CITY Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. https://www.gothamgazette.com/city 2022-09-27T00:39:19+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Joomla! - Open Source Content Management Max Politics Podcast: Getting New York Out of Its Housing Crisis 2022-09-23T13:00:00+00:00 2022-09-23T13:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11597-max-politics-podcast-new-york-city-housing-crisis-solutions Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-rpa-gates600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Housing on the way (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 23, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Getting New York Out of Its Housing Crisis<br /></strong></p> <p>Moses Gates, Vice President for Housing and Neighborhood Planning at the Regional Plan Association, joined the show to discuss New York City's housing crisis, what policies are key to addressing it, the unique political moment we're in, and how to find more consensus on this contentious issue.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11597-max-politics-podcast-new-york-city-housing-crisis-solutions">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-rpa-gates600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Housing on the way (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 23, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Getting New York Out of Its Housing Crisis<br /></strong></p> <p>Moses Gates, Vice President for Housing and Neighborhood Planning at the Regional Plan Association, joined the show to discuss New York City's housing crisis, what policies are key to addressing it, the unique political moment we're in, and how to find more consensus on this contentious issue.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11597-max-politics-podcast-new-york-city-housing-crisis-solutions">Read More ...</a></p> Redistricting Commission Votes Down Latest City Council Draft Map 2022-09-22T14:00:00+00:00 2022-09-22T14:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11591-redistricting-commission-votes-down-city-council-draft-map Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/1-walcott-est.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Districting Commission Chair Dennis Walcott (photo: New York City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>In an 8-7 vote, the New York City Districting Commission on Thursday rejected <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11588-key-takeaways-new-city-council-map-redistricting" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">its latest proposal</a> to redraw the city’s 51 Council districts, sending the electoral map back to the drawing board.</p> <p>After months of analysis and more than 9,000 submissions from the public, the 15-member commission could not find consensus on redefining City Council district lines to accommodate population shifts shown in the 2020 Census. Those included an increase in the city’s population of 630,000 residents since the 2010 count and many other demographic shifts.</p> <p>Commission members who voted against the proposal cited varying reasons for their votes, including concerns about divisions of communities of interest to diminished political power for certain regions and neighborhoods. Those who voted in favor pointed to how <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11588-key-takeaways-new-city-council-map-redistricting" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the new map addressed major concerns about the preliminary July proposal</a>, making changes that the commission’s executive director, Dr. John Flateau, explained ahead of the vote. The new map required nine yes votes to be sent to the Council but fell short.</p> <p>If the map had been approved, it would have been sent to the City Council for its assessment. Instead, the Commission will now reconsider the revised proposal as it seeks to address the concerns of dissenting commissioners.</p> <p>The Commission is made up of 15 members – seven appointed by Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat; five appointed by City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Queens Democrat; and three chosen by City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli, a Republican of Staten Island.</p> <p>The no votes came from Borelli’s three appointees: Marc Wurzel, Kevin Hanratty, and Darrin Porcher; mayoral appointees Maria Mateo, Joshua Schneps, Lisa Sorin, and Kai-Ki Wong; and Michael Schnall, an appointee of the speaker. The vote made it apparent that Borelli’s and Mayor Adams’ appointees have continued to be largely in lockstep during the process. That was the case even as commission chair Dennis Walcott, an appointee of the mayor, was among the yes votes.</p> <p>“My commissioners were never going to accept a job half-done,” Borelli said in a text message on Thursday. Borelli has been adamant throughout the process that Staten Island's three Council districts should all remain island-only. “The latest drawings still left significant issues on the table, and although they are going back to the drawing board, at least it's with a better idea of what needs to be done,” he said.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11588-key-takeaways-new-city-council-map-redistricting" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The latest map was a revised version of an earlier proposal released in July</a>, which was met with significant opposition from various quarters. The initial proposal had kept the three Council districts on Staten Island largely unchanged and without any crossover into another borough, an anchoring decision that impacted how many other districts were drawn. But the latest map extended the Mid-Island district into Brooklyn and also undid many other contentious boundaries from the preliminary map passed in July.</p> <p>Schnall said he found the final process “a little unsettling and frankly, unfair,” as he voted against the proposed map. “A few individuals undid some of the work of the many, often at the last minutes of a mapping session, which got finalized in these maps,” he said.</p> <p>Schnall criticized what he called the “dilution” of political power in the Bronx from the redrawing of District 8, already a Bronx-Manhattan crossover district, which shifted more toward the East Harlem side in the latest map, as well as the inclusion of a Brooklyn neighborhood in the middle Staten Island district. As a Staten Island resident, he seemed to take particular issue with that latter decision.</p> <p>“I resent the fact that Staten Island has been blamed for all the troubles identified in the first draft…This Brooklyn addition dilutes Staten Island's political power and sets the borough back 10 years in the progress we've made to establish ourselves and chart our own future as a borough,” he said. The new map he objected to included what was said to be about 16,000 Brooklynites in the largely Staten Island 50th Council District.</p> <p>Walcott acknowledged Schnall’s concerns but defended the work of the commission and how it unfolded as he voted for the new maps. “I think the challenge is making sure that we don't undermine all the hard work and allow the process to unfold to the next step because I think the commission has done an excellent job in meeting its responsibility and its due diligence,” he said.</p> <p>But Wurzel echoed Schnall’s criticisms in his own vote against the proposal. “It's ironic that as soon as we as a commission walked away from having three districts on Staten Island, more problems developed, some inevitable and some self-inflicted,” he said of problems with the map he voted against on Thursday. </p> <p>He also took issue with proposed lines in other boroughs. “We've twisted, divided and cannibalized several communities in a handful of competitive, fair-fight districts in Queens and Brooklyn,” he said, in an apparent reference to a perceived lack of Republican-Democratic competition in parts of the new map.</p> <p>Other commissioners who supported the new proposal pointed out that they had listened to feedback on the preliminary maps and corrected perceived deficiencies, reuniting several communities of interest that had been split in the earlier proposal.</p> <p>Mateo voted no on the proposal, raising concerns about the dilution of Dominican voting power in Districts 2 and 7 in Manhattan. She said it is important for the commission to hear more from Latino New Yorkers as it continues its work.</p> <p>Several of the commissioners said the districting process was inherently flawed because of a state law that only allows a 5% deviation in population between the most and least populated districts. The commission also had to adhere to criteria set by the U.S. Constitution, the federal Voting Rights Act, and the City Charter.</p> <p>Following the vote, Dr. Lisa Handley, an expert retained by the commission to conduct a racial voting bloc analysis of the map, testified on the considerations that went into the latest proposed maps. “[T]he plan that you drew passed Voting Rights Act muster, in my opinion,” she said. “I'm not sure what's going to happen now.”</p> <p>Handley told the commissioners that the proposed maps maintained the number of Black and Hispanic opportunity districts in the city while adding one new Asian opportunity district, accounting for the increase in Asian Americans, the fastest growing population in the city. “You would have been successfully sued had you not done that,” she said.</p> <p>For his part, Mayor Adams appears content with the commission continuing its work as dictated by Thursday's vote. “The Commission heard public testimony from different communities across the city who were concerned about the dilution of their voting power and the risk of diminished representation in city government," said mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "We applaud the independent redistricting commission for their willingness to continue their great work and address these concerns now, while the public process continues to move forward.”</p> <p>City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, on the other hand, expressed dissatisfaction with the vote. "I am disappointed that the Council and public will not have the formal opportunity to review the new maps that the Districting Commission proposed and rejected," she said in a statement. "The public engaged in the redistricting process at record levels over the last several months, providing input and testimony regarding safety measures and protections for historically marginalized communities of color and communities of interest, as mandated by the Voting Rights Act and New York City Charter. The Commission appeared to have taken this seriously in its revisions, with new maps deemed to be in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. Yet, the public has not been able to access these newly proposed maps."</p> <p>"I urge the Commission to make these maps fully available to the public, so there is complete transparency on the newly proposed districts and how they addressed public concerns. It is also critical for there to be a clear timeline of the next steps and public process," she added.</p> <p>With the final approval of the maps now delayed, activists are hoping that their concerns about the proposed maps will be taken into consideration.</p> <p>“In these newly proposed maps, the Commission clearly heard the concerns of some but not all New Yorkers. In particular, in South Brooklyn’s Council Districts the proposed lines are an improvement from the previous version and reflect the city’s Asian and Latino population growth and feedback from residents,” said Murad Awawdeh, executive director of New York Immigration Coalition, in a statement. “Yet, we cannot ignore that immigrant communities continue to be split, including in Southeast Queens and in the Northwest Bronx, meaning additional changes need to be made to ensure community members have a chance at fair representation. By not moving the proposed maps to a vote by the NYC Council, we hope the Commission will use the time to work to ensure that more New Yorkers are heard in this process.”</p> <p>The commission will now work on a new map of Council districts, which it must pass to present to the current Council for approval or rejection with notes. If the Council approves the map, it goes into effect for next year’s elections, where all 51 Council seats are on the ballot. If it rejects the maps, the commission must take its feedback into account, hold additional public hearings, and then pass a final map without any outside approval needed. The deadline when the final maps are due is December 7. </p> <p>With little time left till that deadline, Citizens Union, a good government group, urged the Commission to quickly resolve any lingering issues so that the maps can be scrutinized by the public. "Today’s vote demonstrates the need for transparency throughout the process," said Betsy Gotbaum, CU's executive director, in a statement. "Opening the Commission’s deliberations to the public would have allowed all commissioners to weigh in on the issues that led to today's surprise vote. The Commission should hold its next deliberations in public to prompt healthy dialogue between commissioners. This act will reduce the potential power of outside influence on the process."</p> <p>Walcott said the Commission will “reconvene to discuss our next steps” in the process. “Then we will go through the process of addressing any of the concerns because we still have a responsibility to submit these plans to the City Council for their review,” he said.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated.</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/1-walcott-est.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Districting Commission Chair Dennis Walcott (photo: New York City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>In an 8-7 vote, the New York City Districting Commission on Thursday rejected <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11588-key-takeaways-new-city-council-map-redistricting" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">its latest proposal</a> to redraw the city’s 51 Council districts, sending the electoral map back to the drawing board.</p> <p>After months of analysis and more than 9,000 submissions from the public, the 15-member commission could not find consensus on redefining City Council district lines to accommodate population shifts shown in the 2020 Census. Those included an increase in the city’s population of 630,000 residents since the 2010 count and many other demographic shifts.</p> <p>Commission members who voted against the proposal cited varying reasons for their votes, including concerns about divisions of communities of interest to diminished political power for certain regions and neighborhoods. Those who voted in favor pointed to how <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11588-key-takeaways-new-city-council-map-redistricting" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the new map addressed major concerns about the preliminary July proposal</a>, making changes that the commission’s executive director, Dr. John Flateau, explained ahead of the vote. The new map required nine yes votes to be sent to the Council but fell short.</p> <p>If the map had been approved, it would have been sent to the City Council for its assessment. Instead, the Commission will now reconsider the revised proposal as it seeks to address the concerns of dissenting commissioners.</p> <p>The Commission is made up of 15 members – seven appointed by Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat; five appointed by City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Queens Democrat; and three chosen by City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli, a Republican of Staten Island.</p> <p>The no votes came from Borelli’s three appointees: Marc Wurzel, Kevin Hanratty, and Darrin Porcher; mayoral appointees Maria Mateo, Joshua Schneps, Lisa Sorin, and Kai-Ki Wong; and Michael Schnall, an appointee of the speaker. The vote made it apparent that Borelli’s and Mayor Adams’ appointees have continued to be largely in lockstep during the process. That was the case even as commission chair Dennis Walcott, an appointee of the mayor, was among the yes votes.</p> <p>“My commissioners were never going to accept a job half-done,” Borelli said in a text message on Thursday. Borelli has been adamant throughout the process that Staten Island's three Council districts should all remain island-only. “The latest drawings still left significant issues on the table, and although they are going back to the drawing board, at least it's with a better idea of what needs to be done,” he said.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11588-key-takeaways-new-city-council-map-redistricting" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The latest map was a revised version of an earlier proposal released in July</a>, which was met with significant opposition from various quarters. The initial proposal had kept the three Council districts on Staten Island largely unchanged and without any crossover into another borough, an anchoring decision that impacted how many other districts were drawn. But the latest map extended the Mid-Island district into Brooklyn and also undid many other contentious boundaries from the preliminary map passed in July.</p> <p>Schnall said he found the final process “a little unsettling and frankly, unfair,” as he voted against the proposed map. “A few individuals undid some of the work of the many, often at the last minutes of a mapping session, which got finalized in these maps,” he said.</p> <p>Schnall criticized what he called the “dilution” of political power in the Bronx from the redrawing of District 8, already a Bronx-Manhattan crossover district, which shifted more toward the East Harlem side in the latest map, as well as the inclusion of a Brooklyn neighborhood in the middle Staten Island district. As a Staten Island resident, he seemed to take particular issue with that latter decision.</p> <p>“I resent the fact that Staten Island has been blamed for all the troubles identified in the first draft…This Brooklyn addition dilutes Staten Island's political power and sets the borough back 10 years in the progress we've made to establish ourselves and chart our own future as a borough,” he said. The new map he objected to included what was said to be about 16,000 Brooklynites in the largely Staten Island 50th Council District.</p> <p>Walcott acknowledged Schnall’s concerns but defended the work of the commission and how it unfolded as he voted for the new maps. “I think the challenge is making sure that we don't undermine all the hard work and allow the process to unfold to the next step because I think the commission has done an excellent job in meeting its responsibility and its due diligence,” he said.</p> <p>But Wurzel echoed Schnall’s criticisms in his own vote against the proposal. “It's ironic that as soon as we as a commission walked away from having three districts on Staten Island, more problems developed, some inevitable and some self-inflicted,” he said of problems with the map he voted against on Thursday. </p> <p>He also took issue with proposed lines in other boroughs. “We've twisted, divided and cannibalized several communities in a handful of competitive, fair-fight districts in Queens and Brooklyn,” he said, in an apparent reference to a perceived lack of Republican-Democratic competition in parts of the new map.</p> <p>Other commissioners who supported the new proposal pointed out that they had listened to feedback on the preliminary maps and corrected perceived deficiencies, reuniting several communities of interest that had been split in the earlier proposal.</p> <p>Mateo voted no on the proposal, raising concerns about the dilution of Dominican voting power in Districts 2 and 7 in Manhattan. She said it is important for the commission to hear more from Latino New Yorkers as it continues its work.</p> <p>Several of the commissioners said the districting process was inherently flawed because of a state law that only allows a 5% deviation in population between the most and least populated districts. The commission also had to adhere to criteria set by the U.S. Constitution, the federal Voting Rights Act, and the City Charter.</p> <p>Following the vote, Dr. Lisa Handley, an expert retained by the commission to conduct a racial voting bloc analysis of the map, testified on the considerations that went into the latest proposed maps. “[T]he plan that you drew passed Voting Rights Act muster, in my opinion,” she said. “I'm not sure what's going to happen now.”</p> <p>Handley told the commissioners that the proposed maps maintained the number of Black and Hispanic opportunity districts in the city while adding one new Asian opportunity district, accounting for the increase in Asian Americans, the fastest growing population in the city. “You would have been successfully sued had you not done that,” she said.</p> <p>For his part, Mayor Adams appears content with the commission continuing its work as dictated by Thursday's vote. “The Commission heard public testimony from different communities across the city who were concerned about the dilution of their voting power and the risk of diminished representation in city government," said mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "We applaud the independent redistricting commission for their willingness to continue their great work and address these concerns now, while the public process continues to move forward.”</p> <p>City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, on the other hand, expressed dissatisfaction with the vote. "I am disappointed that the Council and public will not have the formal opportunity to review the new maps that the Districting Commission proposed and rejected," she said in a statement. "The public engaged in the redistricting process at record levels over the last several months, providing input and testimony regarding safety measures and protections for historically marginalized communities of color and communities of interest, as mandated by the Voting Rights Act and New York City Charter. The Commission appeared to have taken this seriously in its revisions, with new maps deemed to be in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. Yet, the public has not been able to access these newly proposed maps."</p> <p>"I urge the Commission to make these maps fully available to the public, so there is complete transparency on the newly proposed districts and how they addressed public concerns. It is also critical for there to be a clear timeline of the next steps and public process," she added.</p> <p>With the final approval of the maps now delayed, activists are hoping that their concerns about the proposed maps will be taken into consideration.</p> <p>“In these newly proposed maps, the Commission clearly heard the concerns of some but not all New Yorkers. In particular, in South Brooklyn’s Council Districts the proposed lines are an improvement from the previous version and reflect the city’s Asian and Latino population growth and feedback from residents,” said Murad Awawdeh, executive director of New York Immigration Coalition, in a statement. “Yet, we cannot ignore that immigrant communities continue to be split, including in Southeast Queens and in the Northwest Bronx, meaning additional changes need to be made to ensure community members have a chance at fair representation. By not moving the proposed maps to a vote by the NYC Council, we hope the Commission will use the time to work to ensure that more New Yorkers are heard in this process.”</p> <p>The commission will now work on a new map of Council districts, which it must pass to present to the current Council for approval or rejection with notes. If the Council approves the map, it goes into effect for next year’s elections, where all 51 Council seats are on the ballot. If it rejects the maps, the commission must take its feedback into account, hold additional public hearings, and then pass a final map without any outside approval needed. The deadline when the final maps are due is December 7. </p> <p>With little time left till that deadline, Citizens Union, a good government group, urged the Commission to quickly resolve any lingering issues so that the maps can be scrutinized by the public. "Today’s vote demonstrates the need for transparency throughout the process," said Betsy Gotbaum, CU's executive director, in a statement. "Opening the Commission’s deliberations to the public would have allowed all commissioners to weigh in on the issues that led to today's surprise vote. The Commission should hold its next deliberations in public to prompt healthy dialogue between commissioners. This act will reduce the potential power of outside influence on the process."</p> <p>Walcott said the Commission will “reconvene to discuss our next steps” in the process. “Then we will go through the process of addressing any of the concerns because we still have a responsibility to submit these plans to the City Council for their review,” he said.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated.</p>
