Defending her ally, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito rejected the claims of affordable housing advocates that City Hall is moving too swiftly with its plan to rezone more than a dozen neighborhoods.
“I’m not understanding why they’re talking about the pace–[the rezonings] haven’t even been submitted, right? The conversations have just started,” Ms. Mark-Viverito, a Democrat like the mayor, told the Observer at an unrelated City Hall press conference this afternoon. “In my case, where East Harlem was mentioned in the State of the City with the mayor, there hasn’t been a formal plan presented to City Planning.”
“Yes, neighborhoods are being identified. Conversations need to begin at a very grassroots level,” Ms. Mark-Viverito added, noting she had already created a council in her own district to engage community members about the rezoning. “I’m sure that that’s happening in other colleagues’ districts. So when they’re saying ‘moving too fast,’ I’m not understanding why they would say that because in many cases, these rezonings haven’t even been submitted to City Planning.”
Liberal activists from organizations like New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York shouted “slow it down” at Mr. de Blasio as he entered City Hall this morning, calling for him to pump the brakes on his plan to rezone 15 neighborhoods across the city to allow for more building density and, in turn, more affordable housing. Many of the organizations at the rally have been aligned with both the mayor and the speaker–a former member of NYCC now serves as Ms. Mark-Viverito’s senior adviser–but are now expressing concern over the potential for Mr. de Blasio’s plan to displace longtime residents as rents and land prices continue to rise.
Activists said today that Mr. de Blasio’s rezoning of East New York, Brooklyn is speeding along without enough community input even though, as Ms. Mark-Viverito pointed out, the Department of City Planning has not certified the neighborhood’s rezoning application (or any other.) Community meetings are already taking place and real estate speculators are creating a surge in property values that residents fear will lead to displacement.
Ms. Mark-Viverito said the speculation was a “concern.”
“Already, it was known a while that my neighborhood was being identified,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said of East Harlem. “Conversations started right away about protections, right away about preservation plans and about what is the administration’s commitment to preservation.”
After the publication of this story, a spokesperson for Real Affordability for All, a coalition at the City Hall rally which includes New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York, denied that members of NYCC and Make the Road were among those that shouted at Mr. de Blasio.
“No groups involved in the Real Affordability for All coalition shouted at the Mayor today. Other groups earlier today decided to shout and disrupt the City Hall event–a move that Real Affordability for All does not support or condone in any way,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson emphasized the group supports Mr. de Blasio’s affordable housing vision: “Our goal is to advance a shared vision for real affordability and good jobs throughout the city. We support the Mayor’s overall vision for neighborhood rezoning and want to ensure that his plan leads to real affordability in new housing and good jobs for local residents.”
Updated with comment from Real Affordability for All.