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  • 01/23/15--06:51: Tall and Skinny
  • Permits were filed at 371 Lincoln Road for the below, according to YIMBY. Looks like that's just east of Nostrand. I find it interesting that this is what can become of 20' x 100' lots, which is essentially my house and hundreds throughout the neighborhood. Would be weird to see town homes come down and these go up all over the place. Some would cheer. Most would not. Of course, they already dot the neighborhood, on Ocean, on Hawthorne, on Crooke. Historic district blocks, of course, are protected, but that leaves dozens of blocks UNprotected. Wave of the future? I suspect a zoning code could protect three-story rows from becoming chopped up like this, but that would be for the next phase of the zoning process.





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  • 01/24/15--20:54: I Wonder What It Felt Like
  • So you're raising a ruckus, dropping all kinds of scary hypotheticals, not letting anyone speak, claiming to be an expert on all manner of things...then you print out a flyer and copy up a ton and start spreading them far and wide.

    thx Brooklynian
    What does that feel like? To call your neighbors racial epithets, accusing them of ignorance and being house slaves? Does that feel good? Powerful? Does it feel "true" enough that it simply must be said? Do you go to sleep feeling you've done some justice, righted some wrong, won some argument? And in a Helvetica-like font to boot! Bold, baby, bold.

    Does it feel sweet to put Chabad Lubovitch Jews on the burner, drawing out irrelevant but offensive links between your own twisted NIMBYism and an inferred sleight of hand from the Jewish community, thus invoking the darkest days of Crown Heights history?

    If you're slamming everyone in sight, does it feel bad to leave some folks out? Is that what's going on? There are a few more constituencies that have not yet been viciously attacked. Nuns. Asians. Autistics. Keep 'em coming! The other night your crowd managed to even suggest that "affordable apartment dwellers" might sneak peaks at you gardening and throw garbage out their 12th floor windows. Throw garbage, after winning a lottery and getting a decent place to live for a reasonable rent? Well, after the way you're carrying on, maybe they can sell tickets for the privilege of throwing that trash. Trash is trash, that's what my neighbor John likes to say.

     If it feels good to turn a dialogue, okay debate, into vitriol, you must be one happy lady, Alicia. Congratulations! You've surprised even ME, and I even predicted this language. Though I never imagined seeing it in print like that. So...so...Bold Helvetica!

    To quote history: "You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, madame? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"






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  • 01/27/15--13:40: God Is On Her Side
  • The latest screed from Alicia (below) shows she's got a powerful ally in her fight. Her big backer needs no introduction, but suffice to say he's always been a stickler for the details of NYC zoning. (psst...his name rhymes with Claude).

    Also, please note the following statistic which clearly is a lowball - an "estimated 100,000 people" will be removed if we rezone this bit of the district.

    The Board is in tatters. The latest to reach my ears beggars belief, and I'll see how much is true enough to print. Pearl Miles is taking the brunt of frustration, but there's plenty of finger-pointing to go around. I wish we'd just vote and be done with it. Basically if we don't show overwhelming support for a study, it ain't gonna happen. You read it here first. We're on the mat, folks, and the count has begun.

    So regardless whether outside forces, even malevolent outside forces, have been responsible for the current state of affairs, it becomes clear that if you don't want something to happen all you need is the gumption and the gall to stick your neck out and scream. The long version of the story, though, is that the City will continue to make decisions that are in its perceived best interests, and we're only a small cog in the greater remaking of Brooklyn, NYC, Without the zoning study there will be continued disappointments and chaos to endure. But then, as long as Alicia's happy, we should all be happy. After all, she has the big guy in her corner. Plus, as a commenter noted, she's taken her show on the road. Seems she's just getting started.

    Dear Neighbor
     
    This is when you know that you God is on your side!
    This storm saved us!
     
    Here was their Plan:
    Place 26 community board members on the
    the ULURP committee, that was scheduled for Monday.
     
    Within that group there would be enough to create a voting block
    to get the "same" resolution passed.
     
    Ignore the community's applications to be put on the ULURP
    stating they didn't have enough time to process the applications.
     
    Have the police present and have anyone who speaks that isn't
    a committee member removed and/or arrested.
     
    Keep the same parameters, including Empire Blvd that
    City Planning has specifically stated it wants to up zone
    to 10-12 stories starting!
     
    Pass this resolution that would allow City Planningto decide
    where they will up zone and on whatever blocks they choose!
    This means, all along the Parameter of the Park and Garden
    could face up zoning, inclusionary zoning etc...
    Washington Ave, Flatbush Ave, Empire Blvd, Ocean Ave.
     
    Also the entire Area would see an increase in density,
    with now six story being the average,
    but which could go up from 7 to 10 stories,
    when putting in the zoning into affordable or inclusionary categories.
     
    Then on Tuesday, without the resolution being an agenda item
    where the community would be able to protest it and speak on it.
    They would introduce it during the "Business" session,
    where the community can not speak and then place it for a vote
    and there you have it!  The same old resolution presented and passed!
     
    However, there was one problem with their plan,
    It seemed that God wasn't in favor of it!
     
