Opponents Overwhelm Six-Hour City Planning SoHo/NoHo Rezoning Hearing; City’s Baseless Claims of Racism Face Backlash; Elected Officials Join Opposition
Some important updates on the SoHo/NoHo rezoning fight:
Opponents Swamp Supporters at Public Hearing: Around 100 people testified at yesterday’s City Planning Commission public hearing, even though it was held just prior to the Labor Day weekend and as the city was still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Ida, showing this administration’s contempt for public participation. Opponents of the plan outnumbered supporters by about 9 to 1, with most of the few supporters of the plan coming from real estate front group Open NY, which advocates for eliminating neighborhood landmark and zoning protections and for allowing unfettered development throughout NYC. Opponents included 13 speakers presenting Village Preservation’s detailed analysis debunking the City’s false claims about the plan; leading housing and tenant organizations; Chinatown groups; SoHo and NoHo artists; and past, present, and future elected officials for the area.
The hearing lasted over 6 hours. The City Planning Commission has 60 days to vote. If they approve, it then goes to the City Council.
City Makes Outrageous Racism Accusations Prior To Hearing, Faces Backlash: Prior to the public hearing, the Executive Director of the Department of City Planning made outrageous and baseless claims of racism on the part of plan opponents, facing a backlash from Village Preservation and others — read more here. Prior to the City Planning Commission hearing yesterday, advocates including leading people of color, tenant, affordable housing, anti-displacement, and Chinatown groups gathered outside the Department of City Planning headquarters to condemn the comments — read more here. As Village Preservation’s Juan Rivero said: “It’s really the height of hypocrisy and projection for the Department of City Planning to accuse anyone of racism, given their miserable record on such issues, up to and including this atrocious rezoning proposal, bought and paid for by the mayor’s developer donor friends. As we’ve shown in multiple analyses submitted to the city, the rezoning would disproportionately impact and displace lower-income Chinatown residents, whom DCP has consistently neglected to inform about this proposal or engage throughout the process. Before the mayor’s henchmen and -women at the Department of City Planning start throwing around utterly baseless accusations of racism, perhaps they should take a good hard look in the mirror.”
Elected Officials Oppose Plan: We are extremely gratified that Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler and Assemblymember Deborah Glick have been extremely vocal at recent public hearings and press conferences in blasting and pushing back on the SoHo/NoHo rezoning plan. Christopher Marte, the winner of the Democratic nomination to represent District 1 (SoHo, NoHo, Chinatown, Lower Manhattan) in the City Council has been a leading and vocal opponent of the plan, organizing yesterday’s press conference blasting the Department of City Planning, and giving fiery testimony against the plan at yesterday’s public hearing. Borough President Gale Brewer finally broke her silence on the plan, saying she can’t support it in its current form and asking for significant changes, some of which mirror criticisms of the plan Village Preservation and others have put forward. As one of the main initiators of this rezoning process, Brewer’s criticisms amount to a significant setback for the plan, though it remains very much alive. It’s ultimate fate will likely be determined at the City Council, where local Councilmembers Margaret Chin, Carlina Rivera, and Corey Johnson will play key roles in deciding the outcome. A month ago, Chin and Rivera called for unspecified changes to the plan, none have materialized thus far — read more here.