As the new councilman for District 34, which includes Williamsburg and portions of Bushwick in Brooklyn and South Ridgewood in Queens, Councilman Antonio Reynoso personally understands the issues of his constituents.
He was born, bred and still lives in Williamsburg, a neighborhood he hopes never to leave. Plus, Mr. Reynoso spent seven years under the tutelage of his predecessor, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, working as her budget director, legislative director and, eventually, chief of staff until he quit to campaign for her seat.
Q & A
Mr. Lopez gave tax breaks to developers while he was an assemblyman and the chair of the assembly housing committee. How do you propose to get on the good side of developers?
I don’t really care to be on the good side of developers. If a developer wants to do right by a community, absolutely we can work with them. All these developers come in, build, sell and then go. They build condos, not rentals, so they have no long-term investments in any of these communities. When they come into any part of my district, I’m going to give them hell. I’m going to make sure I can get the most for my community.What do you propose to do to limit the amount of influence real estate developers have in politics?
There’s very little we can do. [East Side Councilman] Dan Garodnick has a great bill when it comes to campaigns. He’s requesting that anyone who does any work in campaigns has to state who they are. For example, Good Jobs New York was the real estate companies’ independent campaign expenditure, [through which] they spent millions of dollars on candidates that they thought were going to be good for real estate.I read that you are working on a proposal to rezone parts of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Bushwick to make it harder to build massive towers. Tell us about this.
I’m looking to rezone Bushwick, but we’re going to look at it comprehensively. We’re going to sit with community groups, scholars, government [representatives] and residents and talk about how we are going to preserve the character—I mean physical character. Some people thought I meant I wanted to keep the Latinos in Bushwick, and that’s not what it’s about.Would you consider yourself anti-development?
Bushwick is a beautiful, beautiful neighborhood. Right now, there are small mansions in Bushwick that are gorgeous, and none of them are protected. Rezoning would state that a developer can’t knock down one of these mansions and build a six-story building, for example.
No. I’m not anti-development. I’m anti-irresponsible development, which is what we see in Williamsburg.How has it been dealing with developers?
All developers are — how do I say it? — don’t judge a book by its cover, for sure. They’re nice when they meet you. They promise you the world, but once they build, they’re gone. There’s no accountability to anyone in the community. The Edge may be the worst affordable housing project that I’ve seen in my time as a liaison and as a councilmember. The poor [were put in a separate building] on one side. They also did a terrible job with marketing, which is insane.