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.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Going For Woke

A recent charity baseball game between Liberals and Ultra-Liberals ended in an alarming brawl earlier this week, portending greater fights to come. In the age of Trump, those of us on the left of the political fulcrum have become a bit bat-shit crazy.

In my own life, I've witnessed scores of recently "woke" liberal whites blast other whites for not being woke enough to the reality of ongoing institutional and historic white supremacy. Say what? Who in their right mind after going to liberal arts school doesn't know from the 400-year+ story of oppression, slavery, racial and religious warfare and colonialism? That's crazy talk. What's not crazy is the sudden realization by most liberals that they haven't done jack-shit about it, except complain, go all-organic and subscribe to The Nation.

And so, now that #45 has unlocked the inner activists in us all, it's should not surprise us that tried and true black-and-brown activists who've been fighting on the front lines for years and decades feel a bit miffed by the sudden show of resolve and courage. I'd love to tell you how all this is playing on the hyper-local level in  my school's PTA and the school district's Community Education Council, but that's for another post. (Actually the blackface controversy at a "progressive" Park Slope elementary school is rich enough to chomp on.)

The Q has noted how the Independent Democratic Conference has been quite the bone of contention lately around these parts. The Anti-IDC contingent have great points, viewable in condensed form here, or in this other dumbed down thing from the New Kings Democrats. The eight state senators who make up the IDC, of course, have quite a different take on the utility of their unconventional approach to dealmaking. Instead of linking to their propaganda though, (which somewhat unfairly I just did for the anti-IDC), I'd encourage you to follow this much more thorough explanation of how we got here. If you stick around to the end, you might see that it's not as simple as egomaniacs bashing each other. There have been some solid results from the give and take:

So. YOUR State Senator Jesse Hamilton joined the IDC as a Jesse-come-lately. BUT he had his reasons, and he will elucidate them if you ask. However, to my mind, he hasn't done a very good job of explaining to the full electorate what he's been up to and why it's been the right move for this district - for the black and brown residents he represents. So for a moment, I ask that you consider that maybe, just maybe, his heart and even his mind have been in a progressive place even if you see it otherwise.

Where this becomes super thorny is when people start calling Jesse a turncoat or traitor or (worse yet) a Trump Enabler. He could, and probably should, just calmly explain his motivations and tactics. Instead, because the loudest voices calling him out are largely white, he and his surrogates have made a good deal of noise about how these attacks are in fact racist in nature and origin. It must be pointed out that anti-IDC-ers tend to yell loudest about THEIR representatives, most of whom are solidly whitey-white, so if Jesse feels like he's being singled out, well, yeah, in HIS district he is. Cuz he's the man. But there is plenty of venom flying around for the original IDC gangsta Jeff Klein and his galpal Diane Scavino too.

Before you dismiss the racism call out of hand, though, I encourage you to read the below from a Jesse supporter who has a refreshingly honest take on what it feels like to be called a Trumper when your whole life you've been about justice and civil rights. And it begs the question - isn't it better at this point for Democrats to figure out how to discuss the issues without being shrill and combative all the time? It's true that Hamilton has to beat back a primary challenger in Zellnor Myrie. But that's how democracy is SUPPOSED TO WORK! You don't get your gig for life. And if you make intense changes just after winning your last primary and join a different caucus (I'm looking at you Jesse!) it's YOUR responsibility to explain it to us, not ours to simply get where you're coming from. It was either a dumb or gutsy move, but that's what politics is all about sometimes. And btw, there's still time for you to come back Jesse.

Anyway, here's Rev. Karl McCall's take, and it's well worth your time.

 Reverend Karl McCall wrote in Amsterdam News...

