Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Harlem Hellfighters

The City Charter, the document that lays out the rules of city government, has traditionally been the domain of municipal lawyers and few others. Its pages are a tangle of esoteric language and run-on sentences.

But in a decision born of desperation and perhaps a touch of naïveté, a former male model, a human rights lawyer and two law school students plunged headlong into the document on a recent Friday evening as part of an effort to oppose the proposed rezoning of 125th Street in Harlem.

Fighting a New 125th St., Using a 110-Year-Old Law

To wit, Page 74, Section 200, Subsection 3 of the City Charter says, in so many words, that if signatures opposing a rezoning are obtained from the owners of 20 percent of the property, as determined by square footage, in one of three different areas — the area to be rezoned, the area adjacent to the property being rezoned, or the area “opposite” the property (for example, across the street) — then the City Council must approve the rezoning by a three-fourths vote, instead of by a simple majority.

And the four who found the subsection, members of a group called Voices of the Everyday People, are hopeful that they can prevent the Council from reaching that three-quarters majority on the rezoning.

Since their discovery, the members of the Voices group have been going door to door seeking the signatures of property owners.


Anonymous said...

This could be a tool either for well-organized grassroots groups, or for developers' astroturf efforts. Still, any time a 'hood has another option, that's probably a good thing.
And wasn't it clever of them to discover it!

Anonymous said...

And wasn't it clever of them to discover it!

Unlike the passive Queens types that stand around waiting to be told what to do by their leaders.

The leaders have to be special, and not expect too much, for if they do, the mob will turn on them in frustation at being expected to actually back up polite whining with some tentative action.

I was talking the other day with a fellow who grew up on the LES, and his grandmother helped stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway back in the 60s.

He just shakes his head at the passive doormats that characterize so much of this fine borough.

That, my friends, is why preservtion in this boro stands in stark contrast with the rest of the city - and the citywide groups know it.

That is why we walk around proudly with little tin badges, like the kids used to have that read 'Deputy Sheriff.'

Only here, they are called Queensmarks.