It’s Festivus: Time for Our Airing of Grievances!
The ‘holiday’ of Festivus was developed as an alternative to the commercialization of the Christmas season and is celebrated annually on December 23rd. First celebrated in the mid-1960s by author and editor Daniel O’Keefe (father of Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe), it was popularized on Seinfeld’s December 18, 1997 episode “The Strike,” in which Kramer refuses to work on Festivus and pickets his employer, H&H Bagels.
Seinfeld has a few links to the Village, including Kramer’s disorienting journey to 1st Street and 1st Avenue (“the nexus of the universe”) and Newman’s job at the Cooper Station post office. But Festivus has taken on a life of its own beyond Seinfeld. Festivus features a celebratory Festivus Pole made of unadorned aluminum (selected for its high strength-to-weight ratio), the Feats of Strength, and the Airing of Grievances.
The Airing of Grievances takes place at the Festivus Dinner, where you gather your family and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year. As George Costanza’s father Frank eloquently stated:
2022 Village Preservation Airing of Grievances!
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
In 2022, over a dozen landmarked buildings were demolished on the City’s watch and with its approval, in spite of the legal protections they were supposed to enjoy.
Governor Kathy Hochul
Earlier this year we worked to defeat Governor Hochul’s effort to eliminate the cap on the size of new residential development that would have allowed NYC to lift the current limit of 12 FAR (floor area ratio) on the size of new residential developments. For context, the 1000+-ft.-tall supertalls of Billionaire’s Row in Midtown were built with zoning allowing a residential FAR of only 10.
While we won the battle in 2022, the fight is not over, as real estate interests have been working for years to eliminate the FAR cap. We have worked to defeat this measure several times but we know it will likely be back again in one form or another…
Misguided “YIMBY” Sentiment
Our housing affordability crisis has allowed YIMBYism (Yes In My Backyard) to emerge as an increasingly loud and politically influential movement. Some people believe that only endless new development, anywhere and any size, is the best tool for mitigating regional housing costs. We know this is not the case as too often, as with the SoHo/NoHo Upzoning, the demolition of 14-16 5th Avenue, 116-120 East 11th Street, and more, we have seen affordable housing put at risk, or worse, demolished, to build fewer units of much more expensive luxury housing. We’ve clearly shown that the “build baby build” philosophy has the effect of both denigrating neighborhood character AND harming affordability.
While “YIMBY vs. NIMBY” makes for good headlines, we reject these simple labels and economic principles. In 2022, some of us looked past the dead-end of vilification of one another to see what we can learn from this latest iteration of pro- and anti-development coalitions. Click to watch our panel discussion on “YIMBY vs. NIMBY: Looking Past Labels To The Real Impacts of Development“ and click here to read more.
A perpetual foil of preservationists and neighborhood residents, NYU made our 2022 list because they filed a lawsuit to overturn a provision in the SoHo/NoHo Upzoning that prohibits university facilities.
This provision prohibiting university facility expansion in the zoning was added by the City Council in response to an overwhelming outcry led by Village Preservation against the rezoning plan’s allowance for NYU and other private schools to build and locate here unimpeded. We argued that such expansion in this area was undesirable and would damage neighborhood character, and that it ran counter to the purported purpose of the rezoning to encourage affordable housing development.
NYU specifically cited Village Preservation’s advocacy as a reason for this provision having been added. As the city responds to this lawsuit, we’ll see if this provision was a mere fig leaf to feign some concern for community character and a focus on affordable housing which was intended to be later removed by an NYU lawsuit, or if this provision added as a result of community pressure was genuine and sound. We are committed to fighting to ensure it stands.
Click here to tell the Mayor and City Council they must defend our communities against NYU’s SoHo/NoHo expansion lawsuit.