As a proud Black man who grew up in Brownsville, I know all too well the racial divide in New York City. I’ve been “woke” since I been born. I understand that division gets in the way of our common humanity and is grossly politicized. As a longtime community activist fighting for social justice and racial equality, today I see that the anti-Independent Democratic Conference movement has thrown the Black and Brown elected representatives in our community into the spotlight and under criticism.
Senator Marisol Alcántara served as the national chapter coordinator for the National Action Network. She did not start fighting against Trump in 2016, she has been battling Trump with the Rev. Al Sharpton long before popular hashtags. As an immigrant, her resistance started when she was born. She is a fighter for our community—a strong, vibrant Afro-Latina organizer who knows the meaning of being woke. She has experienced her own share of racist and sexist attacks.
Today we put Alcántara dissenters on notice. We will not tolerate the petty attacks. We, as men, have an obligation to stand by Alcántara and the women in our community who fight for our families.
To our mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters, we say in the words of the great Tupac Shakur: “Time to heal our women, be real to our women.”
In my lifelong efforts as a community activist, I have learned to always put people over politics, while fighting tirelessly to end racial inequality for low-income New Yorkers from East Flatbush to Mott Haven.
Over the years, I’ve watched issues such as low-income housing, education and immigrant rights move from being considered unrealistic, hard left policies to becoming mainstream Democratic policy positions. These changes are the result of Black and Brown voters organizing and advocating for their own interests. I’ve been glad to see our progressive allies join the National Action Network in advocating for these reforms, but I keep hearing criticisms about the same three Black and Brown IDC members.
The IDC has eight members, but only three receive the brunt of the abuse.
No matter what the IDC’s legislative achievements are—$15 minimum wage, paid family leave and Raise the Age, and what they mean for communities of color, somehow Marisol Alcántara, Jesse Hamilton and José Peralta are being disloyal for making a choice to deliver for their constituents. They are woke because they are challenging the political structure that has not been getting any results for people of color.
People of color understand that even when we stand up for political parties, the party doesn’t always stand up for us. The school-to-prison pipeline has existed in New York City for more than 40 years, no matter which party controlled City Hall. Being woke teaches you that it’s the system not political parties that is the problem. I am done with agendas, I am about action and thinking outside the box.
I’ve seen far too many newly woke white progressives say some version of “Now that Trump is in office, I’ve decided to become politically active.”  When your body and your freedom aren’t on the line, you have the luxury of suddenly deciding to become politically active. For activists like me, politics are life or death, freedom or captivity, survival or failure. When a woman like Marisol Alcántara, who has spent her life fighting for communities of color all around the city, makes the political decisions she was elected to make, I know beyond any doubt that she is doing it for the good of her community.
I’ve seen anti-IDC protests, and what I want to know is where were these activists when Eric Garner was killed and the National Action Network was out in the streets? Where were they during the protests after Ferguson? I want to ask these activist groups to do one thing: Listen. Listen to the people of color who have been in this fight before Trump’s election and who will be in this fight after Trump leaves office. Their constituents are lucky to have representatives who are willing to take a risk for them, even when it isn’t politically convenient. So criticize all you want, but leave the thinly disguised racism and the self-righteous attitude at home.
I am woke enough to know it will take all Democrats and advocates working as one to defeat Trump and the political system that brought him to power.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Caton Flats < Cate Bush

Ugh. Since when does adding "flats" to your name sound like a good idea? Flats. Flat tires. Flat empty spaces. Flat walls. Flat paint. Minnesota Flats. Flatulence. Flatty, flatyy, flat, flat. I guess because it's at Caton and Flatbush. Why not Flat Cate? Cate Bush? Kate Bush! That's it! Who do I send an email to? Here it is folks. Another odd rendering of Cate Bush:

The Q's been a fan of this project since inception (the plan's inception, not the Q's inception some 8 years ago, or my personal inception some 51 years ago). Affordable housing for lower income working people. Who would have thunk? The talk about incubator/tech/kitchen space for the longtime Caton Market vendors seems pretty hi-falutin and even incongruous given the sorts of ma/pa merchants who've been there since the colorful hangar-like structure went up, replacing what was then an outdoor Caribbean flavored flea-market situation. And while the idea two decades ago was to give the vendors access to customers all year round by building an indoor mall, it rather had the effect of keeping customers OUT. Not many folks got used to entering the mall on the regular to check out wares. And in fact, the food and merch vendors OUTside on the plaza did much better than the indoor businesses. Coconut milk or cut sugar cane anyone? Y'all can't get that kind of sidewalk food in Foodieville, now can you. Slowly but surely, much of what made this neighborhood unique is being erased. Progress they'll call it. Inevitable even. But no less sad.

And what's with this picture of the Caton Market from that Our Town piece? Never been there, don't recognize it. Before my time? Out in East Flatbush somewhere?