Key Takeaways from New City Council Map Redistricting Commission Will Vote On 2022-09-21T04:00:00+00:00 2022-09-21T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11588-key-takeaways-new-city-council-map-redistricting Ethan Geringer-Sameth & Samar Khurshid ethangs@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/1-key-council.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>City Council members at City Hall (photo: John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit)</p> <hr /> <p>The New York City Districting Commission tasked with redrawing the city's 51 Council districts is expected to vote on a new draft map on Thursday, marking one of the last stages in the city's controversial redistricting process.</p> <p>The new map, which was <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/20/nyregion/redistricting-city-council-nyc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">first reported on by the New York Times</a> and previewed by Gotham Gazette on Tuesday, addresses some of the biggest points of contention in the preliminary lines released by the commission in July. If approved, the map will be sent to the City Council for approval or feedback and possible redrafting. While the map may still change substantially after the Council's motion, it paints a picture of the direction the city's political lines are likely to take.</p> <p>Redistricting takes place every decade to account for population shifts captured in the Census count. This year, the redistricting commission had to account for an increase of 630,000 residents in the city from 2010 to 2020, while also adhering to criteria outlined in the U.S. Constitution, the federal Voting Rights Act, the State Constitution and the City Charter. The commission received over 9,000 submissions from the public weighing in on the new lines.</p> <p>If the Council accepts the commission's map, the process effectively ends and the new lines go into place for the next City Council elections in 2023 and for government representation as of 2024. If it rejects the maps, the commission will hold another round of public hearings and unilaterally submit a final map in December to be certified by the City Clerk.</p> <p>Seven of the commission's 15 members are appointed by the mayor, five by the City Council's Democratic majority and three by its Republican minority. The map requires nine affirmative votes to pass.</p> <p>The lines will determine how communities are grouped and represented in the City Council, with implications for decisions about city funding, land use, and legislation. The preliminary maps released in July triggered a backlash from many corners of the city, with stakeholders in dozens of neighborhoods raising concerns that their communities would be fractured and their voting power diminished.</p> <p>The commission is also expected to present a racial voting bloc analysis, a breakdown of the racial and ethnic make-up of the voting-age population in each draft district, which the commission has used to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act. John Flateau, the body's executive director, is also expected to give a verbal presentation to explain the new lines and the logic behind them, according to a spokesperson for the commission. A final report with those narratives is expected to be published in the weeks after the Thursday vote, the spokesperson said.</p> <p>Here are several key takeaways from the new City Council map that the Districting Commission could pass on Thursday:</p> <p><strong>Population Growth in Asian American Communities</strong><br />New York City's <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/planning-level/nyc-population/census2020/dcp_2020-census-briefing-booklet-1.pdf">population grew</a> by 630,000 residents or 7.7% to 8.8 million between the 2010 and 2020 Census counts, driven largely by an increase in the city's Asian American population. One of the biggest questions around the new map is how it will deal with those communities.</p> <p>The city's Asian American population increased by 345,000 residents, the largest of any racial or ethnic group captured in Census data, with growth in almost every neighborhood of the city.</p> <p>Queens, which has the largest Asian American population, saw the biggest total growth of any borough. The neighborhoods of Flushing, Long Island City, Jamaica, and Elmhurst saw the biggest influxes of the borough. The Long Island City-Hunters Point section, in particular, saw its Asian American population more than quintuple. South Jamaica's Asian American population more than tripled.</p> <p>Brooklyn's southern communities saw another significant increase. Bensonhurst, which grew by close to 12,000 residents, had the most new Asian American residents of any neighborhood in the city. That community is currently divided among four City Council districts and became a flashpoint for achieving a new Asian-plurality district. The new map places much of Bensonhurst into Council District 43, currently held by Council Member Justin Brannan and creates an Asian majority within the district's voting age population, according to Eddie Borges, a commission spokesperson.</p> <p>Downtown Brooklyn also experienced an influx, while across the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, Chinatown, Soho, and the Lower East Side were the only neighborhoods to lose Asian American residents.</p> <p>The Asian American populations in Downtown Brooklyn, Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, Parkchester in the Bronx, and the Grasmere-Arrochar-South Beach-Dongan Hills neighborhoods of Staten Island all more than doubled over the last decade.</p> <p>A spokesperson for City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams referred Gotham Gazette to her previous comments on the redistricting process. “It is critical that new City Council district lines not only keep communities of interest together, but also preserve principles that were established to protect and enfranchise historically marginalized communities of color,” Adams said in August.</p> <p><strong>Other Demographic Shifts</strong><br />Asian American communities weren't the only group to see major growth over the last decade. The city's Hispanic population increased by 154,000, about a quarter of the total population growth, according to Census data. The largest growth was in the Bronx, followed by Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Manhattan's Hispanic population saw a slight decline of fewer than 1,000 residents.</p> <p>While the Bronx remained home to the largest Hispanic population, the biggest growth in the number of Hispanic residents was in southern Brooklyn – in Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge – where stakeholders in the local Latino and Asian communities fought to be kept whole.</p> <p>Hispanic communities shrunk in southern Queens and northern Brooklyn, East Williamsburg and Sunset Park, in western Brooklyn, and much of northern Manhattan.</p> <p>That growth was offset by decreases in the city's Black population, by 84,000 residents, and to a much lesser extent the white population, by 3,000.</p> <p>Brooklyn had the largest drop in its Black population, followed by Queens, and Manhattan. The Bronx and Staten Island saw modest increases in the number of Black residents.</p> <p><strong>Staten Island</strong><br />The preliminary districting map released in July kept the three districts on Staten Island intact, which had knock-on effects for the rest of the boroughs as different districts had to be drawn to accommodate the increase in the city’s population. The revised map, however, extends District 50 from the Mid-Island to Brooklyn, where it encompasses Fort Hamilton and parts of Bath Beach.</p> <p>Council Member Joe Borelli, the Republican majority leader, fought hard to keep Staten Island’s districts contained. Borelli has seemed to wield an <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/27/republican-reshaping-new-york-city-redistricting-00047995">outsize influence</a> over the redistricting process, despite only appointing three members to the 15-member commission, and the news maps seem <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/12/new-york-city-councils-redistricting-could-aid-the-gop-00054184">poised</a> to boost Republican representation on the Council.</p> <p>Asked for comment on the revised maps, Borelli said in a text message, “We will see what happens at the vote.”</p> <p><strong>Brooklyn</strong><br />The Redistricting Commission initially proposed creating an “Asian opportunity district” in South Brooklyn which would have combined parts of District 43, represented by Council Member Justin Brannan, and District 38, represented by Council Member Alexa Aviles, both Democrats. But, in doing so, the commission split up the historically Latino communities of Sunset Park and Red Hook, and would have pit the two Council members against each other. “Pitting one community of interest against another and wiping out hard-fought gains that have existed for a generation is not the path forward,” they said in a joint statement at the time.</p> <p>The new map broadly undoes those changes. The new District 38 will continue to cover Red Hook and Sunset Park while also including large parts of Dyker Heights. Brannan’s base in Bay Ridge will remain intact under the new District 47, which now extends to the east and includes a sliver of Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Coney Island, and Sea Gate.</p> <p>Brannan did not respond to a request for comment and Aviles declined to comment on the new maps.</p> <p>The new District 43 now includes parts of eastern Sunset Park, Bensonhurst and parts of Bath Beach and Gravesend. That may be welcome news to Asian American advocates in South Brooklyn who have been advocating for a district that consolidates Bensonhurst, a community with a large and growing Asian American population which is currently split between four City Council districts.</p> <p>According to Eddie Borges, a spokesperson for the redistricting commission, more than half of Council District 43's voting-age population – 54% – is Asian American, which makes it an "effective district" in terms of having a voting majority.</p> <p>"We put as much of the Bensonhurst areas as we could into District 43," Borges told Gotham Gazette of the new draft map. "Not all of it made it because otherwise we'd end up underpopulating other districts."</p> <p>Asher Ross, who is leading the redistricting work for the New York Immigration Coalition, said the new map was an improvement in many ways over the preliminary proposal. In District 39, for instance, he said the new map consolidates the South Asian community in Kensington into a single district. The preliminary map had split that neighborhood into two districts.</p> <p><strong>Queens</strong> <br />Activists in Southeast Queens are likely to be disappointed by the new map, which splits Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park into two districts, dividing a growing population of Indo-Caribbean and South Asian residents that have complained about a lack of representation on the Council. That proposal was also advanced in an alternate map by the Unity Map Coalition, which includes the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), The Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College (CLSJ) and LatinoJustice PRLDEF.</p> <p>“While we are still analyzing in detail the Districting Commission’s revised plan, we are not surprised that yet again the commission has cracked and split some protected communities of interest,” said Jerry Vattamala, Director of the Democracy Program at AALDEF, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “In Queens we see the removal of Elmhurst below Queens Boulevard. The commission's map does not adequately represent many New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. While we appreciate the effort of the commission to make this process inclusive with a record number of community comments and input, we still feel that the Unity Map will better secure the future of New York City and fortify its communities of color. We again urge the commission to adopt the Unity Map in full, which is simply a better plan for all New Yorkers.”</p> <p>But Black elected officials and community leaders from Queens <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/9/15/23355842/city-council-redistricting-southeast-queens-south-asian-black-communities-compete">rejected</a> the Unity Map and <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IP658phjjYhEw2acfPmuKEfnbGToXK4t/view">expressed concern</a> that other minority groups could be empowered at the expense of their own constituents. The commission seemed to heed some of their demands, in particular by redrawing Rochdale Village, the largest affordable co-op development of Black homeowners in Queens, into the new District 28 with South Ozone Park rather than splitting it into different districts.</p> <p>The new map does seem to keep communities of interest intact in District 26 in western Queens. In the preliminary proposal, the district had included Roosevelt Island and parts of the east side of Manhattan from 56th Street to 79th Street. But the new map keeps the district contained in Queens and integrates Woodside into the district, preserving the large Asian population there. “That’s definitely a drastic improvement over the previous proposed map,” NYIC’s Ross said.</p> <p><strong>Manhattan</strong><br />Among the major changes in the new map was the consolidation of most of Hell’s Kitchen back into a single district rather than being split across three districts as initially proposed.</p> <p>The map also restored Sutton Place and Roosevelt Island into the new District 5, a move that Council Member Julie Menin, an Upper East Side Democrat, was satisfied with. “I am going to reserve full comment for when the official maps are released on Thursday, but I am thrilled that this leaked map restores Roosevelt Island, Sutton Place, and the Upper East Side to Council District 5,” she said in a statement. “I testified in front of the Commission strongly advocating that they restore these areas to a Manhattan-based District and keep communities of interest intact. It is so important that community voices and input be heard in this process and my district came out in full force on this issue to make their voices heard.”</p> <p><strong>The Bronx</strong><br />Ross said the preliminary map would have created a Latino majority district in the Northwest Bronx, including North Riverdale, Woodlawn, Fiedston, Spuyten Duyvil, Kingsbridge and Norwood. But the new map seems to have rolled those changes back and includes parts of Wakefield while removing parts of Kingsbridge Heights. “It seems that they may have reversed that and kind of gone back to the status quo,” Ross said.</p> <p>“It does seem that there's a lot of splitting of neighborhoods and communities in the map,” he added.</p> <p>Council Member Pierina Sanchez, a Bronx Democrat who represents District 14, praised the map, however, for bringing the Kingsbridge Armory in Kingsbridge Heights back into her district. “This change from the previous revised plan to include Kingsbridge Armory within District 14 is promising and shows how responsive the Commission was to the demands of our community, who came out en masse and in support of keeping this infrastructure,” she said in a statement. “As I mentioned in my testimony, the Kingsbridge Armory has long been a physical manifestation of the immense potential and aspirations of our community. It is only right that our community of strivers, who have fought for so long to put this asset to work for the community, remain at the forefront of deciding its future.”</p> <p>

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Samar Khurshid contributed to this story.</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/1-key-council.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>City Council members at City Hall (photo: John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit)</p> <hr /> <p>The New York City Districting Commission tasked with redrawing the city's 51 Council districts is expected to vote on a new draft map on Thursday, marking one of the last stages in the city's controversial redistricting process.</p> <p>The new map, which was <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/20/nyregion/redistricting-city-council-nyc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">first reported on by the New York Times</a> and previewed by Gotham Gazette on Tuesday, addresses some of the biggest points of contention in the preliminary lines released by the commission in July. If approved, the map will be sent to the City Council for approval or feedback and possible redrafting. While the map may still change substantially after the Council's motion, it paints a picture of the direction the city's political lines are likely to take.</p> <p>Redistricting takes place every decade to account for population shifts captured in the Census count. This year, the redistricting commission had to account for an increase of 630,000 residents in the city from 2010 to 2020, while also adhering to criteria outlined in the U.S. Constitution, the federal Voting Rights Act, the State Constitution and the City Charter. The commission received over 9,000 submissions from the public weighing in on the new lines.</p> <p>If the Council accepts the commission's map, the process effectively ends and the new lines go into place for the next City Council elections in 2023 and for government representation as of 2024. If it rejects the maps, the commission will hold another round of public hearings and unilaterally submit a final map in December to be certified by the City Clerk.</p> <p>Seven of the commission's 15 members are appointed by the mayor, five by the City Council's Democratic majority and three by its Republican minority. The map requires nine affirmative votes to pass.</p> <p>The lines will determine how communities are grouped and represented in the City Council, with implications for decisions about city funding, land use, and legislation. The preliminary maps released in July triggered a backlash from many corners of the city, with stakeholders in dozens of neighborhoods raising concerns that their communities would be fractured and their voting power diminished.</p> <p>The commission is also expected to present a racial voting bloc analysis, a breakdown of the racial and ethnic make-up of the voting-age population in each draft district, which the commission has used to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act. John Flateau, the body's executive director, is also expected to give a verbal presentation to explain the new lines and the logic behind them, according to a spokesperson for the commission. A final report with those narratives is expected to be published in the weeks after the Thursday vote, the spokesperson said.</p> <p>Here are several key takeaways from the new City Council map that the Districting Commission could pass on Thursday:</p> <p><strong>Population Growth in Asian American Communities</strong><br />New York City's <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/planning-level/nyc-population/census2020/dcp_2020-census-briefing-booklet-1.pdf">population grew</a> by 630,000 residents or 7.7% to 8.8 million between the 2010 and 2020 Census counts, driven largely by an increase in the city's Asian American population. One of the biggest questions around the new map is how it will deal with those communities.</p> <p>The city's Asian American population increased by 345,000 residents, the largest of any racial or ethnic group captured in Census data, with growth in almost every neighborhood of the city.</p> <p>Queens, which has the largest Asian American population, saw the biggest total growth of any borough. The neighborhoods of Flushing, Long Island City, Jamaica, and Elmhurst saw the biggest influxes of the borough. The Long Island City-Hunters Point section, in particular, saw its Asian American population more than quintuple. South Jamaica's Asian American population more than tripled.</p> <p>Brooklyn's southern communities saw another significant increase. Bensonhurst, which grew by close to 12,000 residents, had the most new Asian American residents of any neighborhood in the city. That community is currently divided among four City Council districts and became a flashpoint for achieving a new Asian-plurality district. The new map places much of Bensonhurst into Council District 43, currently held by Council Member Justin Brannan and creates an Asian majority within the district's voting age population, according to Eddie Borges, a commission spokesperson.</p> <p>Downtown Brooklyn also experienced an influx, while across the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, Chinatown, Soho, and the Lower East Side were the only neighborhoods to lose Asian American residents.</p> <p>The Asian American populations in Downtown Brooklyn, Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, Parkchester in the Bronx, and the Grasmere-Arrochar-South Beach-Dongan Hills neighborhoods of Staten Island all more than doubled over the last decade.</p> <p>A spokesperson for City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams referred Gotham Gazette to her previous comments on the redistricting process. “It is critical that new City Council district lines not only keep communities of interest together, but also preserve principles that were established to protect and enfranchise historically marginalized communities of color,” Adams said in August.</p> <p><strong>Other Demographic Shifts</strong><br />Asian American communities weren't the only group to see major growth over the last decade. The city's Hispanic population increased by 154,000, about a quarter of the total population growth, according to Census data. The largest growth was in the Bronx, followed by Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Manhattan's Hispanic population saw a slight decline of fewer than 1,000 residents.</p> <p>While the Bronx remained home to the largest Hispanic population, the biggest growth in the number of Hispanic residents was in southern Brooklyn – in Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge – where stakeholders in the local Latino and Asian communities fought to be kept whole.</p> <p>Hispanic communities shrunk in southern Queens and northern Brooklyn, East Williamsburg and Sunset Park, in western Brooklyn, and much of northern Manhattan.</p> <p>That growth was offset by decreases in the city's Black population, by 84,000 residents, and to a much lesser extent the white population, by 3,000.</p> <p>Brooklyn had the largest drop in its Black population, followed by Queens, and Manhattan. The Bronx and Staten Island saw modest increases in the number of Black residents.</p> <p><strong>Staten Island</strong><br />The preliminary districting map released in July kept the three districts on Staten Island intact, which had knock-on effects for the rest of the boroughs as different districts had to be drawn to accommodate the increase in the city’s population. The revised map, however, extends District 50 from the Mid-Island to Brooklyn, where it encompasses Fort Hamilton and parts of Bath Beach.</p> <p>Council Member Joe Borelli, the Republican majority leader, fought hard to keep Staten Island’s districts contained. Borelli has seemed to wield an <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/27/republican-reshaping-new-york-city-redistricting-00047995">outsize influence</a> over the redistricting process, despite only appointing three members to the 15-member commission, and the news maps seem <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/12/new-york-city-councils-redistricting-could-aid-the-gop-00054184">poised</a> to boost Republican representation on the Council.</p> <p>Asked for comment on the revised maps, Borelli said in a text message, “We will see what happens at the vote.”</p> <p><strong>Brooklyn</strong><br />The Redistricting Commission initially proposed creating an “Asian opportunity district” in South Brooklyn which would have combined parts of District 43, represented by Council Member Justin Brannan, and District 38, represented by Council Member Alexa Aviles, both Democrats. But, in doing so, the commission split up the historically Latino communities of Sunset Park and Red Hook, and would have pit the two Council members against each other. “Pitting one community of interest against another and wiping out hard-fought gains that have existed for a generation is not the path forward,” they said in a joint statement at the time.</p> <p>The new map broadly undoes those changes. The new District 38 will continue to cover Red Hook and Sunset Park while also including large parts of Dyker Heights. Brannan’s base in Bay Ridge will remain intact under the new District 47, which now extends to the east and includes a sliver of Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Coney Island, and Sea Gate.</p> <p>Brannan did not respond to a request for comment and Aviles declined to comment on the new maps.</p> <p>The new District 43 now includes parts of eastern Sunset Park, Bensonhurst and parts of Bath Beach and Gravesend. That may be welcome news to Asian American advocates in South Brooklyn who have been advocating for a district that consolidates Bensonhurst, a community with a large and growing Asian American population which is currently split between four City Council districts.</p> <p>According to Eddie Borges, a spokesperson for the redistricting commission, more than half of Council District 43's voting-age population – 54% – is Asian American, which makes it an "effective district" in terms of having a voting majority.</p> <p>"We put as much of the Bensonhurst areas as we could into District 43," Borges told Gotham Gazette of the new draft map. "Not all of it made it because otherwise we'd end up underpopulating other districts."</p> <p>Asher Ross, who is leading the redistricting work for the New York Immigration Coalition, said the new map was an improvement in many ways over the preliminary proposal. In District 39, for instance, he said the new map consolidates the South Asian community in Kensington into a single district. The preliminary map had split that neighborhood into two districts.</p> <p><strong>Queens</strong> <br />Activists in Southeast Queens are likely to be disappointed by the new map, which splits Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park into two districts, dividing a growing population of Indo-Caribbean and South Asian residents that have complained about a lack of representation on the Council. That proposal was also advanced in an alternate map by the Unity Map Coalition, which includes the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), The Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College (CLSJ) and LatinoJustice PRLDEF.