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, February 4, 2015

Notes From the ULURP Meeting

Barfola. Hogwash. Unconscionable. Ugh. Vomitorious. Revolting. Dismal. Depressing. Hopeless. Disheartening. Ugly. Demoralizing. Discouraging. Mean-spirited. Useless. Gruesome. Loathsome. Offensive. Repellent. Ghastly. Nauseating. Hateful. Vile.

If I never see or hear from a member of MTOPP again, I'll die a happy man.

Oh, and Laurie Cumbo and Alicia Boyd really got into it. That was the best part!

Otherwise, you were best off staying home to watch reruns of Full House.

Pitiful. Truly pitiful.


kingscounty said...


MikeF said...

I blogged it live. It went pretty much as I expected.

Paul Galloway said...

Welp, I thought about going but now am glad I didn't.

I'll stick with planting trees - no one's yelled at us yet for doing that. They're going to need some in front of all these new buildings.

Alex said...

At least we have one less thing to think about, given that our opportunity for input is gone.

diak said...

"I'll stick with planting trees - no one's yelled at us yet for doing that."

Give it a little time, Mr Galloway. Given the track record of this neighborhood, someone's bound to try to organize an anti-tree initiative....

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Don't laugh! When we got 18 trees planted on our barren block, people came to me to say how they'd had them removed years earlier because they aided the drug dealers, and gave people a place to hide behind at night in order to mug people.

It's important to remember how far the neighborhood has come since those dark days. And it certainly wasn't MY doing.

Zach S said...

I was at the meeting last night, and yeah, it was chaos. I'm new to the neighborhood and NYC (moved here in Aug 14) and found your blog early on, which in turn introduced me to the zoning study issue. I have a few questions, either for you or anyone else who is more informed than myself. Apologies for the length of this but these are complicated issues.

Although I'm not a fan of they way MTOPP present themselves, at least at public meetings, I sympathize with their goals: maintaining the character of the neighborhood, preventing widespread upzoning and luxury units, promoting affordable housing (not just nominally - TRULY affordable).

I think most of us in the community probably share those goals. From what I've seen, the tension between MTOPP and other community actors on this issue amounts to an intra-movement disagreement on tactics - by that I mean that ultimately most of the people in the community are on the same side and have similar goals, and thus are part of the same movement, even if they might not think of it that way.

The tragic part is that if the sparring sides of the movement can't find common ground, the status quo is that the luxury high-rises will continue to pour in, and more and more people are going to be displaced.

MTOPP's actions - shutting down public meetings, shouting down fellow members of the community, trying to stop a City Planning-led zoning study at all costs - are justifiable if it's true that the city-led process can't be trusted and that promises have been broken and can be expected to be broken again. If that's the case, maintaining the status quo (which is bad) may be preferable to a rezoning that only accelerates the luxury units (which is even worse).

I've had trouble determining the basic facts of the history of this process for the neighborhood. I heard some people at the meeting last night who argued that City Planning, at one point, promised downzoning to community members only to turn around and propose upzoning in their official documentation.

If there's a theme for what I've learned about this mess so far, it's that there is a lack of trust between the community and the city. The ULURP meeting last night was a perfect example of this. The way the meeting was conducted by the ULURP committee was absolutely bizarre. There were no introductions, no brief 1-minute recap of who they were, what the meeting was, what they hoped to accomplish. I've never witnessed anything like it. Alicia Boyd spent the first 20 minutes of the meeting demanding they at least say their name, and I think almost everyone in the room agreed. In a way I felt sorry for the ULURP committee members because they were the objects of ridicule and screaming and all of that, but if they can't muster the courage to say their own names, they don't deserve to be up there. They deserved the scorn, and whomever organized the meeting deserves it as well. How can one expect to build trust between the community and the city administration when it can't even be proved that the ULURP committee members live in the neighborhood?

Similarly, how was the ULURP committee chosen? Who made the decision? What was the process? How many applications were received? How long will they serve on the committee? None of this information was provided.

