As expected, the New York City Council approved the controversial and massive 93-block Jerome Avenue Rezoning paving the way for gentrification and displacement.
No, this isn’t hyperbole as we already know that rezonings favor developers over actual residents. We’ve seen what is happening in the Lower Concourse in Mott Haven from the rezoning in 2009 where market-rate housing is rising contributing to rents increasing rapidly and one of the fastest rising rents in the city.
We saw what happened in Port Morris along Bruckner Boulevard when that area was rezoned in the 1990s.
Now, the people of the West Bronx will face a nightmare of a rezoning inflicted upon them by a Mayor who cares more about his record than the actual communities he was elected to serve.
He ran on a campaign to end a tale of two cities within NYC but his administration continues to deepen that divide further and further with affordable housing that is not affordable for the residents in the neighborhoods where they are built.
This rezoning will see the displacement of the small businesses along Jerome Avenue, primarily the auto workers who dominate the area now.
So what did we sell out for? The promise of two schools a few parks and preservation of 2,500 units of housing but for how long?
How are we going to support the projected thousands of new people in the areas where the transit can barely support the existing residents?
Protesters began shouting during Councilman Cabrera’s statement where he said that this rezoning was, “…a great moment for the West Bronx and a major victory for the residents of the West Bronx.”
What he neglected to say was the overwhelming opposition to this rezoning. This wasn’t something the people wanted or asked for but was shoved upon them.
During Councilwoman Vanessa L Gibson’s speech, protesters began yelling demanding “WHAT DO WE WANT? AFFORDABLE HOUSING!” “WHEN WE SAY THE BRONX WE SAY POWER!!!”
“NO REZONING! NO REZONING! NO REZONING!” “WHO’S BRONX? OUR BRONX!” “DISCRIMINATION ON THE POOR!” “THE PEOPLE UNITED, WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED!”
NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson proceeded to have the entire balcony area of the council chambers cleared by police.
The entire scene stopped the meeting for a little over 10 minutes.
Councilwoman Vanessa L Gibson said that she’s, “…glad that after three years of hard work, countless meetings, roundtables, demonstrations that we are here today that $189 million dollars of capital infrastructure funds for the Bronx and the West Bronx. Now we have brighter days ahead and seeing neighborhoods change, The Bronx has the opportunity to get what it deserves. ”
“This has not been an easy journey”, added Gibson. “It has been one of the most difficult and challenging decisions ever made as an elected official. I am proud of what we have achieved. Two brand new elementary schools. ”
Councilwoman Inez Baron of Brooklyn hesitated to vote aye on Jerome Avenue Rezoning feeling that the residents aren’t properly represented. She said there is still the opportunity for market-rate housing to come to the area and she’s concerned about that but voted for it anyway.
Diaz Sr said today is a great day and a little sad to see a bunch of agitators, it’s a shame to see how agitators are against what we are trying to do.
By contrast Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez of Inwood said, “Gentrification is real in our city and we have to understand the feelings of many great organizers. Still we need to look on how to be creative to learn from previous rezonings. Everyday our city is pushing working class New Yorkers out”.
Councilman Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn voted aye on all in a move to bring a level playing field for all. He echoed Barron’s explanation that the council may have to go back and revisit MIH (Mandatory Inclusionary Housing) to work on deeper affordability to truly be effective.
Councilman Williams said the mayor and council failed with MIH even though he’s voting aye on it.
Even though it was a unanimous vote, some council members voted their hesitation (which baffles me why they would vote yes anyway).
Now, it’s all left for Mayor Bill de Blasio for final approval but it is already a done deal as this is his baby and he will sign it into law.