    And how could he be.
    This plan poses to remove an estimated 100,000 people from this community!
    People who have lived here all their lives,
    worked and struggled to create a safe environment,
    when the city ignored it, refusing to provide proper services
    to it thousands of residents.
     
    Now the Mayor is saying he has a plan, which is the same
    plan as Bloomberg, because nothing has changed!
    He wants to create affordable housing when the results
    have shown time and time again that what we get instead of affordable housing
    is unaffordable communities!
     
    All because of Greed and corruption!
    Everyone knows they don’t' want Empire Blvd for affordable housing
    they want it for those Park Views
    And Everyone knows that they won't stop at 12 stories
    they will go to 20 stories to get those views!
     
     
    There are other parts of this community that could have "affordable" housing
    that won't endanger 100 year old homes, the removal of low and moderate
    income families or pose a risk of sky scrapers being built
    But City Planning won't even consider these areas, because
    it isn't what the developers want!
    And they are willing to break every law to get their way.
     
    In fact Winston, the Director of the Brooklyn Office of City Planning
    has stated publically last Thursday, Jan 22,
    that if we don't give
    them Empire Blvd to put 10 to 12 stories up
    they will not rezone this community!
     
    How does a City Agency get the power to threatened a community
    that they will not do their job, if we don’t sacrifice our homes
    and community to allow developers to make money!
     
    The city officials have watch CB9 executive board break the law, commit criminal acts
    falsify documents, and even some political entities have also engaged
    in criminal misconduct, like the falsifying of documents, attempting to bribe
    and these agencies have stood by and have done nothing!
     
    But there is a greater force out that and it is proving to be just that!
    A Greater Force!
     
    That is working for us and is on our side!
    But as the saying goes
    "God helps those who help themselves"
    So don't give up the fight!
    Because we will win this one!
     
    Alicia,
    www.mtopp.org
    (718) 703-3086

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  • 01/27/15--20:19: Steelpan Cakes
  • If you've lived in the area long enough you know that on Church Avenue between Flatbush and Bedford there was once a great Kingdom of Ital. The king lived at the Veggie Castle, and his minions flocked to his brilliant cooking. Having vanquished the fierce but tiny people of the White Castle, who feasted on burgers barely bigger than a Kennedy half dollar. What the war was about no one can remember. Perhaps it was a fight over whether dairy and beef belonged in the human diet? The war lasted so long that the children of the children of the children of the instigators had forgotten the real reason. And eventually, Rastafari was victorious, though much like the Hagia Sophia turned mosque from cathedral in Istanbul, the new regime merely retooled the old structure for its purposes. The effect, was both hilarious and prophetically conservationist, and certainly indicative of the area's changing peoples and customs.

    The middle kingdom looked thusly:


    Enter the latest conquistadors and their syrupy sweet victory over the forces of Jah. Having built a modern castle brilliantly disguised as a drab and nondescript suburban office structure, the internet obsessed people of HOP have finally made home. iHOP they call it, and they intend to seduce the peasantry with a dozen forms of sugary topping for their puffy flatbreads.

    Is this progress? Depends on your culinary preference. Tiny greasy burgers, boldy spiced stews and greens, or griddle-gluten with margarine and faux maple syrup. All fill the belly at the relatively little expense. Yet they leave the alimentary in wildly different forms.

    Is a delicacy combining all three cuisines far behind?





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    While the Good Lord may be generally supportive of Alicia Boyd, he apparently has seen fit to allow the ULURP Committee Meeting to go forward next Wednesday. Please, please come and sign up to speak. Email Pearl Miles. That's all you gotta do...by noon on Wednesday.



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    I for one am looking forward to this one big time! Check out their info below, and consider attending their Soft Launch Preview on February 12 at 1131 Nostrand Avenue.



    IM Pastry Studio Background:

    Started in 2009 as a home based business, IM Pastry Studio comprised of owners Tiffany Washington, Jo-Laine Duke Collins and Tamika Young, blends traditional cake flavors and recipes with new innovative tastes and custom designs. Tiffany, Jo-Laine and Tamika are mothers, businesswomen and natives of Brooklyn who wanted to bring a unique and inviting space to the borough that they all love all while sharing their passion for pastries, design and fashion which comes across their work.

    Not only will IM Pastry Studio offer desserts and custom creations, we will serve as an intimate event space for patrons wanting to host children’s birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, have a cup of coffee or to just sit, back relax and enjoy a nice day in Brooklyn. 

    To kick things off we are hosting a soft launch preview on Thursday, February 12 (invite to come shortly) to showcase our amazing desserts and creative custom sweet confections including some of our signature, popular flavors such as Hazelnut Cappuccino, Strawberry Cheesecake and more.

    In addition to opening our storefront location, we are also introducing our newest dessert item, “The IM Waffle Cake.”  "The Waffle Cake" is IM Pastry Studio’s most popular flavors transformed into a waffle cake for breakfast or brunch or anytime you are in the mood for such a delectable item. We use our own secret cake batter recipe to create a stack of four delicious waffles topped with fluffy frosting, fresh fruits, crushed nuts and decadent chocolate or caramel drizzles.