There were rule changes midway through the meeting, to the effect that no more than 2 people from the same organization could speak. That kind of rule change wouldn't pass muster in a 7th grade junior national honor society meeting. Why would anyone expect it to fly at a public meeting in Brooklyn on such an important issue? It's a joke.

(Wow, this is way too long! I had to break up the comment into two separate posts)

Zach S said...

Coming into the meeting, I tended to side with those who would rather that we work with City Planning - you may not get everything you want, but at least you get a seat at the table, you compromise and at least prevent the status quo from continuing. But what I saw shocked me - MTOPP's behavior I expected, but I didn't expect the incompetence of the ULURP committee, at least not to that degree. MTOPP was going to yell and shout throughout the meeting, no matter what happened, but the committee shot themselves in the foot before they even started (waiting 42 minutes to start the meeting without an announcement? Starting only after someone yelled at them to get the show on the road? Not identifying themselves? Where were the adults? Did I dream all of this?)

Despite all of this, I hold out hope that there's a solution that everyone can agree on. Someone mentioned (I believe Alicia?) that they were commissioning an independent zoning study from Hunter College (or perhaps that it had already been commissioned? It wasn't clear). That sounds like a way to bring in an independent third party that is more trusted, while still having the credentials to create a zoning study that can be used by the city.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of going with the Hunter College study? Would it elongate the process or make it shorter? Would City Planning ultimately still have to do a study, or would they be able to adopt the Hunter College study?

Who was on that ULURP committee last night? Who chose them? Were they people hired on a Craigslist ad or were they community members? What was the process to select them? Is any of this information publicly posted anywhere? If not, why not?

Again, the whole situation is frustrating because ultimately we're all on the same side. The tactic of shouting down others at a public meeting is repellent to me, but if the administration reps, CB, and ULURP typically acts with such incompetence, that creates so much distrust that I can see why MTOPP would see it as their only resort.

diak said...

Not to mention the excessive amounts of shade that trees bring. And added pollen. And all that additional leafy debris in the fall. Of course, worst of all is that tree-planting is all part of the gentrification conspiracy—oh yes, rich white folks just lo-o-o-ove trees. Reminds them of their country houses...

But more seriously, the meeting sounds, well, I don't have any more synonyms for what you wrote. So how about:
ULURP= Unfortunately Ludicrous Uninformed Rhetoric Prevailed

MikeF said...

When one founds MoCADA, one can't be called an Uncle Tom by intelligent people.

Anonymous said...

It was a very sad, yet weirdly entertaining (certainly more entertaining than watching Full House in my view), spectacle. The truly sad thing is that Alicia was not at her worst last night. What made the night one of the more memorable CB9/MTOPP confrontations, however, was the extent that other non-MTOPP community members were getting into it with each other. Apart from people ridiculously referring to the blog author was "KKK," I heard so much antisemitism (even if I heard it from one person, that's one person too many) last night that it wasn't even funny. I'm glad that people called out Alicia for her BS, even if she tried to shout them down.

By the way, in another crazed antic, she flat out went up to the committee table and took the water pitcher and plastic cups (meant for committee members) to serve her friends; this was during the heat of the meeting and she did it to make a "point" I guess, though it was a weird point to make.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for your post. You bring up many good points, especially with respect to how the meeting was structured; introductions should've certainly have been made (or at least a roll call!). And if it was true that the Board received non-member applications to serve on the committee weeks ago but didn't act on them until now (and I have no reason to not believe those allegations given how passionate many are on this issue), then that is a shame.

Having written that, and while MTOPP may have a noble ultimate goal, they aren't going to accomplish anything if they do nothing more than alienate the powers that be and members of the community. Using racist and antisemitic language isn't going to get their point across; in fact, it does nothing more than discredit the group. Still, I don't think MTOPP is opposed to any study being done (whether its by Hunter College or by the City), but rather that they want certain streets that they deem adequately "protected" already left off the study and to place certain height and income restrictions for new buildings in other areas. It would be counter-intuitive if they didn't want a study completed as the status quo is allowing buildings like 626 Flatbush.

