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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Interesting Take From Neighborhood Acronyms

CHTU. PLGNA. PPEN. The Q has great respect for the missions and individuals therein. And so I'm happy to post the letter verbatim, sans (much) comment, that they sent to the brain trust at Community Board 9, i.e. Executive Committee. The Q doesn't agree with the assessments herein, except the anti-harassment part, but no matter. The three groups continue to brave the rezoning controversy with dignity and intelligence, so I give you the PPENPLGNACHTU position on matters crucial to the neighborhood's future. I'll save my rebuttal for another time!

Dear Members of CB9,

On March 22, the City Council adopted Mayor De Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability plans, which will impact any future zoning in our community. We know that CB9, among many other Community Boards, opposed that plan, which we applaud.

In numerous meetings, both public and private, Winston Von Engel from Brooklyn City Planning has made it clear that he works for the Mayor, and that he believes upzoning of areas within CB9 is inevitable. Therefore, we think that to proceed with rezoning at this time would be detrimental to our communities.  CB9 should not be among the first community boards representing a group of neighborhoods to be identified by the Mayor for his rezoning plans.  

The groups signing this letter also concur that our neighborhoods should be contextually zoned, which means zoning should be aimed at preserving the diverse, low-rise historic character of our neighborhoods and not upzoned to match current outliers such as 626 Flatbush Avenue, or in accordance with the Mayor’s MIH and ZQA plans. This area of contextual zoning includes major corridors and avenues within CB9.

We therefore urge CB9 to join with us in an effort to preserve existing housing and neighborhood character, protect rent regulated and presently affordable housing, and pursue new creative options to meet the future housing needs of our district that are not dictated by private development requirements. Development should be on a scale that is fair, that will not overly burden infrastructure or services, and that has democratic participation and cooperation of the community. 

Finally, this effort must also serve to protect tenants and local merchants from harassment and displacement. In this regard, we ask you to develop a CB9 anti-harassment plan since we are not included in the neighborhoods that Mayor De Blasio has targeted for anti-harassment protection.


Quest Fanning on behalf of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA)

Leah Margulies on behalf of the Prospect Park East Network (PPEN)

Esteban GirĂ³n on behalf of the Crown Heights Tenants Union (CHTU)


Alex said...

Is "upzoning" code for converting two blocks of Empire to residental? If so, this letter is deeply disappointing.

Quest said...

I would think the word "outliers" makes it clear enough, Alex. No code. The language around "upzoning" here is meant to demystify, not add to the confusion. As far as Empire (and EVERYTHING ELSE) there should be more dialogue, and no-one should be bullied into silence by MTOPP or anyone else.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I'm sorry to disagree here Quest. But by taking ugly underused Empire off the table for discussion (DCPs point) you've essentially ceded the point to MTOPP. DCP isn't bullying you. They're asking that Empire be on the table. We're not encouraging meaningful discussion. We're shutting it down with this bizarre protection of fast food alley. We're not talking about displacing ANYONE! Meanwhile the madness continues all around us. Why is PLGNA so opposed to housing on Empire?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

It's simply innacurate to call DCPs position bullying. I find it refreshingly honest. I'm continually amazed how you could say no to such a reasonable starting point for negotiations

JMB said...

"The language around "upzoning" here is meant to demystify, not add to the confusion."
On the contrary, I feel like "upzoning" is one of those words like "hipster:" it's got a slippery definition and means different things to different people depending on where they stand. Does it have to do with building height? with rent/sales prices? with the utility to the neighborhood? What exactly is going UP? I'm opposed to some of those things going up, in some areas of the neighborhood, but not all of it.
Unless there's an agreed definition, there's no real dialogue happening.

Jacob said...

Rezoned to match historic character?
Maybe they should rezone to match the historic character of 33 story Tivoli Towers? or 16 story Patio Gardens? or perhaps it should be more like the prewar buildings, like Braicebridge Hall, Ocean and Caton, 10 stories?
Maybe people want it to be more like "the other side of the park". So we should make it like 9 PPW, 80% lot coverage, and floor area ratio of 13, which is about 4 times as dense as 626 Flatbush? Good enough for Senators and movie stars?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Another complaint I have is that we were the first to open the negotiation. We asked for height limits and downzoning to slow development. To my surprise they said yes, but only if we'd concede that it's impossible for them to conclude a neighborhood study without a new opportunities to build housing during a housing shortage and affordability crisis. Reasonable and fair. Who was the bully in the first volleys?

Alex said...

Did anyone other than Alicia Boyd state that outliers would be considered the standard? I think the opposite is so - the point was to prevent outliers like The Parkline. I have major doubts that anyone at DCP would be like, "Oh, yea, now that it's here, let's call 23 stories contextual!" There is no district in which that has happened.

I get wanting to halt the process now. It has degenerated into a total sh*tshow. The current CB9 lineup needs to be removed from the equation somehow, because they've played the game against MTOPP completely incorrectly in my opinion, and they've given Alicia way too much legitimacy and airtime, which was completely unnecessary. But I do think that the letter makes some ambiguous (if not misleading) statements about the intent and spirit of rezoning, which is going to make the conversation more complicated going forward.

Anonymous said...

I think they're saying they want no private development. Well what's that big luxury building about to kill my quality of life on Bedford? Thx guys for helping prevent that.

Quest said...

It's really a good idea to actually READ what someone commented before replying to it.
A few responses seem to work off the premise that I was sawing the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I wrote.
For example:
I called MTOPP bullies, not DCP.
Calling for more dialogue about Empire is hardly taking it "off the table".
We need to find ways to improve (and expand to more people) the dialogue in our community. An important part of that is listening.

Alex said...

I read your comment carefully as to not have a knee jerk reaction to it. I agree, somewhat, with stopping CB9 from moving forward.

I don't agree, though, that more people need to be brought into the process. Just because people have an opinion does not mean that they have an informed opinion. The solution that we need is a very simple one: height limits on Flatbush, more intense limits on inner blocks to slow/prevent the loss of historic structures and character. The two blocks of Empire in question are a dump, unquestionably. Options other than this have gotten us where we are now: crazy NIMBYs, supported by one "expert" got us where we are now, and had it not been for their input, we'd have the zoning changes we need in place already. We need less dialogue and more doing. Dialogue with know nothings and liars got us where we are now. Sorry if I sound like a snob or an elitist, but I don't believe that people who do not understand urban policy should be making decisions about it.

As for ZQA and the other thing, it's the law, so it's here to stay, and frankly, I don't see how either is a big deal. Seems mostly beneficial.

MikeF said...

Who doesn't love a debate re: the degree to which we should have representative democracy?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I think the point, Mike, is when do you close debate and start working on the actual project, which last i checked, ALSO involves participation and debate.

I'm so tired of it all. I'm ready to concede defeat and let the market have its way. We had our chance and blew it.

MikeF said...

The only thing better that the illusion of democracy, may be the illusion of lost opportunity.

Democracy isn't necessary: Subjects often are happy.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

So now you're a royalist? Can't imagine we would actually elect a King! Hah. Hah hah. Hah. er. Hah?