Tomorrow - Civic Minded - Local Politics Without the Bullshit

The Q makes no bones about his support of local firebrand Diana Richardson, most likely YOUR State Assemblyperson. If you're looking to get more involved in the community, I'd like to direct your attention to her monthly Civic-Minded meetings over on Empire and NY (MS 161). I hope to get there this week myself. And do introduce yourself to Diana directly. She's super approachable, and it doesn't hurt to get to know your electeds personally.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Abdo To the Rescue Again and Again

When we first met Abdo Zandani many years ago, he was struggling to find his niche on Parkside Avenue. It's hard to remember so far back, but there was a real need for internet access back a decade ago, and the the idea of the "Internet Coffee Shop" was a real thing - half a dozen places along the Flabenue gave it a go in the late '00s, even a hair salon near me own abode went wired for $6 an hour! But Abdo's most enduring skill was his facility with computers themselves, and eventually he figured out that fixing Macs, iPads, iPhones (which were still but a gleam in Steve Jobs' eye a dozen years ago) was his true calling.

I've purchased computers from Abdo, had them fixed, and sent many satisfied customers through the years. It's been particularly gratifying to stop in and see his 80-year old father spending time there. And get this - the old man spent more than 40 years with the USPS after immigrating here and now has a full pension and owns property. Back in the day, such a job could really take you somewhere. Who has a pension anymore? We're all effing doomed.

Here was post back in 2013, and every word rings even truer today.

Tired of trekking to Tekserve every time your Apple product busts? Just to feel patronized and goaded into buying a replacement? Want to be able to walk down the street and talk to the guy doing the repair work and see how it's going? Parkside Avenue's Abdo Zandanni (pronounce his name Ab-Dew) is really quite the tech magician, and tells and shows you exactly what he's doing to your machine. His prices are reasonable, and I've now had not one but five friends tell me his work and speed are terrific. He fixes iPhones and laptops and Macbooks and iPads and desktops and such. He and his lovely assistant are pictured here at their "Wired" store on Parkside:

Walk Briskly, Don't Slither, to 166 Parkside and fix before rebuying

From 2013: I was initially bummed that I went out on a limb and tried to beat the drum for people to give his brilliantly named Internet Coffee House (ICH) another look after it failed to catch fire. But hey, he's now concentrating on what he does best. As an example - I brought in my crap laptop (Toshiba! Toshiba!) that had finally busted six ways from Sunday. He gave me options, but the one I chose was to say the hell with it I'll just get a new $400 machine, since I have little kids and they're likely to bust it again anyway. So he took my old hard drive out, put it in a cute little wallet size box with a cord on it to plug in as a USB storage device. Nice! Cost me next to nothing.

Try him once. I bet you never go back to Manhattan. For ANYTHING.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

And the beat goes on...

Me used to shout from the treetops, droogs. Now my type gets hilariously made fun of on blogs like F-bushed, which has quickly emerged as a must-read around here. In his latest, he pulls no punches at whitey, and they pretty much all land. Though he didn't bother to mention that ONCE AGAIN none of the rendering models are fat. So size-ist! Like chubby folks don't need homes.

You know what? I don't care anymore. I have a place to live, and as long as you let me blast my Steely Dan at 7 am, y'all can build 20 story cubic zirconias on your chimneys. You want peace and dignity get yourself a place in the Manor.

Whatevs, Kev. The future, she has arrived.

Linden, East of Nostrand. Coming soon to YOUR block?
And as predicted, plans have been filed for the Brooklyn Union Armory.

I trust the Q doesn't have to tell you which he's happier about. 250 units of housing for folks making less than $50,000. And the "Kill the Deal" crowd is called the progressives? As my gramma used to say "Criminy." Yes, public housing would have been the right move. But so would universal health care. Know mean?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Rubbin' Spoonful

Rub Is All You Need?

No, actually. You need a good hunk of meat too, but like the Spice Girls once put it "Be a little bit wiser baby, put it on, put it on." because the "two become one." (see below video for their full love makin' recipe).

And if that's not enough to get you whet (sic), local entrepreneurs wife/hubby duo Isalia Lebron and Jamaal Dunlap have something they'd like you to try. And you can try it by picking some up some of their Breukelen Rub at local boutique Awesome right here on the Flabenue at 617 Flatbush. Article from BK Reader here. And while the name Breukelen was originally a town in Holland, there is nothing Dutch in this flavoring. It's hot, baby. Brooklyn hot.