</p> <p>“While we are still analyzing in detail the Districting Commission’s revised plan, we are not surprised that yet again the commission has cracked and split some protected communities of interest,” said Jerry Vattamala, Director of the Democracy Program at AALDEF, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. “In Queens we see the removal of Elmhurst below Queens Boulevard. The commission's map does not adequately represent many New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. While we appreciate the effort of the commission to make this process inclusive with a record number of community comments and input, we still feel that the Unity Map will better secure the future of New York City and fortify its communities of color. We again urge the commission to adopt the Unity Map in full, which is simply a better plan for all New Yorkers.”</p> <p>But Black elected officials and community leaders from Queens <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/9/15/23355842/city-council-redistricting-southeast-queens-south-asian-black-communities-compete">rejected</a> the Unity Map and <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IP658phjjYhEw2acfPmuKEfnbGToXK4t/view">expressed concern</a> that other minority groups could be empowered at the expense of their own constituents. The commission seemed to heed some of their demands, in particular by redrawing Rochdale Village, the largest affordable co-op development of Black homeowners in Queens, into the new District 28 with South Ozone Park rather than splitting it into different districts.</p> <p>The new map does seem to keep communities of interest intact in District 26 in western Queens. In the preliminary proposal, the district had included Roosevelt Island and parts of the east side of Manhattan from 56th Street to 79th Street. But the new map keeps the district contained in Queens and integrates Woodside into the district, preserving the large Asian population there. “That’s definitely a drastic improvement over the previous proposed map,” NYIC’s Ross said.</p> <p><strong>Manhattan</strong><br />Among the major changes in the new map was the consolidation of most of Hell’s Kitchen back into a single district rather than being split across three districts as initially proposed.</p> <p>The map also restored Sutton Place and Roosevelt Island into the new District 5, a move that Council Member Julie Menin, an Upper East Side Democrat, was satisfied with. “I am going to reserve full comment for when the official maps are released on Thursday, but I am thrilled that this leaked map restores Roosevelt Island, Sutton Place, and the Upper East Side to Council District 5,” she said in a statement. “I testified in front of the Commission strongly advocating that they restore these areas to a Manhattan-based District and keep communities of interest intact. It is so important that community voices and input be heard in this process and my district came out in full force on this issue to make their voices heard.”</p> <p><strong>The Bronx</strong><br />Ross said the preliminary map would have created a Latino majority district in the Northwest Bronx, including North Riverdale, Woodlawn, Fiedston, Spuyten Duyvil, Kingsbridge and Norwood. But the new map seems to have rolled those changes back and includes parts of Wakefield while removing parts of Kingsbridge Heights. “It seems that they may have reversed that and kind of gone back to the status quo,” Ross said.</p> <p>“It does seem that there's a lot of splitting of neighborhoods and communities in the map,” he added.</p> <p>Council Member Pierina Sanchez, a Bronx Democrat who represents District 14, praised the map, however, for bringing the Kingsbridge Armory in Kingsbridge Heights back into her district. “This change from the previous revised plan to include Kingsbridge Armory within District 14 is promising and shows how responsive the Commission was to the demands of our community, who came out en masse and in support of keeping this infrastructure,” she said in a statement. “As I mentioned in my testimony, the Kingsbridge Armory has long been a physical manifestation of the immense potential and aspirations of our community. It is only right that our community of strivers, who have fought for so long to put this asset to work for the community, remain at the forefront of deciding its future.”</p> <p>

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Samar Khurshid contributed to this story.</p>
City Council Examines Digital Divide, Bills to Improve Internet Access 2022-09-19T13:00:00+00:00 2022-09-19T13:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11584-city-council-examine-digital-divide-bills-internet Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/1-digital-bills.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Students getting connected (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The City Council’s Committee on Technology held a hearing Monday to examine disparities in internet broadband access across the city and to discuss legislation that would ameliorate that digital divide. The hearing took place just hours after <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11583-city-free-internet-cable-nycha-residents" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayor Adams announced the new “Big Apple Connect” program to provide free internet and cable TV services to thousands of NYCHA residents</a> to better connect low-income public housing residents. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite living in the richest city in the richest country in the world, almost 15% of New Yorkers have </span><a href="https://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/documents/HorriganReportNY.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">no access</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to broadband internet of any kind at home and about 24.2% do not have a desktop or laptop computer in their household, according to data from the 2019 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census. That gap in access and connectivity proved to be an even more pressing issue at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when much of work, schooling, and access to city services was carried out online. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York City launched an Internet Master Plan, released by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2020, which is meant to bridge the digital divide by building out broadband infrastructure and using various mechanisms to provide free and affordable internet access across the city. De Blasio allocated $157 million in capital funds towards the plan but it has progressed slowly, and was stalled by Mayor Eric Adams’ administration this year when the new mayor came into office. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At Monday’s hearing, City Council members questioned Adams administration officials on the progress they are making and whether the Internet Master Plan is reaching those most in need in the city.</span></p> <p>"The COVID-19 pandemic and our ongoing recovery from its impacts have made it abundantly clear what was already deeply understood by so many: the internet is a crucial pillar of modern society, and access to the internet is no longer a luxury - it is vital to be able to participate and succeed in our society," said City Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, a Brooklyn Democrat and chair of the Council’s technology committee, in her opening remarks. </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The idea was to outline and create a plan for affordability, accessibility to internet access, and really prioritize marginalized and low-income households that we obviously realized, during the pandemic, were not connected and had a really difficult time being connected,” Gutiérrez said in a phone interview prior to the hearing. “We want to make sure that the internet master plan is reflecting solutions for those communities in our city.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gutiérrez said the hearing was an opportunity to hear from New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser and from internet service providers about their efforts to achieve the goals of the Master Plan. “The longer we wait, obviously the longer that we continue to jeopardize families and communities that are suffering because they just don't have access,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Council member said the city “can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel” as both the federal and state governments have approved massive funding for broadband infrastructure that the city could avail itself of.  </span></p> <p>Fraser did not attend the hearing but officials from the Mayor's Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) testified before the committee, updating the Council members on the Internet Master Plan and efforts to expand internet connectivity to those New Yorkers who need it most, including low-income NYCHA residents and public school students. </p> <p>Brett Sikoff, executive director of franchise administration for OTI, said the administration is reconsidering the Internet Master Plan, expressing concerns about "duplication of efforts" as broadband and fiber infrastructure has been increasingly built in the city. "Because of the considerable investment proposed under the Internet Master Plan, we thought it was prudent to take a really hard look at it to make sure that it's been surgically applied," he said.  </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides oversight of the city plan and efforts the Adams administration is advancing to bridge the digital divide, also on the committee agenda was consideration of four bills, including one sponsored by Gutiérrez that would require the city to purchase and distribute mobile hotspot devices to all New York City public school students.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When public schools went remote because of the pandemic, the de Blasio administration provided hundreds of thousands of tablet computers with data plans to ensure that students who lacked internet access could learn remotely. But even as it operated at a historic scale, the rollout of the program had hiccups and underscored the lack of connectivity and technology in many low-income families’ homes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even as schools have reopened and students are back in class, remote learning may still continue in some form. Mayor Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks have announced the continuation of the pandemic era policy that there would be no more snow days in the school year and instead students would study remotely if schools buildings are closed due to snow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There is a concern that we have somehow kind of disconnected from the families that need access, that need the hotspots because so many of the kids have returned to school,” Gutiérrez said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It was not perfect during the pandemic and we want to make sure that we get it as close to perfect as possible,” she added. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gutiérrez acknowledged that her bill could cost a significant amount, though she did not specify how much. “It is more than necessary that we talk about funding for our schools. I think we just don't have the capacity to not invest where we know it makes sense,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Council Member Julie Won, a Queens Democrat, sponsors two of the other bills heard Monday. One would create a program for city agencies to provide wireless internet access to the public while the second would require the city to create and distribute written materials on affordable internet programs to all school students at the start of the school year. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The second bill, Won said in an interview, is crucial since there are several programs at the state and federal level that subsidize internet access but many New Yorkers remain unaware of them. “Even today, when I go to my NYCHA (developments), I have to tell them about programs that are available for them because they're still paying out of pocket even though they qualify,” she said in a phone interview. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Won also pointed out that some of those subsidy programs require people to register online. “Isn't it ironic? You're trying to register people who need free Wi-Fi to register online for Wi-Fi,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Won also intends to interrogate internet service providers about their efforts to build connectivity in underserved Black and brown neighborhoods, which have historically lacked access. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The final bill on the agenda, introduced by Council Member Robert Holden, a Queens Democrat, would require the city to create a website with information on franchise agreements with companies that provide cable television services.</span></p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: This article has been updated.</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/1-digital-bills.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Students getting connected (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The City Council’s Committee on Technology held a hearing Monday to examine disparities in internet broadband access across the city and to discuss legislation that would ameliorate that digital divide. The hearing took place just hours after <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11583-city-free-internet-cable-nycha-residents" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayor Adams announced the new “Big Apple Connect” program to provide free internet and cable TV services to thousands of NYCHA residents</a> to better connect low-income public housing residents. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite living in the richest city in the richest country in the world, almost 15% of New Yorkers have </span><a href="https://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/documents/HorriganReportNY.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">no access</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to broadband internet of any kind at home and about 24.2% do not have a desktop or laptop computer in their household, according to data from the 2019 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census. That gap in access and connectivity proved to be an even more pressing issue at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when much of work, schooling, and access to city services was carried out online. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York City launched an Internet Master Plan, released by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2020, which is meant to bridge the digital divide by building out broadband infrastructure and using various mechanisms to provide free and affordable internet access across the city. De Blasio allocated $157 million in capital funds towards the plan but it has progressed slowly, and was stalled by Mayor Eric Adams’ administration this year when the new mayor came into office. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At Monday’s hearing, City Council members questioned Adams administration officials on the progress they are making and whether the Internet Master Plan is reaching those most in need in the city.</span></p> <p>"The COVID-19 pandemic and our ongoing recovery from its impacts have made it abundantly clear what was already deeply understood by so many: the internet is a crucial pillar of modern society, and access to the internet is no longer a luxury - it is vital to be able to participate and succeed in our society," said City Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, a Brooklyn Democrat and chair of the Council’s technology committee, in her opening remarks. </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The idea was to outline and create a plan for affordability, accessibility to internet access, and really prioritize marginalized and low-income households that we obviously realized, during the pandemic, were not connected and had a really difficult time being connected,” Gutiérrez said in a phone interview prior to the hearing. “We want to make sure that the internet master plan is reflecting solutions for those communities in our city.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gutiérrez said the hearing was an opportunity to hear from New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser and from internet service providers about their efforts to achieve the goals of the Master Plan. “The longer we wait, obviously the longer that we continue to jeopardize families and communities that are suffering because they just don't have access,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Council member said the city “can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel” as both the federal and state governments have approved massive funding for broadband infrastructure that the city could avail itself of.  </span></p> <p>Fraser did not attend the hearing but officials from the Mayor's Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) testified before the committee, updating the Council members on the Internet Master Plan and efforts to expand internet connectivity to those New Yorkers who need it most, including low-income NYCHA residents and public school students. </p> <p>Brett Sikoff, executive director of franchise administration for OTI, said the administration is reconsidering the Internet Master Plan, expressing concerns about "duplication of efforts" as broadband and fiber infrastructure has been increasingly built in the city. "Because of the considerable investment proposed under the Internet Master Plan, we thought it was prudent to take a really hard look at it to make sure that it's been surgically applied," he said.  </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides oversight of the city plan and efforts the Adams administration is advancing to bridge the digital divide, also on the committee agenda was consideration of four bills, including one sponsored by Gutiérrez that would require the city to purchase and distribute mobile hotspot devices to all New York City public school students.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When public schools went remote because of the pandemic, the de Blasio administration provided hundreds of thousands of tablet computers with data plans to ensure that students who lacked internet access could learn remotely. But even as it operated at a historic scale, the rollout of the program had hiccups and underscored the lack of connectivity and technology in many low-income families’ homes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even as schools have reopened and students are back in class, remote learning may still continue in some form. Mayor Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks have announced the continuation of the pandemic era policy that there would be no more snow days in the school year and instead students would study remotely if schools buildings are closed due to snow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There is a concern that we have somehow kind of disconnected from the families that need access, that need the hotspots because so many of the kids have returned to school,” Gutiérrez said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It was not perfect during the pandemic and we want to make sure that we get it as close to perfect as possible,” she added. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gutiérrez acknowledged that her bill could cost a significant amount, though she did not specify how much. “It is more than necessary that we talk about funding for our schools. I think we just don't have the capacity to not invest where we know it makes sense,” she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Council Member Julie Won, a Queens Democrat, sponsors two of the other bills heard Monday. One would create a program for city agencies to provide wireless internet access to the public while the second would require the city to create and distribute written materials on affordable internet programs to all school students at the start of the school year. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The second bill, Won said in an interview, is crucial since there are several programs at the state and federal level that subsidize internet access but many New Yorkers remain unaware of them. “Even today, when I go to my NYCHA (developments), I have to tell them about programs that are available for them because they're still paying out of pocket even though they qualify,” she said in a phone interview. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Won also pointed out that some of those subsidy programs require people to register online. “Isn't it ironic? You're trying to register people who need free Wi-Fi to register online for Wi-Fi,” she said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Won also intends to interrogate internet service providers about their efforts to build connectivity in underserved Black and brown neighborhoods, which have historically lacked access. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The final bill on the agenda, introduced by Council Member Robert Holden, a Queens Democrat, would require the city to create a website with information on franchise agreements with companies that provide cable television services.</span></p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: This article has been updated.</p>
Max Politics Podcast: How New York City is Handling an Influx of Asylum Seekers 2022-09-16T13:00:00+00:00 2022-09-16T13:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11582-max-politics-podcast-new-york-city-influx-asylum-seekers-immigrants Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/immigrants-port600.jpg" /></p> <p>Asylum seekers arrive in New York City (photo: @NYCImmigrants)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 16, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: How New York City is Handling an Influx of Asylum Seekers<br /></strong></p> <p>Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, joined the show to discuss the influx of asylum seekers to New York City, how government and nonprofits have responded, as well as ongoing City Council redistricting.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11582-max-politics-podcast-new-york-city-influx-asylum-seekers-immigrants">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/immigrants-port600.jpg" /></p> <p>Asylum seekers arrive in New York City (photo: @NYCImmigrants)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 16, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: How New York City is Handling an Influx of Asylum Seekers<br /></strong></p> <p>Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, joined the show to discuss the influx of asylum seekers to New York City, how government and nonprofits have responded, as well as ongoing City Council redistricting.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11582-max-politics-podcast-new-york-city-influx-asylum-seekers-immigrants">Read More ...</a></p> City to Announce Free Internet and Cable for Thousands of NYCHA Residents 2022-09-17T04:00:00+00:00 2022-09-17T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11583-city-free-internet-cable-nycha-residents Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/city-announce-free.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>(photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><em>UPDATE (9/19/22): Mayor Adams and Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser on Monday announced the new "Big Apple Connect" program at NYCHA’s Langston Hughes Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The program will provide free internet and cable to 300,000 residents at 200 NYCHA developments by the end of 2023. The piece below has been updated with additional information based on the announcement. </em></p> <p>Mayor Eric Adams announced a new program on Monday to provide free high-speed internet and basic cable TV to hundreds of thousands of public housing residents.</p> <p>The program, called Big Apple Connect, is a partnership between the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation and internet service providers that serve the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which is home to more than 400,000 New Yorkers. Before the plan was made public by the mayor’s office, one of the providers, Optimum, had already <a href="https://www.optimum.com/big-apple-connect">publicly posted</a> details of its collaboration with the city.</p> <p>A City Hall spokesperson declined to provide further information but confirmed that the mayor would make an announcement on Monday.</p> <p>Optimum is one of several providers in the city that supply services to NYCHA residents. According to Optimum’s website, under the new initiative, thousands of residents will receive free internet and basic cable services without having to bear the costs for equipment, installation, taxes, or fees. It’s unclear what the terms of the deal are and what it will cost the city to run the program.</p> <p>The program will be available to Optimum customers at the Mott Haven Houses and Patterson Houses in the Bronx and the Langston Hughes Houses and Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn. According to Optimum’s website, the program will last three years, “after which the city may extend the program on a yearly basis.”</p> <p>Besides Optimum, the city has also partnered with Charter, covering the majority of developments owned and managed by NYCHA. According to the mayor's office, the city is also negotiating with Verizon to join the program.