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    This one has a pretty clear picture, so I'm happy to share on behalf of the precinct. Do you know this guy or where he lives?



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    SIGN PETITION NOW


    In the past few weeks and months the forces of hate and ignorance have gained strength to conspire against a sane, methodical and collaborative reexamination of our neighborhood's zoning and plans for future development. While other neighborhoods like Crown Heights West have unanimously supported efforts to rezone and rethink, we've become mired in misinformation and a spiteful campaign to paint a Planning Study as not in our best interests.

    I've gone to lengths to describe that these attacks are the misguided efforts of a few - people whose biggest agenda is to keep Empire Boulevard from being developed for residential. We have learned from the City that is possible to rezone Empire Boulevard from C8-2 to mixed use residential and to put caps on height. We've also learned that the City would like to force any such development to create an inviting streetscape with ground floor commercial. Imagine, instead of fast food and storage facilities, shopping, affordable housing, a grand boulevard? It's in the cards, if we play those cards right.

    CB9 is completely at a loss as how to contain MTOPP and its campaign of fear and intimidation. It was suggested that a petition might give City Planning the much needed counterbalance, and so here I am, asking that you sign on to the following. I hope you will! And remember, this is the beginning of a process. Your voice will be instrumental throughout to ensure everyone's viewpoint, and the considerations of your particular part of the neighborhood, are heard.

    SIGN HERE

    This is what it says:

    We, the undersigned, implore Community Board 9 and the NYC Department of City Planning to immediately begin a Planning Study of Community District 9, specifically the western portion of CB9's boundaries. The current zoning map dates to 1961. While other parts of NYC have been contextually zoned and updated to reflect a modern reality, we continue to live with decisions that were made for our neighborhood more than 50 years ago.

    During the course of discussions between community and City, we have certain expectations and requests:

    A) That all efforts be made to maximize the requirements of developers to build permanent affordable housing

    B) That all efforts are made to keep new buildings within specific height limits and ensure contextual and aesthetically pleasing blocks

    C) That plans be made to make best use of commercial corridors like Nostrand Avenue, Rogers Avenue, Bedford Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, and to consider the effects of allowing mixed-use construction on underutilized corridors like Empire Boulevard. Any changes, however, must conform to points A) and B) above, and reflect the needs of diverse community.

    We recognize that the City has placed ambitious goals to address the affordable housing crisis. We share the goal of creating housing for a wide range of incomes. But we ask that our current high density be considered, and that growth be modest and fair. We are an extraordinarily diverse community that wishes to remain that way. As the City grows, we expect we will grow too. But we believe such growth should be smart, contextual, and take into account needs for schools, public transportation, roads, parking and other infrastructure.

    We would prefer to undergo this process collaboratively, rather than have outside forces develop our neighborhood FOR us. We've seen the future - in certain buildings, like 626 Flatbush and another 23-story tower on Nostrand to our south, plus dozens of new "as of right" projects throughout Central Brooklyn. We'd like to temper the urge of developers to build without an understanding of the consequences to our historic and tight-knit community.

    We look forward to working with you.
    The current zoning map of the area, created in 1961, is below.



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    Please consider joining the Fannings - Ed, Quest and Valor - for a moving tribute to Janet Bohman, Ed's wife and the matriarch of the family, who passed away late last year. For this lifelong artist, how better to memorialize than through a retrospective of her work.


    Quest is currently Vice Chair of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association, and Ed was a solid and trusted member of CB9 before he lost that gig unceremoniously last year - basically in the middle of doing a lot of great work as chair of the Transportation Committee. Not that I'm still sore about that, of course, Mr. Adams!

    528 West 28th Street, 6th Floor

    Viridian Artists Gallery

    Taking Flight:
    A Retrospective of Sculpted Linen Works by Janet Bohman 

    Feb 3- Feb 21, 2015
    Reception: Thursday Feb 5, 6-8pm


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    The 99 cent store at Woodruff and Flatbush is about to transform into a magical kingdom - Bubbleland. I'm sure lots of nearby residents will be happy to get another coin-op laundry. I'm a fan. An excellent use of the space if you ask me, though I will miss the kind guys at Five Brothers. Just after they closed, a sign was posted saying they'd returned home for a death in the family. And they never returned. Yemen, if I recall.

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  • 02/04/15--20:04: Notes From the ULURP Meeting
  • Barfola. Hogwash. Unconscionable. Ugh. Vomitorious. Revolting. Dismal. Depressing. Hopeless. Disheartening. Ugly. Demoralizing. Discouraging. Mean-spirited. Useless. Gruesome. Loathsome. Offensive. Repellent. Ghastly. Nauseating. Hateful. Vile.

    If I never see or hear from a member of MTOPP again, I'll die a happy man.

    Oh, and Laurie Cumbo and Alicia Boyd really got into it. That was the best part!

    Otherwise, you were best off staying home to watch reruns of Full House.

    Pitiful. Truly pitiful.

