A Rally, a Letter and a Lecture – all to help save Brooklyn

From Eric McClure, Campaign Coordinator eric@parkslopeneighbors.org

Rally/Press Conference Against NY’s Rampant Abuse of Eminent Domain
This Wednesday afternoon, June 27th, at 1:00 p.m., property owners, advocates, elected officials and citizens will take to the steps of City Hall for a rally and press conference intended to raise awareness of the epidemic abuse of eminent domain in New York City and State.

A growing number of homeowners, business owners and renters are battling the threat of eminent domain from projects ranging from the “Atlantic Yards” and the expansion of Columbia University to the proposed razing of Brooklyn’s Duffield Street homes and Queens’ Willets Point neighborhood. With city and state politicians willing to see “blight” wherever a developer smells a potential profit, no property is safe from condemnation, especially where “diversity of ownership” and the failure to “fully utilize” land is prevalent – like in Park Slope, for instance.

The state legislature has doggedly refused to attempt any reform of New York’s notoriously lax eminent domain laws, even while 38 states have passed eminent domain reform legislation in the wake of 2005’s widely reviled U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo vs. New London. Perhaps they’re too busy figuring out how to further line Bruce Ratner’s pockets (see below) to notice that 90% of Americans oppose the use of eminent domain for private development.
We urge you to take a few minutes out of your lunch hour tomorrow and attend the rally to lend support to our neighbors facing eviction in Prospect Heights and throughout the city. Click here for more information.

New Yorkers Unite to Fight Eminent Domain Abuse
Wednesday, June 27th
1:00 p.m.
City Hall steps

Take Action: Ask Gov. Spitzer to Veto Corporate Welfare for “Atlantic Yards”
Last week, the New York State Assembly passed a bill intended to reform the state’s 421-a program, which grants property-tax exemptions for the construction of new housing. 421-a was originally created to incentivize the building of housing at a time when the market was not creating enough new stock, but with the building boom in New York City, it had become, essentially, a giveaway for luxury condo developers. The reform bill mandates that developers seeking a property-tax exemption must guarantee that 20% of units in a building will be affordable, and it expands the program from Manhattan to parts of all five boroughs.

The bill, however, has one enormous flaw: a special exemption that applies only to Bruce Ratner’s “Atlantic Yards” project, as described in a scathing report by Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez. In a “special carve-out” pushed through by Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez, the “Atlantic Yards” will be exempt from the rule that 20% of units in each individual building must be “affordable,” and Forest City Ratner will be permitted to charge low-income residents a higher rent than will any other developer of “affordable housing” in New York State.

In another nice touch, the bill does not name “Atlantic Yards,” but applies the special exemptions only to “a multi-phase project that includes at least 2,500 dwelling units and is being implemented pursuant to a General Project Plan adopted by the New York State Urban Development Corporation and approved by Public Authorities Control Board.” Of course, “Atlantic Yards” is the only such project in the state that fits that description – and the only one that will qualify for the special corporate-welfare handout.

The only thing that stands between Bruce Ratner and another few hundred million in taxpayer-funded pork is a veto by Governor Eliot Spitzer. The Governor has thus far failed to intercede at all in the huge boondoggle called “Atlantic Yards,” but if he’s going to do anything more than pay lip service to real governmental reform in New York State, he must veto this bill.

We urge you to write, email, or call Governor Spitzer to let him know that reform in Albany begins with “Atlantic Yards,” and specifically with a veto of the 421-a legislation that saddles taxpayers – and low-income renters – with an ever-growing bill for Bruce Ratner’s ill-conceived mega-project.
Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn has sample letter copy here: http://www.dddb.net/spitzerletter.html
Thanks in advance for taking action.

Snail Mail (most-effective option):
Governor Eliot Spitzer
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Email the Governor: http://161.11.121.121/govemail

Call the Governor: 518-474-8390

What Future for Brooklyn? A discussion of what the Mayor’s 2030 Plan Means for Us
The recently unveiled PlaNYC 2030 initiative includes many bold plans for the future of New York City – and the question of how our neighborhoods can “develop” in a responsible manner is a topic that will be dominating municipal, national and international policy and politics for years to come.

It all starts at the local level, of course, so it’s critical that we all participate in the conversation. To that end, Park Slope Neighbors is co-sponsoring a discussion this Wednesday evening that will address the question of how we can go about building a borough-wide coalition to promote an affordable, equitable and sustainable Brooklyn?

The free community discussion will feature the following panelists:
Tom Angotti, Hunter College
Kate Pfordresher, Professional Staff Congress
Elizabeth Yeampierre, UPROSE (invited)
Chris Owens, Community Activist and 2006 Congressional candidate

Wednesday, June 27th, 7:00 p.m.
St. Cyril’s Belarusian Church
401 Atlantic Avenue (at Bond Street)

Sponsored by the Green Party of Brooklyn; Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn; Park Slope Neighbors; Make the Road by Walking; Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats; Sierra Club; and Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus (FROGG)
For more information, please call (718) 369-2998 or send an email to mailto:info@gpbk.org

Posted Under: Alert, Atlantic Yards, Event, Park Slope, Talking Heads

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