</p> <p>“A 21st-century city like New York deserves 21st-century infrastructure, and, today, we continue our quest to bridge the digital divide with the landmark rollout of ‘Big Apple Connect,’” Mayor Adams said in a statement on Monday. “For too long, lower-income communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color have been ignored when it comes to accessing the critical digital tools to help them succeed. Broadband is no longer a luxury, but a necessity that all New Yorkers should have access to."</p> <p>NYCHA is a public authority largely under the mayor and city government’s purview but it operates under federal regulations and is also partly the responsibility of the state. The authority is currently under a federal monitor and has an estimated $40 billion in infrastructure needs that city and state officials have made limited attempts to fill for years in lieu of federal investment, though there has been more movement recently.</p> <p>The new internet and TV program will also not affect benefits from federal programs such as the Lifeline program which lowers monthly internet and mobile costs and the Affordable Connectivity Program, which subsidizes internet bills as well as device purchases. As Optimum noted on its website, customers who currently rely on the ACP benefit for their current internet services “may be eligible to apply for and transfer those benefits to a wireless Mobile plan.”</p> <p>Big Apple Connect is the city’s latest effort at bridging the city’s stark digital divide. Roughly 15% of city residents <a href="https://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/documents/HorriganReportNY.pdf">do not have access</a> to broadband internet of any kind at home, a problem that was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic as the city shut down to a significant degree, many services went online and everything from work to school went remote. It’s a particularly pressing issue for NYCHA residents, who are low-income and mostly Black and Latino.</p> <p>In January 2020, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an Internet Master Plan aimed at achieving universal affordable broadband access across the city. In July that year, he accelerated the program with a $157 million capital investment to build broadband infrastructure, with a specific focus on public housing residents. The plan to build out infrastructure was <a href="https://gothamist.com/news/nycs-plan-for-public-internet-paused-under-mayor-adams">put on pause</a>, however, by the Adams administration earlier this year.</p> <p>The city has slowly expanded access to either free or affordable internet at dozens of NYCHA complexes. In May 2021, the de Blasio administration <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/338-21/recovery-all-us-new-york-city-free-low-cost-broadband-access-13-nycha&amp;sa=D&amp;source=docs&amp;ust=1663359828181125&amp;usg=AOvVaw0VgA4QDe2-k9PIxz3lAo1S">announced</a> an agreement with five internet service providers to offer high-speed internet access to 30,000 residents in 13 NYCHA developments. Three of the developments received free wi-fi in public spaces while the rest were set to be wired for affordable in-unit internet access. Then, in July, a sixth vendor was selected to provide low-cost internet to 10,000 residents in NYCHA developments in the Bronx. By October, the mayor’s office designated several companies that would provide another 70,000 NYCHA residents and 150,000 residents in surrounding neighborhoods with affordable internet options by 2022.</p> <p>There have been other piecemeal efforts as well. In April this year, City Council Member Julie Menin <a href="https://patch.com/new-york/upper-east-side-nyc/ues-nycha-residents-get-free-broadband-internet-through-new-program">announced</a> a partnership with Stanley Isaacs Center, a service provider, and EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit, to provide affordable Verizon and Spectrum internet plans to residents of the Isaacs Houses and the Holmes Towers on the Upper East Side.</p> <p>The announcement on Monday comes in the wake of yet another controversy involving the scandal-plagued public housing authority. Residents of the Jacob Riis Houses in Manhattan faced a scare over possible arsenic in their tap water, a finding that was later determined to be false. That controversy was quickly followed by Mayor Adams announcing on Thursday that he is restructuring NYCHA’s top leadership, which had been planned before the Riis debacle. Gregory Russ, Chair and CEO of NYCHA, will see his role pared down to only chair of the agency and NYCHA Executive Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel Lisa Bova-Hiatt will serve as interim CEO while the administration searches for a permanent replacement.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated.</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/city-announce-free.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>(photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><em>UPDATE (9/19/22): Mayor Adams and Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser on Monday announced the new "Big Apple Connect" program at NYCHA’s Langston Hughes Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The program will provide free internet and cable to 300,000 residents at 200 NYCHA developments by the end of 2023. The piece below has been updated with additional information based on the announcement. </em></p> <p>Mayor Eric Adams announced a new program on Monday to provide free high-speed internet and basic cable TV to hundreds of thousands of public housing residents.</p> <p>The program, called Big Apple Connect, is a partnership between the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation and internet service providers that serve the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which is home to more than 400,000 New Yorkers. Before the plan was made public by the mayor’s office, one of the providers, Optimum, had already <a href="https://www.optimum.com/big-apple-connect">publicly posted</a> details of its collaboration with the city.</p> <p>A City Hall spokesperson declined to provide further information but confirmed that the mayor would make an announcement on Monday.</p> <p>Optimum is one of several providers in the city that supply services to NYCHA residents. According to Optimum’s website, under the new initiative, thousands of residents will receive free internet and basic cable services without having to bear the costs for equipment, installation, taxes, or fees. It’s unclear what the terms of the deal are and what it will cost the city to run the program.</p> <p>The program will be available to Optimum customers at the Mott Haven Houses and Patterson Houses in the Bronx and the Langston Hughes Houses and Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn. According to Optimum’s website, the program will last three years, “after which the city may extend the program on a yearly basis.”</p> <p>Besides Optimum, the city has also partnered with Charter, covering the majority of developments owned and managed by NYCHA. According to the mayor's office, the city is also negotiating with Verizon to join the program.</p> <p>“A 21st-century city like New York deserves 21st-century infrastructure, and, today, we continue our quest to bridge the digital divide with the landmark rollout of ‘Big Apple Connect,’” Mayor Adams said in a statement on Monday. “For too long, lower-income communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color have been ignored when it comes to accessing the critical digital tools to help them succeed. Broadband is no longer a luxury, but a necessity that all New Yorkers should have access to."</p> <p>NYCHA is a public authority largely under the mayor and city government’s purview but it operates under federal regulations and is also partly the responsibility of the state. The authority is currently under a federal monitor and has an estimated $40 billion in infrastructure needs that city and state officials have made limited attempts to fill for years in lieu of federal investment, though there has been more movement recently.</p> <p>The new internet and TV program will also not affect benefits from federal programs such as the Lifeline program which lowers monthly internet and mobile costs and the Affordable Connectivity Program, which subsidizes internet bills as well as device purchases. As Optimum noted on its website, customers who currently rely on the ACP benefit for their current internet services “may be eligible to apply for and transfer those benefits to a wireless Mobile plan.”</p> <p>Big Apple Connect is the city’s latest effort at bridging the city’s stark digital divide. Roughly 15% of city residents <a href="https://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/documents/HorriganReportNY.pdf">do not have access</a> to broadband internet of any kind at home, a problem that was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic as the city shut down to a significant degree, many services went online and everything from work to school went remote. It’s a particularly pressing issue for NYCHA residents, who are low-income and mostly Black and Latino.</p> <p>In January 2020, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an Internet Master Plan aimed at achieving universal affordable broadband access across the city. In July that year, he accelerated the program with a $157 million capital investment to build broadband infrastructure, with a specific focus on public housing residents. The plan to build out infrastructure was <a href="https://gothamist.com/news/nycs-plan-for-public-internet-paused-under-mayor-adams">put on pause</a>, however, by the Adams administration earlier this year.</p> <p>The city has slowly expanded access to either free or affordable internet at dozens of NYCHA complexes. In May 2021, the de Blasio administration <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/338-21/recovery-all-us-new-york-city-free-low-cost-broadband-access-13-nycha&amp;sa=D&amp;source=docs&amp;ust=1663359828181125&amp;usg=AOvVaw0VgA4QDe2-k9PIxz3lAo1S">announced</a> an agreement with five internet service providers to offer high-speed internet access to 30,000 residents in 13 NYCHA developments. Three of the developments received free wi-fi in public spaces while the rest were set to be wired for affordable in-unit internet access. Then, in July, a sixth vendor was selected to provide low-cost internet to 10,000 residents in NYCHA developments in the Bronx. By October, the mayor’s office designated several companies that would provide another 70,000 NYCHA residents and 150,000 residents in surrounding neighborhoods with affordable internet options by 2022.</p> <p>There have been other piecemeal efforts as well. In April this year, City Council Member Julie Menin <a href="https://patch.com/new-york/upper-east-side-nyc/ues-nycha-residents-get-free-broadband-internet-through-new-program">announced</a> a partnership with Stanley Isaacs Center, a service provider, and EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit, to provide affordable Verizon and Spectrum internet plans to residents of the Isaacs Houses and the Holmes Towers on the Upper East Side.</p> <p>The announcement on Monday comes in the wake of yet another controversy involving the scandal-plagued public housing authority. Residents of the Jacob Riis Houses in Manhattan faced a scare over possible arsenic in their tap water, a finding that was later determined to be false. That controversy was quickly followed by Mayor Adams announcing on Thursday that he is restructuring NYCHA’s top leadership, which had been planned before the Riis debacle. Gregory Russ, Chair and CEO of NYCHA, will see his role pared down to only chair of the agency and NYCHA Executive Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel Lisa Bova-Hiatt will serve as interim CEO while the administration searches for a permanent replacement.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note - this article has been updated.</p>
With Queens Development Decision, Cabán Recasts Progressive Approach to Housing 2022-09-14T09:00:00+00:00 2022-09-14T09:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11578-caban-development-decision-recasts-progressive-approach-to-housing Sam Mellins smellins@gg.com <p> <img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/caban-dev-recast.jpg" /></p> <p>City Council Member Tiffany Cabán, left, unveils her housing agenda (photo: @CabanD22)</p> <hr /> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">*This article is published in partnership with </span></i><a href="https://www.nysfocus.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York Focus</span></i></a>*</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York City Council Member Tiffany Cabán on Tuesday announced her support for a proposed rezoning that will allow a three-tower, 1300-unit housing development in Astoria known as Halletts North, in a shift from how other progressive lawmakers have approached recent land use decisions.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán’s support for Halletts North likely ensures the full City Council’s approval of the project, since the Council traditionally follows the lead of the local Council member in deciding whether to give the go-ahead on land use matters. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One in four units in the development will be earmarked for affordable housing. Cabán and local community organizations negotiated with the developer to increase the number of affordable units and the number of two- and three-bedroom apartments in order to accommodate local families, she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most deeply affordable units will be the 10% reserved for tenants making 30% or less of the New York City area median income, or $35,790 for a family of four. Overall, the development will double the number of local units available to renters making less than 50% of the area median income, Cabán noted.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The developers have also invested $16 million in cleaning up the site from toxins left by its former industrial use, and agreed to contribute $1 million to the neighboring public housing development, build a community space that local nonprofits will be able to use rent-free, and incorporate a public, waterfront green space into the development, Cabán said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán, a democratic socialist, framed her choice to support Halletts North as “harm reduction.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The best we can hope for without rezoning this lot is a</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8ABAR4g8_3LNgqQfEPO/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.investopedia.com%2Fterms%2Fl%2Flastmile.asp%23%3A~%3Atext%3Dexpert%2520and%2520educator.-%2CWhat%2520Is%2520the%2520Last%2520Mile%253F%2Cwho%2520deliver%2520to%2520these%2520areas." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> last mile [trucking] facility</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> where some massive corporation like Amazon would pay our neighbors garbage wages for backbreaking work,” Cabán said. “A no vote today would be a vote for that.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In recent years, New York has built less housing as a portion of its population than</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8A6OlzCYT9dzw5gXjwU/https%3A%2F%2Fcbcny.org%2Fresearch%2Fstrategies-boost-housing-production-new-york-city-metropolitan-area" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> almost any other large city</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the country. Cabán’s support for the project comes as various factions of New York’s left attempt to work out their approach to housing supply, and decide how to respond to developers seeking city approval to build largely market-rate housing on privately-owned land. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There's currently no consensus on what a progressive land use approach should be,” said Samuel Stein, housing policy analyst at the anti-poverty nonprofit Community Service Society. “Because there's a debate or diversity of approaches, that leaves individual Council members with a bit of latitude in terms of defining their own position.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán’s decision to support the Halletts North rezoning sparked significant and heated debate among members of the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), said DSA member and housing organizer Andrew Hiller. The Queens DSA housing working group </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8I1NWCAAYfgrglakw7j/https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fqueenshousingwg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">tweeted</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that the decision “is an insult” to nearby public housing residents who couldn’t afford the new units. Cabán is a DSA member and received the group’s coveted endorsement during her 2021 run for City Council.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">By supporting the Hallets North development, Cabán is taking a different approach from other members of the City Council who in recent months have blocked, opposed, or threatened to block major developments in their districts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In May, Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan, a socialist who was given a stamp of approval by a political action committee affiliated with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy7_e3tupWRS-TQqxyjTo/https%3A%2F%2Fgothamist.com%2Fnews%2Fdeveloper-kills-plan-for-harlems-one45-complex-after-local-opposition" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">blocked</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> a proposed development dubbed One45, which would have built over 900-units of housing in central Harlem. Half of the development would have been earmarked for affordable housing, mostly at higher income levels than the affordable housing at Halletts North.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Richardson Jordan called the development </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8UmZpZGRifk5QR_P1WW/https%3A%2F%2Fkristinforharlem.medium.com%2Fwe-need-contextual-housing-e74a84027a98" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">“nothing less than white supremacy,”</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> citing concerns that it would gentrify the neighborhood and that the income eligibility standards for the affordable units would still price out most Harlemites. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Shortly after taking office earlier this year, Richardson Jordan </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8AycqjzVm7r9ApiSUqD/https%3A%2F%2Fpatch.com%2Fnew-york%2Fharlem%2Fkristin-jordan-central-harlems-new-council-member-shares-plans" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">told Patch</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that she “would rather have lots sit empty than have them filled with further gentrification.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just before blocking the development, Richardson Jordan released a </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8E2tns9qi6NsgH_t3C9/https%3A%2F%2Fkristinforharlem.medium.com%2Fwe-need-contextual-housing-e74a84027a98" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">rubric</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> detailing what affordability standards were necessary for any development in her district to receive her support. The rubric requires that over half of all apartments in a development be earmarked for people earning at most 30% of the New York City area median income, and nine in ten earmarked for people earning at most 80% of median income. According to these standards, the rents on most apartments in a development would range from $419 per month for a studio to $722 for a three-bedroom.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since tenants who pay market rates generally subsidize tenants living in affordable units, an arrangement where such a large majority of tenants pay below-market rates is unlikely to work for private developers hoping to make any profit, some affordable housing advocates noted.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There are limits to how much [affordability] we can get in projects that are on privately-owned sites,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, an affordable housing advocacy group. “It’s really important that the Council members, when they do get these applications, view it as an opportunity to add affordable housing in their communities.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Last week, Patch </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy7_EhEuqeDYcIgysbuen/https%3A%2F%2Fpatch.com%2Fnew-york%2Fharlem%2Fharlems-one45-site-host-big-rig-truck-depot-developer-says" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reported</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that developer Bruce Teitelbaum, who owns the site that One45 was slated for, plans to turn part of it into a truck depot.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The overwhelming problem with both One45 and Halletts North is that they’re privately-owned parcels of land where the developer has the ability to walk away from the table and then you get no housing,” said Cea Weaver, a democratic socialist and campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All, a coalition of New York organizations representing tenants and homeless people. “Tiffany [Cabán] made a different calculation than Kristen Richardson Jordan on what the best path forward is.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Tiffany did a good job, in my opinion, in achieving some kind of affordability on privately owned land,” Weaver added.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Richardson Jordan did not respond to a request for comment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">More recently, Council Member Julie Won, a Democrat who represents a portion of western Queens south of Cabán’s district and was also supported by the AOC-aligned PAC and other progressive groups in winning her election last year, warned that it may be “</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8AgYJyVq8-jXA4Q5CeA/https%3A%2F%2Fcitylimits.org%2F2022%2F08%2F01%2Fwant-to-rezone-in-western-queens-heres-how-to-win-over-the-councilmember%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">too late</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” for a proposed major development in her district to win her support. The proposed Innovation QNS complex, which would be built in a largely industrial section of southeastern Astoria, would contain over 2,800 units, with one in four being set aside for New Yorkers at 30 to 60% of median income. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Won and Borough President Donovan Richards are pushing for the developer to make half of the units affordable, the New York Post</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8Q0tEbK3XUjOARVbq2w/https%3A%2F%2Fnypost.com%2F2022%2F08%2F14%2Fnycs-astoria-2b-redevelopment-plan-has-hope-despite-pushback%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> reported</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Won did not respond to an email asking whether she would support Innovation QNS if it met the level of affordability agreed to at Halletts North.</span></p> <p><b>‘A Very Heated Question’</b><b><br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">In addition to announcing her support for Hallets North, Cabán also introduced on Tuesday a ten-point platform to promote housing affordability. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first four points in the plan call for New York City to partner with affordable housing developers to create permanently low-rent housing on city-owned land, a strategy that’s seen</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8A7O4LcKB1qvQm1Xy7r/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vox.com%2Fpolicy-and-politics%2F23278643%2Faffordable-public-housing-inflation-renters-home"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> increased interest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> from local governments around the country.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A 2016 </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8Anp99LmwclHgRy41Q7/https%3A%2F%2Fcomptroller.nyc.gov%2Freports%2Fbuilding-an-affordable-future-the-promise-of-a-new-york-city-land-bank%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> from the city comptroller estimated that this strategy could allow for the creation of nearly 60,000 units of permanently affordable housing — a significant number, but still far short of the</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy7_BwdLKDwHYBgyxmeeP/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2022%2F08%2F01%2Fnyregion%2Fnyc-affordable-apartment-rent.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> hundreds</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8AaGh6bpL13oQFiMZHd/http%3A%2F%2Fthenyhc.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2022%2F05%2FNYC-Housing-Tracker-FINAL.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> thousands</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of housing units that housing groups estimate are necessary to bring New York’s affordability crisis under control.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most of the other points in Cabán’s platform focused on promoting low-income and disadvantaged tenants’ access to rental units, through strategies like increasing the value of city-sponsored housing vouchers, banning landlords from asking about criminal records, and enacting more stringent eviction protections and limits on rent increases. It also includes a plank to “eliminate parking minimums” that accompany new housing development.