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  • 02/05/15--12:21: Cheap Post
  • It's a cheap post because I already put this up on the Yahoo listserv, but it says what I was going to say. Also, Nancy's smart comments are below, and I'm referring to them when I write. (Though I'm no so sure I would take Charles Barron's words at face value. He may be inflating his efficacy in the fight to build affordable housing in his district):

    (As written to the 1,000 comments written before it on the Lefferts Listserv)

    Thanks for the solid thoughts on the issue. None of your evenness of tone was on display tonight at the ULURP meeting. It was the same horrorshow it's been for some time. Cumbo and Boyd nearly brawled. I'm not kidding - it could have come to blows. She baits, and baits, and baits...patient as a fisherman. Then when she hooks you in the lip, she pulls tight and won't let go.

    "Unaffordable" is the catchword. Market rate is now, in Brooklyn, unaffordable. We are officially the least affordable City in America (were we our own) because median cost of housing is so many multiples of median income.

    So...if I read Nancy's analysis right, we shouldn't be building ANY market rate apartments. They'll all be unaffordable, so what's the point? Well, for one, so say the perfessers, the "laws" of economics suggest downward pressure on market rate prices if you build enough. This is likely to happen, oh, in the next downturn, but not until. Which could be sooner; could be later. Whenever people start imagining a world where prices keep going up indefinitely, there's usually a correction. That's been true my whole life. Now, if you OWN you're probably set for the long haul. And ironically, most of the people I talk to in this debate OWN. Because if you don't, you get pushed out of the neighborhood eventually because your income doesn't keep pace with rents. If you're new, you're not here long enough to get settled and involved! If you're old, well, the City's got a lottery system. About a 1 in a hundred chance at this point, and apparently people are turning on the City for trying to up folks chances.

    Tonight, Pearl Miles and I commiserated. We see the writing on the wall. The power of Alicia Boyd and her scare campaign is just too strong. She has gotten normally reasonable people screaming at the Community Board for disrespecting them, when the Board itself gets no respect, even when it TRIES to do the right thing. Look, the CB is made up of neighbors - volunteers, mostly just there to listen and take notes and parse the issues. It's phenomenal the hate that gets thrown at them. I guess people just want a punching bag for their frustration. And this particular punching bag, CB9, is pretty depressing - so deflated it hardly bounces when you try to dribble.

    It's over folks. Plain and simple. It's clear that consensus is not on the horizon. City Planning will walk away from this one. HOWEVER, Alicia so got Laurie's goat tonight that I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see Laurie Cumbo put ULURP in motion herself - she actually threatened to do so, and I found myself joyous at the thought. We will, of course, have very little say. But I like Laurie. She'll probably handle it better than we could anyway. Then she'll have to answer to her constituency at her next election. But let's face it (don't I know it) it's REALLY hard to knock out an incumbent.

    Laurie, go for it. The silent majority has your back. But don't take the bait. Just ignore Alicia and do what Ben Edwards should have done last night. Throw her out if she can't settle down. I've seen it done all the time. Why can't we follow through on our threats? Hasn't anybody been a parent of a toddler before???

    People seem to forget that doing this through the Community Board is the only chance we have of having ANY say in the process. Look at East New York. That plan was designed top down. When I was talking with Winston from Planning it was very clear we were going to be able to help design a plan, as long as it met certain goals. Most of those goals were pretty reasonable too, given the City's current growth projections. C'mon guys, you want to help make choices or have them made for you? What a lot of hubris. But nobody seems to want to be reasonable right now. Anxiety is too high, tensions are too high. Reasonable doesn't sell. I know it's nice to imagine a calm and rational consensus emerging (Alan Berger I'm talking to you!) But I'm really close to the fire and I'll tell you in all my years on the planet I've never seen more chaos and dysfunction. There's not even a "consensus" position in any of it. Some folks want to firebomb the whole thing, burn down the house, not let the conversation start. And it's not fun. It's really just not fun at all. Even Kenya Sollas, god bless her, couldn't reassure me with her impassioned speech at the end of the night. (She's got a future that one, though, I'll tell you. Though I wish she would state what she wants. Seems she's playing all sides right now, and it's hard for me to imagine she hasn't formed an opinion yet.)

    CB9 will remain in chaos til we get new leadership. It might be a year or two before it gets up and running again. In the meantime, maybe MTOPP will follow through on its threat of a study. Maybe Alicia will break her jaw while working on her garden and be unable to speak for a few months. I suspect this whole "Hunter College" study idea is hot air though, a gimmick. And I GUARANTEE even if their study comes gift-wrapped in bon-bons, Planning won't give Alicia anything at all. They'll shut that study down as fast as you can say kiss my bureaucratic booty.

    Jessica and Nancy and others are right to be cynical of the City's goals in all this. But it's the only game in town. And sometimes (don't shoot me) they get it right. Now, as Laurie warned tonight, just watch and see what happens when you don't play ball with them. They will rezone as needed, and it won't be what you or I or anyone else wants and we will be relegated to voting on someone else's plans. We might say no, but that won't mean much.

    You know, the City isn't in the business of building affordable housing for working people anymore - maybe someone can convince them too? They spend their clout convincing developers to build it for them. The City IS building some housing for the least able to fend for themselves - through CAMBA-style non-profits and with  special grants and tax breaks - it's like outsourcing the building of Projects. Lots of units are coming online if you suffer from various conditions and circumstances. That's the bright side in the current system. Seriously it is. You can't just turn your backs on the most vulnerable. Then you'd be Texas.