With the specially mixed East NY Blend and Brownsville Blend and now even Flatbush Blend, you're bound to dig it all the more. Full disclosure: I've eaten Jamaal's meat, more than once. And before your juvenile humor floweth over, I'll add that both times were at J&I's Memorial Day feast, with the most incredible hunks of flesh melting off the bone (vegetarians, my apologies, even I know when I'm overdoing it). Jamaal's a chef at the venerable Manhattan joint Butter, so you know he knows his shit.

Butter chef Jamaal Dunlap

And if you want to learn more about how to make the perfect barbecue, sign up for Jamaal's cooking class and tasting at Awesome on March 30 at 8pm.

Now turn those lights low, and rub the spices all over...

Friday, March 9, 2018

Jesse Hamilton, III wants to know...what's the big deal?

As I write this, New York's "progressives" are busy tearing each other apart. Sure, it's entertaining to read how the Independent Democrats are a bunch of lying, thieving turncoats who favor the Trump agenda. And it's invigorating to hear your elected officials' full-throated cries of racism amid clamour for better black education, which let's face it, we all agree on. much of the rancor is based in fact? It's worth asking, in an era of claims of fake news and hyper criticism, whether one must really use such invective when discussing the candidates vying for office in this make-or-break year.

pic by Rachel Holliday Smith (sniff...

Stopped by your State Senator's office on Bedford and Montgomery yesterday. It's a telling location for his office, actually. While his heavily gerrymandered district includes parts of Park Slope, Gowanus, Prospect Heights and even Brooklyn Chinatown, his base is right across from two crucial neighborhood assets - Medgar Evers College and the Ebbets Field apartments. Each time I'm in that area I'm struck by just how important this "South Crown Heights" enclave is right now to the still mostly black residents of Central Brooklyn. MEC was created 50 years ago to address education inequity, and provide a backbone for a neighborhood blighted by neglect and poverty from the late '60s thru today. It's a proud symbol of perseverance and a reminder of the importance of college itself to less-advantaged youth.

And those apartments! After the devastating loss of the Dodgers, and the neighborhood became predominantly African American, decent working class housing was in short supply. Ebbets (apartments, not projects!) became a needed alternative to the slummy buildings that have since been re-habbed and rediscovered, with one-bedrooms fetching $2500 a month.

I write all this to set the stage. I know you know it, but Jesse isn't just YOUR representative; to some he's a godsend. He's in many ways a product of this neighborhood, living through the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the weddings and funerals and school closings. Sure he's ambitious and an astute and persuasive lawyer, a politician through and through. But he is proud of his community, its schools, the progress on guns and crime, a longtime crusader for criminal justice reform. He went to Albany having inherited Eric Adams old seat (I say inherited because despite a strong challenger to the seat in Rubain Dorancy, it was Eric's machine that really helped put him over the top). I find it important to start any conversations of Hamilton's hits and strikes from there. I've seen him in action since long before he took this particular position, and he's put in his time and he holds close to his heart the strength of his convictions and confidence in his abilities to provide services and move progressive causes towards the finish line. He's no one's idea of a conservative.

But. Yes, but. He made an "interesting," bold, and some would say reckless choice a couple years ago that has inflamed passions and set him on a course towards what will surely be a bitter primary fight against a relative unknown named Zellnor Myrie - or "Z" to his friends. Z has raised a bunch of money already, due in part to that choice that Hamilton made, during, it must be noted, a more optimistic political climate in the shadow of the great Barack Obama. And what odd and terrible thing did Jesse do that's preordained this epic clash of wills?

He joined the Independent Democratic Conference. The IDC. And you'll be hearing LOTS and LOTS about the IDC in the coming months. Depending on whom you ask, overnight, Hamilton became either:

1) A pro-Trump turncoat enabling the state and country's regressive policies
2) A pragmatic realist who recognizes the only way to get bills passed and money allocated in a polarized world is to figure out how to work with the enemy

And before I dig into more of the criticisms of Jesse's decision to go IDC, and whether a few racist emails really amount to an unfair racist attack on Hamilton by whole groups like the Working Families Party, or whether his cries of racism are actually a political tactic to deflect the anti-IDC crowd, you gotta know the real answer to a central question. And that is...

Did Jesse joining the IDC, on balance, keep the Democrats from long-championed legislation and state leadership? The Q can find no evidence of that. The math just wasn't there for the Democrats to gain control, and so each bill and issue gets hammered out the same way as by vote, regardless of party.

