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, June 18, 2014

PPEN et al Lose Suit Against 626: Silver Linings Abound

the full decision was uploaded by it here.

The Honorable Supreme Court Justice Peter Moulton has rendered his decision, and the answer (and now I jump to the legalese) is ixnay on oppingstay the ojectpray. 626 Flatbush may proceed as planned.

I just read the decision and the pro bono team representing the petitioners did a nice job of laying out the case against the State Housing Finance Agency for not conducting proper environmental review. In essence, the judge concurs with the complaint that the review was not thorough, but states that it was sufficient in this case, given that the building is being built as of right and poses negligible impact on the neighborhood, that being his opinion, and his being the opinion that matters in this case. The judge is unwilling to suggest that the zoning itself might be wrong for the plot's "environment," and therefore, despite the fact that this project is supposed to be reviewed in accordance with a strict process spelled out in the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act, hey, why bother. That particular law (known as SEQRA) seems to have been designed to prevent unwieldy urban and suburban sprawl, but neatly applies in the case of 626, which it occurs to me is an example of the NYC equivalent of sprawl...UP, not out. Granted, some upward sprawl is necessary, but IMO, how and high and where must be weighed carefully and often. That's what SEQRA is supposed to do, and in the opinion of many, what it did NOT do.

Okay, that paragraph was a mouthful, but the fact is the zoning is super wrong in the first place, so basing a verdict on a wrong premise just shows you really CAN'T fight City Hall. And while the lawsuit loses this round (an expedited appeal is likely), you gotta blame the lack of attention to planning in our neighborhood, and the blame can be shared widely. Whatever. It was a longshot, given that the City and State generally encourage development of all sorts, and the fact that 20% affordable housing sounds, on the face of it, pretty swell to most cursory onlookers. Problem is, of course, an awful lot of people priced out now won't even qualify because they make too MUCH money, and while CB9 residents will likely get preference, it will be from throughout the district, not just around the park. As I'm acutely learning from the zoning process, CB9 is quite big and encompasses a heck of a lot diversity beyond the mosaic of Lefferts. PPEN vows to fight on, not just through the appeals process, but beyond, and to try to work towards preserving what's best about the neighborhood, and fighting the forces that would tear it apart.

Bottom line though, we can most likely look forward to a couple of years of construction, followed by a few hundred new neighbors, who will undoubtedly be lovely people, and in time, given the breakneck pace of development around here, 626 Flatbush will become but a reminder of an opportunity missed. The height will undoubtedly cause other developers to salivate, but as the folks from City Planning reminded us, there aren't a whole heck of a lot of lots out there - even if you buy up a bunch - that would allow for another tower so tall. I'm not so sure about that. That's why rezoning is a must. Now.

The silver linings? Well, the neighborhood has not been so organized, feisty and informed in years. People are waking up from what might be called a long post-crack-epidemic, post-9/11 civic slumber. I know I'm always saying it, but WE'RE the adults now, and it's time to start acting like it. We still have a say in how our community hangs together and grows, and it's time to start flexing some muscle and listening to each other. PLGNA, PPEN, CB9, The Parkside Empire Merchants Association...there's a new energy and passion out there. I'm buckled up...y'all ready for the ride?


Anonymous said...

I disagreed with the PPEN's (very impressively handled) lawsuit, but if the huge amount of energy and interest these groups have gathered affects some positive change in other arenas then we all (opponents and supporters of 626) will have won.

Kimplicated said...

Sorry to hear we'll have 25 stories. But I agree with leffertspapa that we all will all benefit from community activeness & cohesiveness.

no_slappz said...

Crain's NY Business News offers a clear-headed view of those who try to hold back the tide.

Editorial -- LICH's clumsy closing

A fruitless fight in Brooklyn cost SUNY about $100 million.

By Crains -- June 20, 2014

The tortured saga of Long Island College Hospital finally appears to be over. It should never have happened, of course.

The State University of New York agreed in June to sell the money-losing Brooklyn medical campus to developers led by Fortis Property Group, which plans to shrink the health care component and add housing.

It is essentially the same deal SUNY was going to make a year ago, before Pollyanna-ish residents, self-interested unions and ambitious elected officials mounted a legal and political challenge that cost taxpayers and students roughly $100 million to keep an unneeded hospital open.

The locals were misguided, but their reaction was human: People like having a hospital nearby. Blinded by emotions, they ignored that their hospital was outdated, superfluous and uneconomical, and that "saving" it undermined wiser efforts to make health care delivery in Brooklyn sustainable.

SUNY's three years of ownership of Long Island College Hospital were certainly disastrous, but the market had spoken long before the university system acquired it. The business simply did not have enough paying customers to survive. Subsidizing its existence merely threatened the viability of other hospitals in the borough.

The unions, representing nurses and other hospital workers, were trying to save their members' jobs. That is what unions do. But even they came to see that the trend away from hospitalization—and patients' increasing preference for Manhattan's brand-name providers—necessitated a reduction in Brooklyn's number of beds. One downsizing beats a systemic collapse any day.

The politicians have no excuses. Those who opposed the hospital's closure were either pandering for votes or in denial.

Bill de Blasio made it a cause célèbre, getting arrested at a protest and not abandoning his rhetoric and litigation until after winning the mayoralty. Public Advocate Letitia James was even worse, continuing her counterproductive resistance even after ascending from a Brooklyn City Council seat to her citywide post.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries were among the few local elected officials who didn't jump on the bandwagon.

The sale and conversion of the hospital was also delayed by judges who pushed the state into an incredibly unwieldy settlement. SUNY had to keep the zombie hospital open despite a monthly loss of up to $13 million, wait out an absurd scoring of bids by a panel including third-party amateurs, and grant exclusive 30-day negotiating windows to bidders it didn't want.

Making health care efficient has never been so cumbersome or so costly.