The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

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.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Million Dollar Townhome Owners To Working Stiffs: Our Borders Are Closed: Try Poughkeepsie.

In a remarkable display of hypocrisy without irony or wit, your neighbors voted and expressed themselves in solidarity. And while most own homes appraised at upwards of $2 million, they voted no to Mandatory (that's right MANDATORY) affordable housing. Stunning, but not surprising. Older (and even pretty new) homeowners in this neighborhood seem to think they own the joint. They're pissed, because others might dare want a place near the park, just like them. That they can afford. How dare they!

Not one member of the committee seemed to express any interest in the City's best market-aided efforts to get rid of Fedders & Billyburg style buildings, build more homes for seniors, or require means-tested set-asides. We heard a lot of nonsensical comments about the "right way" to build affordable housing. And maybe, sometime next decade, there'll be the money and political will to do some of it, too little to late. By then, building affordable housing for the poor might be twice as expensive. Actually, by then the poor may have moved on, and the working poor will be commuting from Poughkeepsie. Maybe we can get them a discount on Metronorth tickets? The whole thing is so depressing. I don't know why I sit there and take the abuse, especially the 5 minute tantrum from Boyd who called me a punk, racist and coward for pointing out what a hypocrite she is for claiming her anti-gentrification bonafides all the while playing them up to Airbnb renters. She's a phony, but that doesn't matter. She gets what she wants. Just like my toddler. Lotta similarities actually.

It's enough to make me think that people in this neighborhood really DO want to be Park Slope. That's the way they're voting. They want downzoning ONLY, just like the Slope so successfully did through the years, selling out 4th Avenue because, you know, it really isn't the Slope, not the REAL Slope. See any black or brown folks over there? See any affordable housing? Have you seen that average incomes are over $120K? Did you know the Slope used to have huge black and brown populations? Couldn't happen here, though. Of course.

Am I the last person standing who wants downzoning on inner-blocks, with height-limited upzoning on the Avenues to allow for the building of affordable housing? Probably. Alicia says she wants REAL affordable housing. Something tells me she won't go for it on Empire Boulevard though. Why? Hypocrite. Light and garden and Euro-sensibility and parking loving hypocrite. What's sad is that the true righteous crusaders, like Crown Height Tenants Union often align themselves with her. If they only knew.

That's where we're heading folks. Park Slope. And tonight, we sealed the deal. What was hilarious was that many people on the Board and in the community actually made the arguments tonight FOR a Planning Study, though you best bet they won't be for it when the rubber meets the road. After years of wanting more affordability, the real cowards are the people who look the future in the eye, and say no to change, positive policy change that might just save not only OUR neighborhood, but the whole damn City.

Here's a fact, Jack. It's a Great Big City.

Sounds obvious, right? And it's getting denser. Community Districts all over the City are watching and feeling helpless as developers gobble up land and build the most profitable buildings for their investments. And right now business is very, very good indeed. Though land and building prices have skyrocketed, so have rents and the costs of owning a piece of America's greatest urban experiment - NYC. In a wild reversal of fortune from both post-9/11 New York and the financial crisis of '08-'09, for better or worse, we have become THE place to be, as an investor or a worker, business or resident. And so we come to the present moment.

I've lived here in BK since 1988. In all that time I've never seen a mobilization of forces that can only be called anti-housing. I make that distinction (anti-housing) because groups like Concerned Citizens or MTOPP have many arguments for their claims. But the one consistent complaint is - don't build denser or higher. Not even a little bit. We've got enough people. City and developers, please move on to the next "it" neighborhood. Why do I call this NIMBYism? Well, because that's what the acronym was coined for. Go ahead and build your damn housing. Just not here.

We have a request in to City Planning to do a study of our neighborhood, and even the Study is vehemently opposed by a few loud and omnipresent citizen activists. But that issue has been set aside for the moment by the City agency charged with such matters because they've created a series of what are called "text changes" that are meant to work throughout the City, not on any one block or neighborhood. They are, in the words of the professional planners, intended to:

a) spur or require the development of affordable "means tested" housing
b) spur the development of seriously discounted housing for low-income seniors
c) incentivize smarter, better architecture with taller first stories - spurring first floor commercial uses and going back to the pre-war model of higher first floors (don't like Fedders buildings? this one's for you!)
d) mandate (as in you HAVE to) build affordable units in any area that's been rezoned
Tonight you heard people speak out against it, and the nays have it. Oddly, what most people WANT - affordability and a diverse neighborhood - are the very things they voted against.