    I'm through. Seriously, it's just a waste of time at this point. And mark my words, zoning is not going to solve gentrification if that's your issue, which seems to be the cause of all the race-baiting. Two dozen new market rate projects are already happening in the area with exactly ZERO affordable units. The war is on to evict rent stabilized tenants, and the tenants are being routed. The neighborhood becomes wealthier and whiter every day. If you take issue with that, I'm sorry, but you're not going to be able to stem the tide. I think it's time that all we homeowners woke up to the fact that the soul of the neighborhood is disappearing and a new normal is emerging; we can watch it happen like spectator sport or get involved. And a lot of us white homeowners need to face facts. We just made a ton of money off the bet to live in a predominantly black neighborhood that hadn't "popped" yet. Feeling guilty? I do, though I ain't moving. 12 years is long enough to lay down roots, and I love it here. Still...

    So for those who don't have time to make meetings or to volunteer (Tara - great ideas. Who exactly is going to do all those things you request? Video, online chats, outreach, surveys. There's no money for it, and I don't see anyone clamoring to do the work. Maybe you can do the surveys at least? I'll lend you some clipboards), there is a process to follow if you want to plan for the future. That process is broken. And it's a bloody shame.

    Though you haven't asked, I'll give you my analysis in a nutshell. You can always count on me for an honest prediction:

    1. There will be no study through the Community Board
    2. MTOPP will declare victory and try to "lead" the community. No one will follow.
    3. The City and Cumbo/Adams/Eugene etc will go case by case - spot rezoning buildings and projects they like; or if they really feel like sticking it to Alicia, they'll be the applicants for a rezoning.
    4. The gutting of the neighborhood's character and people will continue, though it will start to feel normal and most folks won't care.
    5. I'll have to find something else to write about on my blog - new businesses, art shows, the weather, business closings, new ugly buildings, the ineptitude of our councilperson. Oh wait, I already write about those things. Well, more of that then.

    G'night y'all. Another evening wasted. Glad to be home with my family, who've put up with a lot of dad going to pointless meetings. Oh, and I got called racist three more times. And the KKK lady said she's sure she saw my face at a rally. To which I must ask: what was she doing at a KKK rally anyway? Good times!

    tim



    From Nancy H. at PPEN:

    When I first got involved with neighbors and helped to form PPEN a year and a half ago, we were focused on 626 Flatbush.  We hoped  to get Hudson Companies to build out instead of up so that we wouldn't end up with a luxury high rise in the middle of our affordable low-rise community. (They could have built the same amount of apartments if they had stayed low and used the whole lot instead of opting for a skinnier taller building.) We were told by the developer that 626 had to go high because the the great views of the Park would give the building its best profits (and by the way there will be profits for Hudson Companies!), but, not to worry:  20% of the units would be affordable! 

     As the months went by, we became more and more educated about this question of affordable housing.

     David Kramer, the head of Hudson Companies, likes to think of himself as someone who is deeply concerned about affordable housing. 626 Flatbush is, for him, a case in point: 20% of the units will be "affordable."  But, as my husband likes to say, that means 80% of the units are....well...unaffordable  (also known as market rate). With 254 apartments slated to be built at 626, that means the neighborhood (and the de Blasio administration) will get 51 affordable apartments. The Mayor will be adding that to the "affordable" housing tally he is keeping.  But what about the other 203 "unaffordable" apartments?  Right now our neighborhood has one of the highest percentages of rent stabilized apartments in the city.  But as more market rate apartments are built, there is an upward pressure on the rents at nearby apartment buildings and the end result is that we will lose more affordable housing than the 51 units we gain. 

     In short, we at PPEN came to the conclusion that building 80% market rate/ 20% affordable is a Trojan horse for gentrification.  This is the problem that the article in the New York Times is getting at. 

     The reason that PPEN has suggested to CB9 that the area to be rezoned have a rather restricted height limit is to make sure that developers of outsized projects have to ask for a variance to build higher than the height limit. To build beyond the height restriction, they would need to consult with the Community Board and the area's City Council Member.  This gives the community more power and a chance, going forward, to ask for more of what it needs including a higher ratio of affordable housing or other amenities than we could get out of 626 which didn't need a variance to be built.

     Former Council Member Charles Baron explains that when developers came to him because they needed a variance to build in his district, he was able to get them to build much higher ratios of affordable housing (sometimes even getting all-affordable buildings) and to give the community other benefits as well.  Developers often cried poor at the beginning, but, he said, in the end they still wanted to build and so the community was able to get much more of what it wanted and needed out of the project.

    By the way, on the topic of tone, I agree with Duane and others who have called for more neighborly conversation and sharing of information and ideas.  I'm going to aspire to the "We are Neighbors not Sheep!" approach. When the atmosphere gets too caustic, it silences those who might have a good question or idea and would like to speak up but feel intimidated. It also limits the depth of the conversation because everyone is focused on the personality fight rather than on the issues and their possible solutions.


