Bushwick Rezoning Stalemated

Mayor and Bushwick representatives cannot reach compromise

Bushwick, photo by Mike Steele licensed under CC 2.0 – https://flic.kr/p/oWJjg8

(NEW YORK, NEW YORK)— On Friday Janury 10, when Deputy Mayor Vicki Been announced that the city would not consider Bushwick Community Plan in the environmental review to rezone Bushwick, she again brought months of negotiation to a standstill, City Limits reports.

Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal, whose districts encompass Bushwick, were quick to reply with their disapproval. Both had worked closely with the local community to draw up the Bushwick Community Plan.

Asher Freeman, the legislative and land use director at Reynoso’s office, told Curbed, “This has been a threshold issue for us, and if they’re not going to study the community plan, I don’t think the city thought there is any point to moving forward with either plan.”

De Blasio’s plan would open Bushwick to private developers, generating 5,613 new units with 1,873 permanently affordable units. De Blasio’s ambitious goal to generate 300,000 affordable units by 2026 has been a key part of his campaign and his anticipated legacy as mayor.

The Bushwick Community Plan calls for $6,000 new units with $2,000 set at permanently affordable rates, and some key differences from de Blasio’s plan, including the designation of historic districts in Bushwick, the preservation of the manufacturing district, and caps on building heights, among others. The key point of contention was the Community Plan’s calls that a rezoning would not generate more market-rate apartments than what is allowed under current zoning laws. This is to prevent an influx of wealthy residents and developers whose footprint often irrevocably changes the character of a neighborhood, making it out of reach for many longtime residents.

The city’s decision to walk away without compromise frustrated Bushwick residents, who have been discussing the rezoning since 2014. While many want more affordable housing and welcome the plan for 5,5613 more units, without the caps on more market-rate developments, they fear that the anticipated gain would be far outweighed by the long-term impacts. The historically black and Latino neighborhood has been ignored by the city for many years, and the lack of cooperation feels like a bullying threat: our way or the highway.

““When we began the process of developing a community-based plan for Bushwick, we could have never imagined that Bushwick would receive a level of apathy from our local government reminiscent of the policies that left Bushwick to burn in the 1970’s,” said Espinal and Reynoso in a statement released Monday morning.

Bushwick has been gentrifying at a rapid rate, with a 44% increase in rents from 1994 to 2014. The average income in the neighborhood is $51,622, which is lower than the average in New York overall. The average rent in the neighborhood in October 2019 was around $2,800, according to StreetEasy, making the current rent far out of reach for the average resident.

The full statement from the city and from the Bushwick representatives are available at CityLimits.


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