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The platform does not address how legislators should approach the construction of new housing on privately-owned land — something that DSA doesn’t have an official position on either, Hiller noted.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most academic research finds that building market-rate housing helps stabilize or lower rents at both the neighborhood and city levels. In a </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8ACAifyKjBUSwdEhjNZ/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.lewis.ucla.edu%2Fresearch%2Fmarket-rate-development-impacts%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">review</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of six recent studies, UCLA researchers wrote that five found that market-rate housing makes nearby rental housing more affordable, while one found mixed results.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán said that she supports “many other things” to increase housing supply that weren’t included in her platform, pointing to legalizing basement apartments as one example. She said that the question of whether more market-rate housing is part of the solution to high rents is “tough.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Would I say that that is in a vacuum, in and of itself, the answer? No,” she said. “For-profit development will never produce the scale or quality of housing that our lowest income neighbors need and deserve.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Much of New York’s left is </span><a href="https://twitter.com/JabariBrisport/status/1569490691780378626" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">skeptical</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of market-rate housing as a tool to promote affordability, preferring measures like the “</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8Y2NrKVK3RzqgQeON88/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nysfocus.com%2F2021%2F07%2F16%2Fupstate-cities-good-cause-eviction%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">good cause eviction</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” bill to cap rent hikes statewide.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There's a broad range of opinion in DSA on that question, and it's a very heated question within the organization. We have work to do amongst ourselves to democratically arrive at a political strategy there,” Hiller said of the approach to housing development on privately-owned land.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many proponents of affordable housing do support a greater focus on adding to overall housing supply.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Being pro-housing in general seems to me like a really important part of a progressive agenda. We really need to add to our supply,” Fee said, noting that her top priority for new development is ensuring maximum affordability.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Weaver said that more housing is needed — potentially including privately-owned housing, given current political realities — but that left to itself, the market won’t help the people who need affordable housing most and will do "more harm than good."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I do think that we need tools to be producing more housing, and then we need to take a pretty serious look at what sort of housing constraints exist in the city because I do think that we're not building enough of it. And that has long term impacts on affordability for a ton of people,” she said. “But the thing is, when we build unregulated housing, it doesn't actually serve the people who are most deeply looking for housing.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán said that her priority for the future is creating “high-quality social housing owned and managed by the people who live there.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Even though this is the right choice for today, I want better choices for tomorrow,” she said.</span></p> <p>***<br /><span style="font-weight: 400;">by Sam Mellins of New York Focus</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><i>This article is published in partnership with </i><a href="https://www.nysfocus.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><i>New York Focus</i></a></span></p> <p> <img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/caban-dev-recast.jpg" /></p> <p>City Council Member Tiffany Cabán, left, unveils her housing agenda (photo: @CabanD22)</p> <hr /> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">*This article is published in partnership with </span></i><a href="https://www.nysfocus.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York Focus</span></i></a>*</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York City Council Member Tiffany Cabán on Tuesday announced her support for a proposed rezoning that will allow a three-tower, 1300-unit housing development in Astoria known as Halletts North, in a shift from how other progressive lawmakers have approached recent land use decisions.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán’s support for Halletts North likely ensures the full City Council’s approval of the project, since the Council traditionally follows the lead of the local Council member in deciding whether to give the go-ahead on land use matters. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One in four units in the development will be earmarked for affordable housing. Cabán and local community organizations negotiated with the developer to increase the number of affordable units and the number of two- and three-bedroom apartments in order to accommodate local families, she said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most deeply affordable units will be the 10% reserved for tenants making 30% or less of the New York City area median income, or $35,790 for a family of four. Overall, the development will double the number of local units available to renters making less than 50% of the area median income, Cabán noted.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The developers have also invested $16 million in cleaning up the site from toxins left by its former industrial use, and agreed to contribute $1 million to the neighboring public housing development, build a community space that local nonprofits will be able to use rent-free, and incorporate a public, waterfront green space into the development, Cabán said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán, a democratic socialist, framed her choice to support Halletts North as “harm reduction.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The best we can hope for without rezoning this lot is a</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8ABAR4g8_3LNgqQfEPO/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.investopedia.com%2Fterms%2Fl%2Flastmile.asp%23%3A~%3Atext%3Dexpert%2520and%2520educator.-%2CWhat%2520Is%2520the%2520Last%2520Mile%253F%2Cwho%2520deliver%2520to%2520these%2520areas." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> last mile [trucking] facility</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> where some massive corporation like Amazon would pay our neighbors garbage wages for backbreaking work,” Cabán said. “A no vote today would be a vote for that.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In recent years, New York has built less housing as a portion of its population than</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8A6OlzCYT9dzw5gXjwU/https%3A%2F%2Fcbcny.org%2Fresearch%2Fstrategies-boost-housing-production-new-york-city-metropolitan-area" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> almost any other large city</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the country. Cabán’s support for the project comes as various factions of New York’s left attempt to work out their approach to housing supply, and decide how to respond to developers seeking city approval to build largely market-rate housing on privately-owned land. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There's currently no consensus on what a progressive land use approach should be,” said Samuel Stein, housing policy analyst at the anti-poverty nonprofit Community Service Society. “Because there's a debate or diversity of approaches, that leaves individual Council members with a bit of latitude in terms of defining their own position.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán’s decision to support the Halletts North rezoning sparked significant and heated debate among members of the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), said DSA member and housing organizer Andrew Hiller. The Queens DSA housing working group </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8I1NWCAAYfgrglakw7j/https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fqueenshousingwg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">tweeted</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that the decision “is an insult” to nearby public housing residents who couldn’t afford the new units. Cabán is a DSA member and received the group’s coveted endorsement during her 2021 run for City Council.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">By supporting the Hallets North development, Cabán is taking a different approach from other members of the City Council who in recent months have blocked, opposed, or threatened to block major developments in their districts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In May, Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan, a socialist who was given a stamp of approval by a political action committee affiliated with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy7_e3tupWRS-TQqxyjTo/https%3A%2F%2Fgothamist.com%2Fnews%2Fdeveloper-kills-plan-for-harlems-one45-complex-after-local-opposition" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">blocked</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> a proposed development dubbed One45, which would have built over 900-units of housing in central Harlem. Half of the development would have been earmarked for affordable housing, mostly at higher income levels than the affordable housing at Halletts North.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Richardson Jordan called the development </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8UmZpZGRifk5QR_P1WW/https%3A%2F%2Fkristinforharlem.medium.com%2Fwe-need-contextual-housing-e74a84027a98" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">“nothing less than white supremacy,”</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> citing concerns that it would gentrify the neighborhood and that the income eligibility standards for the affordable units would still price out most Harlemites. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Shortly after taking office earlier this year, Richardson Jordan </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8AycqjzVm7r9ApiSUqD/https%3A%2F%2Fpatch.com%2Fnew-york%2Fharlem%2Fkristin-jordan-central-harlems-new-council-member-shares-plans" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">told Patch</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that she “would rather have lots sit empty than have them filled with further gentrification.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just before blocking the development, Richardson Jordan released a </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8E2tns9qi6NsgH_t3C9/https%3A%2F%2Fkristinforharlem.medium.com%2Fwe-need-contextual-housing-e74a84027a98" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">rubric</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> detailing what affordability standards were necessary for any development in her district to receive her support. The rubric requires that over half of all apartments in a development be earmarked for people earning at most 30% of the New York City area median income, and nine in ten earmarked for people earning at most 80% of median income. According to these standards, the rents on most apartments in a development would range from $419 per month for a studio to $722 for a three-bedroom.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since tenants who pay market rates generally subsidize tenants living in affordable units, an arrangement where such a large majority of tenants pay below-market rates is unlikely to work for private developers hoping to make any profit, some affordable housing advocates noted.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There are limits to how much [affordability] we can get in projects that are on privately-owned sites,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, an affordable housing advocacy group. “It’s really important that the Council members, when they do get these applications, view it as an opportunity to add affordable housing in their communities.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Last week, Patch </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy7_EhEuqeDYcIgysbuen/https%3A%2F%2Fpatch.com%2Fnew-york%2Fharlem%2Fharlems-one45-site-host-big-rig-truck-depot-developer-says" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reported</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that developer Bruce Teitelbaum, who owns the site that One45 was slated for, plans to turn part of it into a truck depot.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The overwhelming problem with both One45 and Halletts North is that they’re privately-owned parcels of land where the developer has the ability to walk away from the table and then you get no housing,” said Cea Weaver, a democratic socialist and campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All, a coalition of New York organizations representing tenants and homeless people. “Tiffany [Cabán] made a different calculation than Kristen Richardson Jordan on what the best path forward is.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Tiffany did a good job, in my opinion, in achieving some kind of affordability on privately owned land,” Weaver added.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Richardson Jordan did not respond to a request for comment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">More recently, Council Member Julie Won, a Democrat who represents a portion of western Queens south of Cabán’s district and was also supported by the AOC-aligned PAC and other progressive groups in winning her election last year, warned that it may be “</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8AgYJyVq8-jXA4Q5CeA/https%3A%2F%2Fcitylimits.org%2F2022%2F08%2F01%2Fwant-to-rezone-in-western-queens-heres-how-to-win-over-the-councilmember%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">too late</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” for a proposed major development in her district to win her support. The proposed Innovation QNS complex, which would be built in a largely industrial section of southeastern Astoria, would contain over 2,800 units, with one in four being set aside for New Yorkers at 30 to 60% of median income. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Won and Borough President Donovan Richards are pushing for the developer to make half of the units affordable, the New York Post</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8Q0tEbK3XUjOARVbq2w/https%3A%2F%2Fnypost.com%2F2022%2F08%2F14%2Fnycs-astoria-2b-redevelopment-plan-has-hope-despite-pushback%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> reported</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Won did not respond to an email asking whether she would support Innovation QNS if it met the level of affordability agreed to at Halletts North.</span></p> <p><b>‘A Very Heated Question’</b><b><br /></b><span style="font-weight: 400;">In addition to announcing her support for Hallets North, Cabán also introduced on Tuesday a ten-point platform to promote housing affordability. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first four points in the plan call for New York City to partner with affordable housing developers to create permanently low-rent housing on city-owned land, a strategy that’s seen</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8A7O4LcKB1qvQm1Xy7r/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vox.com%2Fpolicy-and-politics%2F23278643%2Faffordable-public-housing-inflation-renters-home"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> increased interest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> from local governments around the country.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A 2016 </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8Anp99LmwclHgRy41Q7/https%3A%2F%2Fcomptroller.nyc.gov%2Freports%2Fbuilding-an-affordable-future-the-promise-of-a-new-york-city-land-bank%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> from the city comptroller estimated that this strategy could allow for the creation of nearly 60,000 units of permanently affordable housing — a significant number, but still far short of the</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy7_BwdLKDwHYBgyxmeeP/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2022%2F08%2F01%2Fnyregion%2Fnyc-affordable-apartment-rent.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> hundreds</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8AaGh6bpL13oQFiMZHd/http%3A%2F%2Fthenyhc.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2022%2F05%2FNYC-Housing-Tracker-FINAL.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> thousands</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of housing units that housing groups estimate are necessary to bring New York’s affordability crisis under control.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most of the other points in Cabán’s platform focused on promoting low-income and disadvantaged tenants’ access to rental units, through strategies like increasing the value of city-sponsored housing vouchers, banning landlords from asking about criminal records, and enacting more stringent eviction protections and limits on rent increases. It also includes a plank to “eliminate parking minimums” that accompany new housing development.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The platform does not address how legislators should approach the construction of new housing on privately-owned land — something that DSA doesn’t have an official position on either, Hiller noted.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most academic research finds that building market-rate housing helps stabilize or lower rents at both the neighborhood and city levels. In a </span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8ACAifyKjBUSwdEhjNZ/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.lewis.ucla.edu%2Fresearch%2Fmarket-rate-development-impacts%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">review</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of six recent studies, UCLA researchers wrote that five found that market-rate housing makes nearby rental housing more affordable, while one found mixed results.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán said that she supports “many other things” to increase housing supply that weren’t included in her platform, pointing to legalizing basement apartments as one example. She said that the question of whether more market-rate housing is part of the solution to high rents is “tough.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Would I say that that is in a vacuum, in and of itself, the answer? No,” she said. “For-profit development will never produce the scale or quality of housing that our lowest income neighbors need and deserve.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Much of New York’s left is </span><a href="https://twitter.com/JabariBrisport/status/1569490691780378626" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">skeptical</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of market-rate housing as a tool to promote affordability, preferring measures like the “</span><a href="https://streaklinks.com/BM1iy8Y2NrKVK3RzqgQeON88/https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nysfocus.com%2F2021%2F07%2F16%2Fupstate-cities-good-cause-eviction%2F" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">good cause eviction</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” bill to cap rent hikes statewide.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There's a broad range of opinion in DSA on that question, and it's a very heated question within the organization. We have work to do amongst ourselves to democratically arrive at a political strategy there,” Hiller said of the approach to housing development on privately-owned land.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many proponents of affordable housing do support a greater focus on adding to overall housing supply.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Being pro-housing in general seems to me like a really important part of a progressive agenda. We really need to add to our supply,” Fee said, noting that her top priority for new development is ensuring maximum affordability.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Weaver said that more housing is needed — potentially including privately-owned housing, given current political realities — but that left to itself, the market won’t help the people who need affordable housing most and will do "more harm than good."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I do think that we need tools to be producing more housing, and then we need to take a pretty serious look at what sort of housing constraints exist in the city because I do think that we're not building enough of it. And that has long term impacts on affordability for a ton of people,” she said. “But the thing is, when we build unregulated housing, it doesn't actually serve the people who are most deeply looking for housing.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cabán said that her priority for the future is creating “high-quality social housing owned and managed by the people who live there.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Even though this is the right choice for today, I want better choices for tomorrow,” she said.</span></p> <p>***<br /><span style="font-weight: 400;">by Sam Mellins of New York Focus</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><i>This article is published in partnership with </i><a href="https://www.nysfocus.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><i>New York Focus</i></a></span></p> Max Politics Podcast: How Principals are Navigating the New School Year, with Administrators Union President Mark Cannizzaro 2022-09-13T15:00:00+00:00 2022-09-13T15:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11577-max-politics-podcast-principals-nyc-schools-administrators-cannizzaro Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/holds-avail-600-b.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>CSA President Mark Cannizzaro (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 13, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: How Principals are Navigating the New School Year, with Administrators Union President Mark Cannizzaro<br /></strong></p> <p>Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors &amp; Administrators, joined the show to discuss how principals and other school leaders are navigating the new school year, budget cuts to many schools, and other challenges.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11577-max-politics-podcast-principals-nyc-schools-administrators-cannizzaro">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/holds-avail-600-b.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>CSA President Mark Cannizzaro (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 13, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: How Principals are Navigating the New School Year, with Administrators Union President Mark Cannizzaro<br /></strong></p> <p>Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors &amp; Administrators, joined the show to discuss how principals and other school leaders are navigating the new school year, budget cuts to many schools, and other challenges.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11577-max-politics-podcast-principals-nyc-schools-administrators-cannizzaro">Read More ...</a></p> What Happened to the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan? 2022-09-13T04:00:00+00:00 2022-09-13T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11576-what-happened-sunnyside-yard-master-plan-housing Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/sunnyside-edt.jpg" /></p> <p>Rendering of the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan</p> <hr /> <p>In March 2020, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and Amtrak released the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan, an ambitious $14 billion infrastructure project that would deck the 180-acre rail yard in Queens and effectively create a new community with thousands of affordable homes and dozens of acres of green and public space situated atop a new regional rail hub.</p> <p>But the plan was released at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, just before the city and state went into lockdown, economic activity slowed to a crawl, and every city infrastructure project was put on pause. The <a href="https://sunnysideyard.nyc">Sunnyside Yard Master Plan</a>, a product of an announcement that de Blasio first made in 2015 during his State of the City address, was shelved.</p> <p>More than two years later, there have been few signs of life for the plan, though some related transit projects are progressing. Elected officials and experts, including those involved with creating the master plan, say that the time is ripe to pursue such a monumental proposal, especially considering the long-term need for housing in the city, the immediate impact of job-creation on the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic, and as federal funding for infrastructure has begun to flow.