Activists slammed Corey Johnson’s long-range planning bill as a “Trojan horse” for developers at a rally outside City Hall on Tuesday.
The temperature was freezing but passions were heated as speaker after speaker blasted the bill, Intro 2186, the City Council speaker and Mayor de Blasio at the press conference, organized by the Citywide People’s Land Use Alliance.
They derided the 10-year comprehensive planning initiative as “top-down” and “one-size-fits all.” They charged that it would cut the community out of the process and legally empower an unaccountable “director” to ram through district planning schemes — if necessary, over the objections of community boards and local councilmembers.
Most chilling to them was the fact that Intro 2186 would force mandatory upzonings every decade for every single community board in the city — in short, codifying an unstoppable development juggernaut.
Dozens of organizations supported the rally, from East River Park Action, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, the Soho Alliance and the Seaport Coalition to Preserve BAM’s Historic District, Voice of Gowanus, Inwood Preservation and Stop Sunnyside Yards.
Alicia Boyd of the Movement to Protect the People, which is fighting a development project that threatens the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, said the citywide plan is being spun as something that will help low-income black and brown people, when, in reality, it will mainly lead to an explosion of luxury development.
“This bill is being presented as an equalizer,” she railed. “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing is a failure. It’s a Trojan horse! This is not an anti-racist plan. This is not an anti-displacement plan. This is a displacement plan. We are tired of the scams [about] affordable housing.”
Paul Graziano, a Queens native and planning consultant, has played a role in helping contextually rezone much of Queens to keep overdevelopment in check.
“It’s been three months since Corey Johnson dropped this bombshell,” he told the rally. “This bill is not a comprehensive planning bill. It’s a comprehensive overdevelopment bill. It’s a comprehensive real estate bill. I have gone through this bill with a fine-tooth comb.”
In short, Graziano said, rezonings make the “speculative value” of property go up.
The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing included in the rezonings is a “scam,” he said.
“M.I.H. has not worked,” he said, “because there is no deep affordability. And it’s set up as a real estate program.”
Graziano blasted Vicki Been, de Blasio’s deputy mayor of housing and economic development, calling her the engineer of the current upzonings. He said a report Been headed at New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy has been used “to justify upzonings for the last eight years.”
“Eighty percent of her data is wrong,” Graziano said. “You’ve got this administration running this phony agenda and you’ve got “Planning Together” looking to lock it in for 10 years. This horrendous bill…will lock it in.
“Planning Together” is a report, released in December, on which Intro 2186 was based.