So I asked Jesse - why not just go back to the Democrats, say it was a worthy experiment, and be done with it? I tell you truthfully that the IDC is feeling the heat, and should Democrats win a clear majority this fall, they're likely to go back to the fold and elect Democratic leadership, probably the first female African-American leader of the Senate. But the Repubs were going to control the chamber anyway up til now, especially since Brooklynite Simcha Felder has basically become a Republican. Never met Simcha. But I imagine his politics drifted right, and many conservative Jews fall on that side of the spectrum. In fact, his electorate might demand it of him.

So is Jesse a total turncoat? No. Are the WFP and Indivisible and the majority of education advocates racist just for attacking his methods? No. And in fact, Jesse's latest tirade against "fringe" groups like WFP is NOT helping. WFP is hardly fringe, and Jesse unwisely tried to stage a counter-rally last weekend instead of merely letting the anti-IDC do their thing. Sometimes you gotta sit one out, and maybe it's cuz he's relatively new, but I don't think his political instincts are too keen here. Were I working for him, I'd have told him that now is not the time to inflame passions further. Stay calm. Remain sure of yourself. Explain your positions. Take the heat like someone who can take the heat.

Instead, it's going to get butt-ugly folks. The Q only hopes that you look at these candidates closely for what they believe and how they interact with EVERYone. This fight over the true meaning of Democrat?

It's for the birds, y'all. But sometimes birds tear each other to shreds.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Another Bites the Dust...

Recognize this corner? Not for long.
From the article in NYREJ: It never gets easy to read the phrase "take full advantage of the emerging neighborhood." oy.
Zoned R7A, 100 Lenox Rd. allows for residential development, with the property boasting frontage spanning 44’ on Lenox Rd. and 125’ on Bedford Ave. The 100 Lenox Rd. site was delivered with building plans of a seven-story, thirty one-unit apartment building with condominium finishes and amenity space. 
“We implemented a competitive marketing strategy, creating extreme competition for this asset, which benefits from a lucrative tax incentive and the fact that it was one of the largest remaining development opportunities in close proximity to Prospect Park,” said Alexander McGee, Director at Ariel Property Advisors
The buildings are located on the Flatbush and Prospect Lefferts Garden border, a location that positions the new buyer to take full advantage of the emerging neighborhood. 
I think it's very interesting to note that this is a resale from a previous developer, and that the price of the site is nearly THREE times as much in a year. Say what?

Oh, and the saddest line of all is below, which suggests what downzoning could be doing to help us right now up here in CB9 north of Clarkson, had we entered talks with the City to determine where such down and upzoning should occur. The "A" at the end of the 2009 zoning means there are height limits. But since the community activists fighting for housing justice don't seem to care about building low and middle income housing, I've pretty much stopped caring too. My block, for instance, is already undergoing its big change, and there ain't nothing can be done to stop it, or force the hand of developers to build rent-stabilized housing. From my perspective, the war for the neighborhood is ostensibly over, the developers are laughing at our ineptitude, and it's been decided to focus on short term building-prevention at the expense of longterm income equity.

At this point, only an elected official with vision and leadership could prevent the wholesale dismantling of the non-Manor Lefferts area.Speaking of which, that kinda leads into my next post. And oh, the quote:

B.H. Tal Real Estate acquired the 5,500-square-foot property for $2,600,000 in October 2015, paying $118 for each square foot of 100 Lenox Road. This sizable lot would probably be even more valuable if it hadn’t been downzoned back in 2009. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Boo! Haunted House Becomes Pricey Apartments

To be honest, I'm not sure what I think anymore. Neighborhood stakeholders have thumbed their noses at creating affordable housing - you know below market rent stabilized? And along with the mad dash to develop the hyper desired Lefferts Flatbush (LF) area, what happens? Best use of current zoning. "Luxury" units. Topping out. Density. Blah, blah, blah. Here's Clarkson, looking east past Bedford. Seen Bedford lately? Oy.

Not so long ago it was the Haunted House of Clarkson. No one will ever know, except on blogs and in nightmares. For some, they're the same thing.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Actually, them apples look damn fine. Clean, bright, fully loaded.  Could be a game changer for folks of North Lefferts. Located as close to the Prospect Park station as Pioneer is to the Q at Parkside.
I give Western Beef a year at best. Saw many a local wandering with starry eyes. It's hard to express just how unlikely this joint would have seemed even five years ago.