</p> <p>“It's a project of a scale that really only the public sector could realize,” said Skylar Bisom-Rapp, senior associate at Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), the firm that led the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan process at the behest of the de Blasio administration. “There’s a very kind of unique scale to this project in terms of the amount of housing, the amount of public services it could provide just given the amount of contiguous land that's available there without having to directly displace anybody.”</p> <p>The Sunnyside Yard Master Plan envisions building a deck over the existing rail yard – a project in the vein of what the city has done or plans to do, to varying degrees, in recent decades at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Hudson Yards in Manhattan – so it can continue to operate while constructing 12,000 units of affordable housing (half for very low-income families) over the new space that would be available, along with 60 acres of new public space, schools, libraries, and more.</p> <p>The transit hub, which currently serves Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road, could be connected with the city’s subway system and the new space could also accommodate additional transit infrastructure such as a Bus Rapid Transit corridor.</p> <p>The MTA recently included a new “Sunnyside Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Station” in its 20-year needs assessment of transit infrastructure, beginning the process of studying the proposal before deciding whether it can be funded down the line. But the entities involved in the overall Sunnyside Master Plan don’t seem to be making any progress.</p> <p>“There’s a logic to doing the project as MTA and Amtrak consider their next round of investments and improvements in the yard,” said Bisom-Rapp.</p> <p>“It definitely requires a lot of political will…It’s a large-scale project with a lot of opportunity that comes at a cost and ultimately elected officials and the people they’re accountable to need to be the ones deciding if now is the time to do it,” he added.</p> <p>“Amtrak is committed to continuing working with NYC and [the city’s economic development corporation] EDC on a plan to knit the many sides of Sunnyside Yard together with a potential overbuild,” said Jason Abrams, an Amtrak spokesperson, in a statement. “We’re open to concepts and working with our partners to develop those concepts but recognize there are many issues to work through. We appreciate the potential to leverage an important railroad asset and create value and opportunity for transit-oriented development in an important part of New York City.”</p> <p>The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a mayor-controlled public benefit corporation, did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article.</p> <p>Alicia Glen, founder and managing principal of MSquared, was de Blasio’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development when the Sunnyside Yard plan was announced to much fanfare. The pandemic, she said in a phone interview, may have stalled the project but also made it all the more necessary.</p> <p>“All of the reasons why we wanted to develop Sunnyside Yard have gotten even more compelling,” Glen told Gotham Gazette. “It would seem to me that now would be a really, really smart time for not just City Hall, but all the other partners to really put the pedal to the metal because there's [federal] infrastructure money available, there’s demonstrated market demand. And it’s just really the perfect time to start making these kinds of investments so that New York City can continue to grow.”</p> <p>“There could not be a better time than now when you have all of the political stars aligned,” she added.</p> <p>New York City is <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11246-nyc-adams-admin-prep-federal-infrastructure-funding">set to benefit</a> from tens of billions in infrastructure funding under the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law passed in November 2021 by Congress and President Joe Biden. New York State expects as much as $27 billion in direct funding, much of which will flow to the city. The bill also included about $66 billion for Amtrak, funding crucial infrastructure needs.</p> <p>With several major transit projects underway or in the planning process, Glen said that the groundwork for Sunnyside Yard is essential. “All of this is interconnected,” she said. </p> <p>But a major undertaking like the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan requires elected officials to champion it. Mayor Eric Adams has not taken up the plan as of yet. Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said in a <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10651-max-politics-podcast-donovan-richards-queens-borough-president-re-election">podcast interview with Gotham Gazette</a> in July 2021, just after he won a tough primary election for his office, that the plan was “of the highest priority,” but his office has since declined to comment on the proposal despite multiple inquiries for this article.</p> <p>“It’s all about leadership and political will because there's no other reason why it couldn't get done,” Glen said. “It’s not too complicated. We have the technology, we have the skills, we have the wherewithal to figure out how to build above and next to a complex rail system. It's just about money. There happens to be more money right now than there's ever been.”</p> <p>“Sunnyside Yard is an unbelievable opportunity to build a truly, truly sustainable, inclusive mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood at scale in the middle of the most amazing borough,” she said.</p> <p>What sets Sunnyside Yard apart from other recent major city projects – like Hudson Yards or the proposed Empire Station Complex plan to redevelop Penn Station and its surrounding neighborhoods in Manhattan – is that it is primarily focused on affordable housing, said Liam Blank, policy and communications manager at Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit advocacy group.</p> <p>“In the post-covid world, it's now more questionable whether more office space is actually needed. There's more of a permanent shift towards remote work and flexible work,” he pointed out in a phone interview, referencing the Penn Station area plan, which is heavily focused on office space versus the Sunnyside Yard vision centered on housing and transit.</p> <p>The project will require the mayor’s outspoken support, he said. “The mayor definitely would have to be probably the number one spokesperson on the project. If it's not a priority for the mayor, it's gonna be a lot harder to push it, to make any progress on it.”</p> <p>The governor could potentially create a General Project Plan for Sunnyside, as is the case with the planned Penn Station area redevelopment and was done for Atlantic Yard and Hudson Yards. A GPP would supersede local land use rules and ease approvals. But it does not seem to be on the state’s radar. A spokesperson for Hochul did not return a request for comment. (Former Governor Andrew Cuomo, for his part, repeatedly <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150224/sunnyside/cuomo-knocks-de-blasios-sunnyside-yards-development-again/">criticized</a> de Blasio’s proposal for Sunnyside Yard when he first announced it, and instead <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2015/02/cuomo-comes-back-to-the-convention-center-thing-019470">expressed</a> some support for an alternate proposal to build a massive convention center at the site — but he was known to make decisions based on undermining de Blasio.)</p> <p>For Mayor Adams, the Sunnyside plan could be a legacy-defining project particularly as he deals with a continuing affordable housing crisis. Adams has pledged to spur housing production, released a "City of Yes" plan that will seek zoning changes to increase development, as well as a larger housing plan that includes the zoning proposals, which are in development.</p> <p>“We are going to turn New York into a ‘City of Yes’ — yes in my backyard, yes on my block, yes in my neighborhood,” he <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/353-22/mayor-adams-outlines-vision-city-yes-plan-citywide-zoning-initiatives-support#/0">said</a> when announcing the generalities of the proposed zoning changes. But he has not yet committed to any annual housing production targets and hasn’t identified or offered any big housing creation projects as part of the plan.</p> <p>An Adams spokesperson did not provide comment for this article after saying he would.</p> <p>The Sunnyside plan was designed to receive broad support. The planning process was led by a <a href="https://sunnysidepost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2018/05/sunnysideyardsteeringcommittee.jpg">steering committee</a>, co-chaired by Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York, and Elizabeth Lusskin, then-President of the Long Island City Partnership. It included 35 community leaders, advocates, and policy experts who, according to EDC’s announcement of the plan, sought feedback through more than 100 public interviews, four community workshops, three large public meetings, a digital town hall, walking tours, and discussions with more than 145 organizations.</p> <p>“After over a year of extensive community engagements and scores of conversations with a wide range of stakeholders, we developed a thoughtful framework to guide development at Sunnyside Yard for the generations to come,” said then-Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been, in a statement accompanying the release of the plan.</p> <p>“Civic engagement is alive and well in Western Queens,” Greenberger said at the time. “The planning process enabled direct community participation and the prioritization of community needs. It’s particularly gratifying to see the input and recommendations of the community reflected in the final Master Plan.”</p> <p>There were, of course, detractors to the plan. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and then-City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, both Democrats representing the area, sent a joint letter to EDC in November 2019 <a href="https://sunnysidepost.com/ocasio-cortez-steps-down-from-sunnyside-yard-steering-committee-says-edc-is-not-listening-to-her-constitutents">expressing</a> their concerns about the potential plan, though it was still in the drafting process. “The proposed high-rise and mid-rise residential buildings would further exacerbate a housing crisis that displaces communities of color and parcels off public land to private real estate developers,” they said in their letter. Ocasio-Cortez stepped down from the steering committee in January 2020, insisting that her constituents’ feedback, particularly about potential gentrification, was not being heeded. After this year’s redistricting process, Sunnyside Yard will no longer be in Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional district come January; it is now in the district likely to be represented by Rep. Nydia Velazquez.</p> <p>City Council Member Julie Won, Van Bramer’s successor, now represents Sunnyside Yard. Her office did not respond to a request for comment for this article. Van Bramer also did not return a request for comment.</p> <p>There are still those who are holding out hope about the project and the monumental impact it can have on the city.</p> <p>“I think now is the time to think strategically for the future and this is a great opportunity,” said Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, who was one of the members of the steering committee for the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan. “When you look at where the world is right now…we need to be building affordable housing, we need to be truly thinking about the future of job creation and creating opportunities not just in Midtown or lower Manhattan.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/sunnyside-edt.jpg" /></p> <p>Rendering of the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan</p> <hr /> <p>In March 2020, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and Amtrak released the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan, an ambitious $14 billion infrastructure project that would deck the 180-acre rail yard in Queens and effectively create a new community with thousands of affordable homes and dozens of acres of green and public space situated atop a new regional rail hub.</p> <p>But the plan was released at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, just before the city and state went into lockdown, economic activity slowed to a crawl, and every city infrastructure project was put on pause. The <a href="https://sunnysideyard.nyc">Sunnyside Yard Master Plan</a>, a product of an announcement that de Blasio first made in 2015 during his State of the City address, was shelved.</p> <p>More than two years later, there have been few signs of life for the plan, though some related transit projects are progressing. Elected officials and experts, including those involved with creating the master plan, say that the time is ripe to pursue such a monumental proposal, especially considering the long-term need for housing in the city, the immediate impact of job-creation on the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic, and as federal funding for infrastructure has begun to flow.</p> <p>“It's a project of a scale that really only the public sector could realize,” said Skylar Bisom-Rapp, senior associate at Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), the firm that led the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan process at the behest of the de Blasio administration. “There’s a very kind of unique scale to this project in terms of the amount of housing, the amount of public services it could provide just given the amount of contiguous land that's available there without having to directly displace anybody.”</p> <p>The Sunnyside Yard Master Plan envisions building a deck over the existing rail yard – a project in the vein of what the city has done or plans to do, to varying degrees, in recent decades at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Hudson Yards in Manhattan – so it can continue to operate while constructing 12,000 units of affordable housing (half for very low-income families) over the new space that would be available, along with 60 acres of new public space, schools, libraries, and more.</p> <p>The transit hub, which currently serves Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road, could be connected with the city’s subway system and the new space could also accommodate additional transit infrastructure such as a Bus Rapid Transit corridor.</p> <p>The MTA recently included a new “Sunnyside Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Station” in its 20-year needs assessment of transit infrastructure, beginning the process of studying the proposal before deciding whether it can be funded down the line. But the entities involved in the overall Sunnyside Master Plan don’t seem to be making any progress.</p> <p>“There’s a logic to doing the project as MTA and Amtrak consider their next round of investments and improvements in the yard,” said Bisom-Rapp.</p> <p>“It definitely requires a lot of political will…It’s a large-scale project with a lot of opportunity that comes at a cost and ultimately elected officials and the people they’re accountable to need to be the ones deciding if now is the time to do it,” he added.</p> <p>“Amtrak is committed to continuing working with NYC and [the city’s economic development corporation] EDC on a plan to knit the many sides of Sunnyside Yard together with a potential overbuild,” said Jason Abrams, an Amtrak spokesperson, in a statement. “We’re open to concepts and working with our partners to develop those concepts but recognize there are many issues to work through. We appreciate the potential to leverage an important railroad asset and create value and opportunity for transit-oriented development in an important part of New York City.”</p> <p>The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a mayor-controlled public benefit corporation, did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article.</p> <p>Alicia Glen, founder and managing principal of MSquared, was de Blasio’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development when the Sunnyside Yard plan was announced to much fanfare. The pandemic, she said in a phone interview, may have stalled the project but also made it all the more necessary.</p> <p>“All of the reasons why we wanted to develop Sunnyside Yard have gotten even more compelling,” Glen told Gotham Gazette. “It would seem to me that now would be a really, really smart time for not just City Hall, but all the other partners to really put the pedal to the metal because there's [federal] infrastructure money available, there’s demonstrated market demand. And it’s just really the perfect time to start making these kinds of investments so that New York City can continue to grow.”</p> <p>“There could not be a better time than now when you have all of the political stars aligned,” she added.</p> <p>New York City is <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11246-nyc-adams-admin-prep-federal-infrastructure-funding">set to benefit</a> from tens of billions in infrastructure funding under the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law passed in November 2021 by Congress and President Joe Biden. New York State expects as much as $27 billion in direct funding, much of which will flow to the city. The bill also included about $66 billion for Amtrak, funding crucial infrastructure needs.</p> <p>With several major transit projects underway or in the planning process, Glen said that the groundwork for Sunnyside Yard is essential. “All of this is interconnected,” she said. </p> <p>But a major undertaking like the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan requires elected officials to champion it. Mayor Eric Adams has not taken up the plan as of yet. Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said in a <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10651-max-politics-podcast-donovan-richards-queens-borough-president-re-election">podcast interview with Gotham Gazette</a> in July 2021, just after he won a tough primary election for his office, that the plan was “of the highest priority,” but his office has since declined to comment on the proposal despite multiple inquiries for this article.</p> <p>“It’s all about leadership and political will because there's no other reason why it couldn't get done,” Glen said. “It’s not too complicated. We have the technology, we have the skills, we have the wherewithal to figure out how to build above and next to a complex rail system. It's just about money. There happens to be more money right now than there's ever been.”</p> <p>“Sunnyside Yard is an unbelievable opportunity to build a truly, truly sustainable, inclusive mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood at scale in the middle of the most amazing borough,” she said.</p> <p>What sets Sunnyside Yard apart from other recent major city projects – like Hudson Yards or the proposed Empire Station Complex plan to redevelop Penn Station and its surrounding neighborhoods in Manhattan – is that it is primarily focused on affordable housing, said Liam Blank, policy and communications manager at Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit advocacy group.</p> <p>“In the post-covid world, it's now more questionable whether more office space is actually needed. There's more of a permanent shift towards remote work and flexible work,” he pointed out in a phone interview, referencing the Penn Station area plan, which is heavily focused on office space versus the Sunnyside Yard vision centered on housing and transit.</p> <p>The project will require the mayor’s outspoken support, he said. “The mayor definitely would have to be probably the number one spokesperson on the project. If it's not a priority for the mayor, it's gonna be a lot harder to push it, to make any progress on it.”</p> <p>The governor could potentially create a General Project Plan for Sunnyside, as is the case with the planned Penn Station area redevelopment and was done for Atlantic Yard and Hudson Yards. A GPP would supersede local land use rules and ease approvals. But it does not seem to be on the state’s radar. A spokesperson for Hochul did not return a request for comment. (Former Governor Andrew Cuomo, for his part, repeatedly <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150224/sunnyside/cuomo-knocks-de-blasios-sunnyside-yards-development-again/">criticized</a> de Blasio’s proposal for Sunnyside Yard when he first announced it, and instead <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2015/02/cuomo-comes-back-to-the-convention-center-thing-019470">expressed</a> some support for an alternate proposal to build a massive convention center at the site — but he was known to make decisions based on undermining de Blasio.)</p> <p>For Mayor Adams, the Sunnyside plan could be a legacy-defining project particularly as he deals with a continuing affordable housing crisis. Adams has pledged to spur housing production, released a "City of Yes" plan that will seek zoning changes to increase development, as well as a larger housing plan that includes the zoning proposals, which are in development.</p> <p>“We are going to turn New York into a ‘City of Yes’ — yes in my backyard, yes on my block, yes in my neighborhood,” he <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/353-22/mayor-adams-outlines-vision-city-yes-plan-citywide-zoning-initiatives-support#/0">said</a> when announcing the generalities of the proposed zoning changes. But he has not yet committed to any annual housing production targets and hasn’t identified or offered any big housing creation projects as part of the plan.</p> <p>An Adams spokesperson did not provide comment for this article after saying he would.</p> <p>The Sunnyside plan was designed to receive broad support. The planning process was led by a <a href="https://sunnysidepost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2018/05/sunnysideyardsteeringcommittee.jpg">steering committee</a>, co-chaired by Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York, and Elizabeth Lusskin, then-President of the Long Island City Partnership. It included 35 community leaders, advocates, and policy experts who, according to EDC’s announcement of the plan, sought feedback through more than 100 public interviews, four community workshops, three large public meetings, a digital town hall, walking tours, and discussions with more than 145 organizations.</p> <p>“After over a year of extensive community engagements and scores of conversations with a wide range of stakeholders, we developed a thoughtful framework to guide development at Sunnyside Yard for the generations to come,” said then-Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been, in a statement accompanying the release of the plan.</p> <p>“Civic engagement is alive and well in Western Queens,” Greenberger said at the time. “The planning process enabled direct community participation and the prioritization of community needs. It’s particularly gratifying to see the input and recommendations of the community reflected in the final Master Plan.”</p> <p>There were, of course, detractors to the plan. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and then-City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, both Democrats representing the area, sent a joint letter to EDC in November 2019 <a href="https://sunnysidepost.com/ocasio-cortez-steps-down-from-sunnyside-yard-steering-committee-says-edc-is-not-listening-to-her-constitutents">expressing</a> their concerns about the potential plan, though it was still in the drafting process. “The proposed high-rise and mid-rise residential buildings would further exacerbate a housing crisis that displaces communities of color and parcels off public land to private real estate developers,” they said in their letter. Ocasio-Cortez stepped down from the steering committee in January 2020, insisting that her constituents’ feedback, particularly about potential gentrification, was not being heeded. After this year’s redistricting process, Sunnyside Yard will no longer be in Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional district come January; it is now in the district likely to be represented by Rep. Nydia Velazquez.</p> <p>City Council Member Julie Won, Van Bramer’s successor, now represents Sunnyside Yard. Her office did not respond to a request for comment for this article. Van Bramer also did not return a request for comment.</p> <p>There are still those who are holding out hope about the project and the monumental impact it can have on the city.</p> <p>“I think now is the time to think strategically for the future and this is a great opportunity,” said Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, who was one of the members of the steering committee for the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan. “When you look at where the world is right now…we need to be building affordable housing, we need to be truly thinking about the future of job creation and creating opportunities not just in Midtown or lower Manhattan.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
