Christmas came early this year for Inwood residents who oppose the city’s attempt to rezone their neighborhood.
Word came on December 19 that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Verna Saunders had struck down the de Blasio administration’s Inwood rezoning plan, which was approved by City Council in August 2018.
Saunders rendered a decision in a lawsuit filed against the city last year by a coalition of Inwood community groups, residents, and small business owners to block the rezoning.
“I screamed so loud when I heard. I was like, ‘Oh my God, we’ve just stopped the Inwood rezoning,’” said Ayisha Oglivie, a member of advocacy group Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale, one of the suit’s plaintiffs. “I’m just overwhelmed with joy.”
Join us! Tuesday August 13, 1 PM at Foley Square – Rally and Press Conference against Inwood & NYC Rezonings: following oral arguments in New York State Supreme Court in our lawsuit against the City of New York for the Inwood Rezoning. Let us know you’ll be there: bit.ly/RallyAug13
Thank you to everyone who attended Inwood Legal Action’s Saturday May 4 Film & Panel Benefit, “The Fight for Inwood” at Good Shepherd School Auditorium. We had a full house, with close to 250 people who joined us. We shared excellent food & drink, saw the acclaimed documentary “My Brooklyn”, and heard the panel of organizers and experts. They spoke on the discriminatory impacts of the Inwood rezoning and other recent NYC rezonings, and what we can do fight them.
A special, very big thank you to all the businesses, organizations, panelists, and volunteers to contributed to make our Saturday May 4 benefit screening & panel event a huge success.
We couldn’t have done it without you!!
Thank you to the Moderators & Panelists!
Lena Melendez, Inwood Legal Action; Philip T. Simpson, Esq. Inwood Legal Action; Fitzroy Christian, CASA (Bronx); Ayisha Oglivie, Inwood Legal Action (Northern Manhattan); Tom Angotti, author of “Zoned Out”, Professor Emeritus of Urban Policy & Planning, Hunter College; Alex Fennell, Churches United for Fair Housing (Brooklyn).
Thank you to the Volunteers!
Kathy Byrnes, Martia Gordon, Bernadette & Cliff Elkind, Tom Hall, Grant McKeon, Liz DeMayo, Tim Koelle, Marshall Douglas, Paul Epstein, Bob Johnston, Katherine O’Sullivan, Cheramie Mondesire, Kathy Sanacore, Jenny Ducaud, Jeanne Ruskin, Lena Meléndez, Karla Fisk, Maggie Clark, Joe Wiley, Sarah Townley, Lyana Fernández, Jessie Matei, Nina Bernstein, Stephanie Snyder-Fitzhugh, Valinn Ranelli, Cristobal Vivar, Dodie Dohoney, Graham Ciraulo, Trish Anderton, Angie Chunga
Thank you to the Businesses and Organizations!
Alliance for a Human Scale City, Dollar Tower, Furry Fiends, Good Shepherd Church, Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation Ministry of Good Shepherd Church, New Heights Realty, Metropolitan Council on Housing, Riverside-Edgecombe Neighborhood Association (RENA)
Thank you to the Restaurants, Grocery Stores & Delis!
Albert’s Mofongo, C-Town, Inwood Gourmet, Tamales La Chilonga (the street vendor), Tubby Hook Tavern, RJ Deli & Grocery
By Philip T. Simpson, Esq. – Inwood Legal Action Litigation Committee
On Friday April 12, Inwood Legal Action’s attorney Michael Sussman filed our written Reply to City Hall’s Response to our Article 78 lawsuit against the Inwood Rezoning, suing New York City for not looking at important impacts of the rezoning.
Judge Verna Saunders has scheduled Tuesday June 11, 2019 at 2 PM to hear legal arguments by our attorney Michael Sussman and the City’s lawyers. We are encouraged that Judge Saunders has allowed herself enough time to thoroughly understand our lawsuit against the City.
Sussman’s Reply points out that the City’s Response avoids the substance of our central claim: that “the City failed to analyze a set of critical issues which directly relate to [the Rezoning’s] social and economic impacts . . . The City concedes that it did not directly consider the vast majority of these enumerated matters, erroneously submitting that it was not required to review them.”
The City went to great lengths to justify the so-called public input process and the so-called benefits of the Inwood rezoning. Sussman’s Reply emphasizes that our lawsuit is about the undisputed fact that the City failed to study a number of very important issues.
Sussman points out that:
The City’s excuse for failing to study preferential rents is baseless, and contradicted by the City’s own Points of Agreement on the Inwood Rezoning;
The City’s manual for environmental review fails to require study of the discriminatory effects of major projects on people of color;
The City’s claim that the interim replacement library will provide “core services” is conclusory and not supported;
The City’s failure to study the impact that traffic congestion will have on ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars is particularly acute; and
The City ignored displacement of people from apartment buildings recently purchased by speculators.
Finally, Sussman calls out the New York City Council for voting on the rezoning more than two months before the environmental review was certified as complete.The oral argument in our lawsuit will be Tuesday June 11 at 2 PM in Judge Saunders’ courtroom: 80 Centre Street, Room 326. This is an open hearing in a public courtroom. We urge everyone who supports our lawsuit to make time that afternoon and show up to see and be seen.
“The City has responded to our Article 78 Lawsuit by asking the court to deny our Petition, claiming our neighborhood was adequately consulted in the rezoning process. We know this to be completely false: according to emails obtained by Gothamist (see article here) developers had the ear of the City while concerns raised by residents were dismissed. Our legal team is hard at work in our reply to the City. Stay up to date by signing up for our email list here.”
“Our work is already putting pressure on our elected officials: Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr., Chairman of the City Council’s Land Use Committee, recently questioned why certain neighborhoods were being selected for rezoning by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Raising concerns that the trend of these plans have had an outsized impact on existing lower-income residents. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is also on board, calling for legislation that would mandate a racial impact study before any rezoning (see article here). We will continue to hold our elected officials accountable to the needs of their constituents not developers or special interests.”
“Inwood Legal Action is still compiling research for a Fair Housing Act suit against the City with the hopes of filing later this year. We believe this lawsuit could be precedent-setting in how cities across the country would have to rezone low-income neighborhoods, considering their effect on communities of color. Please consider donating to help our efforts to stop the City’s discriminatory rezoning policies here.”
On December 10, 2018 our legal team submitted a complaint to the City arguing they had not studied the impact of Inwood upzoning on racial and ethnic minorities, the impact of the upzoning on minority and women-owned businesses, or its effect on tenants currently paying preferential rents. The City promised affordable housing as part of its upzonings – but the City isn’t willing to subsidize housing that people in households below the community median income can afford. Instead, the upzoning mostly creates new housing opportunities for higher income, primarily White households. We are now expecting a response from the City this Friday, March 8 regarding our Article 78 lawsuit.