And that, my friends, is what I call lunacy. And really good propaganda.


MikeF said...

NYC is in the envious (?) position of not having to build housing for the working poor or middle class until employers are unable to fill their positions. present, we seem a long way from there.

However, housing the non-working poor seems to be a dire need.

ElizabethC said...

So because we couldn't agree on rezoning that appealed perfectly to everyone, we now have no rezoning at all. Perfect. So the only things being built will be luxury buildings and the neighborhood will continue to become less and less affordable. And this was completely engineered by a bunch of homeowners and people who bought into their conspiracy theories. Did I miss anything?

Anonymous said...

The same 12 home owners are making decisions for the whole neighborhood. Its so depressing.

Alex said...

EC, it's not quite no rezoning. The city is shopping around this proposal to change regulations around how structures are built (see the end of Tim's post). This is different from rezoning in our district specifically.

CB votes are nonbinding anyways. Whether we end up rezoned at all remains to be seen. We probably won't be, and I guess community groups think that there's another way to control rampant, poorly planned growth. I haven't seen any specific proposals from any of them, however. PPEN/PLGNA made it clear in a statement what their goals are, CC and MTOPP have not.

Nora Rawn said...

I almost came out to the meeting last night but I suppose it wouldn't have done any good. Hard to believe the total stonewalling of better options than the current as of right piecemeal approach.

Curious27 said...

Did you catch AB on News12 last night? She's quite a slippery individual, playing it up for the cameras as if she has the community's best interests in mind. I wonder how she sleeps at night.

cali said...

I wonder if the city will proceed with the affordable housing anyway? Cbs are only supposed to be advisorym i dont think that their decision will be the final say or am i wrong?

Anonymous said...

That's what everybody is talking about when they say white Brooklyn people are entitled - small handfuls of homeowners feel entitled to speak for everyone. They know better than the rest of us. The condescension, the rudeness in speaking at public meetings or even at small block meetings among neighbors discussing safety or FIOS or whatever, it's awful. How do these people function in the world being so self-righteous they are that willing to be rude to their next door neighbors, ugh, well, glad I'm not them. That's all I can say.

On housing, I wish we had a George Lucas billionaire to get his kicks and revenge building a 12 story low income housing project in certain people's sightline from their backyards:

Bob Marvin said...

"tonight, we sealed the deal"

Not necessarily Tim. One problem with being a member of CB 9 [or any of the CBs] is that you get sucked into the illusion that they have some real power and are actually relevant–they really aren't–community planning boards were, after all, set up by the Wagner administration; hardly a shining light of progressive thinking.

Pissed on Parkside said...

Tim you got balls of steel. I can't believe you read her ridiculous airbnb profile! She's like the original gentrifier. Entitled, privileged, hating anyone or anything new. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

You are ALL the things Ms Boyd said about you. Stop trying to hide your associations with these developers! We know everything about you!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Bob: You know, I hope, that I'm just being dramatic for fun. The whole charade is a charade, and kind of hilarious if it didn't have real world applications.

Anon: If I had real associations with developers, I'd be rich enough not to care what you or Alicia think. I did know a developer once. Come to think of it, where's that phone number...I've been middle class way too long.

Elizabeth Champ said...

Thanks. Still pretty depressing.

Alex said...

If Tim is the one with developer connections, why does Alicia Boyd prefer that we maintain a situation in which developers CAN walk all over the community? In practical terms, Tim is much more anti-development than Alicia.

If she keeps it up as anticipated, what we'll end up with is an experiment in the effects of sh*tty zoning on a community targeted by developers. Maybe we'll be lucky enough to be written about, like Poughkeepsie and their marvelous implementation of two arterial roadways directly through their downtown.

Anonymous said...

You care because YOU SEEN OUR ADVOCACY AS A THREAT. So you try to slader this courageous woman who is shining a light to your hypocrisy. You try to tar this woman and our position as anti-white, which is commonly used by defenders of a corrupt system to stifle dissent and change! If Hasidims were to do the exact same thing, I would wager a bet that all of you wouldn't DARE question their motives. Why? Because they weld tremendous political and economic power and whatever grievance they have will never come into question. Your hit pieces on us will not work because we are getting more participants each and every day. They see what is happening to their livelihood. and We will not stand it. This will not become another Williamsburg.

Anonymous said...

LIES Alex! You should know the players of this game and who they play with before you open your mouth. He and our pathetic cast of political representatives are guilty of championing gentrification!

