After careful consideration and listening to both sides, whether in favor of a rezoning or not, Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr has publicly rejected the proposed Southern Boulevard Rezoning.
Citing concerns of displacement along racial lines which the city has yet to answer for as has happened countless times across New York City after major rezonings of communities of color Councilman Salamanca said in an op-ed in City Limits:
” Unfortunately, I have seen the negative aspect of how irresponsible development can lead to the gentrification of entire communities, displacing thousands of low-income Black and Latino families and seniors who make up the very bedrock of that which makes New York City who we are. We cannot let that continue to happen, and we certainly cannot let it happen in the South Bronx.”
Like Salamanca, we are also not against development and rezoning but we are against irresponsible development and rezonings that do not take into consideration the negative consequences that will impact our communities.
To put the breaks on yet another major rezoning in The Bronx is absolutely the correct thing to do.
We acknowledge that the city is growing and yes, we need to somehow accommodate them but at what expense? At the character of our neighborhoods that make them what they are in the first place?
At the expense of the residents who’ve lived there for decades and generations?
We already see what’s happening down in Port Morris and Mott Haven as thousands of luxury units of market-rate housing are beginning to rise alongside with record-breaking sales of condos and co-ops that are out of reach of the overwhelming majority of local residents.
While some argue that change is inevitable, displacement is something that isn’t.
Displacement is done by design and The Bronx has suffered for far too long by the powers that be ramrodding their will down our throats whether by way of Robert Moses destroying our communities, red lining our neighborhoods so we couldn’t take mortgages to buy or repair our properties, getting rid of basic city services, and yes, rezonings.
Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH) issued a scathing report which confirmed what many activists have been saying for years: That such rezonings displace thousands of people of color in low income communities.
This report went on to illustrate how Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn lost 15,000 Latino residents between 2000 and 2015 despite a 20,000 growth in residents due to a 2005 rezoning of the area.
Because of this report and many unanswered questions and unknowns, Salamanca is cosponsoring legislation along with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, which would require a racial impact analysis for any rezoning.
We applaud Councilman Salamanca for not only taking his time to listen to both sides but to ultimately make the right decision in the end for residents and not developers.
Read his full statement in CityLimits here.