'Everything's On The Table' as Redistricting Commission Draws Next Version of City Council Map 2022-09-12T04:00:00+00:00 2022-09-12T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11562-nyc-redistricting-city-council-districts-map-walcott-commission Ethan Geringer-Sameth ethangs@gothamgazette.com <p> <img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/bk-hearing-tun.jpg" /></p> <p>Commissioners hold a public hearing of the NYC Districting Commission (photo: @DistrictingNYC)</p> <hr /> <p>This month, the commission tasked with redrawing the 51 New York City Council districts is set to unveil a second and potentially final map following a process that has unfolded behind closed doors to a significant degree.</p> <p>The New York City Districting Commission has been working since March on the new map, which must be redrawn each decade after the U.S. Census to account for population shifts. Those lines must be finalized by the end of this year and will be in place for the 2023 elections, where all 51 City Council seats will be on the ballot. They will have implications for how communities are divided and represented in the Council and, by extension, decisions around government funding, land use, and legislation.</p> <p>Officials told Gotham Gazette the Districting Commission is expected to submit its next map to the City Council on September 22. The Council can accept the submission and finalize the map, or reject it and trigger another round of public hearings, after which the commission must unilaterally draw final lines.</p> <p>"The ideal is to have something that the City Council will be happy with when we submit it,” said Dennis Walcott, who chairs the Districting Commission, in a recent <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11554-max-politics-podcast-dennis-walcott-new-york-city-council-redistricting">podcast interview</a> with Gotham Gazette. “But the reality is, we are prepared to make adjustments based on the feedback we get.”</p> <p>The commission is composed of 15 members, seven of whom were appointed by Democratic Mayor Eric Adams, including the chair, five by City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Democrat, and three by Council Member Joe Borelli, the Republican minority leader.</p> <p>The city gained 630,000 residents between the 2010 and 2020 census counts and no district went unchanged in the preliminary map published by the commission in July. Those initial lines, which include several major shifts from the current Council map, have received a fair amount of criticism from residents, advocacy groups, and City Council members — some of whom would be pitted against each other or saw their bases shift.</p> <p>The commission, its staff and consultants must now consider the public input it has gathered while adhering to strict guidelines established in the U.S. Constitution, the federal Voting Rights Act, state law, and the City Charter.</p> <p>While the commission has received testimony from over 8,000 residents, the decisions about where to place district boundaries have been made out of public view, and with no public explanation of the decisions that went into the preliminary map. Leading up to the creation of those lines, commissioners and staff often met in subcommittees small enough to avoid the state's open-meetings requirements.</p> <p>Good-government groups have called on the commission to hold some deliberations in public or explain the reasoning behind its decisions, ideally before making final ones.</p> <p>"A record number of New Yorkers have made their voices heard during this year’s Council redistricting process and they deserve to see how their comments are being synthesized and debated by the Commission," said Dan Kaminsky, a policy analyst with the good-government group Citizens Union, which put out a <a href="https://citizensunion.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/New-York-City-Council-Redistricting-2022-Citizens-Union-Foundation-Report-web-version.pdf">report</a> with recommendations for the commission in February. "Holding mapping deliberations in public clarifies mapmakers’ intentions, prompts healthy dialogue between commissioners, and reduces the potential power of outside influence on the process."</p> <p>The commissioners’ initial choices have seen public pushback on several fronts. New Yorkers and organizations that represent them have raised alarms about the way the preliminary map grouped or split their communities in more than a dozen parts of the city.</p> <p>Some of the biggest points of contention are the contours of a so-called <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11516-asian-advocates-electeds-redistricting-city-council">"Asian opportunity district"</a> in southern Brooklyn; the inclusion of part of the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island in a largely-Queens district; the breaking up of Hell's Kitchen and Harlem and parts of Southeast Queens; the specifics of the South Bronx-East Harlem crossover district; and how Canarsie, Woodside, Long Island City, and Astoria are dealt with, to name a few.</p> <p>Part of the consternation stems from a major anchoring decision by the commission to keep Staten Island's three Council districts entirely on the island. The result was that the smallest borough, by population, also has the three smallest Council districts in the preliminary map. In the zero-sum game of New York City redistricting, with its fixed number of districts and requirements around population deviation, that means districts in other parts of the city had to take on more residents, sometimes stretching across borough lines in the process.</p> <p>The preliminary maps appear to favor the Council's five-member Republican minority, whose stronghold on Staten Island would likely be weakened if the districts incorporated part of blue-leaning Brooklyn or Manhattan. There is speculation that the Districting Commission's seven mayoral appointees and three from Council Minority Leader Borelli <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/27/republican-reshaping-new-york-city-redistricting-00047995">aligned, according to Politico reporting</a>, to ensure the districts were not expanded off-island. The preliminary maps passed 11 to 2, with one abstention and one absence; the two in opposition were appointees of Speaker Adams.</p> <p>"We're taking a look at the lines as far as, say, specific neighborhoods that people say we cut off, or we didn't include properly," Walcott said. </p> <p>"Nothing's off the table. Everything is on the table. It's a preliminary draft," he said about whether Staten Island districts would remain on-island in the next map. Walcott would not discuss deliberations around particular lines.</p> <p>When asked if the commissioners would hold open meetings to give the public insight into their debate, Walcott said that was under consideration but made no promises.</p> <p>"I mean, yeah, I hear what folks are saying, but same time, I’ve got to make sure we do it the right way," he said.</p> <p>"While we wouldn't say anything privately that we wouldn't say publicly, I think the process is so dynamic…the implications are so tremendous that we have to be very conscious," Walcott said of the "comfort level" of commissioners and staff to deliberate freely in public.</p> <p>"So I and we are really still thinking about how we go about that process," he added.</p> <p>Walcott said the commission held an open meeting with a voting rights consultant to discuss how she carried out a racial bloc voting analysis, a survey of voting patterns to determine whether the voice of groups protected under the Voting Rights Act would be diminished by certain line choices. That analysis has not been released. According to Eddie Borges, the commission communications director, that study is still in progress and a final report from the consultant will be completed and made available when the body submits the next map to the Council later this month.</p> <p>Borges couldn't say whether the commission would hold any open meetings ahead of the September 22 vote. "We’re working on that now. When we’re done with the maps we’re required to produce a report on what changes were made and why on each district. As you can imagine it’s a massive writing project which we’ll all be working on," he wrote in an email.</p> <p>Council Speaker Adams and a number of new and returning members have criticized the preliminary map, indicating a likely rejection if the next map does not show substantial changes.</p> <p>"There are important foundational principles that need to be prioritized in this process, yet the first set of preliminary maps appear to violate these and do not ensure the adequate representation of certain groups of New Yorkers," Adams said in a statement in August.</p> <p>"Maintaining three districts that remain entirely in Staten Island is inconsistent with population changes, creates a malapportionment issue that undermines the ‘one person-one vote’ principle, and forces irrational changes to districts in other boroughs," she said, blaming the decision for the fracturing of communities of color in Brooklyn and Queens.</p> <p>Adams called attention to lines dividing Latino residents in Sunset Park and Red Hook, Filipino and Tibetan residents in western Queens, and Black and South Asian communities in Southeast Queens.</p> <p>The potential majority-Asian American district in southern Brooklyn has stirred a backlash from Council Members Justin Brannan and Alexis Aviles, who would likely have to compete against each other in the 2023 election under the preliminary lines, as well as from some Latino and Asian residents and advocates.</p> <p>“It is perplexing that the creation of an AAPI-majority seat in southern Brooklyn would lead to the dissolution and division of Red Hook, Sunset Park – in addition to Dyker Heights – and it is certainly not necessary,” said Brannan, who currently represents District 43, and Aviles, who represents District 38, in a <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinBrannan/status/1547976504901939203?s=20&amp;t=vmJm9aeBd8LP-sF0-oZyvQ">joint statement</a> when the preliminary map was released.</p> <p>"The proposed lines eliminate a district that currently has a large plurality of people of color, which has benefitted from strong representation by Latino elected officials, and instead make it a strong plurality white district by connecting it to Bay Ridge and removing Red Hook," said Asher Ross, a senior strategist at New York Immigration Coalition Action, in testimony before the commission this summer.</p> <p>"The same is true of district 26 in Queens, where a plurality Asian district is changed to having a large white plurality," Ross told the commission.</p> <p>In a statement to Gotham Gazette, Ross called on the commission to reexamine its decision to maintain the borders of Staten Island. "The Commission must be judicious in balancing the population sizes of each district to ensure fair representation across the city," he said.</p> <p>Borelli, the Republican minority leader representing the 51st district, has been adamant about the Staten Island boundaries. “We have nothing in common with any other part of the city, and given our small population, we already have a hard enough time getting attention from City Hall,” he said in an <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/27/republican-reshaping-new-york-city-redistricting-00047995">interview with Politico New York</a> earlier this year.</p> <p>“I will use whatever influence I have to make sure Staten Island doesn’t lose an ounce of power at City Hall,” Borelli told Politico.</p> <p>At the Districting Commission's first public meeting in March, Walcott told the public the commission would develop a code of ethics that would outline how to deal with conflicts of interest. The commissioners all serve voluntarily and many hold other jobs with business before the city.</p> <p>Walcott is the CEO of Queens Public Library; other members include Lisa Sorin, president of the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce; Maf Misbah Uddin, the treasurer of District Council 37, the largest municipal workers union; Kevin Sullivan, leader of Catholic Charities, a major nonprofit with city and state contracts; Marc Wurzel, the general counsel of Grand Central Partnership, which manages a business improvement district in midtown; and Joshua Schneps, a local media magnate, among others.</p> <p>According to Borges, the commission spokesperson, the code of ethics was never developed. Instead, the commissioners received a training from the city's Conflicts of Interest Board at a meeting in May, he said. According to the meeting minutes, 14 of the 15 commissioners were present.</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11554-max-politics-podcast-dennis-walcott-new-york-city-council-redistricting" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Max Politics Podcast: Commission Chair Dennis Walcott on New York City Council Redistricting</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p> <img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/bk-hearing-tun.jpg" /></p> <p>Commissioners hold a public hearing of the NYC Districting Commission (photo: @DistrictingNYC)</p> <hr /> <p>This month, the commission tasked with redrawing the 51 New York City Council districts is set to unveil a second and potentially final map following a process that has unfolded behind closed doors to a significant degree.</p> <p>The New York City Districting Commission has been working since March on the new map, which must be redrawn each decade after the U.S. Census to account for population shifts. Those lines must be finalized by the end of this year and will be in place for the 2023 elections, where all 51 City Council seats will be on the ballot. They will have implications for how communities are divided and represented in the Council and, by extension, decisions around government funding, land use, and legislation.</p> <p>Officials told Gotham Gazette the Districting Commission is expected to submit its next map to the City Council on September 22. The Council can accept the submission and finalize the map, or reject it and trigger another round of public hearings, after which the commission must unilaterally draw final lines.</p> <p>"The ideal is to have something that the City Council will be happy with when we submit it,” said Dennis Walcott, who chairs the Districting Commission, in a recent <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11554-max-politics-podcast-dennis-walcott-new-york-city-council-redistricting">podcast interview</a> with Gotham Gazette. “But the reality is, we are prepared to make adjustments based on the feedback we get.”</p> <p>The commission is composed of 15 members, seven of whom were appointed by Democratic Mayor Eric Adams, including the chair, five by City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Democrat, and three by Council Member Joe Borelli, the Republican minority leader.</p> <p>The city gained 630,000 residents between the 2010 and 2020 census counts and no district went unchanged in the preliminary map published by the commission in July. Those initial lines, which include several major shifts from the current Council map, have received a fair amount of criticism from residents, advocacy groups, and City Council members — some of whom would be pitted against each other or saw their bases shift.</p> <p>The commission, its staff and consultants must now consider the public input it has gathered while adhering to strict guidelines established in the U.S. Constitution, the federal Voting Rights Act, state law, and the City Charter.</p> <p>While the commission has received testimony from over 8,000 residents, the decisions about where to place district boundaries have been made out of public view, and with no public explanation of the decisions that went into the preliminary map. Leading up to the creation of those lines, commissioners and staff often met in subcommittees small enough to avoid the state's open-meetings requirements.</p> <p>Good-government groups have called on the commission to hold some deliberations in public or explain the reasoning behind its decisions, ideally before making final ones.</p> <p>"A record number of New Yorkers have made their voices heard during this year’s Council redistricting process and they deserve to see how their comments are being synthesized and debated by the Commission," said Dan Kaminsky, a policy analyst with the good-government group Citizens Union, which put out a <a href="https://citizensunion.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/New-York-City-Council-Redistricting-2022-Citizens-Union-Foundation-Report-web-version.pdf">report</a> with recommendations for the commission in February. "Holding mapping deliberations in public clarifies mapmakers’ intentions, prompts healthy dialogue between commissioners, and reduces the potential power of outside influence on the process."</p> <p>The commissioners’ initial choices have seen public pushback on several fronts. New Yorkers and organizations that represent them have raised alarms about the way the preliminary map grouped or split their communities in more than a dozen parts of the city.</p> <p>Some of the biggest points of contention are the contours of a so-called <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11516-asian-advocates-electeds-redistricting-city-council">"Asian opportunity district"</a> in southern Brooklyn; the inclusion of part of the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island in a largely-Queens district; the breaking up of Hell's Kitchen and Harlem and parts of Southeast Queens; the specifics of the South Bronx-East Harlem crossover district; and how Canarsie, Woodside, Long Island City, and Astoria are dealt with, to name a few.</p> <p>Part of the consternation stems from a major anchoring decision by the commission to keep Staten Island's three Council districts entirely on the island. The result was that the smallest borough, by population, also has the three smallest Council districts in the preliminary map. In the zero-sum game of New York City redistricting, with its fixed number of districts and requirements around population deviation, that means districts in other parts of the city had to take on more residents, sometimes stretching across borough lines in the process.</p> <p>The preliminary maps appear to favor the Council's five-member Republican minority, whose stronghold on Staten Island would likely be weakened if the districts incorporated part of blue-leaning Brooklyn or Manhattan. There is speculation that the Districting Commission's seven mayoral appointees and three from Council Minority Leader Borelli <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/27/republican-reshaping-new-york-city-redistricting-00047995">aligned, according to Politico reporting</a>, to ensure the districts were not expanded off-island. The preliminary maps passed 11 to 2, with one abstention and one absence; the two in opposition were appointees of Speaker Adams.</p> <p>"We're taking a look at the lines as far as, say, specific neighborhoods that people say we cut off, or we didn't include properly," Walcott said. </p> <p>"Nothing's off the table. Everything is on the table. It's a preliminary draft," he said about whether Staten Island districts would remain on-island in the next map. Walcott would not discuss deliberations around particular lines.</p> <p>When asked if the commissioners would hold open meetings to give the public insight into their debate, Walcott said that was under consideration but made no promises.</p> <p>"I mean, yeah, I hear what folks are saying, but same time, I’ve got to make sure we do it the right way," he said.</p> <p>"While we wouldn't say anything privately that we wouldn't say publicly, I think the process is so dynamic…the implications are so tremendous that we have to be very conscious," Walcott said of the "comfort level" of commissioners and staff to deliberate freely in public.</p> <p>"So I and we are really still thinking about how we go about that process," he added.</p> <p>Walcott said the commission held an open meeting with a voting rights consultant to discuss how she carried out a racial bloc voting analysis, a survey of voting patterns to determine whether the voice of groups protected under the Voting Rights Act would be diminished by certain line choices. That analysis has not been released. According to Eddie Borges, the commission communications director, that study is still in progress and a final report from the consultant will be completed and made available when the body submits the next map to the Council later this month.</p> <p>Borges couldn't say whether the commission would hold any open meetings ahead of the September 22 vote. "We’re working on that now. When we’re done with the maps we’re required to produce a report on what changes were made and why on each district. As you can imagine it’s a massive writing project which we’ll all be working on," he wrote in an email.</p> <p>Council Speaker Adams and a number of new and returning members have criticized the preliminary map, indicating a likely rejection if the next map does not show substantial changes.</p> <p>"There are important foundational principles that need to be prioritized in this process, yet the first set of preliminary maps appear to violate these and do not ensure the adequate representation of certain groups of New Yorkers," Adams said in a statement in August.</p> <p>"Maintaining three districts that remain entirely in Staten Island is inconsistent with population changes, creates a malapportionment issue that undermines the ‘one person-one vote’ principle, and forces irrational changes to districts in other boroughs," she said, blaming the decision for the fracturing of communities of color in Brooklyn and Queens.</p> <p>Adams called attention to lines dividing Latino residents in Sunset Park and Red Hook, Filipino and Tibetan residents in western Queens, and Black and South Asian communities in Southeast Queens.</p> <p>The potential majority-Asian American district in southern Brooklyn has stirred a backlash from Council Members Justin Brannan and Alexis Aviles, who would likely have to compete against each other in the 2023 election under the preliminary lines, as well as from some Latino and Asian residents and advocates.</p> <p>“It is perplexing that the creation of an AAPI-majority seat in southern Brooklyn would lead to the dissolution and division of Red Hook, Sunset Park – in addition to Dyker Heights – and it is certainly not necessary,” said Brannan, who currently represents District 43, and Aviles, who represents District 38, in a <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinBrannan/status/1547976504901939203?s=20&amp;t=vmJm9aeBd8LP-sF0-oZyvQ">joint statement</a> when the preliminary map was released.</p> <p>"The proposed lines eliminate a district that currently has a large plurality of people of color, which has benefitted from strong representation by Latino elected officials, and instead make it a strong plurality white district by connecting it to Bay Ridge and removing Red Hook," said Asher Ross, a senior strategist at New York Immigration Coalition Action, in testimony before the commission this summer.</p> <p>"The same is true of district 26 in Queens, where a plurality Asian district is changed to having a large white plurality," Ross told the commission.</p> <p>In a statement to Gotham Gazette, Ross called on the commission to reexamine its decision to maintain the borders of Staten Island. "The Commission must be judicious in balancing the population sizes of each district to ensure fair representation across the city," he said.</p> <p>Borelli, the Republican minority leader representing the 51st district, has been adamant about the Staten Island boundaries. “We have nothing in common with any other part of the city, and given our small population, we already have a hard enough time getting attention from City Hall,” he said in an <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/27/republican-reshaping-new-york-city-redistricting-00047995">interview with Politico New York</a> earlier this year.</p> <p>“I will use whatever influence I have to make sure Staten Island doesn’t lose an ounce of power at City Hall,” Borelli told Politico.</p> <p>At the Districting Commission's first public meeting in March, Walcott told the public the commission would develop a code of ethics that would outline how to deal with conflicts of interest. The commissioners all serve voluntarily and many hold other jobs with business before the city.</p> <p>Walcott is the CEO of Queens Public Library; other members include Lisa Sorin, president of the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce; Maf Misbah Uddin, the treasurer of District Council 37, the largest municipal workers union; Kevin Sullivan, leader of Catholic Charities, a major nonprofit with city and state contracts; Marc Wurzel, the general counsel of Grand Central Partnership, which manages a business improvement district in midtown; and Joshua Schneps, a local media magnate, among others.</p> <p>According to Borges, the commission spokesperson, the code of ethics was never developed. Instead, the commissioners received a training from the city's Conflicts of Interest Board at a meeting in May, he said. According to the meeting minutes, 14 of the 15 commissioners were present.</p> <p>[LISTEN: <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11554-max-politics-podcast-dennis-walcott-new-york-city-council-redistricting" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Max Politics Podcast: Commission Chair Dennis Walcott on New York City Council Redistricting</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Max Politics Podcast: The Start of a New School Year in New York City 2022-09-09T13:00:00+00:00 2022-09-09T13:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11572-max-politics-podcast-start-new-school-year-new-york-city-education Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-schoolyear600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Mayor Adams says hello to students (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 9, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: The Start of a New School Year in New York City<br /></strong></p> <p>Alex Zimmerman, reporter at Chalkbeat New York, joined the show to discuss the start of the new school year, the controversy around school budget cuts, and more education news.