probably by hijacking them from a CB9 "top secret" missive to the Board about, I dunno, parking for the meeting or something. Her letter was disowned by PPEN's steering committee later in the day, since PPEN is working on a statement of their own. Both Suki and AB have taken to sending direct messages to the 45 or so CB members aimed at influencing their votes and hearts. Which I suppose is legal and all, maybe, but in my time on the Board I can't ever remember someone hijacking the list to lobby the Board directly. Usually people come out to the meetings and speak their piece in the allotted time, and since it's our job to listen we usually do. And they don't usually shout down other speakers or serve up lawsuits to the one truly full-time paid employee, the DM, for transcribing the results of a share session into a letter to City Planning, as she was asked to do. For Suki's part, she practically helped write the resolution in the first place. She was there the night of the vote and congratulated me afterward. Sure they were pushing for a "text change" about Flatbush and Ocean specifically, but we already knew the answer from Planning was no, and this was our best shot at changing zoning around here.
I could go on and on about what normal folks usually don't do, but let's just say that these two have really gotten under a lot of our craws. Mine? You bet. Not just for writing, but for slamming our reputations every chance they get. Because votes have not gone their way, rather than moving to the next phase and reasserting their views in a rational and respectful manner, they (and I'm sad to say even a few of the Board members) are convinced that we must UNsend a letter to City Planning that was already sent, and received positively, asking for a zoning study. The letter (or resolution if you must refer to it, since it was in fact voted upon and put in formal language, voted FOR by wide majority openly and after considerable discussion) was always intended and received as a starting point for a discussion about where build-able residential and commercial could happen in the neighborhood, and gauge the appetite for certain kinds of housing, including 80/20 or 50/30/20, and of course potential height limits, and maybe up, down or side-zoning various areas to conform with modern, more nuanced zones than the ones set in place some 60 years ago. In other words, if you've actually been paying attention and not listening to the demagogues and fear-mongers, you'd know that what we SHOULD be doing right now is talking in open forums with City Planning present, listening to diverse experts and speakers (keyword "diverse") about what our community could and maybe should look like in 20 years or so. (And by the way I've met these planners and they're basically Brooklynites like you and me so don't go picturing Montgomery Burns). But no, no...that's not what's happening, and I'm ashamed to say the disorganized and poorly led Board is not making it any easier by acting slowly and unpersuassively. These ARE volunteers after all, and not all are born for the gig. But, and this is a big butt, they are not bought and sold by Eric Adams or the development industry. They're for the most part bright, committed neighbors who've lived here for, on average, probably 40 years - many from the time they were born. I can guarantee the vast majority don't want outsized luxury buildings crowding out our way of life, and they most certainly DO want to see more means-tested affordable housing built, and they generally recognize that every change to a community has benefits and liabilities. But they generally ALSO recognize that change has been and is now all around us, and that a zoning study can do little more than address some of the potential pitfalls, and plan for growth in a way that's a little less haphazard. Too pedestrian and boring for you? I've got 5 letters and an address on Sterling Street to refer you to.
I'm pretty fed up watching neighbors of mine impugn the good names of folks on the Board without the decency of getting to know who they are. I mean, I'm seriously stunned that a decent human being could live with herself after some of her 23 (and counting) emails to her battered followers, but then, she's on a mission from God and facts and reputations are hardly worthy of comment in a slash and burn campaign. Folks, I'm not exaggerating. At some point I'll need to print all 23 (and counting) and you'll see how far afield the screeds have gotten.
Don't get me wrong. As an opinionated blogger (is there any other kind?) I expect to take some hits. It's part of the deal, and I'm putting myself out there to be egged on occasion. And politicians, well, they just have to suck it up. They signed up for the job and the First Amendment is one of the things they're sworn to uphold. They're gonna get slammed, and sometimes even libeled, but that's the gig. Sorry Eric and Laurie, but you only THOUGHT you won last November! The real fight will continue til the end of your term(s). Saundra Thomas, are you out there? Maybe it's better for your sanity that you lost after all!
I'll end with this. Richard Bearak, he of land use policy at the BP's office, has put it in a way I hadn't thought of before - perhaps it'll be useful to some of you other zoning newbies too. The current zoning map shows the POTENTIAL for residential units (roughly, of course). Why potential? Because many of these areas on the map are not built out fully.
When a building like 626 Flatbush comes along, it is allowed to build the maximum number of units, at a certain height, because that's what's cooked into the map. If we want to have ANY say at all about how this potential for growth will play out, we have to do a Zoning Study. If we don't, we get no say, and you'll probably read about one after another "surprise" building that ruins your whole breakfast.
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.