Anonymous said...

You are in Bruce Ratner's pocket. You are in Hudson's pocket. Your posts have indicated that. We even saw you embrace one of them in person! Stop hiding!

jessica said...

Oooh the Arterial! Now *that* was a feat of poor city planning; turned Main Street into Night of the Living Dead.

I wouldn't want to be called racist or coward, but punk is kinda cool, no?

Bob Marvin said...


You wouldn't be suggesting that ALICIA, the defender of the people, has developer connections, would you?
WHY would anybody think that? :-)

Anonymous said...

(CLAP, CLAP, CLAP)....I have many times accused you of being anti-development, but your true colors are of compromise and the best of the community. It's sad a small but loud minority can get so much power. Keep up the good fight or move, no other choices left

Uh huh said...

I find it hysterical when someone trying to prove a point uses "proof" from a bias source.

Common sense and critical thinking are trees that don't flourish in everyone's yard ;)

Anonymous said...

Then move. We don't need another Williamsburg. Our community is losing its soul because people like this shitty excuse for a writer and his cohorts are trying to remove black and brown people out in favor of affluent white people. He wants to turn empire blvd into 6th Avenue.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Anon: I embraced one those big developers in person? Was it consensual? Where, at the Celebrate Brooklyn benefit? There were a bunch in the room but I don't know any of them. It was weird. But I got great seats, one up from the De Blasios, to see Chaka Khan! She's still such a superstar diva. I'm a woman, I'm a backbone indeed.

Perhaps you're thinking of my friend Jeff Kusama-Hinte? He's the one who brought me to the event, and I'll admit we get a bit huggy. Look him up. He's a producer. Made "The Kids Are Alright" and "Soul Power," an amazing documentary about the James Brown led festival that was a part of Muhammed Ali's Rumble in the Jungle. As for development, he couldn't build a castle out of blocks. He has a nice touch for decorating, however.

And you are, how do I put this delicately? A fucking moron.

Unknown said...

Putting the disappointment in your fellow board members and neighbors aside, these 200 pages of text changes will pass, even if City Council says "No". DiBlasio will veto, absolutely. Frankly trying to make all of these changes in one motion is throwing EVERYONE for a loop and has done a real disservice to how positive the proposals actually are. These are very good ideas that need positive input for revisions from every corner of the city. I do hope the "no" vote was accompanyied by a statement as to where the members like to see changes, even if the criticism is "this is too much to digest in one sitting".

Uh huh said...

"And you are, how do I put this delicately? A fucking moron."

My thoughts exactly!

Unknown said...

Who are you? What's your name? Why do you insist on lurking in the shadows?

Curious27 said...

"If Hasidims were to do the exact same thing, I would wager a bet that all of you wouldn't DARE question their motives."


"Our community is losing its soul because people like this shitty excuse for a writer and his cohorts are trying to remove black and brown people out in favor of affluent white people. He wants to turn empire blvd into 6th Avenue."

Even more laughable!

FlatLen said...

Last night at CB17 they voted against as well. This is what I observed. When they hear "we are from the government, and we want to help you," they figure, check your wallet, be suspicious and skeptical. They just don't trust this whole thing. They believe affordability will mean affordable to outsiders who want to move in, and that the local people who live here and who might be having problems with affordability, will be pushed out anyway. This is about helping developers, not local people. In addition, they value their single family homes and brownstones. They don't want more apartment buildings going up next door and down the block.

Anonymous said...

Way to promote class welfare Tim. It is natural to seek out someone to blame for gentrification and to make them the scapegoat, but it's misguided. Just like it's misguided for MTOPP to target you.

What you are basically asking for is for homeowners to become very altruistic, and put others' economic interests before their interests. Homeowners, all things being equal, like to see home price appreciation. I don't think anyone thinks that is a crime. It is a natural desire. Affordable housing, however, usually hurts home price appreciation, and in some cases, may lead to price decline. Because equity in someone's home is likely to be the bulk of their wealth, home price appreciation (or at least price stability) is going to be a very important priority for homeowners and you can expect that it will likely override other desires (such as cultural diversity). It is not that homeowners don't care about cultural diversity or lower income renters. They just care about home price appreciation more. So you can expect them to vote according to what protects their property values.

The real issue here is the CB's make-up. Why is it stacked disproportionally with homeowners? You can't expect homeowners to vote against their top priorities. The solution is the board be composed of people who better represent the make-up and needs of the community.