    Best,
    Nancy

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    From Real Deal:

    Though the Hudson Cos.’ massive 254-unit residential tower at 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens topped out in January, a battle brought by several neighborhood coalitions accusing Hudson of cheating to pass an environmental review process still raged on in court. On Tuesday, however, an appeals court ruled in favor of Hudson, finding that the environmental assessment was handled responsibly.

    The decision by the New York Appellate Division First Department upholds a June ruling by the New York Supreme Court, which refused to stop the project or block the New York State Housing Finance Agency, also a defendant, from issuing $72 million in tax-exempt bonds to Hudson. (The bonds were issued in exchange for the developer’s guarantee that 20 percent of the units would be affordable.)

    The four neighborhood groups and a slew of residents who sued said that the project should be halted until a proper environmental review was conducted, in order to evaluate factors ranging from increased strain on infrastructure, to an obscured view from Prospect Park, to the impact on the adjacent Prospect Lefferts Gardens historic district.

    Additionally, the plaintiffs cited concerns over shifting population demographics. “According to petitioners, the project is the thin edge of the wedge of gentrification,” a New York Supreme Court judge wrote in June. Hudson was accused of lying to the finance agency by incorrectly responding on a form that the project was not located contiguous to a historic district, though it is 100 feet from the edge of the Prospect Lefferts historic district, and by indicating that there was no public controversy relating to the project.

    This week’s decision states that the finance agency may have made a technical error in classifying the project for purposes of review, but still “specifically analyzed the issues of secondary displacement and the project’s impact on the view from Prospect Park.” David Paget of Sive Paget & Riesel, counsel for Hudson, said “The project was an as-of-right project. It didn’t require any zoning or discretionary approvals from the city of New York… There was no dissembling. There was no lying.”

    “Hudson is glad that we seem to have come to the end of this proceeding and we feel that the court did a very reasoned and carful review of the merits of the case,” a representative for the developer said. Counsel for the finance agency and the neighborhood groups did not respond to requests for comment.

    Though the Hudson Cos.’ massive 254-unit residential tower at 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens topped out in January, a battle brought by several neighborhood coalitions accusing Hudson of cheating to pass an environmental review process still raged on in court.
    On Tuesday, however, an appeals court ruled in favor of Hudson, finding that the environmental assessment was handled responsibly.
    The decision by the New York Appellate Division First Department upholds a June ruling by the New York Supreme Court, which refused to stop the project or block the New York State Housing Finance Agency, also a defendant, from issuing $72 million in tax-exempt bonds to Hudson. (The bonds were issued in exchange for the developer’s guarantee that 20 percent of the units would be affordable.)
    The four neighborhood groups and a slew of residents who sued said that the project should be halted until a proper environmental review was conducted, in order to evaluate factors ranging from increased strain on infrastructure, to an obscured view from Prospect Park, to the impact on the adjacent Prospect Lefferts Gardens historic district.
    Additionally, the plaintiffs cited concerns over shifting population demographics. “According to petitioners, the project is the thin edge of the wedge of gentrification,” a New York Supreme Court judge wrote in June.
    Hudson was accused of lying to the finance agency by incorrectly responding on a form that the project was not located contiguous to a historic district, though it is 100 feet from the edge of the Prospect Lefferts historic district, and by indicating that there was no public controversy relating to the project.
    This week’s decision states that the finance agency may have made a technical error in classifying the project for purposes of review, but still “specifically analyzed the issues of secondary displacement and the project’s impact on the view from Prospect Park.”
    David Paget of Sive Paget & Riesel, counsel for Hudson, said “The project was an as-of-right project. It didn’t require any zoning or discretionary approvals from the city of New York… There was no dissembling. There was no lying.”
    “Hudson is glad that we seem to have come to the end of this proceeding and we feel that the court did a very reasoned and carful review of the merits of the case,” a representative for the developer said.
    Counsel for the finance agency and the neighborhood groups did not respond to requests for comment.
    - See more at: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2015/02/05/hudson-cos-triumphs-in-court-battle-with-prospect-lefferts-residents/#sthash.7JzoAo74.dpuf
    Though the Hudson Cos.’ massive 254-unit residential tower at 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens topped out in January, a battle brought by several neighborhood coalitions accusing Hudson of cheating to pass an environmental review process still raged on in court.
    On Tuesday, however, an appeals court ruled in favor of Hudson, finding that the environmental assessment was handled responsibly.
    The decision by the New York Appellate Division First Department upholds a June ruling by the New York Supreme Court, which refused to stop the project or block the New York State Housing Finance Agency, also a defendant, from issuing $72 million in tax-exempt bonds to Hudson. (The bonds were issued in exchange for the developer’s guarantee that 20 percent of the units would be affordable.)
    The four neighborhood groups and a slew of residents who sued said that the project should be halted until a proper environmental review was conducted, in order to evaluate factors ranging from increased strain on infrastructure, to an obscured view from Prospect Park, to the impact on the adjacent Prospect Lefferts Gardens historic district.
    Additionally, the plaintiffs cited concerns over shifting population demographics. “According to petitioners, the project is the thin edge of the wedge of gentrification,” a New York Supreme Court judge wrote in June.
    Hudson was accused of lying to the finance agency by incorrectly responding on a form that the project was not located contiguous to a historic district, though it is 100 feet from the edge of the Prospect Lefferts historic district, and by indicating that there was no public controversy relating to the project.
    This week’s decision states that the finance agency may have made a technical error in classifying the project for purposes of review, but still “specifically analyzed the issues of secondary displacement and the project’s impact on the view from Prospect Park.”
    David Paget of Sive Paget & Riesel, counsel for Hudson, said “The project was an as-of-right project. It didn’t require any zoning or discretionary approvals from the city of New York… There was no dissembling. There was no lying.”
    “Hudson is glad that we seem to have come to the end of this proceeding and we feel that the court did a very reasoned and carful review of the merits of the case,” a representative for the developer said.
    Counsel for the finance agency and the neighborhood groups did not respond to requests for comment.
    - See more at: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2015/02/05/hudson-cos-triumphs-in-court-battle-with-prospect-lefferts-residents/#sthash.7JzoAo74.dpuf