Note, I write this not as someone who inherently opposed to buildings like 626 Flatbush in the area (also, I acknowledge that there are already fairly tall buildings surrounding Prospect Park now), but as someone who believes that there should be some reasonable limit on where they are placed in the community.

-Prospect Heights Resident

Alex said...

Zach, it's way to much to rehash, but here'a QUICK summary:

This whole initiative was sparked by 626 Flatbush. There are basically no height restrictions on our thoroughfares. DCP said, yea, we can change that, but we need to distribute the potential for density elsewhere, like TWO BLOCKS of Empire Blvd.

This made AB, who lives adjacent to Empire. go nuts. There's no way to get zoning changes without DCP involvement in a study, so the community route is a pipe dream. She's a disingenuous, self-centered person who decided to obstruct the process to everyone's detriment, including her own. She's made several disparaging remarks about people who live in affordable housing, so don't buy her talk track about concern for residents. She's concerned for herself only. CB9 does represent the community, and a necessary step is hearing out DCP's ideas, too. They're the only game in town.

Zach S said...

Thanks, Alex. There was a Truthout article posted just today that was very informative ( which featured quotes from both Tim and Alicia, among others. Alicia is quoted as saying:

"We are the densest populated area in Brooklyn and the second most affordable. We don't need or want more people. We don't need the creation of affordable housing."

So I guess I was wrong to think that MTOPP supported the creation of affordable housing. To be fair, though, if it's true that the creation of affordable housing typically entails the building of 20 story high-rises (to ensure the developers make a profit), then I can understand her perspective.

babs said...

I didn't attend the meeting last night as I was pretty sure it would be the horror show it was. Just one comment re:street trees. I've heard the same story about street trees aiding muggers and drug dealers - that's why there are virtually no tress on some streets. Additionally, my landlord, who's lived in the house he owns since 1979, has been trying to get the city to remove the massive, beautiful oak tree in front of my house for at least as long as I've lived here - ten years - because he doesn't like raking leaves and sweeping up the acorns it drops every year. He also cautioned me about joining the COP program (I did anyway, but that seems to have died on the vine as well) because it would make me, his house, and his family "targets."

babs said...

With rents going up as crazily as they have around here the one benefit is that other, more expensive, neighborhoods are no longer that much expensive if you don't need much space. When the choice comes down to paying $1500 for a one bedroom with a one hour commute to Manhattan on the 2/5 every morning and "community" members who call me a honky and a racist (when I was none of those things, apparently, for the first 9 1/2 or so years I lived here), I'm thinking that the tranquility of a small studio in Brooklyn Heights might be worth the extra $400/month anyway. Besides, I do own way too much stuff - here's to forced minimalism. Maybe I'll write to Laurie Cumbo and offer her my support and help on any zoning study she gets off the ground in the meantime.

sc said...

I don't actually know most of the ULURP committee but I don't think they're all incompetent even if they weren't following all the proper processes. I spoke to the Chair just before the meeting and he had literally lost his voice from a sore throat. So I can understand his hardly saying anything.

I think we have to keep in mind that all the community board members are unpaid volunteers with other jobs and responsibilities. That is one of the reasons boards and community groups hire a professional planner to represent them through the zoning process. That being said, I wholly back those who insist on the board members representing the community and not any other agendas.

Paul Galloway said...

Babs if they ever cut down that gorgeous red oak on your block I'll cry.

I bring those acorns to Prospect Park and toss them around in hopes they'll make babies.

babs said...

You and me both, Paul! Although there I've gotten beaned more than a few times by falling acorns - I once watched as a squirrel threw one right at me!

Unknown said...

Why isn't Boyd arrested? Why can she interrupt the proceedings of the CB with impunity? Surely there are laws against abusive conduct at public hearings, especially when it makes the conduct of business impossible.

I suspect a couple nights in the pokey might induce Boyd and the rest of her gang to change their tactics.

Alex said...

Unknown, that would embolden her. That said, I have a friend who is the district manager in another district, and she said that she would have had her removed for her behavior, and she doesn't understand why pearl hasn't asked Alicia to be escorted out.

Bob Marvin said...

Arresting Boyd would just make her a martyr in the eyes of her greenshirts.