The Rise of Saigon - The Fall of Brooklyn

Saigon fell in 1975. Long live Vietnam. Brooklyn, you worry me.

Just back from a family vacation in one of the most friendly, vibrant and eye-opening places the Q's ever been. It was a good thing we left visiting the War Remnants museum to the end. The brutal story of U.S. war crimes against French Indochina would have weighed heavily my whole time, and I might have missed the majesty and mystery of a country and people embracing the future with an optimism I haven't seen in the Western world.

It's not really a communist country at all. It's a one-party crony-capitalist state that really doesn't like to be criticized (sound familiar?) And most people are too busy hustling to argue. For now. When you make more money every year, it's easier to forgive the couple hundred jailed dissidents who merely had the gall to question the Politburo.

Been following things back home though! In our "advanced" society, the Q's once-maligned prediction of a Korean joint at the old Flatbush near Beekman sneaker store came true (read more on Flatbushed). Once Q-bashed now-resolutely-part-of-the-neighborhood 626 Flatbush will be getting an informal sit-down place next to Greenlight Bookstore (read more on Flatbushed.) Bergen Bagels finally opened where lively Ray's deli used to was. (read more on Flatbushed.) That Ice Cream and Coffee joint opened where Shelly's Linen cum Shelley's Toy Store was at the corner of Flatbush and Westbury Ct. (they make the confection in the basement, the same where a few of us met to talk about kindergarten just a couple years ago when it was a "community space.) Oh, and if it weren't painfully clear -  Flatbushed is back with a vengeance! #LovingIt.

While in Saigon, I composed a note to the ULURP committee at CB9. We had received from Chair Michael Liburd a link to a Village Voice article at which Brooklyn City Planning head Winston von Engel was reported to have told a Bushwick audience that (and this is NOT a direct quote) - the city is interested in preserving architectural character not preventing displacement. Read all about it if you like.

So on the painful flight home from Hong Kong, I penned the below and sent to ULURP. It pretty much sums up my thinking right now, so why have a blog and keep it to myself?


Been thinking a lot about this one. I'm sure Winston has remorse about getting quoted that way, but the fact is, his perspective is refreshingly honest. Let's suppose for a minute that City Planning is NOT a force for anti-displacement. This would hardly be a shocker if expressed more artfully. Planning is about planning for the future. It's only in a hyperventilating housing market that the mere mention of "planning" would be met with venom.

The ULURP committee has become, to my mind, less about Land Use planning and more about Keeping Out Rapacious Developers committee (KORD). I get that, and I'm no fan of big developers. One of my main reasons for remaining on this committee has been to fight for rational development - not too tall, and with plenty of new rent-stabilized below-market housing. My block is a disaster area. The committee is currently fighting for the areas on and above Empire - my family and neighborhood association lost everything a couple of years ago. You won't recognize Clarkson Avenue in 2020. It will have gone from my wife and I being the only white people on the block to us being the old-guard - part of the vast majority of middle and upper middle mostly white neighbors. That will have happened in less than 20 years. Let me repeat - a switch from all black to mostly all white in less than two decades. It's astonishing, disheartening, and I don't deny that I haven't done enough. My only defense is - I needed a place to live too.

The ULURP committee has also become a housing activism committee. It's hard not to conflate the two, and I don't know that we can separate out these issues (though I'm still not convinced that resisting rezoning can do ANYTHING to slow gentrification). Landlord rules need to change - the City needs to control its own housing laws. But is this even ULURP related?

What the ULURP committee DOESN'T do is - imagine a future neighborhood 10, 20 or 50 years hence. By insisting that all new development be market rate, we ensure that we will become merely the next neighborhood out on the subway line to become wealthier and whiter.

I don't say this to argue with anyone. I just want us to remind all that there are immediate issues and there are planning issues, and they will not always overlap. Sometimes they do - and sometimes, we're merely engaging in speculation and fear.

Maybe Winston's admission that City Planning isn't about displacement is a needed reminder that they - and ULURP - aren't going to fix the most immediate concerns, and if we are to design a coherent Community Board policy, it may need to happen as a broad, multi-committee, feet on the ground protest response. Merely saying no, using the City's process, may be too little too late.

with respect,