Which brings me to another question. Does the majority of residents in this community want more affordable housing to be built? I am actually unsure. I think what the majority of renters want is for their own cost of housing and living to not go up. Building affordable housing that is above their current cost of living, may actually be antithetical to this aim. Further, increasing density in the neighborhood may increase amenities and lead to more net in-migration, further putting pressure on rents. Unless a current PLG renter wins the lottery and gets selected for new affordable housing, it actually hurts them. This is why MTOPP exists, and why I have always been skeptical of blaming AB for misinforming them. MTOPP opposes affordable housing being built because it only benefits the lucky token few who get new units, and hurts those left behind.

And this finally brings me to your motivations. Which, correct me if I am wrong, is: you want to preserve cultural diversity in the neighborhood. I think this is honorable, but who is the beneficiary of this goal? I think it is: 1) you, someone who appreciates cultural diversity more than further home price appreciation and 2) posterity, who you want to enjoy some cultural diversity and 3) the few people who win the lottery and receive an affordable, rent regulated home. But who does it leave out? The masses currently in market rate apartments who will eventually be forced out. They will not enjoy the token cultural diversity that you've protected--they'll be gone from the neighborhood. What you want (cultural diversity) is still a selfish aim, relative to the many people who won't be able to enjoy it because they're gone.

So let's stop demonizing people who have conflicting interests. Everyone is entitled to what they want out of life. This is why we have a democracy, where people vote on what they want, so differences can be reconciled in a civilized manner. If the CB is not representative of the community--that is the real issue. Shouldn't we start there instead of instigating class warfare?

Charlita said...

Did the committee provide a basis for its vote? By that I mean some formal writing that sets out specific objections to the proposal. If so, what are those specific objections? It's hard to evaluate the merits of the committee's objection based on your post.

Alex said...

Your points above are well taken, but two facts remain: it's too easy to build too high on Flatbush and other R7-1 zones, and Empire is a sh*thole that could be put to better use, housing being one good option (affordable or no). AB is getting in the way of solving two obvious problems. All of her other concerns are taking place, regardless of whether CD9 gets solutions to the two problems above or not. Inclusionary vs non-inclusionary is actually a secondary if not completely irrelevant issue in my mind when you take a look at the problems that zoning can actually address. Zoning is a blunt instrument that's usually used to make sure that people can't f*ck up a whole neighborhood, and that's what most people who are even paying attention to the situation would like to see - in other words, guard rails.

ElizabethC said...

So the solution is to provide no affordable housing at all? How is that ...better? I find this line of thinking so frustrating. Although yes, if at least the homeowners would admit their concerns are about their home values and not "wanting to do affordable housing the right way" that would be *something*. Is it too much to expect people to vote against their own monetary self interest? I guess it is. I like to think that if I was a homeowner I'd be able to. Perhaps that is too idealistic.

ElizabethC said...

Also, arguably the "concerned citizen" who so coldy remarked that if PLG is getting too expensive "there are plenty of other places to live" on the PLG list serve is probably doing more to promote class warfare than TIm.

Anonymous said...

Anon November 19, 2015 at 1:28 PM, MTOPP has been viciously attacked by this so called writer and his sleazy commenters. We are constantly attacked by the people who don't appreciate what we have at the moment and that is cultural diversity. Cultural diversity means you respect and appreciate the differences, not do away with them because you are too ignorant and have a colonialist attitude. Most of the people who celebrate gentrification are of this mindset. It's another way to rid blacks from their own neighborhoods by calling it "urban renewal".

We are told to open our arms and welcome newcomers and we do while landlords with the help of crooked politicians, continue to push us out. Our voices are falsely characterized as hate speech. It's a tactic used to stifle dissent. 626 is just a start of all the horrors to come. Most of the renters there aren't going to give a damn about the neighborhood other than to get police officers to harass long time residents for qol issues. It will be a launching pad for landlords and real estate developers to start aggressively pushing out old timers and don't think they don't have a racial bias because they do and whites with a lot of money are much more preferable to them than a black or latino person. Before you know it, most, if not all of our cultural events will be gone and then the cultural diversity Tim loves to talk about will be gone. But Tim being the sick perverted voyeuristic fat ass that he is, would rather concern himself with Alicia's personal and private life and her finances. It makes for good gossip but it doesn't help with the problem we are dealing with.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Hmmm. Anon 1:28 I'm torn. I applaud your honesty. I wish more townhome owners could call the anti-housing pro-preservation stance a matter of their own interests. I can (pun intended) appreciate that line of thinking. But I haven't ONCE heard it uttered. Because that's the kind of elitism that would elicit antagonism from their allies - the anti-gentrification folks. Only well-educated lawyerly types could possibly manage that feat of self-defeating coalition. It's like the way the Republicans get working class whites to side with supply-side agenda. But many of us can see through it - including the folks at City Planning. I admire their dogged determination to cut through the crap.

