NY Post Hatchet-Job on Council Member Margaret Chin is a Distortion of Truth & an Attack on Free Speech

Dear New York Post Editor,

The New York Post’s hatchet-job attack on Council Member Margaret Chin’s budget allocation to Citizens Committee for NYC ("Councilwoman funneled $10k in taxpayer cash to lobbyist," Feb. 22, 2016) is a ridiculous distortion of the truth and an obnoxious assault on the free speech of a valued not-for-profit organization. 

Here are the facts: Read more »

Remembering Fran Justa, a champion for our neighborhood & every neighborhood

We lost another great champion of affordable housing and community development this week, a pioneering neighborhood leader, amazing Carroll Street neighbor and friend, and loving wife and mother. Fran Justa died on Sunday, after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Fran was one of the founders of the Fifth Avenue Committee, helping organize her neighbors to fight abandonment and displacement, and to create one of NYC’s great community development groups. She documented that history in her PhD dissertation, to help make sure we learned the lessons and remembered the people who made it happen.
Read more »

City Council Ramps Up Efforts To Preserve Existing Housing For Low-Income New Yorkers

Committee on Housing and Buildings Holds Hearing on Four Bills to Strengthen NYC's Housing Preservation Tool-Kit

NEW YORK, NY- Today at City Hall, the City Council's Committee on Housing and Buildings heard testimony on a package of  four bills designed to strengthen the city's tool-kit for preserving the existing housing where most low- and moderate-income New Yorkers live.

The preservation-focused hearing comes in the midst of negotiations with the de Blasio Administration on the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) proposals.  Council Members, advocacy organizations, City officials, and New Yorkers from across the city highlighted the need to strengthen the City's preservation efforts, even as discussion about developing new affordable housing through MIH and ZQA continues. Read more »

Brooklyn Electeds to DOT: Put Safety First at Atlantic and Flatbush

Originally Published on Streetsblog

About a dozen people braved the cold Saturday morning to call for pedestrian safety improvements at Brooklyn’s Times Plaza and along the whole Atlantic Avenue corridor.

Times Plaza is the triangular public space at the convergence of Atlantic, Flatbush, and Fourth avenues. At a public meeting last month, local residents were disappointed that the redesign proposed by Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner, which is contractually obligated to fund the project, failed to address pedestrian safety concerns. Read more »

It’s (Past) Time for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing in NYC

Back in 2003 — well before I was elected to the City Council, before I directed the Pratt Center, when I led the Fifth Avenue Committee — the Bloomberg Administration proposed to upzone Fourth Avenue in Park Slope. We had a simple idea: mandate that developers include some affordable units for low- and moderate-income families (you can read our policy report here; it was derided as socialism at the time, but we called for much less than the de Blasio Administration is now proposing).

We lost that fight. Fourth Avenue was upzoned, and many hundreds of market-rate units now line the avenue — but not one single affordable unit. It was a tremendous lost opportunity for a more inclusive Park Slope. Our efforts did help to win the “voluntary inclusionary zoning” program that produced some low-income housing in Greenpoint-Williamsburg, and on Manhattan’s West Side. But as a 2013 study by my office showed, many developers did not “volunteer” — so only 13% of the units in voluntary IZ areas were affordable (and only 6% in voluntary IZ areas outside of those two neighborhoods).

That wasn’t actually the first fight for mandatory inclusionary housing in NYC. Read more »

Community Meeting on Proposed Development at 5th Avenue Key Food

You may have seen the news that a developer is planning a new residential development on the site of the Key Food supermarket on 5th Avenue (at Baltic Street) in Park Slope.  Like many of you, I am very concerned about the potential loss of yet another of the area’s large, more-affordable grocery stores. Together with local advocates, we’re doing everything we can to keep a neighborhood supermarket at this location. Read more »

Don’t drive into the Gowanus. Help us improve the parks instead!

First things first: don’t drive your car into the Gowanus Canal – as an out-of-state, hit-and-run driver did over the weekend, after he hit a parked car and slightly injured a woman and her infant daughter (all three of them are going to be fine, and he was taken into custody).

A better way to get involved in Gowanus: work with us to improve the parks and open space in the neighborhood.  

As one part of my office’s “Bridging Gowanus” initiative, we’re working to create, upgrade, and connect public open space throughout the neighborhood. The long-term goal is a “Gowanus Greenscape” that would connect a series of parks, plazas, canal-front open space, safe places to walk and bike, public art, and a clean, publicly-accessible canal.

We’ve got a long way to go toward that vision, but – thanks to the work of some great partners, especially the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the Gowanus Alliance, and Gowanus by Design – we’re off to a great start. Read more »

Statement in Support of the Disposition of 163 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY (CEQR #15HPD085K)

Permitting the sale of one long-vacant lot (by the Carroll Gardens Association) will permanently preserve 28 units of low-income housing, and two much-loved community gardens.

Statement to Brooklyn Community Board 6’s Economic/Waterfront/Community Development & Housing Committee

Monday January 11, 2016 

This evening representatives for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Carroll Gardens Association, Inc. (CGA) will present a proposal to amend a project previously approved by Brooklyn Community Board 6, including an amended Land Disposition Agreement and Urban Development Action Area Plan (UDAAP). The proposal is subject to approval by the New York City Council and the Mayor.

The proposal would allow the Carroll Gardens Association to sell the long-vacant, 1,991 square foot vacant lot located at 163 Columbia Street (between Kane and Degraw Streets) to Avery Hall Investments, for redevelopment as a four-unit, market-rate residential building, pursuant to the existing zoning.

Allowing this sale will enable the CGA to permanently preserves 28 units of affordable housing for low-income families, and explore the preservation and creation of additional affordable housing. It also helps us to achieve the permanent preservation of two much-loved community gardens on Columbia Street. Read more »

Ennis Playground – What’s your vision?

You might have seen that that last year, my office—together with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams—allocated $1.85 million in public funding to renovate Ennis Playground -- located between 11th & 12th Streets and 2nd & 3rd Avenues in Gowanus. We’re working together with the NYC Parks Department to upgrade the entire park over the next few years, including the children’s play area, basketball courts, and seating area. Read more »

Statement of NYC Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres on the First NYC “School Diversity Accountability Act” Annual Report

New York City Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres, co-sponsors of the “School Diversity Accountability Act” (Local Law 59 of 2015 and City Council Resolution 453 of 2015), issued the following statement after the release of the first annual report by the NYC Department of Education:

Confronting segregation and advancing diversity in NYC’s public schools is an urgent moral, practical, and policy imperative. It will not be achieved quickly, but that cannot be an excuse for inaction.

Our goal in legislating the ‘School Diversity Accountability Act’ was to create an annual report to measure how we are doing, see what steps we are taking, and begin to measure progress — or lack thereof — each year. Read more »

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