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    A well-researched article by Aaron Cantu appears in a lefty blog called Truthout. Here it is.

    A few things I learned.

    • Spurned ex-City Planning worker Tom Angotti is apparently the go-to "expert" when it comes to issues of planning
    • We live in the western portion of East Flatbush (who knew?) 
    • "We are the densest populated area in Brooklyn and the second most affordable. We don't need or want more people. We don't need the creation of affordable housing." - Alicia Boyd
    To the last point. Some in Alicia's crowd don't want residents of affordable housing to throw garbage in their backyards. And the densent part of Brooklyn is actually down by me: Caledonia I call it. It's in CB14, not CB9.
     
    Otherwise it's an excellent primer, and I commend Cantu on doing his homework, and not sticking to the soundbites.

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    Always informative and cozy, the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association meets on February 12 at the spiritual home of Reverend Douglas Banks (CB9) on Bedford at Lincoln.

    All kinds of positive stuff is happening in the neighborhood, and with any luck what's-her-face will be predisposed indisposed, and we can enjoy each other's company. See you there. And stay warm out there! It's brutal!*

     * example of the Q's new focus on weather.

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    from the always captivating RHS

    Rachel Holliday Smith reports in DNAInfo that landlady Rong Ge said no to a ton of cash offered by Starbucks to take over Enduro, I mean Lincoln Park Tavern. Here's the skinny:

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150206/prospect-lefferts-gardens/landlord-rejects-starbucks-offer-on-vacant-restaurant-space

    What do you think? Was Rong right to turn down the offer?

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  • 02/07/15--10:27: Here's the Real Problem
  • Once the smart money sniffs out your neighborhood, the writing's on the wall. Or on the blog, in the case of BK to the Fullest. This smarmy candidate for Aholes Anonymous (AA) likes to flip a lot of jargon around, and he makes good money feeding the feeding frenzy. I won't begrudge the guy making a buck as a consultant to the greedy landlord and the desperate-for-a-house homebuyer. But still, sometimes when you read the description like this it makes you get what's under the hood, and why there's so much distrust and anger out there right now. To some folks, these are clearly not "homes," and the fact that people have lived in buildings like this for decades means absolutely zilch. Not to mention, the buzzard-like language about the rent laws. Remarkable. Morally unhinged.

    Corner of Clarkson & Bedford: "courtesy" of BK to the Fullest
    If you're late to the conversation, I would sum it up thusly. Buildings with rent stabilized apartments - of which there are literally thousands in the area - are no longer being priced as if the legal stabilized rent were the future income. The "market" should have nothing to do with it, according to the law. Very few of these buildings would reach the $2,500 cap in the next few years without help from greed. You must buy-out or remove tenants or do shoddy renovations, bumping up the rent each time, to get to the true market rate. At which point, this neighborhood becomes truly unaffordable to folks at current median income and below. THEN the buildings are worth the current prices they're commanding. It's all math.

    One thousand, two thousand, three thousand new luxury units won't change that basic scenario.

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  • 02/07/15--17:36: Dear White People


  • Look, you gotta see it, no matter what your bartender says. Justin Simien (b. 1983! I went to see Prince LIVE in 1983!) made a smart, green, confident first movie and he gets to say what's on a lot of people's minds. And not just black folks. He puts the range of absurd things we all say or think about race into a single movie. Is it good? As a movie, sort of. As a conversation buster, it's pretty magical.

    Now, as a middle-aged guy, it's hard not to be cynical about puppy love, the power of rock 'n' roll, AND college kids. They take themselves so seriously! As did we. I look back and cringe, but as the philosophers know well, the world needs the idealism and energy that youth taps to set the world afire. It's hard to keep it up (literally and figuratively), but then the wisdom of age means hedging bets, and you really only get to think you're changing the world once or twice before the Prestige is revealed. (Magic tricks work well as stand-ins for the agony of politics and life: the pledge, the turn, the Prestige. The revealing of the Prestige is always what breaks your heart.)