I do admire cultural and racial diversity as a goal. But I've grown more and more skeptical that whites (in particular) really cherish it as much as they say. I've had an up-close look at school segregation and whites are wusses when it comes to crossing race lines. They're not nearly as liberal as they are on paper. It's heartbreaking really, to grow up to realize it was all just college-talk. That's why promoting economic diversity is the simpler integration goal in both schools and communities. We can only hope that the culture piece will follow. I don't think whites in this neighborhood have any idea how quickly the cultural diversity here is disappearing. And I don't think care as much as they say.

Which community are you talking about when you say the CB is not representative? It's an extraordinarily narrow group - I can't think of maybe two people aren't above 40, has a home and a car. It's the gentry, and yes, they're voting their self-interest. If it truly reflected the wider community, I would have an easier time respecting its judgments. But alas, it's not. And that's actually why I'm glad its role is only advisory. If it had more power this town would become even more of a town of class privilege. To hear Brooklyn townhome owners rail against the privilege of hedgefunders and corporate managers - man, that's rich. It's really just a matter of degree. And jealousy.

If only to call out the hypocrisy, I'll keep at it. Oh, and the Class Warfare you speak of? I'm not the one who's anti-progressive-housing. That's the first shot that was fired, and I'm merely playing defense. The City's policies are completely clear-headed, especially if applied to the whole City. They boil down to: protect the integrity of established communities; build along transit corridors and under-utilized non-landmarked areas. And insist on affordable units with every new project. This is how the City should grow. Because the alternative is that there won't be enough supply, and prices will continue to rise unabated.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Charlita: Sorry that I'm so cynical I can't even seem to characterize the anti crowd effectively! I'll put it simply. The anti-City Planning crowd is convinced that the City's primary agenda is higher density. Which, technically, City-wide, it IS. City Planning is about planning growth so that it's not all market-rate. They want to rezone because it's how they can affect things. Are they doctors wanting to operate when the patient is fine? I dunno. Guess it depends on your perspective.

The Committee feels, if I may be so bold, that adding any density to the neighborhood is bad. So is adding height, or incentivizing tear-downs. They believe that by giving developers a mandate to build affordable, it will mean more people. And I'd agree with that. But only by 20-30%, and only in buildings in areas that either choose to build affordable (voluntary) or areas that are rezoned (mandatory, if MIH is passed.)

For the most part, as we've seen, we're adding people and buildings "as of right," no help or hindrance needed. The question before us, I think, is whether or not to add the 20-30% where we can. I say yes, they say no. And I'd add that pretty much all the community voices that speak up at these things are anti. They include some very passionate and articulate people, and I include AB in that bunch. Also Suki, Alan Berger, Janine Nichols, Sarah Prud'homme, and a couple of Alicia's pals. No one, I repeat no one, sides with City Planning. Except yours truly. I know they're out there, but they don't dare speak up for fear of getting screamed at. And who can blame them?

Here's the irony in all this. It appears, if the census is to be believed, that we're actually LOSING density in the neighborhood right now. I bet I know why. The packed houses are becoming one families (like mine, 13 years ago). And the apartments are becoming less crowded. Newcomers often come here looking for more space. Just a hunch. If that could be established, it might be possible to suggest that adding a few hundred more affordable units won't affect infrastructure a whole hell of a lot.

BUT, you can guarantee that a rezoning will get the City to look at this stuff for the first time in a long long while. Will things improve? Yeah, I do think we could get a new school, some better local bus service, upgrades to sanitation etc. Maybe not. But maybe it's just not that big a deal. But it's a really big deal to the families who get a shot at the housing. Do that all over the City in every district, and you could start to make a dent in housing needs. Or, again, maybe it just doesn't matter. I'm beginning to wonder if all this hemming and hawing is a big waste of time. It's fun though.

Alex said...

Anon, I don't know how to tell you this any more plainly: MTOPP's actions do nothing to address your concerns about changing demographics, both economically and culturally. Wake up.