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11572-max-politics-podcast-start-new-school-year-new-york-city-education">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-schoolyear600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Mayor Adams says hello to students (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 9, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: The Start of a New School Year in New York City<br /></strong></p> <p>Alex Zimmerman, reporter at Chalkbeat New York, joined the show to discuss the start of the new school year, the controversy around school budget cuts, and more education news.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11572-max-politics-podcast-start-new-school-year-new-york-city-education">Read More ...</a></p> Mayor's Focus on Workforce Development Meets 'Pressure Cooker' Program Landscape, New Report Says 2022-09-08T04:00:00+00:00 2022-09-08T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11560-workforce-development-mayor-adams-jobs-economy Ethan Geringer-Sameth ethangs@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/1-piano-factory.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>On the job (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York City has recovered many of the jobs lost at the height of the covid pandemic and some industries have expanded in the shifting economic landscape. But unemployment and inequality remain high, and there is too often a mismatch between employers seeking a workforce to power growth in areas like health care, tech, and life sciences and those in need of jobs. It is a challenge and opportunity Mayor Eric Adams discussed regularly when he was <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11023-mayor-eric-adams-workforce-development-jobs-economy-new-york-city">running for office</a> last year.</p> <p>Against this backdrop, workforce development providers – career services programs and a host of supplemental educators – have seen their budgets slashed in recent years, while the demand for the safety net services they provide has skyrocketed. The situation has created a "pressure cooker" environment for the industry, according to a new <a href="https://nycetc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/2022-NYC-Workforce-Landscape.pdf">survey</a> from New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC), Workforce Professionals Training Institute, and The New School.</p> <p>"In tandem with the stress brought by the pandemic, providers’ budgets have been drastically cut, leaving some (or many) struggling to survive," the report reads, citing drops in city, state, and philanthropic dollars.</p> <p>Annie Garneva, NYCETC's interim CEO, said the onus is on the New York City government, the single largest contributor to workforce programs, to intervene. “This report and our experience over the last two years further confirm that our city has a lot more to do to ensure every New Yorker has the opportunity to access the skills and training they need to thrive," she wrote in a statement accompanying the report.</p> <p>According to the survey, the most common type of workforce service is job placement. Organizations also frequently provide sector-specific training, mid-career "upskilling," and digital and financial literacy.</p> <p>Ninety-six percent of respondents to a 2021 <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/53ee4f0be4b015b9c3690d84/t/605a28ccef6c3c72a9d76084/1616521425654/NYCETC_CNYCA_Report_Workforce_Organizations_Covid_19_FINAL.pdf">NYCETC survey</a> of providers said they saw decreases in revenue during the first year of the pandemic. The new survey found many of them are now struggling to provide crucial services to their clients, who include some of the lowest-income New Yorkers, immigrants, public housing residents, justice-involved individuals, and women, who have been driven out of the workforce at higher rates than men. In the case of workforce development organizations that also offer direct cash assistance or housing services, 90% and 88%, respectively, are at capacity or can't meet demand.</p> <p>The combination has put a strain on the workforce development sector – making it difficult to retain both underpaid staff and clients, many of whom must forgo training for jobs now in order to pay the bills – while the pandemic has put an additional spotlight on it as a potential boon to New York City's long-term economic prosperity.</p> <p>“As the Workforce Landscape report highlights, New York City's workforce development community has and will continue to play an important role in fortifying the most vibrant economy in the world,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer, in a statement accompanying the release of the report. "The administration looks forward to working with the NYC Employment and Training Coalition and its membership towards a shared goal of building a workforce that not only recovers from the impacts of the pandemic but thrives in its wake."</p> <p>Workforce development has been a consistent theme in Adams' pronouncements on the economy and the plight of marginalized New Yorkers, and something he has pledged to make a signature issue. A portion of his economic recovery "blueprint" is dedicated to bolstering the workforce with investments in career pipelines, adult education, tangential services, and worker protections. While many of the proposals have yet to materialize, workforce experts have generally endorsed the spirit behind them.</p> <p>"Producing quality employees of the future can't stop because of covid," Adams told reporters in August after announcing a program intended to employ 2,300 construction and industrial trade workers. "You can't put this city on pause because there's a crisis."</p> <p>According to the new “workforce landscape” report, while the city’s new fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget “brought funding levels back to FY20 levels, the financial hardships and their consequences are compounded and continue to be felt, as expressed in the results reported by this survey’s respondents."</p> <p>Of the 143 workforce development organizations surveyed in the new report, close to two-thirds provide services outside of career and employment programs. City funds accounted for 39% of revenue for those multi-service providers' budgets and 25% of workforce-only organizations', with the rest funded by state, federal, and private dollars. In the 2021 survey, 64% of respondents who received city funds said they saw a decrease in city contracting and 72% said they saw a decrease in discretionary funding from the City Council.</p> <p>Close to a third of respondents to the new survey said funding and staffing have become even more of a challenge during the pandemic. The lack of competitive wages and the in-person nature of many training programs likely contributes to staffing shortages, according to the report. It states 58% of workforce development staff earned below $55,000 annually in 2020, despite a disproportionate number holding a bachelor's degree or higher. And Black, Latino, and Asian workers are more likely than their white colleagues to earn below that threshold.</p> <p>While multi-service agencies have seen a rush on their lifeline services, they have faced difficulty recruiting clients to workforce development programs. Forty-two percent of career readiness, college access, and job placement programs were below capacity, according to the survey.</p> <p>The report attributes the low demand to the need for immediate employment, or "survival jobs," and the lack of collateral support, like childcare or stipends, that could help low-income New Yorkers afford to enroll in training courses.</p> <p>Restrictions built into most government funding sources often limit organizations from offering wrap-around services. Those conditions, along with staffing shortages, have made it difficult for workforce development providers to adapt their programs to the hybrid office-setting and meet new needs in growing sectors. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents said updating curriculum for the post-covid economy was a moderate to extreme challenge.</p> <p>"You can't pursue training and employment if you're not certain if you're going to have a roof over your head next month," said Eli Dvorkin, editorial and policy director at Center for an Urban Future, a research and advocacy group focused on economic opportunity that was not involved in the survey.</p> <p>"The effectiveness of these providers' services are really contingent on meeting the full scope of the needs that their clients are facing. It was really dramatic to see in the data," Dvorkin said.</p> <p>Mayor Adams has made workforce development a central component of his economic recovery agenda, which is still unfolding.</p> <p>“While the problems highlighted in this report mirror many of the workforce issues being seen nationwide, Mayor Adams is dedicated to ensuring that all New Yorkers can earn a living wage and share in our city’s prosperity," a mayoral spokesperson wrote in an email to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>"That is why this administration has prioritized working strategically across city agencies and in tandem with key external partners," the spokesperson wrote. "The non-profit providers featured in this report are critical partners to the city and we look forward to continuing our work together to make economic security for all city residents a top priority.”</p> <p>In his economic recovery "blueprint," released in March, the mayor laid out goals to expand childcare, high speed internet, financial counseling, and stipends for jobs program participants. A few months later, the administration unveiled another plan to expand childcare in underserved areas, with direct connections to workforce opportunities, boosted by new state funding. The goal is to increase the number of childcare slots by 41,000 over two years using an additional $800 million investment (bringing total city childcare spending to $2 billion over four years).</p> <p>Adams set lofty goals on the campaign trail, including a digital portal to map local talent and connect employers with job seekers, internships, and apprenticeships fueled by public-private partnerships, corporate involvement in developing Department of Education and CUNY curricula, free community colleges, and a commitment to put 10% of the city's economic development dollars toward workforce programs. Several of these proposals have seen little apparent progress and it is unclear to what extent the administration is pursuing them.</p> <p>Adams' recovery blueprint also included expansion of digital literacy and adult education through CUNY and the public library systems, and career pipelines in tech, healthcare, and STEAM. And, echoing calls from providers, the plan emphasizes the need to de-silo the workforce development ecosystem, which is currently funded through isolated programming across 21 city agencies. That has made it difficult to align career services with industry trends and scale-up effective programs. Adams recently gave advocates more cause for hope that the administration may follow through.</p> <p>On August 15, the mayor announced a new program called "Pathways to Industrial and Construction Careers" (PINCC), backed by an $18.6 million federal grant, to provide job trajectories in growing sectors for 2,300 low-income New Yorkers – targeting public assistance recipients and NYCHA residents – in high-wage or unionized jobs.</p> <p>Adams also signed an executive order to streamline operations at the city agencies offering these services.</p> <p>Executive Order 22 requires the Mayor's Office for Talent and Workforce Development to design a strategy and report for inclusive workforce development, and gives it responsibility to coordinate contracting across multiple agencies. The order shifts industry partnerships from the Department of Small Business Services into the office's portfolio. It also established an Interagency Talent and Workforce Development Cabinet and formalized the "Future of Workers" Task Force, a group of industry leaders, educators, workforce providers, and labor, to guide decisions.</p> <p>According to Dvorkin, the new powers of the office ("which was not among the strongest mayoral offices," he said) could bolster its position within the workforce landscape.</p> <p>"These are not enormous changes just yet but they signal some real intent around building stronger infrastructure to make future investments more effective and ideally more accountable," he said.</p> <p>The next big question, he added, is: "can the city produce a budget for the next fiscal year that invests significant new resources in workforce development and that can help realize the promise of the city's most effective programs?"</p> <p>

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/1-piano-factory.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>On the job (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York City has recovered many of the jobs lost at the height of the covid pandemic and some industries have expanded in the shifting economic landscape. But unemployment and inequality remain high, and there is too often a mismatch between employers seeking a workforce to power growth in areas like health care, tech, and life sciences and those in need of jobs. It is a challenge and opportunity Mayor Eric Adams discussed regularly when he was <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11023-mayor-eric-adams-workforce-development-jobs-economy-new-york-city">running for office</a> last year.</p> <p>Against this backdrop, workforce development providers – career services programs and a host of supplemental educators – have seen their budgets slashed in recent years, while the demand for the safety net services they provide has skyrocketed. The situation has created a "pressure cooker" environment for the industry, according to a new <a href="https://nycetc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/2022-NYC-Workforce-Landscape.pdf">survey</a> from New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC), Workforce Professionals Training Institute, and The New School.</p> <p>"In tandem with the stress brought by the pandemic, providers’ budgets have been drastically cut, leaving some (or many) struggling to survive," the report reads, citing drops in city, state, and philanthropic dollars.</p> <p>Annie Garneva, NYCETC's interim CEO, said the onus is on the New York City government, the single largest contributor to workforce programs, to intervene. “This report and our experience over the last two years further confirm that our city has a lot more to do to ensure every New Yorker has the opportunity to access the skills and training they need to thrive," she wrote in a statement accompanying the report.</p> <p>According to the survey, the most common type of workforce service is job placement. Organizations also frequently provide sector-specific training, mid-career "upskilling," and digital and financial literacy.</p> <p>Ninety-six percent of respondents to a 2021 <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/53ee4f0be4b015b9c3690d84/t/605a28ccef6c3c72a9d76084/1616521425654/NYCETC_CNYCA_Report_Workforce_Organizations_Covid_19_FINAL.pdf">NYCETC survey</a> of providers said they saw decreases in revenue during the first year of the pandemic. The new survey found many of them are now struggling to provide crucial services to their clients, who include some of the lowest-income New Yorkers, immigrants, public housing residents, justice-involved individuals, and women, who have been driven out of the workforce at higher rates than men. In the case of workforce development organizations that also offer direct cash assistance or housing services, 90% and 88%, respectively, are at capacity or can't meet demand.</p> <p>The combination has put a strain on the workforce development sector – making it difficult to retain both underpaid staff and clients, many of whom must forgo training for jobs now in order to pay the bills – while the pandemic has put an additional spotlight on it as a potential boon to New York City's long-term economic prosperity.</p> <p>“As the Workforce Landscape report highlights, New York City's workforce development community has and will continue to play an important role in fortifying the most vibrant economy in the world,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer, in a statement accompanying the release of the report. "The administration looks forward to working with the NYC Employment and Training Coalition and its membership towards a shared goal of building a workforce that not only recovers from the impacts of the pandemic but thrives in its wake."</p> <p>Workforce development has been a consistent theme in Adams' pronouncements on the economy and the plight of marginalized New Yorkers, and something he has pledged to make a signature issue. A portion of his economic recovery "blueprint" is dedicated to bolstering the workforce with investments in career pipelines, adult education, tangential services, and worker protections. While many of the proposals have yet to materialize, workforce experts have generally endorsed the spirit behind them.</p> <p>"Producing quality employees of the future can't stop because of covid," Adams told reporters in August after announcing a program intended to employ 2,300 construction and industrial trade workers. "You can't put this city on pause because there's a crisis."</p> <p>According to the new “workforce landscape” report, while the city’s new fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget “brought funding levels back to FY20 levels, the financial hardships and their consequences are compounded and continue to be felt, as expressed in the results reported by this survey’s respondents."</p> <p>Of the 143 workforce development organizations surveyed in the new report, close to two-thirds provide services outside of career and employment programs. City funds accounted for 39% of revenue for those multi-service providers' budgets and 25% of workforce-only organizations', with the rest funded by state, federal, and private dollars. In the 2021 survey, 64% of respondents who received city funds said they saw a decrease in city contracting and 72% said they saw a decrease in discretionary funding from the City Council.</p> <p>Close to a third of respondents to the new survey said funding and staffing have become even more of a challenge during the pandemic. The lack of competitive wages and the in-person nature of many training programs likely contributes to staffing shortages, according to the report. It states 58% of workforce development staff earned below $55,000 annually in 2020, despite a disproportionate number holding a bachelor's degree or higher. And Black, Latino, and Asian workers are more likely than their white colleagues to earn below that threshold.</p> <p>While multi-service agencies have seen a rush on their lifeline services, they have faced difficulty recruiting clients to workforce development programs. Forty-two percent of career readiness, college access, and job placement programs were below capacity, according to the survey.</p> <p>The report attributes the low demand to the need for immediate employment, or "survival jobs," and the lack of collateral support, like childcare or stipends, that could help low-income New Yorkers afford to enroll in training courses.</p> <p>Restrictions built into most government funding sources often limit organizations from offering wrap-around services. Those conditions, along with staffing shortages, have made it difficult for workforce development providers to adapt their programs to the hybrid office-setting and meet new needs in growing sectors. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents said updating curriculum for the post-covid economy was a moderate to extreme challenge.</p> <p>"You can't pursue training and employment if you're not certain if you're going to have a roof over your head next month," said Eli Dvorkin, editorial and policy director at Center for an Urban Future, a research and advocacy group focused on economic opportunity that was not involved in the survey.</p> <p>"The effectiveness of these providers' services are really contingent on meeting the full scope of the needs that their clients are facing. It was really dramatic to see in the data," Dvorkin said.</p> <p>Mayor Adams has made workforce development a central component of his economic recovery agenda, which is still unfolding.</p> <p>“While the problems highlighted in this report mirror many of the workforce issues being seen nationwide, Mayor Adams is dedicated to ensuring that all New Yorkers can earn a living wage and share in our city’s prosperity," a mayoral spokesperson wrote in an email to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>"That is why this administration has prioritized working strategically across city agencies and in tandem with key external partners," the spokesperson wrote. "The non-profit providers featured in this report are critical partners to the city and we look forward to continuing our work together to make economic security for all city residents a top priority.”</p> <p>In his economic recovery "blueprint," released in March, the mayor laid out goals to expand childcare, high speed internet, financial counseling, and stipends for jobs program participants. A few months later, the administration unveiled another plan to expand childcare in underserved areas, with direct connections to workforce opportunities, boosted by new state funding. The goal is to increase the number of childcare slots by 41,000 over two years using an additional $800 million investment (bringing total city childcare spending to $2 billion over four years).</p> <p>Adams set lofty goals on the campaign trail, including a digital portal to map local talent and connect employers with job seekers, internships, and apprenticeships fueled by public-private partnerships, corporate involvement in developing Department of Education and CUNY curricula, free community colleges, and a commitment to put 10% of the city's economic development dollars toward workforce programs. Several of these proposals have seen little apparent progress and it is unclear to what extent the administration is pursuing them.</p> <p>Adams' recovery blueprint also included expansion of digital literacy and adult education through CUNY and the public library systems, and career pipelines in tech, healthcare, and STEAM. And, echoing calls from providers, the plan emphasizes the need to de-silo the workforce development ecosystem, which is currently funded through isolated programming across 21 city agencies. That has made it difficult to align career services with industry trends and scale-up effective programs. Adams recently gave advocates more cause for hope that the administration may follow through.</p> <p>On August 15, the mayor announced a new program called "Pathways to Industrial and Construction Careers" (PINCC), backed by an $18.6 million federal grant, to provide job trajectories in growing sectors for 2,300 low-income New Yorkers – targeting public assistance recipients and NYCHA residents – in high-wage or unionized jobs.</p> <p>Adams also signed an executive order to streamline operations at the city agencies offering these services.</p> <p>Executive Order 22 requires the Mayor's Office for Talent and Workforce Development to design a strategy and report for inclusive workforce development, and gives it responsibility to coordinate contracting across multiple agencies. The order shifts industry partnerships from the Department of Small Business Services into the office's portfolio. It also established an Interagency Talent and Workforce Development Cabinet and formalized the "Future of Workers" Task Force, a group of industry leaders, educators, workforce providers, and labor, to guide decisions.</p> <p>According to Dvorkin, the new powers of the office ("which was not among the strongest mayoral offices," he said) could bolster its position within the workforce landscape.</p> <p>"These are not enormous changes just yet but they signal some real intent around building stronger infrastructure to make future investments more effective and ideally more accountable," he said.</p> <p>The next big question, he added, is: "can the city produce a budget for the next fiscal year that invests significant new resources in workforce development and that can help realize the promise of the city's most effective programs?"</p> <p>

***
by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Max Politics Podcast: Dennis Walcott on New York City Council Redistricting 2022-09-01T15:00:00+00:00 2022-09-01T15:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11554-max-politics-podcast-dennis-walcott-new-york-city-council-redistricting Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-walcott-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Dennis Walcott (photo: Spencer Tucker/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 1, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Dennis Walcott on New York City Council Redistricting<br /></strong></p> <p>Dennis Walcott, Chair of the New York City Districting Commission, joined the show to discuss the commission's ongoing work to draw new City Council districts, as mandated after each U.S. Census.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11554-max-politics-podcast-dennis-walcott-new-york-city-council-redistricting">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/mp-walcott-600.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>Dennis Walcott (photo: Spencer Tucker/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>September 1, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Dennis Walcott on New York City Council Redistricting<br /></strong></p> <p>Dennis Walcott, Chair of the New York City Districting Commission, joined the show to discuss the commission's ongoing work to draw new City Council districts, as mandated after each U.S. Census.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts at Max Politics.</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/11554-max-politics-podcast-dennis-walcott-new-york-city-council-redistricting">Read More ...</a></p>