    Much like Spike Lee's earliest films, which OF COURSE is drawing all the comparisons, you get ALL of the ideas crammed into one film, just in case the Man doesn't give him a chance to make another. And he will make others, especially if he resists the urge to make big bucks and sticks to the formula of cheap but authentic. The production values are actually pretty good, and like a good Semiotician, he plays a lot with breaking that fourth wall and throwing deconstructionist theory at you. And playing with white/black lust, and the trickiness of defining identity when you're just a dozen years on from reading your first chapter books.

    If you think the conceit of a frat-like party making fun of black people is far-fetched, the final credits show that such modern day minstrelsy is alive and well on college campuses. I didn't flinch at all; I recall similar shows of insensitivity on my supposedly liberal campus, and their converse, embarrassingly sincere attempts to protest the most grievous offenders. (Recently a woman on campus at Columbia University took carrying a mattress around to remind her classmates that her alleged perp was still freely walking the hallowed grounds.) (which I must point out is what happens when you don't press charges against someone. but as with many a college protest, the show is often the point, since we all know (knew) the campus clowns (cops) and administrators never knew how to handle serious stuff anyway. i say all the above without taking sides in that particular case...the allegations are serious enough to be taken seriously.)

    And so the lovable but sometimes unlikable characters of DWP provide either a shot in the arm or a blast from the past, depending on long your tooth, and there's plenty of new world racial politics and intrigue to start a million conversations. I wish it were funnier; then the Spike Lee comparisons would make more sense. I mean, why does the comparison get made anyway? After hundreds of movies with white kids on college campuses, TWO black filmmakers set their films on the green and they get lumped together?

    That says more than the all the lines in DWP combined.









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    Knowing what I know now, I'd like to take you on a tour. This morning I walked a two block perimeter from my house. No more than 2, that was the rule. I decided to consider my immediate neighborhood from the perspective of a developer. Talk about a goldmine! Diamond in the rough! Etc Etc.

    Let me take you on a tour of the near future!

    Corner Taxpayer, Ready to Rock 'n' Roll!

    Slip 'em the Finger!

    Nab that building in the middle plus those low-rises and we're talking ca-ching AND tall! Park Views!

    Feeling Ambitious?

    Don't Worry! This Is a Single Property, and It's Already for Sale!

    Easy Tenant Removal - Not Stabilized!

    Everyone Has Their Price! Even the Councilman!

    Easy Peasy

    Missed Opportunity. Go Get 'Em.

    Intercept This Pass! This Vacant Lot Owner Isn't Qualified To Think Big.

    Driveway = Dollars

    Seriously!

    A Sliver Of Hope!

    Lotsa Residents With No Rights!

    Tear it Down and Build 8 Stories

    Already Sold, But the Flip Might Be Worth It!

    12 Mailboxes! A Record? Ha ha ha!

    Sweet!

    Holy Moly Guacamole!

    This Corner Lot Is HUGE and Zoned To Grow Big

    A Parking Lot Is a Developer's Wet Dream!


    Tear Down Schmare Down

    Sorry! This Stall Taken.

    Snip Snip That Direct TV

    The Ol' Haunted House of Clarkson: Build On Ancient Indian Burial Ground!

    A Corner Tear Down For a Big Big Build, Brah'!

    Oops! Tried to Sell This Styrofoam Sided Fedders In '06. Second Time's a Charm!

    What a Waste! Early Childhood Development Isn't the Kinda Development This Spot Deserves!

    Seriously? A Garage? You're Kidding, Right?

    A Buying Spree Could Mean Big Big Bux!

    That Fire Was a Blessing In Disguise!

    Like Dominoes...

    13 Mailboxes. The Check's In the Mail!

    Later Alligator!

    Thank God This Ain't the Manor!

    Grand Opening AND Closing In a Matter of Weeks! Send 'Em Packing!!

    If the Hawthorne Boys Sell, and Associated loses lease, Yeehaw! Minneapolis, meet St. Paul!

    This Site Is Massive As Your Ambition!

    C'mon. Your Gramma Could Do Better Than This!

    Be a Pioneer!!

    Don't Feel Bad. They're Mostly Ex-Homeless Substance Abusers, So They Already Know How to Live On the Street!

    What a McDeal! A Happy Meal For Any Hungry Developer!!

    Buy a Piece of Cult History!

    Not Laughing. Friends are Stressed About Getting Pushed Out
    If you're up in the Manor or Historic District, don't sweat it, you cool. Granted, a lot of this is in CB14 & 17. But it's funny how different a neighborhood looks through BK to the Fullest's eyes. It really IS a goldmine. Hey, so was South Africa! Er, diamonds...

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  • 02/11/15--07:56: Who Hookas? Do You Hookah?
  • Ali's Roti became Buda's Hookah Lounge, 589 Flatbush near Midwood. Or perhaps it's now both in one? Hookah is something I know absolutely about, so maybe some of you can school me. Kinda like Middle Eastern cigar lounge? Different flavors, music and a lot of kibitzing? Booze? What kind? Belly Dancers? Or is that not the right term? So many questions, so little time.

    photos: Mark S.

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