Bushwick council member Antonio Reynoso was among the many who challenged Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan last week, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to shoot it down entirely. Upzoning (i.e. rezoning certain areas to allow for higher buildings) is one of the more controversial aspects of the the mayor’s plan, and something that Bushwick residents have vehemently protested against in recent years. But in a report released earlier this month, Reynoso concludes that the mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which would require a share of those taller buildings to be permanently affordable, represents the chance to address “missed opportunities” in North Brooklyn housing development.
The first rows of the City Council chambers were packed with red shirts yesterday. Members of the AARP were there to support Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to tackle the city’s affordable housing crisis and create 200,000 units over the next decade. But council members representing North Brooklyn aren’t so sure about the plan.
City Council members pushed Mayor de Blasio’s new rezoning plan to prioritize deeper affordability during a hearing yesterday on a key pillar of his effort to add 200,000 new affordable units over 10 years. If passed, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing would require new constructions in certain neighborhoods to set aside 25-30 percent of the units as permanently affordable.
Tenants and activists who are part of the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (STS) rallied outside of 90 Elizabeth Street this morning before marching to City Hall to show their support for a package of bills that would address construction-related harassment. Today marks an important landmark for the coalition’s fight against landlords who are taking advantage of a lack of oversight and toothless fines.
“You really have to be quick crossing the street, or they’ll totally run you down,” a friend of mine laughed. “I’m actually really scared that someday they’ll catch me not paying attention.” He was right– even after dark last night, garbage trucks were still rumbling down Thames Street periodically, past his apartment and toward the Brooklyn Waste Transfer Facility, which neighbors are saying is a particularly devious garbage deposit. I was on my way to a community meeting that brought together activists, workers, residents, and local business owners– all of them concerned about waste inequity– inside La Luz, a storefront and pop-up venue space.
To get to the meeting, I had to cross directly in front of the garbage processing warehouse where, per usual, the massive doors were wide open (which activists and residents say is the case several times an hour), revealing voluminous mounds of stinky refuse. I picked up the pace, realizing suddenly that I was in the crosshairs of an enormous white trash truck and a frantic bulldozer– I felt the distinct possibility that I could be mistaken for a passing ant. Had it been summer, my friend assured me, this experience would have been a more nauseating one.
Karen Platt has been channeling her frustrations through the satisfying scrape of chalk across concrete. After years of living with dust, noise, and health hazards caused by construction, repeated and seemingly relentless service cut-offs, and what she says are intentional moves by her landlord to clear her (and other rent-regulated tenants like her) out of her longtime home at 522 East 5th Street in the East Village, Platt’s sidewalk messages reveal she has reached a breaking point: “Lack of services is harassment” and “Enough is Enough.”
As Platt explained to B+B, since Icon Realty Management bought her building, things took a turn for the miserable. “I’ve lived in New York my whole life and I’ve never, ever been treated like this,” she said.
The massive Halloween rave shutdown by the Fire Department in Greenpoint over the weekend stole the show once again, this time at Monday evening’s Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) meeting about the oversight of hazardous waste cleanup at a former plastics manufacturing site in the neighborhood.
The building of interest, 280 Franklin Street (aka the NuHart Plastics building) is a Superfund site that was recently bought by a group of developers (DuPont Street Developers, LLC) hoping to turn it into a residential and retail site. Things got pretty, pretty weird at the meeting– to the point that Michael Roux, a geologist hired by the developers as an environmental consultant, fielded most of the questions about why on earth nearly 5,000 ravers were almost allowed to party on a Superfund site. At one point he slipped up, referring to the former plastics factory as a “venue.” The audience erupted back. “It’s not a venue!” one neighbor shouted. “It’s a toxic waste site!”
The Mayor signed a series of laws today criminalizing K2, part of the City’s continuing effort to crack down on the use and sale of synthetic marijuana. The drug, which Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton both referred to as “poison,” is a liquid substance manufacturers spray on herbs. It has been marketed as incense, spice and, perhaps the most hilarious departure from its actual use, bath salts.
“I have a really high tolerance for people doing stuff on the street,” said G Lucas Crane, a member of the Silent Barn collective. “I’m from Brooklyn, I just wanna see people do their thing, I don’t want to call anybody out– but when it gets to this level of saturation, the community needs to do something about it.”
The Silent Barn sits just a block from the intersection of Myrtle-Broadway, a hotbed for K2 and other synthetic cannabinoids that have been targeted by city officials. Now, a coalition led by Council Member Antonio Reynoso is bringing a new kind of attention and care to this bustling but problematic corner.
A group by the name of Stand for Tenant Safety, consisting of tenant groups and eleven City Council Members (including Rosie Mendez from the Lower East Side, Stephen Levin from Williamsburg, and Antonio Reynoso of Bushwick) rallied on the steps of City Hall this morning. Never mind the rain. The coalition is named for a new report, released today by the Urban Justice Center, that coincides with the introduction of a legislation package that would protect tenants from landlords and developers who carry out neglectful and malicious construction projects. “My tenants have rain coming down in their apartments, so this is nothing,” said CM Rosie Mendez of the Lower East Side.
Today Mayor Bill de Blasio signed three new measures into law to prevent the tenant harassment and shady practices that have become so commonplace among New York City landlords, particularly those who own rent stabilized units in rapidly gentrifying areas like North Brooklyn, the East Village, Bowery and the Lower East Side.
A fight is brewing between the City and the Doe Fund, a non-profit dedicated to helping provide the homeless with shelter, temporary jobs, and vocational training. The Department of Homeless services has moved to place a number of sex offenders at the organization’s Bushwick facility, but the Doe Fund claims it lacks the resources for what it says is a fundamentally different type of homeless person. After filing a lawsuit against the city, the non-profit is now appealing to the community by way of a petition and a “town hall meeting” held yesterday at its Porter Avenue shelter. But City officials, including local Council Member Antionio Reynoso and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, are pushing back.